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How Should Bill Fix the Secondary? 2012 Edition


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#1 Jungleland

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:01 AM

While through seven games there are plenty of questions on both sides of the ball, the team is 4-3 and in first place in the AFC East. They are in the driver's seat for a playoff spot, and given the weak field around them it's conceivable to think this team still has a decent chance of a top two seed and first round bye. Many of the issues on the offensive side of the ball seem likely to sort themselves out over the next few weeks: Lloyd will hopefully get over his case of stone hands, the tight ends are already gradually getting healthier, McDaniels/BB should sort out the identity issues on that side of the ball if not outright improve the poor playcalling that has plagued this team in both the redzone as well as the 4th quarter in general. With the biggest question mark on offense (the line) playing imo quite well in its patchwork state, I'm confident that over the remaining nine games this unit will round into form closer to the juggernaut we expected through the offseason and thought we had seen in the Titans game.

Obviously, the real problems with the Pats are the same as they have been since 2009. This team seemingly can't do anything at all against the pass. In years past we were seeing a strong commitment to a modified bend-don't-break philosophy, allowing teams to carve up the field in ten yard chunks while largely preventing the deep ball. This year, not only are teams getting open short, they are absolutely killing the Pats over the top. Every play is seemingly a long completion or long PI. Part of the problem stems from lack of pass rush (not quite getting enough play around these parts but I digress), but most visibly it's the secondary that is killing the team's chances.

This is really a long-winded way of setting up a pretty simple question. What personnel and scheme gives this team the best chance to win? Do you keep McCourty at safety? Is there anyone with "AFC Championship Sterling Moore" breakout potential?

#2 bankshot1


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:07 AM

Or with the trade deadline coming up do the Pats make a deal for a cornerback?

#3 Morgan's Magic Snowplow


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:10 AM

1. Get your two starting safeties back, but keep giving Wilson every chance to beat out Gregory.
2. Commit to Dennard at the CB spot opposite McCourty, as Arrington is just a disaster and has little upside.
3. Play more nickel, taking Spikes off the field, and concede the run a little bit more.
4. Increase blitz frequency somewhat as we are too predictable in pass rush. Specifically, I'd really like to see more five-man rushes with Hightower involved.
5. Hope your young players keep improving over the course of the season.
6. Draft Eric Reid.

#4 Stitch01


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:11 AM

Id like to see McCourty and Dennard starting at CB. I think that's the best pairing.

I still think the guy with the best breakout potential is Dowling, but its hard to expect it to happen at this point.

To your ancillary point, and as others have mentioned, Id like to see more Cunningham.

Scheme wise, I dont know if much is going to change. Id probably blitz a little more, maybe more of the secondary blitzes we saw towards the end of last season, but I dont think there's a schematic change that's going to suddenly turn things around.

We're likely going to have to win by putting up 30 same as last year.

#5 Ed Hillel


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:14 AM

Completely agree with the Spikes comment. The guy is a monster on first and second down, but is a complete liability on third down. He's the worst blitzer on the team and can't cover. Put Nink in his spot and Cunningham on the left end. Then unleash Mayo and/or Hightower toward the QB.

#6 cshea


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:15 AM

I was at the game yesterday, and it looked to me like the soft spot in the Pats zone was 15-20 yards downfield between the numbers and the sideline. Seemed like Sanchez and Kerley went to work on that spot all day. It felt like the Kerley/Hill would run to that spot, sit down in between the safety and corner, and it would be an easy completion every time.

I'm not a great X's and O's guy in football, but is that a scheme thing? Seemed like the Pats were content on allowing plays in that area, and they never really adjusted the whole game.

#7 Saints Rest

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:16 AM

I think that the CB's have been unfairly maligned due to the woeful ineptitude that is the state of safety play so far this season. I think DMC at FS is a great choice. He has the speed and instincts to be the centerfielder that this team sorely lacks. I know BB traditionally thinks in terms of Left Safety and Right Safety, and I think that was great when there were guys like Rodney, and even Eugene Wilson in his early days, who could cover AND provide run support, but the safety personnel now seems to be either/or -- or in other words, the more traditional strong/free. But unfortunately, I don't think any of the current safeties are really suited for the Free. But DMC could be this guy. Fortunately, DMC also has great tackling technique and good instincts on run support so I don't think anything is lost there. Let Chung, Gregory and WIlson battle it out for the SS.

I think that Dowling and Dennard at the CB's with good safety support over the top could get the job done. I go back and forth on Arrington. He has certainly looked like the ghost of Duane Starks at many times, but I think he is better than what he has shown. He also is a very sure tackler against the run so there is that as well. I've also liked Dennard against the run in SSS. I thought Dowling played pretty well yesterday, breaking up a couple of Sanchez' favorite slant plays.

Sadly, I don't think there is any help coming from outside the organization, so I think it comes down to some change in coaching schemes as well as some personnel shifting.

#8 Rico Guapo

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:17 AM

1. Send Cunningham more. IMO he's the most effective pass rusher on the team right now.
2. Blitz more in general. Sending 4 isn't getting it done.
3. Play more press/man coverage. The guys they have in the secondary are incapable of playing effective zone coverage right now, there were free recievers all over the place last night.

#9 Mystic Merlin


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:17 AM

I was at the game yesterday, and it looked to me like the soft spot in the Pats zone was 15-20 yards downfield between the numbers and the sideline. Seemed like Sanchez and Kerley went to work on that spot all day. It felt like the Kerley/Hill would run to that spot, sit down in between the safety and corner, and it would be an easy completion every time.

I'm not a great X's and O's guy in football, but is that a scheme thing? Seemed like the Pats were content on allowing plays in that area, and they never really adjusted the whole game.


I haven't obviously looked at the Rewind yet, but I doubt it's a scheme thing, as I'm not aware of any scheme that is designed to allow receivers the kinds of cushions we saw at times yesterday. If I had to guess, I'd say it was screw-ups in not passing off the receiver crisply to the deep help, assuming it was zone coverage. Or the offensive playcall was perfectly tailored to the defense.

#10 dynomite

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:22 AM

I'll post this in here, as it seems like the more appropriate place.

For context, the Patriots signed Cowboys CB Nate Jones on 11/30/11, so it wouldn't be out of the question for them to bring in a veteran this late in a season.

I really wonder whether we'll see a FA signing in the secondary this week, depending in part on Chung and Gregory's health.

From RotoWorld: the updated list of current FAs. Any names pop out?


Cornerbacks

1. Leigh Bodden
2. Chris Johnson
3. Justin King
4. Bryant McFadden
5. Trevard Lindley
6. Andre' Goodman
7. Kelly Jennings
8. Kevin Barnes
9. Kevin Thomas
10. Jerome Murphy
11. Jonathan Wade
12. Antwaun Molden
13. Lito Sheppard
14. Bryan McCann
15. Morgan Trent


Safeties

1. Nick Collins
2. Deon Grant
3. O.J. Atogwe
4. Brodney Pool
5. Charlie Peprah
6. Tyrone Culver
7. Sean Jones

8. Jaiquawn Jarrett
9. Melvin Bullitt
10. Tyrell Johnson
11. Bob Sanders
12. Husain Abdullah
13. Gerald Alexander
14. Gibril Wilson
15. Reggie Smith
16. Jon McGraw
17. Paul Oliver
18. Derrick Martin
19. Aaron Francisco
20. James Butler

21. David Caldwell (NOTE: My addition. He started for the Colts last year, was waived at the end of camp, and the Patriots worked him out in Sept.)


Edit: I'm also looking for UDFAs they've worked out:

- Chandler Fenner (DB, Holy Cross)
- Buddy Jackson (DB, Pittsburgh)


Edited by dynomite, 22 October 2012 - 11:24 AM.


#11 tims4wins


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:24 AM

At this point, I think Dennard has earned himself a lot of snaps. I still think Arrington is the best fit as the nickel slot back, and I think that Chung, when healthy, should be one of the safeties (even though he's nothing more than an average player, IMO). McCourty should also be on the field for just about every play, either at CB or safety.

I like what I've seen from Tavon Wilson thus far, but he has also made some huge mistakes. And while Dowling has shown a good amount of potential, he is also making some big mistakes and getting penalized a bunch. Based on what you think of Wilson and Dowling, I think the best options are either:

1) base CBs of McCourty and Dennard, nickel slot CB Arrington, safeties Chung and Wilson
or
2) base CBs of Dennard and Dowling, nickel slot CB Arrington, safeties Chung and McCourty

#12 Jungleland

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:25 AM

Is McCourty currently the team's best safety and best cornerback? Secondly, if yes, do the young options at either position have upside of getting to that level or better? And finally, is the dropoff from McCourty to the next best option greater at safety or at cb?

Kind of looks to me like McCourty's a better corner than safety, but the dropoff from McCourty to Wilson/Chung/Gregory/Ebner is greater than that from DMC to Dennard/Dowling. Should Bill open the cb hole to plug the safety hole even if it means lowering McCourty's ceiling?

And fwiw, t4w, I think option two gives the team the best chance to win at the moment. I have more confidence in Dowling currently. And I think that Wilson is the 'guy that should be on the bench but has the highest chance of rounding into a quality player', and if that can happen, you conceivably could slide DMC back to corner and finally put Arrington on the bench where he belongs.

Edited by Jungleland, 22 October 2012 - 11:28 AM.


#13 Mystic Merlin


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:30 AM

Look, I think it's important to ALWAYS look at FA/trades for potential upgrades, but I hold two maxims to be true: one, teams are not going to trade competent DBs, because they don't grow on trees, and you never can have enough of them; two, if a guy is still a FA two months into the season, that's a credible sign that he can't play, whether due to injury or erosion of skill generally.

They're gonna have to go with what they got.

#14 Phragle


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:44 AM

1. Get your two starting safeties back, but keep giving Wilson every chance to beat out Gregory.
2. Commit to Dennard at the CB spot opposite McCourty, as Arrington is just a disaster and has little upside.
3. Play more nickel, taking Spikes off the field, and concede the run a little bit more.
4. Increase blitz frequency somewhat as we are too predictable in pass rush. Specifically, I'd really like to see more five-man rushes with Hightower involved.
5. Hope your young players keep improving over the course of the season.
6. Draft Eric Reid.


This, but I'd add: Make Dowling the slot CB and play Cunningham at tackle more. I'd also experiment with Dowling at safety.

#15 Shelterdog


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:47 AM

Look, I think it's important to ALWAYS look at FA/trades for potential upgrades, but I hold two maxims to be true: one, teams are not going to trade competent DBs, because they don't grow on trees, and you never can have enough of them; two, if a guy is still a FA two months into the season, that's a credible sign that he can't play, whether due to injury or erosion of skill generally.

They're gonna have to go with what they got.


I'm with you.

I think the answer is get your two starting safeties back, you hope that Denard/Dowling/Wilson continue to improve and force their way ahead of of Gregory/Arrington/Moore, you hope that a healthy Hightower is a better nickel linebacker than Spikes has been, and you hope that your very young secondary improves as the season continues.


You also hope (and expect) that the passing games slow down in November and December, which appears to happen due to weather and mounting injuries.

#16 Dick Pole Upside

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:57 AM

If the reason that Dowling is not playing is related to the holds and PI penalties, I will partially argue it's because he appears to stick with his man better than the other CBs. At least one of the holds on him yesterday was a good, solid, LOS jam that shouldn't have been called. Not to say the other penalties weren't legitimate, but I'd like to see him have the latitude to work it out on the field, because he is big enough and quick enough to stay with people.

To a layman's eyes, the technique for these CBs in general appears to be terrible. On a lot of the replays, the CBs (Arrington, DMC, Dennard) literally seem to let their WR run right by them and are getting caught flat-footed. I know some of it is coverage by design, but it is alarming how often Pats CBs are playing catch-up vs. running side-by-side with their man. The difference in ability to make a play on the ball is significant, imo.

As for the safeties, run support is decent, but pass coverage and recognition is poor. Wilson is an able tackler, but he is a virtual turnstyle in coverage, even when he's playing the deep half of the field. Receivers continuously run free in his area, with his decision-making a split second too late to close.

Someone upthread mentioned more blitzing... it looked like the Pats were double-covering Kerley and Hill yesterday (think about that for a second), and there were still receivers running free in the secondary for the Jets. So the extra coverage (and lack of sending a fifth rusher) STILL wasn't working.

I believe the talent is there (at the very least on par with most teams), but is either not developing or is regressing.

Hence, I think a significant chunk of the problem is a function of coaching. I am very strongly anti-Boyers... he's been here for 5-6 years, and it's the same old sh*t every year. BB is loathe to fire a coach mid-season, but this is getting pretty ridiculous. I know Flores is a rookie coach (safety), but either BB and/or Patricia needs to be doing a much better job coaching these guys... Boyers and Flores aren't getting it done.

#17 smastroyin


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 12:19 PM

Someone upthread mentioned more blitzing... it looked like the Pats were double-covering Kerley and Hill yesterday (think about that for a second), and there were still receivers running free in the secondary for the Jets. So the extra coverage (and lack of sending a fifth rusher) STILL wasn't working.


Not sure blitzing is the answer, but it is worth noting that a lot of those "open" routes were open because of the time the play had to develop.

With enough time, receivers are going to get open, especially on those double or triple move crosses where two receivers can force the coverage guys into picking each other if they aren't careful.

#18 collings94

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 12:28 PM

Obviously making a trade or picking up a FA is the best option, but I agree with the need to fix the pass rush by taking Spikes out on passing downs. With Nink, Jones and Cunningham you can at least protect the secondary better. The front seven has played pretty well. A lot of the time yesterday the front seven would play well on the first two downs, and even get some pressure on 3rd down, yet Sanchez would still complete passes to a wide open Kerley, Keller or Hill.

I don't know if it's a system issue, but remember how we used to just pick guys up and they would play well? Remember when the Pats signed Earthwind Moreland and plugged him right into the rotation? What happend to that? When Romeo gets fired, can he come back?

#19 Mugsys Jock


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 12:37 PM

For shits and giggles, here is the DB depth chart for every team in the league with 2 or fewer wins at this point. Not that there are ever trades of meaningful players in the NFL, but trying to assemble a list of potential targets:

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
CB: Derek Cox, Rashean Matthews, William Middleton, Aaron Ross
SS: Dawan Landry
FS: Dwight Lowery (inj), Chris Prosinski

CLEVELAND BROWNS
CB: Joe Haden (I wish), Dmitiri Patterson, Buster Skrine, Sheldon Brown
SS: TJ Ward
FS: Usama Young, Tashawn Gipson, Eric Hagg

OAKLAND RAIDERS
CB: Pat Lee, Shawntae Spencer, Mike Huff, Joselio Hanson
SS: Tyvon Branch, Michael Mitchell
FS: Matt Giordano

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
CB: Brandon Flowers, Stanford Routt, Javier Arenas, Jalil Brown
SS: Eric Berry (might be had -- expensive, not living up to his rep...)
FS: Kendrick Lewis

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
CB: Patrick Robinson, Jabari Greer (beaten out by Robinson), Corey WHite, Johnny Patrick
SS: Roman Harper (Bounty-gate suspect)
FS: Malcolm Jenkins (I wish)

TAMPA BAY BUCS
CB: Eric Wright, EJ Biggers, Brandon McDonald, Leonard Johnson
SS: Ronde Barber (has been mentioned in trade talk before), Ahmad Black
FS: Mark Barron (yeah, right), Cody Grimm

CAROLINA PANTHERS
CB: Chris Gamble (inj), Captain Munnerlyn, Josh Norman, Josh Thomas
SS: Charles Godfrey,
FS: Haruki Nakamura, Sherrod Martin

A couple other interesting names, focusing on generally older players who may be expensive now but could be cut next year, among others:
Quentin Jammer (not part of the future in SD?),
Vontae Davis (well, he cracked me up on Hard Knocks -- IND paid a 2nd and a 6th so he wouldn't come cheap),
Michael Griffin (on a big deal in TEN, has range),
Robert Johnson (just benched in TEN)
Antoine Cason (has looked awful in the games I've seen this year in SD, but productive in the past)
Craig Steltz (he's just depth in strong CHI backfield)

#20 Morning Woodhead

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 12:45 PM

The name on there that jumps out to me, but will never happen is Brandon Flowers. Knows the system, great fit.

I have a hard time seeing the Patriots involved at the trade deadline. Our best bet is free agents, and that list is pretty depressing.

#21 Youkilis vs Wild

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 01:33 PM

I really thought Dowling played pretty well yesterday. I'd be happy to see more of him.

Dowling, Dennard at the corners.
Chung, McCourty as base safeties -- in a conventional strong and free scheme.
Wilson and Gregory mixed in, with McCourty shifting as needed. And see what you can find in the scrap heap.

#22 soxfan121


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 02:12 PM

2) base CBs of Dennard and Dowling, nickel slot CB Arrington Moore, safeties Chung Wilson and McCourty


Press, man coverage at the LOS, with McCourty trying to impersonate Ed Reed (watching the QB and playing a ball-hawking CF).

What's the downside? They get beat deep? Some more holding or PI penalties?

If they're gonna suck, I'd prefer they suck aggressively. Play bump&run, man-to-man and see what happens. Dennard & Dowling are physically suited to it.

Get Arrington off the field - he has been consistently terrible in all phases of the game this season.

#23 Phragle


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 02:17 PM

For FAs they should at least workout Jaiquawn Jarrett - 54th overall pick by Philly in 2011. Worth a shot IMO. I wouldn't take much to improve on Chung or Gregory.

In the trade market Jacksonville has some interesting DBs and Eric Berry (of KC) could be possible.

#24 Phragle


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 02:20 PM

Press, man coverage at the LOS, with McCourty trying to impersonate Ed Reed (watching the QB and playing a ball-hawking CF).

What's the downside? They get beat deep? Some more holding or PI penalties?

If they're gonna suck, I'd prefer they suck aggressively. Play bump&run, man-to-man and see what happens. Dennard & Dowling are physically suited to it.

Get Arrington off the field - he has been consistently terrible in all phases of the game this season.


That wouldn't suck, but I still don't like Moore being on the field in the nickel. He's almost as bad as Arrington.

#25 dynomite

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 02:25 PM

What about David Caldwell? Anyone watch him on the Colts last season? UDFA in 2010, started 13 games at SS for the Colts in 2011, Patriots worked him out a few months ago.

(Again, neither of our starting Safties (Chung & Gregory) could play yesterday. If either is limited again, the team will almost have to bring someone in, whether a PS guy or a FA)

EDIT:

Look, I think it's important to ALWAYS look at FA/trades for potential upgrades, but I hold two maxims to be true: one, teams are not going to trade competent DBs, because they don't grow on trees, and you never can have enough of them; two, if a guy is still a FA two months into the season, that's a credible sign that he can't play, whether due to injury or erosion of skill generally.


I agree on the whole, but

1) the Patriots secondary is a disaster, ranked 31st in the league in passing yards allowed. "Improvement" is a low bar.

2) the 2011 Patriots found Sterling Moore and Nate Jones in the haystack mid-season and used them as major pieces as they finished the season 8-0, so this isn't new territory

3) our starting Safties are hurt, so we need injury filler in any event

Edited by dynomite, 22 October 2012 - 02:35 PM.


#26 soxfan121


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 02:26 PM

Dennard into the slot, McCourty to LCB (Dowling at RCB), with Gregory (if healthy) or Chung joining Wilson in the nickel? McCourty is certainly one of the three best CB they have - the problem is, McCourty is the best safety on the roster. He needs to be lined up in space, able to react to the play. He's a very good open field tackler already and he can make good plays on the ball when he sees it. He was really good there yesterday and last year in the playoffs.

Chung v. Arrington v. Moore is a battle royale of suck - all three are playing badly.

Dennard & Dowling need to play more and they need to be allowed to jam WR at the line. Dowling got called for some chickenshit calls yesterday. That needs to improve. But both those guys are physical, tough and can run with WR. Let them play to their strengths; bump & run, man to man. I like Moore as a man defender much more than Arrington, but then again, I would prefer a well-positioned blocking sled to Arrington at this point.

#27 dynomite

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 03:15 PM

McCourty is certainly one of the three best CB they have - the problem is, McCourty is the best safety on the roster. ...

Dennard & Dowling need to play more and they need to be allowed to jam WR at the line. Dowling got called for some chickenshit calls yesterday. That needs to improve. But both those guys are physical, tough and can run with WR. Let them play to their strengths; bump & run, man to man. I like Moore as a man defender much more than Arrington, but then again, I would prefer a well-positioned blocking sled to Arrington at this point.


+1.

As you suggest, I really wonder if it's time to ditch the Cover 2 zone scheme. NFL QBs have found the soft pockets of empty space -- 10-20 yards downfield on each sideline -- and are torching us.

#28 Morgan's Magic Snowplow


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 03:42 PM

+1.

As you suggest, I really wonder if it's time to ditch the Cover 2 zone scheme. NFL QBs have found the soft pockets of empty space -- 10-20 yards downfield on each sideline -- and are torching us.


Cover 2 would not be so popular if running to those pockets was all it took. I haven't looked at the tape but the problem really seems to be that we are just not executing schemes very well. A lot of this can be ascribed to the growing pains of young players in the backfield (although what Arrington's excuse is I have no idea).

For example, many hi/lo passing concepts are designed to attack the Cover 2 zone by putting two receivers onto the same side at different depths (say, one on a hitch and one on a deep out) and "stretching" the CB on that side, putting one receiver in front of him and one behind. Without having looked closely at the tape, my guess is that the Jets were running similar concepts in plays where they completed passes in those pockets 15-20 yards downfield to the sideline. In this situation, the CB and S on that side must read the route combination, usually with the CB moving into the flat and the S moving over to cover the receiver running the deep out. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this coverages as many defenses successfully accomplish it. But its a hard thing for inexperienced players to do at the speed that is required for success in the NFL.

#29 dynomite

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 04:19 PM

Cover 2 would not be so popular if running to those pockets was all it took. I haven't looked at the tape but the problem really seems to be that we are just not executing schemes very well. A lot of this can be ascribed to the growing pains of young players in the backfield (although what Arrington's excuse is I have no idea).
... There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this coverages as many defenses successfully accomplish it. But its a hard thing for inexperienced players to do at the speed that is required for success in the NFL.


Whether it's due to the scheme itself or players that can't play the scheme is almost moot halfway through the season, right?

I'd also love to see the All-22. It seems that some of the blown coverages -- as you suggest -- might be personnel mistakes on man-to-man coverages. For instance: the Stephen Hill drop (Jets 3rd-and-3 with 2:15 left down by 3 at the Pats 25)

Posted Image

I can't be sure, but it seems like Ebner (red arrowed) blew his assignment, covering Keller (#81) instead of Hill. Ebner seems to panic when he turns upfield and sees Arrington over the top, as if he realizes he's covering the wrong guy, and immediately turns toward Hill. It's hard to tell, though, because Sanchize is releasing the ball at the same moment.

EDIT: Also, much to phragle's delight, notice Dennard (#37) playing perfect man-to-man coverage on Kerley in the upper right.

Edited by dynomite, 22 October 2012 - 04:25 PM.


#30 MarcSullivaFan

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 05:59 AM

PFF was high on Jax's Derek Cox going into this season. I doubt any team is going to trade a productive 26-year-old corner unless the get a haul in return, but we can dream. I don't buy the idea that it's too late to integrate a new DB--we've seen it done a number of times with low talent FAs or practice squad guys. So clearly Bill et al. are not categorically opposed to mid season additions.

Edit: link
https://www.profootb...nville-jaguars/



Edited by MarcSullivaFan, 23 October 2012 - 06:01 AM.


#31 bakahump

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:17 AM

To a layman's eyes, the technique for these CBs in general appears to be terrible. On a lot of the replays, the CBs (Arrington, DMC, Dennard) literally seem to let their WR run right by them and are getting caught flat-footed. I know some of it is coverage by design, but it is alarming how often Pats CBs are playing catch-up vs. running side-by-side with their man. The difference in ability to make a play on the ball is significant, imo.


Bakahump endorses this message.


The irony is that when they do seem to have a good technique an run step for step with the receiver...

A. The receiver stops and the DB runs them over....flag
B. The Ball is pretty perfectly placed and even sub par WRs are making very tough "NFL Catches"
C. The DB never turns his head...flag
D.Hand play (on both sides) seems to go against our DBs.....flag
...
Q. The pass is broken up and we wait with baited breath for the yellow cloth.

#32 bunchabums

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:41 AM

Bakahump endorses this message.


The irony is that when they do seem to have a good technique an run step for step with the receiver...

A. The receiver stops and the DB runs them over....flag
B. The Ball is pretty perfectly placed and even sub par WRs are making very tough "NFL Catches"
C. The DB never turns his head...flag
D.Hand play (on both sides) seems to go against our DBs.....flag
...
Q. The pass is broken up and we wait with baited breath for the yellow cloth.


I asked in the game thread if there were team stats on PI and Holding calls. I couldn't find anything on the internet. What my eyes tell me is that the Pats DBs get called for these a lot and that the Pats offense gets very few of these calls to go their way. Not sure if it is born out in stats, however.

The league has adapted to the flag happy refs and in many cases QBs are just throwing it up there and most often getting the call to go their way. Baltimore and Seattle games had several of these plays. Or they are purposely underthrowing go routes and the WRs are stopping and letting our DBs running into them. A lot of this feels like technique adjustment but what do I know. I was third string DB in high school.

#33 Lack_of_Imagination

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 04:11 PM

Per Reiss
"For the second consecutive week, the Patriots began their on-field preparations with a walk-through practice, and cornerback Ras-I Dowling, safety Steve Gregory, running back Brandon Bolden and linebacker Tracy White were the only four players not spotted Tuesday."

Well at least we got a game or two out of the fragile one, Im kidding, I hope. Will be intereting to see what he's listed as on the injury report this week

Edited by Lack_of_Imagination, 23 October 2012 - 04:12 PM.


#34 Super Nomario


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Posted 23 October 2012 - 04:54 PM

Per FO's numbers, the Pats are:
8th in the league vs #1 WR (19.2% better than average)
11th in the league vs #2 WR (9.7% better than average)
32nd in the league vs other WR (87.5% worse than average)
20th in the league vs TE (7% worse than average)
30th in the league vs RB (31.9% worse than average)

This tells me the outside CB have largely been OK, but the slot corner play has been abysmal and the LBs have done a poor job on the RBs. I see the solution as follows:
1) Get Spikes off the field on 3rd downs, replacing him with Hightower (mostly blitzing) or Wilson or somebody (Ebner?) in a LB/S hybrid role
2) Arrington isn't working as the slot corner. I think he's mostly been OK outside. Can Dennard play the slot? Dowling? Can McCourty move inside? This is where they're really getting killed.
3) Mix it up a bit. Drop Ninkovich or Jones / Cunningham into zones or the flats periodically, just to give opposing teams something to think about.
4) Consider a full-time move to safety for McCourty. Probably not his best position, and this ultimately reflects a failure on some level, but like last year it may be the best road to stopping the bleeding.

Edited by Super Nomario, 23 October 2012 - 05:05 PM.


#35 Phragle


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Posted 23 October 2012 - 06:06 PM

Per FO's numbers, the Pats are:
8th in the league vs #1 WR (19.2% better than average)
11th in the league vs #2 WR (9.7% better than average)
32nd in the league vs other WR (87.5% worse than average)
20th in the league vs TE (7% worse than average)
30th in the league vs RB (31.9% worse than average)

This tells me the outside CB have largely been OK, but the slot corner play has been abysmal and the LBs have done a poor job on the RBs. I see the solution as follows:
1) Get Spikes off the field on 3rd downs, replacing him with Hightower (mostly blitzing) or Wilson or somebody (Ebner?) in a LB/S hybrid role
2) Arrington isn't working as the slot corner. I think he's mostly been OK outside. Can Dennard play the slot? Dowling? Can McCourty move inside? This is where they're really getting killed.
3) Mix it up a bit. Drop Ninkovich or Jones / Cunningham into zones or the flats periodically, just to give opposing teams something to think about.
4) Consider a full-time move to safety for McCourty. Probably not his best position, and this ultimately reflects a failure on some level, but like last year it may be the best road to stopping the bleeding.


In the slot I'd go with Dowling over Dennard or McCourty. Dennard is really only good at two things - playing bump and run and man coverage. He can't tackle well or get off blocks, he has no experience blitzing, and plays wide receivers much better than tight ends. McCourty is the best outside corner and the best safety so no need to use him inside. Dowling has all the attributes of a good slot corner. He just has to do it.

A 2-4 nickel defense could be better against the pass than a 4-2. Keep the players the same and just drop Nink or Jones into coverage 3 to 5 times per game. They stand up all the time anyway.

In an ideal world McCourty could take over safety and Chung could be traded for a nickel CB to a team with a CB surplus and a need for a safety.

Edited by phragle, 23 October 2012 - 06:07 PM.


#36 BernieRicoBoomer

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:14 PM

I asked in the game thread if there were team stats on PI and Holding calls. I couldn't find anything on the internet. What my eyes tell me is that the Pats DBs get called for these a lot and that the Pats offense gets very few of these calls to go their way. Not sure if it is born out in stats, however.

The league has adapted to the flag happy refs and in many cases QBs are just throwing it up there and most often getting the call to go their way. Baltimore and Seattle games had several of these plays. Or they are purposely underthrowing go routes and the WRs are stopping and letting our DBs running into them. A lot of this feels like technique adjustment but what do I know. I was third string DB in high school.


Since you asked...I decided to go through each game manually and record all penalties accepted and declined:


Ok....so I have no idea how to get it in here properly formatted as a table. I have the data if anyone is interested.


By my count (and my eyes are very tired)...I see 17 defensive holding, PI and Illegal Contact penalties against the Patriots and only 7 against their opponents.

Edited by BernieRicoBoomer, 23 October 2012 - 10:41 PM.


#37 bunchabums

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:40 PM

By my count (and my eyes are very tired)...I see 17 defensive holding, PI and Illegal Contact penalties against the Patriots and only 7 against their opponents.


If that is the case, that seems like a big differential, especially when you factor in the number of plays the Patriots offense has been running. How does one explain this? It started with the replacement refs but has continued with the regular refs so it doesn't seem like there is anything in that angle.

#38 There is no Rev


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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:42 PM

Since you asked...I decided to go through each game manually and record all penalties accepted and declined:


Ok....so I have no idea how to get it in here properly formatted as a table. I have the data if anyone is interested.


By my count (and my eyes are very tired)...I see 17 defensive holding, PI and Illegal Contact penalties against the Patriots and only 7 against their opponents.


Check your PMs.

#39 Super Nomario


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Posted 24 October 2012 - 12:53 AM

I broke down the Pats' secondary against the Jets on my blog:
http://davebreaksdow...s-new-york.html

Arrington (11 targets, 8 catches, 99 yards), Dennard (6 targets, 5 catches, 86 yards, 1 INT, 1 holding penalty) and Mayo (5 targets, 5 catches, 60 yards) struggled the most. The Jets did a good job attacking the Pats' zone with seam passes in the first half. The Pats played a lot more zone in the second half, and the Jets did a good job using play action and big formations to get LBs matched up on Keller and the slot guys. The Pats used some five-man line looks like Ninkovich and Hightower playing hybrid DE/OLB roles, which seems like good usage of them. The safety play was probably the best of the weeks I've charted.

#40 JohnnyK

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 05:34 AM

I can't be sure, but it seems like Ebner (red arrowed) blew his assignment, covering Keller (#81) instead of Hill. Ebner seems to panic when he turns upfield and sees Arrington over the top, as if he realizes he's covering the wrong guy, and immediately turns toward Hill. It's hard to tell, though, because Sanchize is releasing the ball at the same moment.

EDIT: Also, much to phragle's delight, notice Dennard (#37) playing perfect man-to-man coverage on Kerley in the upper right.

Coaches tape is up; here's a screengrab at the snap with routes the players take:
Posted Image

Now, I know way too little about this stuff, so here's my take

1) The inside receiver runs a delayed route into the flat, Dennard picks him up
2) Hill goes straight up the field, DMC as the safety on that side stays off him by about 10 yards
3) Ebner and the LB both jam the middle receiver, with Arrington then taking over coverage once they release and the LB rushing the passer; Ebner is already way behind Hill at that point so he sticks to that receiver

Its hard to tell how the coverage was drawn up, but Ebner had no chance once he jammed the middle receiver. Since Dennard ignored Hill it seems it was more of a zone coverage (on the outside at least). Ebner either completely blew his assignment (if it was Hill all along or whoever was in his zone) and got too aggressive by jamming the middle receiver instead or DMC was supposed to single cover Hill deep but stayed too far off him.

But to be fair that looks like a great offensive playcall as well.

Now maybe someone who knows what they are talking about can chime in.

Edited by JohnnyK, 24 October 2012 - 05:35 AM.


#41 BernieRicoBoomer

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 07:52 AM

Check your PMs.


Penalties
Game Player Team Penalty Yards
1 Dowling Patriots Defensive PI 9
1 Afalava Titans Offensive Holding 10
1 Campbell Titans Interference w/ Opp. To Make catch 15
1 Hutchinson Titans Offensive Holding 5
1 C. Jones Patriots Offside 5
1 Spikes Patriots Defensive Holding 0
1 Mayo Patriots Defensive PI 6
2 Wilfork Patriots Encroachment 5
2 Groves Cardinals Encroachment 5
2 Batiste Cardinals Offensive Holding 9
2 Aiken Patriots False Start 5
2 Sanders Cardinals Offensive Holding 10
2 Thomas Patriots False Start 5
2 Team Patriots Illegal Formation 5
2 Snyder Cardinals Offensive Holding 10
2 Spikes Patriots Roughing the Passer 0
2 Gregory Patriots Unecessary Roughness 15
2 Roberts Cardinals False Start 5
2 Cole Patriots Illegal Block Above the Waist 10
2 Gronkowski Patriots Offensive Holding 10
2 Gronkowski Patriots False Start 5
3 Koutouvides Patriots Illegal Block Above the Waist 9
3 Upshaw Ravens Personal Foul 15
3 Gronkowski Patriots Offensive Holding 10
3 Edelman Patriots Offensive PI 10
3 Mayo Patriots Defensive PI 2
3 Boldin Ravens Offensive Holding 10
3 Yanda Ravens False Start 5
3 Edelman Patriots False Start 5
3 Ellerbe Ravens Defensive Holding 5
3 Williams Ravens Illegal Contact 5
3 Upshaw Ravens Personal Foul 15
3 Arrington Patriots Defensive Holding 5
3 Pollard Ravens Personal Foul 15
3 T. Smith Ravens False Start 5
3 Moore Patriots Defensive Holding 0
3 Yanda Ravens Offensive Holding 10
3 Koutouvides Patriots Offside 5
3 J. Smith Ravens Defensive Holding 5
3 Reed Ravens Unecessary Roughness 15
3 Yanda Ravens Offensive Holding 10
3 McCourty Patriots Defensive Holding 5
3 Spikes Patriots Defensive Holding 5
3 Webb Ravens Illegal Contact 5
3 Team Ravens Unsportsmanlike Conduct 15
3 McCourty Patriots Defensive PI 27
4 Pears Bills False Start 5
4 Wilson Patriots Offensive Holding 10
4 Williams Bills Roughing the Passer 7
4 Team Bills 12 Men on the Field 0
4 Pears Bills False Start 5
5 Trevathan Broncos Running into the Kicker 0
5 Team Broncos Illegal Formation 0
5 McCourty Patriots Defensive PI 19
5 Mankins Patriots False Start 5
5 Team Broncos 12 Men on the Field 5
5 Wendell Patriots Offensive Holding 10
5 Bannan Broncos Encroachment 5
5 Dumervil Broncos Offside 0
5 Mays Broncos Defensive PI 11
5 Solder Patriots False Start 5
5 Gronkowski Patriots Offensive PI 10
5 Ebner Patriots Offensive Holding 10
6 Wilfork Patriots Offside 5
6 Chung Patriots Illegal Contact 0
6 Gresham Seahawks False Start 5
6 Unger Seahawks False Start 5
6 Vollmer Patriots False Start 5
6 Team Patriots Illegal Shift 5
6 McQuistan Seahawks Offensive Holding 0
6 Brady Patriots Intentional Grounding 0
6 Giacomini Seahawks Offensive Holding 10
6 J. Jones Seahawks Unecessary Roughness 15
6 Chung Patriots Defensive PI 40
6 Spikes Patriots Unecessary Roughness 15
6 Dennard Patriots Defensive PI 0
6 Brady Patriots Intentional Grounding 10
6 Branch Patriots Illegal Motion 0
7 Dowling Patriots Defensive Holding 5
7 Bellore Jets Offensive Holding 10
7 B. Moore Jets False Start 5
7 Team Jets Encroachment 5
7 Thomas Patriots Offensive Holding 10
7 Sanchez Jets Illegal Kick 0
7 Bellore Jets Face Mask 15
7 Hightower Patriots Defensive Holding 5
7 K. Wilson Jets Defensive Holding 5
7 Hernandez Patriots False Start 5
7 B. Moore Jets Offensive Holding 10
7 Reuland Jets False Start 4
7 Dowling Patriots Defensive Holding 0
7 Dennard Patriots Illegal Contact 0
7 Lloyd Patriots Offensive PI 10
7 K. Wilson Jets Defensive PI 6
7 Dennard Patriots Defensive Holding 5


Thanks to Rev for the help with this table...

Breaking it down by game, defensive PI, holding and illegal contact were:

Pats - 3, Titans - 0
Pats - 0, Cardinals - 0
Pats - 6, Ravens - 4
Pats - 0, Bills - 0
Pats - 1, Broncos - 1
Pats - 2, Seahawks - 0
Pats - 5, Jets - 2

Totals - 17, Opponent - 7

#42 54thMA

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 11:28 AM

So when they aren't getting torched for long completions, they're getting flagged for penalties at almost a 3 to 1 ratio vs their opponents.

Thanks for taking the time to post that, this looks more and more like 2009 all over again.

#43 Mystic Merlin


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Posted 24 October 2012 - 11:42 AM

Does no one remember last year?

2011:

Through 8 games: 416.3 YPG allowed (314 passing per)
Season: 411.1 YPG allowed (293 passing per)

2012:

Through 7 games: 376 YPG allowed (290 passing per)

Moreover, I doubt anyone would argue that the defense has less talent this season - the problem is it's young and the back-end is in flux due to injuries and a humongous drop-off in play from Arrington in particular.

Edited by Mystic Merlin, 24 October 2012 - 11:59 AM.


#44 Phragle


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Posted 24 October 2012 - 04:20 PM

Where would one find QR rating against for defensive backs? Someone told me that when QBs are throwing at targets covered by Kyle Arrington they have a perfect rating of 158.

#45 southshoresoxfan

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 04:30 PM

Where would one find QR rating against for defensive backs? Someone told me that when QBs are throwing at targets covered by Kyle Arrington they have a perfect rating of 158.


Hi.

#46 BigSoxFan


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Posted 24 October 2012 - 06:39 PM

So when they aren't getting torched for long completions, they're getting flagged for penalties at almost a 3 to 1 ratio vs their opponents.

Thanks for taking the time to post that, this looks more and more like 2009 all over again.


I'm really interested in seeing what would happen if a team like the Rams went into "fuck it, we're throwing 50+ times this game" mode against the Pats. As the data suggests, we're giving up oodles of yards and penalties in the secondary. You'd think that the production would be worth the occasional TO.

Of course, as a Pats fan, I'm hoping that teams continue to waste plays by running into the strength of our defense.

#47 Jettisoned

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 10:03 PM

Well, WR's are getting open a lot of those deep passes because the safeties love to bite on play action, so eliminating running plays from your attack isn't going to be that useful I wouldn't think.

#48 Dick Pole Upside

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 06:49 AM

Well, WR's are getting open a lot of those deep passes because the safeties love to bite on play action, so eliminating running plays from your attack isn't going to be that useful I wouldn't think.


Agreed. With the exception of DMC's cameo last week, Patriot's safeties have been the functional equivalent of orange traffic cones in pass coverage. Run/pass balance provides the opponent the opportunity to ensure that they are relatively stationary obstacles in the pass game.

#49 TheoShmeo


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Posted 25 October 2012 - 07:55 AM

Right. If it was that simple, every team would indeed pass on every down.

But it's not binary. What worries me is what will happen when a team decides to run just enough to keep the Pats D honest and the safeties biting, but a lot more than the Jets and others have. If I was the Rams, I'd amp the ratio up to 80-20 or something like that.

#50 rodderick

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 09:41 AM

Right. If it was that simple, every team would indeed pass on every down.

But it's not binary. What worries me is what will happen when a team decides to run just enough to keep the Pats D honest and the safeties biting, but a lot more than the Jets and others have. If I was the Rams, I'd amp the ratio up to 80-20 or something like that.


Wasn't that pretty much what the Broncos did? Manning was in shotgun all game.




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