Idle thoughts - a last minute edition.

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patfanken

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Disclaimer: I wrote most of this on Saturday, and thought I wouldn't post it until the evening. Then I went out, heard the news about Cam and said to myself. "what a waste of time" and forgot all about it. Then while at work today I hear the game is on, the Pats are out on the field. So I thought, what the hell. This MIGHT be of some use. Of course Brian Hoyer was not mentioned in the original post, though I doubt the "basic" game plan has changed.

Also loosing Cam AND (IMHO more importantly)_ having to fly across half the country, get off a play, and THEN play a football game. Not to mention playing the Superbowl champs on the road, would make this game the biggest upset of the decade if the Pat should win. But the thing I'll be watching most closely will the defense. If this is going to be a playoff team, the defense has to show continuing improvement. Any result having KC only scoring 24 points or less, would tell us that this defense CAN get us to the playoffs.

However if they blow us out, no matter. There is still plenty of time to turn things around.

At any rate. Here are my Saturday thoughts on this game. Let me know what you think

I is very obvious that the Pats should be able to run the ball successfully against the 30th ranked run defense in the league. I know it. You know it. Everyone knows it, including Steve Spagnola. So to say that the Pats need to run the ball successfully to win just wins you the "keen sense of the obvious" award.

I believe that Spags will play 8 man fronts to start the game. The REAL key for the Pats is to make KC get OUT of those 8 man fronts, because it is very hard to run the ball CONSISTANTLY against any 8 man front in the NFL. So if the Pats are going to win this game they are going to have to pass the ball successfully early in this game. OK how do you do this.

1. In the old days when Brady faced a very strong run defense, the first way they would attack it would be to eliminate the 8 man front by FORMATION. The best example of that would how the Pats attacked the great Steeler defenses who were great against the run. Remember how the Pats would spread them out and run simple routes for easy completions and the OCASSIONAL runs.

2. The second way is equally obvious. Play action Passes (PAP) . The Pats need to determine what the best routes against a stacked KC defense would work against a 3 man secondary from their power formations.

3. In either of those strategies it will be key for the Pats to be able to determine how KC will defend the pass. Will they be predominately in man or zone. I don't know for sure, but I'm thinking the Pats will see more zone or combo coverages, like man under coverages. For the uninitiated, man under coverage is exactly what it sounds like, playin man to man with your LB's while being in either a 2 or 3 deep zone over the top.

The Pats will often play with a 3 man line, 5 men underneath playing either a zone or man, with a 2 deep secondary playing zone over the top.. Something I fully expect to see from us on Sunday. But back to the KC defense

4. You don't want to give Chris Jones and Frank Clark a lot of pass rushing opportunities. They are both elite pass rushers in this league. Normally KC would be an a 3 man line, but I'm thinking the will more likely line up in a 4 man front for this game. It's pretty simple to see why. Would you have Jones going against an all pro C in Thuney (one of the best pass blockers in the league, or have Jones going against a 6th round rookie. So look for KC to be in some kind of a 4-4 look

5. KC's CB's are both 6' and over so simply having Harry try to just overpower them might not be as effective if they had been in the 5'10 range. But IMHO it will be necessary to throw to Harry at least twice on some kind of deep route to keep them honest. Perhaps a hook and go, or cross and go. Something that will open up Harry's underneath routes that he's been effective at. Back shoulder deep routes is another possibility.

6. Since Edelman is the go to guy underneath, I wouldn't be surprise to see Mathieu man up on him most of the time, since he is the best of the KC DB's. But Spags will mix it up much like Bill does with man underneath and zone underneath coverages. Again, it will be key for Cam and the WR's to determine what they will be in pre snap.

7. Unveil the TE's. This is the game where the TE's are going to be targeted at least 6 times. Having a guy like Assiasi finding hole in the just over the underneath coverage, or threatening the deep middle is a solid plan against this kind of team. Up to now the TE's have been a last resort in the passing pecking order. So while I'm not saying that KC will ignore the TE's in their coverage plans, but they CAN'T be a priority either. So Josh, UNLEACH the "Kraken"

8. All that being said, the Pats ARE going to have to run the ball successfully against that 8 man front in their power formations. I doubt that it will be as successful as we have been (over 200 yds twice in 3 games), but they will need to reach about 130 (KC's average against so far). Running against an 8 man front is a numbers game. The key to success is that the RB has to make the first man miss. That is something Sony did on both his long runs last week.

What makes running against an 8 man front so difficult is that it makes for a crowded muddle from T to T. There are a LOT of big bodys mucking up the LOS. So we will need to take advantage of the fact that we have excellent blockers in our receivers. So grinding out 3=5 yards up the middle when they KNOW its a run will be important, and throwing in the occasional sweep could be a way to pick up chunk yardage in the Running game.

Another way to attack an 8 man front is to run a read triple options. When you run a read option you actually leave a DL man unblocked and force him into a decision to either take the first RB or the QB. The read for the QB is that if the open man takes a step up the field give it to the FB. If he closes down, Take it to now option the DE or LB. Again if the LB steps up the field to take the RB, run the ball. If he steps to the QB pitch it to the running back. and hope your WR has done a good job blocking the DB. What makes this so effective, Since you are literally no blocking 2 guys, you have 2 extra guys to seal off all the LB's thus cutting off any inside pursuit. So you you QB or HB make just one man miss, you could be looking at a big play.

So done be surprise to see the Pats run some kind of read option this week. BTW- passing OFF this look, can often be very effective.

9. I know the basic game plan calls for the Pats to everything they can to take time off the clock and limit the offensive possession KC gets. However I would hope that in at least a couple of series the Pats change the pattern of the game and run some no huddle, especially in the second half when the KC front 8 has been beaten down some.

DEFENSE

1. So let's see. The DL is a mess. All our LB's are playing for other teams or at home. AND the supposed strength of the defense has not been playing to their potential. Add all that to the fact that we are playing the most potent offense in the league with the best QB and it doesn't take the "keen sense of the obvious award" to know that "Houston, we have a problem" ;)

So how to we slow this offense down enough to win a road game against the defending Superbowl champs. And when I say "slow down", I'm thinking holding them to around 24 points, because that is the number I think the Pats will be able to run up on that KC defense. If KC gets to 30, I don't see us winning this game.

2. So what should be expect. I see us in some kind of 3 man front with 5 underneath and at "Tampa 2" like look over the top. I think the 5 underneath look will be in some kind of match up man, or tight zone coverage. However the 2 keys to the game is being able to stop the run in that 3 man front and keep Mahomes contained. We don't want to see him breaking contain and running outside the Pocket. I believe he is at his most dangerous in that situation. He and his receivers do a great job at breaking down good coverage when he scrambles outside the pocket.

3. To this point of the season (small sample size), the Pats have been mostly an blitzing defense which is protected by great man coverage (or at least that is goal ;) ) The best way to slow down this offense is to do just the opposite. Stop the run with some kind of a 7 man front, and then play tight zone coverage underneath with a 2 man zone underneath.

4. IMHO, the toughest match up this week isn't going to be Hill or Kelce, but trying to figure out who is gong to cover their rookie RB, (CEH) out of the backfield. The thought of Hillier matched up on Bentley is something that clearly won't end well. So with that in mind I would HOPE that guys like JJWilliams and KDugger will see a lot of action matching up on Kelce and Hillier, as well as providing solid run support in the Pats underneath coverages.

5. I wonder if running a 4-1-6 base isn't out of the question. Wino, Guy, Cowart-Simon, with Bentely behind would be tasked with stopping the run and keeping Mahomes in the pocket, then you'd have 6 DB (Gilmore, DMcCourty, Phillips, JMcCoury along with 2 of Dugger, Williams and JJones) on the field at all times
 

sturmrider

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Glad to see your early game insights. Sadly as you pointed out in front the offensive ones may not be as valid now. NO Cam and Shaq will make the running game difficult. I am also not sure how well Hoyer will do passing the ball, when was the last time he actually was in a game situation. This is going to be a tough game.

I initially had the Pats winning, but now I am not sure and I am one of the ultimate Pats homers. This is tough for me to take.
 

Lavictoire

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
I remember winning several times under Bellichick when we were supposed to lose (Granted that was with Brady). This could be a BIG feather in Bellichicks cap if he pulls this off.
 
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