Some takeaways from watching the Pats-Dolphins All-22, complete with photos, as well as a look ahead to the Vikings:
-The defense should be fine, even if Peterson didn’t abuse his kid. The heat mattered. Roosevelt Colvin and Tedy Bruschi both said this week that you can’t downplay how tough it is to play in Miami early in the year, and the second-half tape drove that home. Jamie Collins played every snap but one and looked like he could pass out at any second in the fourth quarter.
-The front seven looked bad, but a lot of that was that it wasn’t a front “seven” very often, and even when it was, it was the wrong one. Two things here: Lazor clearly brought over Chip Kelly’s scheme, and it’s legit. Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo looked like they never saw an inside zone at times for some reason, but it seemed like the players and coaches were too far into their own heads about the Oregon-style offense. Belichick had Jones at 5-tech at the same time as WIlfork, and those two should never be in the same position. Jamie Collins is not a classic 3-4 ILB as much as Jones isn’t a Richard Seymour type, too, and then Hightower was lined up at almost a 90 degree angle to the line of scrimmage at times. There’s a method to the madness, but only God, Belichick and Patricia know why Easley was asked to two-gap as much as he did.
-The scheme was in the Pats’ head because it’s a really good scheme, though. Film guru Greg Cosell said on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast that because of the tempo and the way the offense spreads out a defense, the Chip Kelly rushing offense is akin to the Bill Walsh passing offense. As in, it just works. Hightower or Mayo would be in the slot often, covering a receiver or tight end and couldn’t do anything when the Dolphins ran inside zone against a six-man box, because in that offense, the QB can just as quickly throw a bubble screen as hand the ball off. This will explain the quality of that scheme better than I could.
-Belichick likely knows Norv Turner’s offense like his own at this point, and that’s why I’m not worried about the defense Sunday, Peterson or not. The Pats won’t be searching for answers because Bill already knows them.
-The pass defense and secondary was alright, and hopefully with more man-press concepts they can shine even more as Belichick and Patricia go to more of that stuff. Everyone from Butler to Ryan to Revis was competitive when in one-on-one, even if they were asked to play outside leverage with an eight yard cushion like they were Antawn Molden in 2011 way too much.
-The pass D will also get better when Ninkovich gets more snaps. Hightower had some good moments in his spot, but Ninkovich should be rushing the passer in nickel sets whenever possible.
-Offense: More worrisome than the defense. Hopefully it was a heat thing for them too, but everyone on the line sucked. Devey didn’t look like an NFL player, Solder and Vollmer got killed, Connolly was his mediocre self, and Cannon looked predictably suspect in his new position. Devey will be a problem if he keeps getting snaps, but Cannon and the tackles will be better, and Connolly is what he is. Stork could be an underrated key to the season if he can render Devey and Wendell irrelevant.
-Also worrisome: Brady locked on to receivers like Mark Sanchez a lot and threw like him too. His receivers weren’t spectacular, and barring a Dobson breakout (still hopeful), they won’t be. Brady has to elevate that group, and hopefully the line gives him the chance to do it like he has so many times before.
-The Vikings’ coach, Mike Zimmer, was the D-Coordinator when Kevin Coyle, Miami’s D-coordinator, was Cincy’s DBs coach. Coyle fooled Brady and the o-line multiple times last week with some zone drops and “sugaring” — showing blitz then pulling back at least one defender – and Zimmer will do the same stuff this week. McDaniels and Brady know it, and they have to figure it out. Hopefully they hit up Scarnecchia this week, too.
-Brady and Belichick have to bounce back. They always do. Pats 30 Vikings 14
Enlightening screenshots of the week (all images via NFL Game Rewind, insert joke here about the expressed written consent of NFL).
This was the first play after Collins’ forced fumble and McDaniels took a shot at the endzone. Cannon whiffed on the block of the free rusher, and the Pats eventually settled for a field goal on the drive. Edelman was open, but also pulling the safety for Thompkins’ post route.
Belichick breaks down similar play against Texans in 2012 ago that went for TD here.
The big difference between those two plays is Cannon is the left guard making this peel-back block, not Wendell, a center. The left guard is closer, of course, but Cannon still doesn’t get his head around, and Brady forces a throw in Bolden’s direction as he is dragged down. Bolden was open here, too, with room to spare. This picture is obvious ammo for anyone who didn’t like the Mankins trade.
Brady stares down Gronk, again. Vereen is definitely not doubled, Gronk is. Also, the Dolphins “sugared” the A-gaps here and then dropped back, which is why Connolly and Cannon aren’t blocking anyone. More of that coming Sunday.
More sugaring. Wendell (62) is going to take the guy to his left, and everyone else will too.
Except that guy doesn’t come, and Wake comes free, which is terrifying. Brady throws it away before he dies.
The Xs show Wilfork and Chandler Jones both lined up on the outside shade of each tackle. WIlfork is “325” pounds, and Jones is 260-265. They shouldn’t play the same position.
Later in that play, Jones gets washed out, and we have a ALLLAAAYYY (Merril Hoge voice).
Brady stares down Gronk here as the safety is clearly bearing down on 87, with three guys open underneath. I miss the Tom of “my favorite receiver is the open one.”
This was a play-action play, and Odrick, 98, was lined up to Devey’s right, and has already crossed his face before Brady even turns around!!!!!! Also, Solder whiffs at getting a hand on his guy, Vernon, and there’s a party at the quarterback.
Evidence of how the Chip Kelly system can spread you out and then run on you. Not counting Revis, who is likely responsible for covering Clay, there are only 5 true run stoppers in the box on this play. What’s more likely to score in hockey, a 4-3 power play or a 5-4 one? A 4-3 one, because there’s more space to defend. Same concept here in the running game.
Collins still got through and had a chance for a TFL, but he whiffed. The heat mattered.