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Old 01-07-2013   #40
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Default Re: Game Planning for the Patriots

Originally Posted by patfanken View Post
Just stopping by to possibly offer some insights from a Pats fan's point of view, in exchange for some answers to some question I'm having about the Texans.

As far as the defense goes, its a very interesting comparison of styles I've gotten to see 3 Texan games in the last month (Pats, Colts, Cinci) and it seems to me that the Texans play defense with one basic style. An aggressive attacking front 7, supported by a secondary playing tough man to man coverage. It looked like you brought 5 men about 50% of the time.

In contrast the Pats front 7 plays 2 gap, even when in a 4-3. They blitz only about 20% of the time, and the secondary is generally in some kind of zone. I will mention however that recently (as its VERY YOUNG defense got more experienced, and Talib joined the team) they've played more man coverage and blitzed a bit more.

My first question is: Will Wade Phillips continue to "go with what got him here", or can he channel his inner Rex Ryan and pull a 180 and go against his basic philosophy and try to duplicate what the Jets did in the 2010 playoffs?

The Texans are likely to see the Pats at their season long healthiest. The Pats did lose 3 starters to the IR, which by the way, is a very good year for them (LB Dane Fletcher, CB Ras-I Dowling, and WR/PR Julian Edelman). But the OL which has been banged up all year has had a run of 4 games straight where all the starters have played. I think that's the longest stretch of the season.

Gronk has been out as you know and played about 20 snaps in the season ender, so some of the rust got knocked off. But he did favor the broken arm in the game when he blocked. I don't know if the additional 2 weeks rest has improved it. It didn't affect his receiving, but normally Gronk is the best blocking TE in the league. He wasn't against Miami. If he is again on Sunday, then the Pats running game will be improved.

My second question is this: After the Pats scored on its first 3 drives, the Texans for all purposes shut the Pats down for about 2 quarters, with exception of the Hail Mary-like TD pass to Stallworth. Was the Texan success during that stretch the result of an adjustment Wade made, better execution by the Texans, or poor execution by the Pats? I'm wondering if any of you Texan fans who get the "all 22" from have broken that down.

Don't sleep on the Pats defense. It IS getting better, even though we are starting 3 rookies (Jones, Hightower, and Dennard) and have 2 more playing certain defensive packages (Wilson and Francis). I shouldn't have to remind you that the vaunted Texan Defense and the much maligned Pats defense allow exactly the same number of points to the opposition.

My Third question - On the opening drive of the first game, the Texans and Arian Foster ripped the Pats D for 3 runs of over 15 yds (one called back on a penalty), forcing the Pats to call a TO. It didn't look good. My question is what happened after that? Foster wound up with only 46 yds, the entire Texan running attack was limited to about 100 yds and 40 of those came on 2 runs.

The Texan running attack looked awesome against the Bengals. Foster was literally breaking the ankles of every Bengal LB out there. What happened in NE last time, and what's changed with the Texans that makes you think that it will be any different this time?

Finally, I can't tell you how impressed, I and most Pats fans were with JJ Watt. He was a big favorite with Pats draftniks when he came out....and there was a time where it looked like he might fall to us, I was both surprised and disappoint when the Texans took him at 11. And what looked like a reach at the time, turned out to be the steal of the draft.

What impressed me most was this. Statistically it would have seemed like the Pats shut him down. This was the ONLY game of the year where Watt didn't have a sack, deflection, or tackle for a loss this season. YET for anyone who watched that game, JJ Watt was the single most impactful defensive player that we have seen this year. (though ASmith was a close 2nd). That's hard to believe given he didn't record a single significant defensive stat.....and STILL stood out from the rest.

BTW- Nate Solder our LT was a nice consolation prize, who eventually will see a lot of Pro bowls, before he's done, but.....

Thanks for you patience, I look forward to your feedback
These are good questions. Thanks for your respectful contribution to this forum. Here's a quick attempt at an answer:

1. Though the Texans blitz a ton, they tend to blitz less against more experienced QBs. So because they faced a lot of less experienced QBs, those numbers tend to be high, but IIRC, the numbers were less against Manning/Brady than their normal.

2. Haven't broken down the all-22 from that game because it was hard enough to watch the first time. I don't think there was a big adjustment from the first half to the second other than (just a feel here) settling down a little bit from the first half and getting adjusted to the pace of play. Patriots are a challenge in a lot of respects, but their pace of play is hard to replicate and get used to.

I think on both sides of the ball, the Texans did not look like themselves, looked like they were pressing some. I thought going into that game it was going to be difficult for them to hit the sweet spot between aggression and flat--where you are just doing what you can do without pressing or playing too cautious. Many more mental errors than had been typical before that. Some of that could be transitional with some issues on defense, some of it is just that the Patriots are a hard matchup for most.

(As an aside, on offense the Texans did not have Garrett Graham for that game due to a concussion. He's a key part of the offense in a year of inexperience at the 3-5 WR position. Unfortunately, he got hit in the head hard against the Bengals. He finished the game (optimism) but when his name came up in today's presser, Kubiak said that all injury issues would be discussed on Wednesday when it is required (pessimism). He is very handy to have in goalline formations, and the Texans use a ton of 2+ TE formations. But they only have 3 TEs on the active roster, and not likely to activate another one if Graham is out).

3. As for the running game, I think two things were of issue. There's been a lack of consistency with it the entire year, and many more run stuffs than is typical of the group. In addition, when the Texans got too far down, at some point you have to say screw it with the run and just pass.

It will be key for the Texans defense not to give up the big play. It can be hard to get your offense on track on the road, and if the Texans get too far behind, there goes the running game.

The good news is that the Texans were able to run against a very physical Bengals defense that is probably even a little underrated because they've had very little help from their offense. Don't know if that means Foster is back, but at least his playoff performances so far have been outstanding. First back in NFL history to get 100+ in first three playoff starts. His game against the Ravens in a loss was impressive given that Andre wasn't quite Andre, and the Texans were starting TJ Yates at QB. Everybody knew the Texans were running. The Ravens defense was good last year. And he was able to be very effective with both the run and receptions.

Texans would like to run on the Patriots. When they can put together good time of possession games, it keeps good QBs on the bench. Going back to their normal average in the red zone would help, but Patriots have a sick red zone percentage this year so there's that.

Difficulty is that few teams have good matchups against the Patriots, and losing Cushing made Wade Phillips task even harder because it reduced his flexibility. The Patriots run defense may be statistically artificially better than it really is because teams have to give up on the run. The flip side is that good offenses sometimes have better pass defenses than the stats say because they get tested so much with teams garbage timing from behind.

Anyway, I wanted to respond to your comment because I thought it was of the sort that is actual football talk and not neener neener talk, and I want to encourage that sort of thing.
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