The bye week lined up perfectly with Thanksgiving break this year. Thus, it felt in many ways like we were getting back to school after a relaxing break full of boozing and overeating. And as much as boozing and overeating is me living my best life, it was nice to see the boys back out on the field again. So shake off those vacation cobwebs, stop snoozing that alarm, and drag your ass to school. Class is officially in session.
I wonder what this Patriots team can look like if they ever reach their full potential. In my mind, that used to be a "when" but lately it feels more like an "if." But the first big step to getting us there was making it to the bye week. People get some much need rest. Gronk returns. Duke Dawson returns. Rex Burkhead returns. Sony gets some more time to heal. All positives. But it doesn't matter how hard you study. It matters how well you do on the exam.
I'm going to gripe about the defense first. I mentioned in Ramblings that it's surprising to be so mad at the D after they only gave up 13 points. But the Jets piled up about 350 yards of total offense and we made it way too easy on them at times. The Jets didn't get many big plays on the ground, so it felt like that was the game plan. Load up the box to stop the run, and force Josh McCown to beat you. That's some next level shit right there, but I gotta say, it has some logic to it.
We also sent 5 or more rushers at McCown on what felt like an above average amount of times. Obviously, everyone would like to get home with 4 rushers on every play. It's how we lost the Super Bowl that shall not be named. But when that fails, sometimes you have to bring extra bodies. With less time to throw, its harder for quarterbacks to pick you apart. The only issue with sending 5+ is, you HAVE TO GET HOME.
Watch how differently these plays go. Here's a first quarter throw. The second series of the game for the Jets. We line up with 3 down lineman and 2 potential edge rushers.
They all go. Five rushers means at minimum 4 of us are facing a 1on1 match up. Someone needs to step up and win a battle. Otherwise you're torched. In this case all 5 guys have a 1on1 and they are doing nothing. Look at that pocket!!
Naturally, with all the time in the world and reduced number of DBs, it's an easy pitch and catch.
Here we go again. Late first quarter, tie game. We send five guys again. Admittedly the Jets line up in a heavy package, with a TE staying home an extra OLineman, but the point remains we are sending an extra guy.
And yet again, even with 3 1on1 match ups, no body is even breathing on McCown. He's getting emotional reading a Nicholas Sparks novel back there.
The result? Another easy completion for a first down in front of Gilmore.
Now lets go to the second quarter, right at the two minute warning. The Jets were driving, about to tie the game or take the lead. They would eventually tie the game anyway, because we are soft as shit with our play calling lately, but that's neither here nor there. We come out with the 3 down lineman and 2 potential edge rushers again. Trying to put some semblance of pressure on McCown.
And hey look at that! Someone is actually in his face! Simon beats his man on the outside. HIGH beats his man on the outside. And MY BOY Trey Flowers beats a guard in a 1on1, which he should do lit-trally every time he finds himself in that scenario. It's not a sack. They don't even touch him until after he releases the ball. But they do force McCown into a quick decision that he didn't want to make.
And wham bam thank you ma'am. It's a pick by Gilmore.
I'm not saying that getting in the QBs face with extra rushers will always get you a turnover or a sack. But if the plan is to send extra guys at an easily flustered quarterback, you better collapse that pocket. Because otherwise that flustered quarterback will be calm as a lake while he dissects your exposed secondary.
On offense I want to look at a run by Sony Michele. Loyal readers know I give this kid a hard time. He's been all over the press this week with how good he is. People saying he's the best rookie back the Pats have ever had. No one has ever put up these numbers in their first year. Blah blah blah, Ben's a prick.
My issue with him is, to me, it feels like he has no burst. Bill always says be able to get the yards blocked for you every time, and if you're a good back you can get more. IMHFO, Sony gets the yards blocked for him 95% of the time. That's great. LG did that. Benjarvis did that. Blind man Maroney certainly did not. But I don't think too often Sony is making people miss in the open field. That might be wrong. It's definitely a hot take this week. But I stand by it.
The play I'm going to illustrate doesn't show off much for Sony. He does make a great read and the correct cut. But I really want to highlight this because of the blocking, which belongs in a museum. We line up in an I formalization. Devlin at fullback. Two receiver set to the left, with Patterson and Flash at the top of your screen.
On the snap, Gronk has a great seal off block to stop the DE who wants to pursue the play from the back side. The death of any running back trying to be patient in the backfield (other than Bell RIPIP). The other lineman power forward, picking up the man directly in front of them, except for Shaq, who is going to pull to the left. The direction the run is going to go. Devlin and Sony will attempt to follow him. You can see the DB right in front of Patterson has already diagnosed this is a run, and since he has cover help behind him, he's going to crash the LOS.
But SLAM! He gets a face full of Shaq Mason's belly. Fantastic pull blocking for Shaq daddy here. He's the best pulling guard in the league, and dare I say worth all that money. Don't quote me on that this offseason.
Now here is the piece de resistance. After Shaq does his job, Devlin is able to slid into the second level to take out a linebacker. At the top of your screen you've got Patterson and Flash perfectly holding their blocks on the DBs in the secondary, not allowing them to crash down and disrupt the run. And then, lord have mercy, on the 25 yard line that is Trent Fucking Brown. He is 6 yards from the LOS absolutely sac taping a linebacker. Sony makes the read and the cut, which springs him for a massive gain. Just look at Trent Brown again. Look at him! He is 360 pounds!!!! We got him for nothing. Nate Solder has a 10 million dollar cap hit this year! BAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I might frame this screen grab. Cum everywhere.
My only tiny little complaint on a run that Sony would bust for a game high 33 yards is if I showed you this screen shot...I'd like him to crib this.
I know I'm being super harsh. But those 33 yards were blocked for him. Then he tried to cut back on a safety and ran back into trouble. He isn't even outside the numbers yet! Where is the burst? Take this to the house young man! But I digress. Incredible blocking scheme which I hope we see more of when the snow starts coming down.