Good morning; here are your weekly Patriots news 08-07, and some NFL notes this week. Training camp is wrapping up its second week, and the team was out wearing pads for the first time this year.
The team conducted their annual practice inside of Gillette Stadium for season ticket holders on Friday night and are now off until Monday.
RIP to Vin Scully, the great sports broadcaster who was the voice of the Dodgers for 67 years. He had so many memorable moments, including calling “The Catch” during the 49ers – Cowboys NFC Championship Game in 1981.
What made him so great and a testament to his longevity was the fact that he never had to resort to the gimmicky, over-the-top calls that permeate the sports world today. And he knew when to differentiate between television and radio. While he’d explain to the radio audience exactly what was unfolding, sometimes he’d just be quiet to the television audience, letting them take in the moment visually.
He was a giant in the industry and will be missed.
The Patriots are making big changes in their offensive system, and they’ll be the latest team to incorporate elements of the Shanahan zone-based system into their offense. And while the Patriots have always had some elements of zone-based play calls in their offense, they’ve relied on the Erhardt-Perkins downhill style of play calling.
So What is the Zone-Based System?
The Shanahan type of system relies on horizontal movement using zone schemes and bootleg play action where the offensive lineman all step in the same direction and move horizontally, looking to get to the edge of the opposing defensive lineman and linebackers.
The defensive linebackers and linemen are now forced to react to beat offensive linemen to their marks. This opens up gaps in the defense for the running backs to pick a lane when the defense overcommits. But it isn’t a snap to master. The Patriots had consecutive snaps in practice earlier this week where the first went to a walk-in TD, and the next was blown up after poor execution.
While zone running schemes have been around for a long time, what Mike Shanahan did was marry that to the West Coast passing game. What he did was take advantage of linebackers and safeties who overreacted with slants and crossers that were wide open.
Difference Between Shanahan and McVay’s Systems:
Mike’s son Kyle runs a version of his father’s offense that runs primarily 21 personnel. Two wide receivers, one tight end and two running backs, one of whom is a fullback (Kyle Juszczyk).
Sean McVay runs the same system but mainly with 11 personnel, three wide receivers, one tight end, and one running back. In McVay’s version of the system, the third WR has to be an effective blocker.
It seems like the Patriots are going to run more of McVay’s version. This spring, when FB Jakob Johnson left to join the Raiders, he said the Patriots told him that they were not going to be using a fullback in 2022.
The Patriots changed for a couple of reasons. One was the difficulty of new players, especially wide receivers to learn their intricate system. This was supposed to simplify things, make the system easier to learn and allow the players to play faster.
The Patriots “starting” offensive line is all pretty athletic, with the exception of RG Michael Onwenu. That’s why the team was taking extended looks with G/C James Ferentz and Arlington Hambright, who are more athletic, with the first team offense this week during training camp.
The Shanahan/McVay system is part of the reason why the team drafted Tyquan Thornton in the 2nd Round, a type of player they normally eschewed. But hitting on those zone play action and bootleg concepts allows for some open field for receivers with speed. Thornton, Kendrick Bourne (who played well under Shanahan), and rookie Pierre Strong should all benefit from this new system.
All of this centers around the development of Mac Jones. He should benefit from the change and allow him to hit receivers with more open field in front of them in 2022. The team is still in the “figuring it out” stage, but it is going to make the offense look much different and (hopefully) harder to stop this fall.
Richard Seymour: The Patriots great was enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame yesterday.
Seymour spoke about his enshrinement prior to the ceremony and summed it up perfectly. “There’s a difference between stats and impact. Then, it’s also about a body of work and about how other teams have to game plan for you. It’s about what other offensive linemen think about you. That’s really where my value came from. It’s also what my coaches thought of me and the people who really understand and know football, what it really takes to do what I was asked to do.
“It goes back to being a competitor. Ultimately, I just wanted to win. We were winning, and that was the most important thing. Playing in four Super Bowls, I think, speaks for itself. I don’t have the personality to get in the way of winning. That’s the most important thing, and that’s what I wanted to do, too, so it worked out well.”
Bill Belichick was asked what made Seymour so special. “Everything,” he said.
“I just never really had anybody like that,” Belichick said. “He was very smart. He could do a lot of different things; game plans, pass rush plays, playing certain plays a certain way. That was all really pretty easy for him because the game came easy for him in terms of intelligence and anticipation and communication along the line.”
‘Bama’ Defenders: The Patriots have been getting really solid production from their defenders from Alabama. And, although it is very early, the pass rush looks to have a Tuscaloosa feel to it.
Christian Barmore, Anfernee Jennings, and LaBryan Ray have all been showing up. Barmore has arguably been the best player in camp thus far. But with Matthew Judon out, Jennings has made the most of his opportunities, and although known as a bigger edge-setting linebacker, he is showing good aptitude at rushing the passer.
Ditto for Ray; it has never been a question of ability with him; he was seemingly never healthy at Alabama. If he can stay healthy this summer, not only will he make the team, but could carve out a nice role for himself.
Bill Belichick: While many say, and with some merit, that Belichick doesn’t ever say much, this summer’s camp has been markedly different.
While Belichick refused to say anything about the Miami tampering fines and loss of draft picks levied by the NFL for negotiations between the Dolphins and QB Tom Brady while he was still under contract with the Patriots, he’s been liberal with his praise.
But one of his best comments came on Thursday when a 14-year-old was granted media access and asked Belichick if he believed fantasy football was good or bad for the NFL. Belichick didn’t disappoint with the answer.
“Honestly, I don’t really have any opinion on that because fantasy football doesn’t mean anything to me,” Belichick said. “We’re just trying to win games out here, so I don’t know who’s hot, who’s not, who wins, who doesn’t. I don’t really care about that. I just care about whether we win.” He finished it with a grin at the youngster.
Rich Ohrnberger: The former Patriots offensive lineman told a funny story about purposely getting into an accident after he overslept and was going to be late for work during his rookie season.
Bill Belichick is famous for sending players home if they’re late for meetings or practices, and Ohrnberger didn’t want to incur the wrath of the Patriots’ head coach. So, he concocted an idea. He’d purposely get into a car accident to give him a plausible excuse for being late.
Speaking on his Hartman and Rich O Show in San Diego, Ohrnberger said, “You don’t want to be the guy that’s wandering into a squad team meeting and have Bill Belichick and the rest of the team look at you.
“I see a church van in front of me that’s all dinged up, and it’s got the black smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe. I’m just like, ‘I’m gonna hit this car. I’m gonna rear end this car,'” Ohrnberger said while laughing. “I’m going to hit this car, because it’s better to pay the insurance or, like, peel off this guy a couple hundred bucks than embarrass myself being late for this Patriots team meeting.”
While the damage was slight, Ohrnberger joked that he at least had visual evidence that he had been in an accident.
Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2”, in a bit, please check it out. Russ, Derek, and I looked at the first few days of training camp, be sure to check it out.
Russ Francis/Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame, and the fact that especially Francis isn’t is an absolute travesty. Francis and the Raiders’ Dave Casper changed the game with how teams used the tight end position…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.
“Christian’s done a good job. He’s way ahead of where he was last year. First of all, he’s in much better condition. Second of all, he has a much better understanding of what we do, what our opponents do, and the daily routine or the weekly routine of how the progression’s going to go, because he’s been through it. There were times, with all rookies, where they don’t expect it to be as much as it is, or they expect it to be more than what it is. Maybe fatigue they can’t get through, can’t pace themselves, just because they don’t know. Now they know and they’re much better at that. He’s been more consistent, like all second-year players – this isn’t really unique to him – but he’s been more consistent. He has a better understanding of our scheme, the opponent’s scheme, what can happen, what’s a problem, how to handle those problems when they come up. And his physical development, his techniques, his skills: overall strength, speed, stamina, have improved. They were good anyway, but they’ve gotten better through training. He’s making progress.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on DT Christian Barmore, who is entering Year 2 of his NFL career and has gotten off to a very good start in training camp.
“So, how was your week?”
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