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What We've Hopefully Learned from 2007, 2010 and 2011

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by mayoclinic, Jan 13, 2013.

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  1. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Less than 10 hours until the Pats' 2012 playoff season kicks off, hopefully starting the road to another ring. Yesterday's games were good reminders of how having an elite QB isn't enough - both Manning and Rodgers ended up on the losing side, and those losses brought back some lessons from the Pats' own near misses in 2007, 2010 and 2011:

    - The 2007 team was perhaps the most dominant in NFL history, going 16-0 and setting a record for points scored. But the team peaked too early, other teams had a chance to adjust to our offense, the team was perhaps worn down by Spygate and the media frenzy, and by the constant grind of being every other team's target as they tried to go undefeated. Add in some injuries and some bad bounces, and it added up to heartbreak, though the team was still ever so close to history.

    - The 2010 team revamped its offense around the TEs in mid-season and went on an 8 game winning streak, crushing several playoff opponents en route. Brady set a record for most passes without an interception and got his second MVP, and the offense again put up 500 points, along with a 14-2 record and the #1 seed. We were the prohibitive SB favorites, but that didn't stop the Jets from bouncing us in the divisional round by flooding the middle of the field and daring us to run. Like yesterday's Green Bay team, that Pats' team was too much of a finesse team and was too deficient on defense and in the running department, even though it appeared dominant.

    - The 2011 team went 13-3 and got another #1 seed, again scoring 500 points. That team overcome injuries and a lack of talent on defense down the stretch to make it back to the SB, and again was within a few plays of another ring, only to again lose out to the Giants.

    The lessons of all this, and of yesterday's losses by Denver and Green Bay (not to mention Atlanta's loss to Green Bay in the 2010 playoffs):

    - The #1 seed and being favored means nothing
    - HFA doesn't guarantee anything
    - Teams that believe their own press releases and hype and take games lightly generally go home early
    - Having an elite QB isn't enough; the whole team needs to play hard, for all 4 quarters
    - Sitting back and playing passively - in a "fox hole", as BB put it - doesn't work well
    - The more physical team seems to frequently come out on top in playoff games, as it did in both games yesterday and in both our SB losses
    - A high scoring passing game is nice, but a running game and defense are crucial come playoff time; though neither of yesterday's games was a defensive struggle, Baltimore and SF limited the elite QBs, while Denver's D couldn't stop the deep bomb and GB's couldn't stop anything
    - Sometimes in spite of everything, it still comes down to luck and a few bounces

    I think this is the most complete Pats team since 2004 in terms of it's talent in all elements of the game and its depth. The team seems very focused and well aware of their moment in history, and that they need to seize the moment. Time to find out, starting today.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  2. Triumph

    Triumph Rookie

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    #32 Jersey

    As the NE pass defense goes, so will the Pats 4th Super Bowl Championship.

    As everyone saw in both games yesterday, its all about scoring through the air and wide open passing offenses. If you have lousy or old Corners (Bailey, Woodson) in todays NFL youre toast.
  3. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Ironic that Denver got shredded by our old Achilles heel, the deep pass.
  4. SVN

    SVN Rookie

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    Ravens were really playing with house money and I guess denver never really expected so many deep bombs even though thats what flacco does routinely.They were geared to stop ray rice. Ravens oline won them the game yesterday.
  5. patsinthesnow

    patsinthesnow PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #87 Jersey

    -After a momentum changing INT, don't call the Slater bomb when you get on the field.

    -Don't use Gronk to block every play amd turn Crumpler into your feature TE.

    -Attempt 47 yard field goals on 4th and 13.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  6. PittPatriot

    PittPatriot PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    While I agree with the gist of your post, I could not help but feel as my comments reflect below:

  7. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    Great analysis, Mayo.

    I can't help but think the "Foxhole" comment by BB this week was one of the rare moments where either on purpose, or through a momentary lapse (I know, I know he NEVER has them, right?) we get a glimpse into what he really is thinking going into the playoffs.

    The "Read and React" defense may be a thing of the past for him this playoffs. The turning point seems to be the mid season acquisituon of Talib and the move of McCourty to Safety. The world skipped a beat and changed at that very moment. Then you have the Pats taking a flyer in the 7th round on a player the rest of the league wasn't touching - - Alphonso Dennard - - who happened to be well known as a certified ballhawk-playmaker. Up front also, too many things have coalesced into a "Perfect Storm" in this regard. The increased use of "pin their ears back and let 'em fly" rushers like Trevor Scott and Justin Francis to augment the newly acquired rookie Chandler Jones. The move of what used to be an edge rusher such as Jermaine Cunningham INSIDE to DT on third downs. The move to DE from LB of Ninkovich. When was the last time we had a debate over whther this was a 3-4 or 4-3 D? That discussion is now behind us.

    The previous paragraph lists EIGHT personnel moves that signify a move towards ATTACK defense instead of "Read and React" (I could add Mayo leaving middle/coverage LB duties and being freed up to blitz far more often this year than ever before.

    For whatever reasons, BB has felt comfortable this year increasingly to "leave the foxhole" on defense.

    On offense, this is the best running game they've had since 2004. The depth of backs is tremendous (and wait til we get a load of Jeff Demps next year). But to me, what is the true revelation is the OL depth now. Some of our best run games have been with Thomas, Canon or MacDonald this year against some pretty good run D's. I don't recall ever in the BB era having this much confidence in backup OL's to come in and actually ratchet UP a run game (still not there on pass protection, however).

    Bedard has a good accounting today about the "theory" for why EARLY IN THE SEASON the Pats went away from Welker and towards Edelman as the #2 WR. It was exactly what you outlined about Jets and Giants flooding the middle of fields. Look, both the Lloyd pickup and the Edelman promotion were designed for SIDELINE extension of fields. That was it. How many times this year did we see Vereen especially line up wide - - alot more down the stretch, right? I don't believe the Pats ever were "choosing Edelman over Welker", but were kicking the tires to experiment early in the season 1) this new philosophy and 2) whether Edelman had it in him to be worthy of a new contract next year when he goes FA. All along they were going to try to keep Wes. Now they know they should also retain Julian.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  8. Triumph

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    #32 Jersey

    And, Jack Del Rio.

    Flacco missed a couple more TDs on ever throws where the Bronco DB was beat.
  9. Observer

    Observer Rookie

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    Hopefully we have learned that we are best when we stay aggressive, both on offense and defense, rather than risk-averse.
  10. Triumph

    Triumph Rookie

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    #32 Jersey

    Something else Id like to add.

    I hope (Im sure he was) Brady was watching yesterday and saw Peyton Manning struggle out there. Mannings arm is not the same since his neck surgery and there is no guarantee that Brady will be throwing the ball as well next season as he is today.

    It all could be gone in a flash. So the time is now.
  11. kurtinelson

    kurtinelson Rookie

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    #37 Jersey

    Awesome post as usual Mayo. I think this team is constructed to go all the way. Now it just comes down to execution and hopefully a lucky bounce or two.

    One element of the game that I wish we had as a weapon is scrambl-ability by our GOAT QB. Kaepernik absolutely torched Green Bay last night.

    Russell Wilson can also move the chains with his legs. I think the era of the pure pocket passer may be waning. Johnny Manziel/Russell Wilson/Colin Kaepernik/RGIII maybe the new prototype QB in the NFL.

    On passing downs opposing defenses the Pats face can rush 4 with little or no gap discipline knowing that Brady will only leave the pocket in the most dire of situations and if he does he'll be chased down in short order.

    If the Pats make it to the SB and face Seattle or SF I can envision the ability of the opposing QB to scramble on 3rd down being the difference in the game.
  12. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    I didn't agree with everything you wrote, but that was a damned insightful post. Lets start with what I disagreed with. Actually not "disagreed" entirely, but on certain points.

    1. You implied that suddenly we have become a 4-3 attacking "take no prisoners" defense. And while I agree that the personnel changes you outlined has allowed Patricia to take more chances, he still isn't straying THAT far from his 3-4, 2 gap, read and react roots.

    You will not that the DL still plays 2 gap most of the time. Upping our blitz rate from 10% to 25% doesn't indicate a complete dedication to a shift to an attacking philosophy.

    I agree that for THIS season, the 4-3 has become our basic front 7 alignment. HOWEVER, Cunningham and Ninko both have proven that they can play OLB, and to a lesser degree Jones and Scott have both played standing up this season. Spikes and Mayo are proven ILB's and Hightower is a hybrid who can play almost anywhere.

    2 What I really liked was your insights on the running game and giving a plausible possible reason for Welker's reduced snaps in the first game.

    The 2010 team was too thin on the OL, not talented enough at RB, too limited at WR, and not nearly ready on the defensive side to go all the way. That was a very good team, but not nearly as talented or deep as this one (especially on the defensive side) In hindsight, we can see that that team overachieved.

    The 2011 team had a historically bad defense to the point that its shocking that they made to within a single play of wining it all. It is a credit to the Pats staff that they got the talent on THAT defense to that point. Its amazing that THAT defense was actually playing reasonable well in the playoffs (especially when they lost their best defensive player so late in the season)

    The 2012 Team is still lacking that deep outside threat, but has vastly improved their outside presence with LLoyd. The OL depth is now there, our RB's are now top 10 and the improvements on defense are almost too many to mention. I still think the D is still a year or two away from maturing into a beast, its still light years ahead of what we put on the field last season, even if it hasn't shown up in the stats just yet due to its youth.

    On thing for certain, BB is loading up for another series of serious superbowl runs over the next 3-4 years that will take Tommy into his retirement on a high note.....and will spoil a an already spoiled fan base even more ;)

    Nice job

    The 2011
  13. PATSYLICIOUS

    PATSYLICIOUS Rookie

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    Excellent post, you continue to show why I was a giddy azz dude when you came back to the board earlier this year! Nothing is ever guaranteed in this league, you set yourself up with a team good enough to go the distance but at the end of the day you have to be playing your best and you need the breaks. I can't remember the last champion I've seen do it without at least a little bit of luck. Even our 2003 team with the most dominant defense in BB's time and riding a 12 game win streak into the playoffs eeked out each of their playoff wins, 1 thanks to an inexplicable drop by Tennessee's Drew Bennet. If he catches that ball then who knows. No matter how good you are you're 60 minutes and a few bounces away from your season ending. I think BB has done a good job building this team and putting them in a position to be successful, that's why he's the best because we've been in this position so many times over the past 12 years.
  14. ausbacker

    ausbacker Brady > Manning. PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #51 Jersey

    What I hope the Patriots have learnt in the past few near but oh so far rides - if you are running the ball successfully you run the damn ball!
  15. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    One thing that I think the last few years have illustrated is that you can build a gaudy regular season record without necessarily having the depth and breadth to make a deep playoff run. The 2010 Patriots (14-2, but somewhat one-dimensional), 2010 Falcons (13-3), and 2012 Broncos, Falcons (both 13-3, but mostly against weak competition) and Packers (11-5, but one-dimensional) come to mind. We'll see how the Falcons do today, but I'll be very surprised if they are built to handle Seattle and SF in successive weeks.

    To go deep in the playoffs generally requires more than that in terms of toughness, physicality, being tested against tough competition, and the ability to dominate in multiple aspects of the game. The 49ers have clearly added a dimension to their team with the emergence of Colin Kaepernick, and Seattle has clearly added a dimension with Russell Wilson's rapid maturation. The Pats are a totally different team from 2010 and 2011, with much better balance and vastly more talent on defense, even though their regular season record ironically wasn't quite as good.

    But it still takes being reasonably healthy, getting everyone up for the intensity of the playoffs, and even then probably a few lucky breaks. I'm confident that we're as prepared as we can be. Whether that will be enough remains to be seen.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  16. ALP

    ALP Rookie

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    It would be funny if you're right, and NE goes into aggressive mode on defense for this game against HOU and also the AFC champ game where we face another pocket passer, and then in the SB have to revert to their old ways of gap control b/c the NFC has a good chance of having a mobile QB
  17. PATSYLICIOUS

    PATSYLICIOUS Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    True, there's no such thing as juggernauts anymore aside from 2007, so alot of the champions themselves will show that teams with significant weaknesses can go the distance. Winning one is hard but winning multiple ones are INFINITELY harder. So winning 3 in 4 years takes a lot of things to go in your favor. I think the playoff failures since 2005 is just things balancing out as it's just the way odds work regardless of how good you are. But as long as we keep getting there things are bound to bounce our way again.

    This is also why I'm so annoyed by the Giants and Eli. They've only had 2 deep playoff runs over the course of his career and each resulted in getting enough breaks to win it all. I think they're in for a long decade now unless they upgrade their team significantly (unlikely given their state).
  18. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Rookie

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    I disagree with virtually everything you say.

    Running QBs won't last a season or two. Scrambling QBs like Russell Wilson run to avoid being hit, OTOH. As a complete copy of Tarkenton, including being the same size, Wilson can survive just as Tark did,as long as he remains a scrambler and not a runner.

    This running QB phenomenon will pass quickly, just as it did with Grogan, and his generation of "change-the-NFL" running QBs.

    Gap discipline is fundamental to football. A pocket passer does the running equivalent with screens and flares... and lives longer. He also ends up with more yards, with fewer big losses.

    If the Pats make it to the SB, I'm sure the press writers will attribute any successful QB run, as the key to victory. They neglect to mention how many passes are NOT completed, due to inaccuracy, while running around. ;):)
  19. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Time to bump this for the Ravens game. Need another full 50 minutes of effort, focus and execution. Do that and the game shouldn't be that close. If not ...
  20. coolguy

    coolguy Banned

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    The game will be close

    This is/should be ray lewis and ed reed last game and they won't go out without a fight.
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