Truth be told this is a boring lesson plan. Total mail it in job. Turn the lights off and put on a movie and I don't even care if you sleep. I have a headache. With the Sox, and MNF, and Halloween, this week is nuts. But more important than all of that, there were very few teachable moments from this game. On offense we did jack. There was one good completion to Jules on the left sideline that was a nice levels concept. Hoags ran a shallow out in front of a corner back and Jules ran a deep out behind him, forcing a decision. When the DB stepped up just slightly, Tom hit Jules for a big gain. That was nice.
But even with that if feels hard to reward the offense when they put up one tuddy against a Bills team that's having a train run on them like they're Augie's chicken fingers. Besides, not covering the over cost me 8 billion dollars (number approx) so forgive me for taking out a little frustration on the offense.
Let's begins the instructional video portion of class with Kyle Van Noy. He left his finger prints all over the game on Monday, his biggest play being a massive strip sack deep in Bills territory when it was only 9-6 Pats late in the third quarter. That's not the play we're going to look at though. There's not much to talk about. It was a pure speed rush around the edge. I can't be sure if the Bills LT even saw him, but I can confirm he didn't touch him. Anderson took a deep drop and at that point he might as well have handed the ball off to Van Noy in some kind of inverse read option and saved himself the head trauma.
Instead I want to look at this play which came early in the second half. Of course the score was still close and the Bills came out in the wildcat again with Shady ready to take the direct snap. The Pats lined up with 4 down lineman, and for the most part it was our run stopping group. From the top to the bottom of your screen its Wise, Brown, Guy, and MY BOY Trey Flowers. Van Noy and Grigsby are the two linebackers in this sub package.
You never expect a pass out of this formation, but it doesn't mean you can ignore it completely, so the LBs have to be patient before they dive bomb the LOS like some kamikaze fighters. But in this case the Bills are going to run. Shady is taking the ball off tackle to his right. The two WRs that lined up at the bottom of the screen both use seal out blocks to pin the DBs. Then you've got FOUR (!!!!) OLinemen pulling in front of Shady. Look at this wall of blockers significantly outnumbering the potential tacklers on the Patriots. And specifically focus on the task Van Noy is facing. He's the first man to react who isn't engaged in a block. It's a miserable job to run head first in the lions den, but he knows that's his duty. He hopes to get absolutely blown up, but hopefully take out two Bills in the process, thus clearing the way for those who will come behind him. (Editors note: has Shady always carried the ball like that by the way? He was doing it all night and it was giving me a panic attack and he isn't even a Patriot)
Wait, what? Van Noy slipped through that wall like Casper the Friendly Tackling Machine and hits Shady in the backfield. Look at these two screen shots side by side again. I can't even pause it fast enough to show you his progression. It's a blink of an eye and he is past every single one of those blockers, who are still looking up field with their dildos in their hand wondering where the hell Van Noy just went.
Now he didn't finish the play (duh) but Grigsby is was there to clean it up. And it doesn't matter. Because while the sacks are incredibly valuable it's these type of plays that happen way more often during a 60 minute NFL and Van Noy has been top marks in similar situations all year. His ability to diagnose a play quickly and fight through blockers turning a well executed offensive play into a negative run puts our defense in more third and longs which gets us off the field more often which gets Tom Brady the ball back which gets us win. Cheers, Van Noy, and keep it up.
In case you haven't heard, DevDev is the fastest person in the NFL and possibly the world. I'm not ready to rule out fastest cheetah either. (No cheater jokes please) He took a Derek Anderson pass 85 yards to the dome so why don't we see how he did it. I almost didn't include this because it wasn't a special scheme or anything that forced the interception. Really, it was just a great play by an elite safety who I have been giving a lot of gruff to this year. The reason I am going to include it is he broke off his assignment because of something he saw on the fly, and his ability to do just that is the reason Bill loves him so much pays him all that money.* Check out the full play here first.
When Anderson drops back he sees we are in a cover-2 look. He's got Benjamin going deep up the left side of the field. Gilmore is in coverage, but this is also Dev's responsibility where he will provide a double. Anderson also has two receivers running to the back right of the field. Zay Jones is running a straight up go route on the inside, with Jonathan Jones in coverage. J-Mac is on Holmes who runs a deep out. Harmon has a decision to make back there, and since he will never get to a deep out from where he is, he will double Zay Jones.
By pulling both safeties toward the sidelines, Anderson knows he has Charles Clay running a seam route on a safety, Chung. Now Chung is a great cover safety, so that's not an easily winnable matchup, but the seam route is the death of cover-2. Gronk and Tom have made a living on this play. So Anderson knows right off the snap this is where he should go. And therein lies the problem. Anderson is so juiced about the play call and the matchup that he is staring down Charles Clay like he's MarGOAT Robbie after she changed into something more comfortable.
Dev sees this and makes a decision. He believes the throw is going to Clay and he leaves his post. Part of the reason he did it is because he trusts the shit out of Gilmore to handle Benjamin to his left. That helps. But the other part is his encyclopedic football knowledge and hours of film study that tell him Anderson is going to make the seam throw. He guesses right, jumps the route, and makes a hell of a catch.
If he had been wrong and Anderson was looking him off, only to drop a DIME over Gilmore's head into the arms of Kelvin Benjamin for a walk in tuddy, it would have been one hundo p Dev's fault. But that's a gamble I'm willing to live with, it's one Dev is willing to live with, and most importantly it's one Bill is willing to live with. Big time play for a defense that basically won us this game. Sorry I've been so tough on you Dev. It comes from a place of love.
Here's a cool graphic of the pick on Pats twitter.
Devin McCourty reached a top speed of 22.05 MPH on his 84-yard INT return TD, the fastest speed reached by a ball carrier this season.