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Old 01-24-2012, 06:47 PM    (permalink
ElectricEye
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No, it's not. Both of these teams have had issues with tackling all year. We've been better for stretches, but it's still a game by game thing with us and not something we do consistently enough for me to feel good about limiting Nicks and Cruz. Defensively, we're going to have some issues for sure.

The media is going to hype up the Giants pass rush as you said, but I really feel like we've got the right personnel to limit that. Preparation will be huge. Last week, Baltimore looked like they won the battle in the film room and on the practice field over our offense. A lot of people thought that they would have issues covering Gronk and Hernandez, and they did to an extent...but they were able to limit the impact they had on the game really well. Some of that had to do with Brady missing some throws he makes 99/100 times though.

But anyway, the point I was trying to make before I got went into the Ravens tangent is that when we're clicking right and in rhythm, we can really take an excellent defensive line out of the game with how we're able to get the ball out quick. We talked about it quite a bit, but to re-iterate it, one wrinkle I want to see to push that even further forward would be to pop off a few big gains on passes to the backs. It's not something they'll see much of on film when they look at what we've done on the year and it seems like a good way to take advantage of an eager pass rush and a suspect linebacking core. That along with the tight ends and the no huddle could really help us out.
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Old 01-24-2012, 07:42 PM    (permalink
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I've been watching the AFCC game alot and another big thing that I am seeing is Gronk 1 on 1ed Ngata several times on running plays (alot of draws) and beat him every time.
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Old 01-24-2012, 09:56 PM    (permalink
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I'm watching the game again now on NFL Network. This post might be kind of long and you guys don't have to read it if you don't want to, but I really want to organize my thoughts on this whole thing and take some time to analyze what's went down and maybe how we can learn from that and apply it to winning the game in a few weeks. I sort of got carried away and went play by play on each drive after the first few, so I bolded how the ended and typed up a summary to try to find the relevant stuff amid the wall of text.

It's really amazing how well our defense played at the start of the game. They really set the tone, with Wilfork starting his game long rape of Matt Birk. We were really winning the battle on that series at the line of scrimmage, with Ninkovich being relevant and Deaderick doing some nice things as well. We opened up extremely strong, winning the battle at the line of scrimmage and collapsing the pocket on Flacco and forcing some errant throws in addition to doing a good job a run. Early three and out.

Our offense failed to deliver in a big way though. We moved the ball alright on the first drive, establishing a little bit of rhythm, but that missed touchdown with Gronk really just killed everything. I really believe the game would have been drastically different in terms of tone had we hit on that pass. Brady looked gunshy and awkward early on, patting the ball and just being late to read everything. I really felt like we left some opportunities on the field. Guys were open...he just wasn't seeing them and getting the ball out quick enough. For some reason, we decided the Edelman was going to be a big part of the game, targeting him twice early for minimal results and giving him a carry. The interception wasn't really his fault, Brady just underthrew him and never should have made thrown the ball anyway...but still. I really don't like him as an option in the passing game. Maybe on screens and drags, but he's just not very good at getting open outside the numbers and the chemistry isn't there between him and Brady. I hope we throw all of that out.

The big completion to Torrey Smith really turned the game around for Baltimore. We were winning the battle at the line of scrimmage up until that point. Cam Cameron deserves a lot of the flack he gets, but I gotta give him credit for that one. Just a real well designed play. Chung completely bit to the inside on the fake. It was over almost instantly, as Torrey Smith ran straight by McCourty and there was no one up top. One of the things they did real well in this game(and one of the biggest things that helped them) was getting Flacco out on the edge on first down when we were in our "big" front on first and second down. They were the first team to really figure out that we're vulnerable to those types of plays and they really worked us over with that. So props to Cameron on that whole drive. We did a good job of closing it up when space got tight around the goal line, stuffing a few runs and making a good tackle, but they won the battle there.

The next drive started off really well, with some good action on the run game. The Ravens got spread out rushing the passer twice in a row and we popped them for it pretty good with two straight big ones by Lawfirm. After a run that went nowhere with Woodhead, we faked the run and did get the Ravens to come up a bit. Hernandez ran up the seam and got away from his man and found a cushion between the safety. Brady threw the ball a little bit ahead of Hernandez, but he got his hands on it...and dropped it. The announcers put it on Brady and he deserved it a little bit, but I really feel like Hernandez could have and should have caught that. Especially whereas he completed the process of getting it into his body. Missed play, but Brady got it into Welker between two defenders on the next play. Not a good read, but it worked. We went to the no huddle then and popped one up the seam to Gronk, who the Ravens lost track of at the line of scrimmage. The safety did a good job containing the run after the catch, but it was good for a twenty yard gain. From there, we mixed in a few runs for effective yardage and benefited from a facemask penalty on Baltimore. Lawfirm was running really well and finished it off on the next play. So that was a damn solid drive that really took advantage of the fact the Ravens were playing pass and selling out to get to Brady. Our offensive line as run blockers is really underrated. Solder in particular doesn't get the credit he deserves there because of his reputation as finesse guy. Most of the big gains in this game were to the right side. I felt really good after watching that drive. Really seemed that we were pacing things right and taking what the Ravens were giving us. It's a shame we couldn't play like that all game.

We picked up on the Ravens first down pass tendency on this drive, but we still couldn't stop it. The Ravens did a good job of recognizing the personnel change we were making and ran Rice off tackle a few times for healthy yardage. Mark Anderson was a non-factor on two big pass plays, with Flacco stepping up once and McKennie just take him out on another. Boldin popped a big one of Sterling Moore. Wasn't bad coverage on his part and I don't expect him to win the battle with Boldin when the ball is in the air, but he certainly could have gotten a piece of him or even got him down. Ihediblow didn't help out very much taking a piss poor angle to the play. I wish we could make him not exist. We rushed three by the goal line and were made to pay for it, with Flacco moving his feet and extending the play to the edge after the pocket collapsed and making a good throw to Pitta. Mayo got caught up in traffic and blew his assignment. He did some nice things in coverage on Rice during the game, but that wasn't a real good play by him. So the Ravens win the chess game and the battle of execution. We didn't get to Flacco the way we did on the first few drives and poor tackling lead to a scoring drive.

The next drive followed the pattern that the other one did. Brady checked out of a play based on the pre-snap look and Welker ran a crossing route into wide open field for an easy completion and a first down. We went to a spread look with five wide receivers for the first time and Hernandez ran a stick into open space and made a man miss for a first down. We no huddled out of that for two quick completions to Welker and Gronk on Pollard. Pollard is a douche, but he's a good tackler. Wrapped up those two plays quick. You gotta give props to a guy who can tackle Gronk one on one, even if he's a ****. The hurry up was really working up until this point, neutralizing the pass rush. We missed an easy completion for Hernandez for three yards(looked like some miscommunication) and then Suggs got right by Solder twice in a row. The next play was actually kind of maddening. Brady did this little float thing that ended badly a few times to Gronk...but it worked this time. It looked like he might have gotten the first foot down right when he first got the ball, but the refs called him out. Might have been a good challenge, but we ate it. So really good ball movement, but Suggs got around Solder a few times towards the end of the the drive and caused some problems. The borderline call on Gronk caused us to settle for a field goal. So a win for the Ravens

The got good pressure to start off the next drive, but Mayo lost contain on Rice and he made his first big play of the game. We dodged a bullet on the next one with good interior pressure to start the play off...but Sterling Moore completely ****** up and let Smith blow by him with no safety over the top. Flacco was rushed and had to make a quick throw, but had Smith tracked it better...easy touchdown. They helped us out by putting themselves in a 3rd and 14 and we even got a decent rush, but Ihediblow ****** it up twice in a row by completely getting turned around by Pitta for two completions. The Ravens gave us a dose of our own medicine by neutralizing some of our pass rush, but Flacco made a bad read and tried to make a tight throw to Dickson. Dickson got his hands on it, but it was a tough catch and wasn't able to pull it in. So we really dodged a big time bullet with Smith failing to track the ball after toasting Moore. I'm not sure where Chung was, but if we were playing cover two he damn sure wasn't where he was supposed to be.

We got the ball back on the 11 yard line after a good punt(which Welker fumbled out of bounds) and elected not to try to drive even though we had timeouts. Curious decision for me. At this point, we were still moving the ball really well. I'm not sure we missed a touchdown, but we well could have ended up with a field goal.

We got the ball to open the half. This is where Brady went from having a good game against a good defense to having a bad game against a good defense. We started off with a run to Green-Ellis, followed by a no huddle attempt up the seam to Hernandez. The defense lost track of him since he and Gronk we lined up on the same side of the ball and Brady just missed him. That's a throw he usually makes. Gronk got free on Pollard the next play and Brady hit him for about 15 yards. We lined Hernandez up in the backfield for the second time and popped off a big gain(he had gotten really open from that position earlier on pass play and Brady never saw him, for what it's woth). Ngata was out and we did a good job identifying it with two straight runs up the middle out of the shotgun hurry up for a first down. When he got back in, it wasn't quite that simple. Stonewalled a run on first down and created a pile where Woodhead was to create a tough third down. We picked it up with a good play after the catch for Hernandez, and then lined him up at RB and ran a sweep with him out of the shotgun for no gain. Hernandez almost picked up the first down on a stick route on Lewis, by Ray made a good tackle and took him down short. The follow up to that was a run behind Connolly and Waters that got stopped a yard short, killing the drive. Similar pattern to the other drives. Really good ball movement, hitting some big plays to Hernandez short but failing to capitalize on opportunities down the field and in the redzone. Wasn't a big fan of the redzone playcalling on the four plays we ran there. Really felt like we should have got Gronk involved there.

The Ravens started off where they left off before the half, rolling out Flacco and clearing up the passing lanes for him to set up a good situation on second and three. Rice started to get something going now with a few straight gains. Anderson made a nice play, jumping the snap to go around Flacco and forcing some pressure that resulted in a third and long. We followed that up by rushing three and being made to pay for it, with Flacco completing an out route to Lee Evans on Sterling Moore. We're actually lucky they did that. Edelman was on Boldin he was wide open. We rushed four the next play and got some good pressure that resulted in an incompletion that resulted in a third and long. Luckily for the Ravens, they find a tight end on Ihediblow once again. This time was really bad. The guy stops to break on his route and he just spins around and falls flat on his face. Pathetic as usual. It's really sad he starts for us. The next play actually looked great to the start. We blitzed and forced a quick throw by Flacco to Smith. Sterling Moore read it perfectly had him dead to rights...but he missed the tackle and we paid for it with a touchdown. Really ugly play. Holding them to a field goal would have been big. So a decent effort by the defense ruined by James Ihedigbo and a missed tackle. The Ravens moved the ball on us so much better when we rushed three. That clearly wasn't working. Sterling Moore saved the game later, but he contributed to us being in the situation we were in by flat out blowing it on the touchdown to Torrey Smith.

The next sequence was bad. The Ravens had momentum after we blew that tackle and we needed to respond by doing something on offense. Woodhead had a good return, something that we rarely see around here...but got stripped from behind. The Ravens had great field position, starting around the 30 yard line. That play was one of the five or so that took a year off of my life. You can't make that kind of mistake in a game like this. Not only did it put the Ravens in a good situation, but it kept our offense on the sideline for even longer after a bad drive. We've seen how that can disrupt rhythm before.

After getting beat on three man rushes on the last rive, we came out with a more pressurized look. Flacco did a good job getting outside the pocket(really killed up all game long) and ran for a 15 yard gain that set them up at the ten yard line. Even better. They did the same thing on the next play rolling Flacco out to the left side. McCourty made a rare good play in coverage on a first down pass and got a hand on the ball to save a touchdown. They put themselves in a third and long with a run to Rice that didn't go anywhere, and we responded by sending the house to Flacco on third down on an overload. Ihediblow finally did something good and got through free on the blitz and picked up a sack. Basically the same play that we got burned on for the touchdown, but we executed it better and didn't let Flacco get the ball out. So a real win on by the defense. We let Flacco get outside the pocket to the left twice again, once for a run for big yardage and again for a risky pass. The defense stepped up and made three straight big plays with McCourty getting hand on a pass that would have otherwise been a touchdown and a big sack on third and long. Real win for this unit after a giveaway. Really saved the situation from becoming disastrous.

Woodhead opened it up taking it out again and having an even better return, this time without the fumble. The next play sucked. Brady made one of his few good throws down the field and hit the Gronkosaurus down the field. Great play...except Pollard rolled on Gronk's ankle. Really a big blow to the team in both the passing and the running game. Once again, we threw the ball down the field to Edelman and it resulted in disaster. Edelman was open, but there was miscommunication between he and Brady and Brady threw it to the wrong side. We got bailed out by an offsides, but throw that out. I'm not sure who the blame lies with, but it's not working at all. We followed that up well, with a first down completion to Welker. We ran a play action and looked like we were trying to hit Henandez deep, but the coverage was good. Brady had to move his feet and the play was over. Well covered and the Ravens and they got to Brady as the play extended. Woodhead made up for the fumble a bit taking a draw and running straight into traffic twice out of the shotgun and getting the ball down to the one. This next series was really key to us coming away with the win and was a REALLY good battle of two great redzone units. The next play was that Brady sneak where it looked like he had gotten in, but replay confirmed his knee was down before he got the ball in. The ball was spotted on the half yard line. Wasn't a fan of the next playcall, especially against the look the Ravens showed. Baltimore went jumbo and won the leverage battle against Lawfirm, popping him as he got into the air well short of the touchdown. This set up the biggest play of this game and the best thing Brady did all day. On fourth down, Brady had a great individual effort going up and over the center. The Ravens linemen got low and anticipated Brady going off tackle. He saw it and gave up his body over the top and got in. Just a fantastic play. We responded to the turnover very well, managing to come away with a key touchdown on a great individual effort by Brady that won us the game. Unfortunately, we lost Gronk. He managed to come in on the same drive, but it was clearly a decoy type situation.

We had a ton of momentum after that drive and it really seemed to fire up the defense a bit. The Ravens came out rolling Flacco out again, but this time to the right side. The coverage down the field was good and there wasn't a clear passing lane. He managed to get something on the run, but a far better result than the one we had gotten before on those rollouts. Tackling was an issue on the next few plays with Mark Anderson having a shot to get Ricky Williams for a loss and then Ricky lowering his head an trucking McCourty for a first down. We let Rice get free twice in a row on missed tackles again despite him clearly being the guy we keyed in on. We had been asking the defense to do a lot and it showed. Luckily for us, Spikes made one of the biggest plays of the game. Flacco made a bad read trying to force the ball up the middle of the field and Spikes made a great catch picking the ball off. The defense was clearly fatigued, allowing some good yardage on runs after contact, but Spikes bailed us out by making a huge play.

The next play was an absolute disaster. We tried to strike quick after the turnover and Brady threw the ball up to Slater on the go route. Watching it now, it actually wasn't as bad as it appeared live. Pollard made a FANTASTIC play tipping the ball. If he hadn't gotten his hands on it, it may have been a touchdown. Jimmy Smith made a great play catching the ball and running with it, to make it even worse. The ball probably shouldn't have ever been thrown, but looking back on it again I really just can't get on Brady as much as I thought I would be able to for it. Bad play, but not the horrendous one it seemed like in the moment. Maybe my perspective is altered a bit with the win...but Slater had a step and Pollard didn't have his head turned around the right way. No bold for this one.

The Ravens came out trying to run it on the next drive and had some of the success that they had on the last drive. Our defense was taking deep breaths and they knew it. They ran Rice twice after a first down to set up a manageable third down....and then Wilfork made one of the great plays of the game. They ran a draw...and Wilfork just completely got free. Might have been some miscommunication on the blocking, but man did he just get into the backfield in a hurry. Finished the play off too, tackling Rice for a three yard loss. So set up with a fourth and six in no mans land, the Ravens decide to go for it. Good decision, but Wilfork was NOT having it. He destroyed Birk on an inside move and gave Flacco nowhere to go and hurried a bad throw...which landed incomplete. We brought heavy pressure from the edges too. The pressure seemed to work much better against Flacco than the three man rush. So after a really bad turnover, the defense completely bails us out, with Wilfork making two HUGE plays, with a tackle to set up a fourth and long in no mans land followed up by pressuring Flacco into making a bad throw on fourth. Big win and a series that really turned the game around.

After a huge defensive stand that turned the game around, we followed it up by a second consecutive ****** drive. The worst play being a toss off tackle to Lawfirm that forced a third and long after a completion for seven on first down. This play sticks out as one of the worst of the game to me, not just for the result. The offense seemed to think they could run it down to the two minute warning without having to run a play. They had to hurry up to the line with like five seconds on the play clock and just did not look very prepared. It resulted in a loss of yardage in a situation where we really could have picked it up and iced the game. That was followed up by an incomplete pass to Hernandez on a 50/50 ball. Brady really seemed lock in on him on that play and he never really had all that much space. He might have been able to catch it, but there appeared to be greener pastures and more space to throw the ball to on the otherside of the field. So a huge mental error by the offense with clock management set us up for failure...and we failed. We really had a chance to put the game out of reach for the Ravens and kill the clock, but we beat ourselves a bit and got taken off the field.

The Ravens got the ball at twenty one. Sergio Brown made a great open field tackle on a very returnable ball that could have lead to a ton of trouble. This play won't be remembered by many, but it was one of the key plays to us coming away with the victory. They opened up out of the shotgun, looking to pass. We learned our lesson about rushing three, and came with a full four man rush. We didn't get any pressure, but Flacco missed Boldin. One of the fuckcrazy things we did in this game really got exposed here though, with Edelman on Boldin. The next play we rushed three...and surprise surprise, it led to a completion that set up a third down and manageable. We rushed four on third down and Anderson got a little pressure, but Edelman got smoked by Boldin and picked up the first along the sideline. Mayo followed that up by making a great play in coverage on Rice. He knocked the ball out of his hands, leading to an incompletion. If he hadn't done that, Rice had some room to run up the middle of the field. Flacco followed that up making a nice throw in spite of some pressure to Boldin, who got open on zone. The next play really took a few years off of my life, with Flacco delivering a nice ball to Anquan Boldin along the sideline. Sterling Moore was responsible for that part of the field. Edelman looked like he was supposed to cover the flat, but he got sucked into a crossing route and was caught leaning the wrong way. It put Moore in an awful position where he had to cover two guys at once and wasn't able to get to either. To make matter worse, Pitta made a real nice block on Moore and Boldin rumbled for BIG yardage down to the twenty to set up at the very least a chip shot field goal to tie the game. That was followed up by the now much talked about Boldin fumble. That was a strange play, actually. He got free on Edelman pretty easily, as you would expect. The fumble itself was a little questionable, with the ball coming loose very close to when his knee touched down. The Ravens apparently thought that they got first down yardage out of the fumble, but the official clearly marked it short. The scoreboard apparently showed it as a new set of downs for at least one play, but still. Bad situational football and coaching on their behalf not clearing that whole thing up and realizing what was going on. So I guess we caught a break there. The next play won us the game. Flacco threw a rope to Lee Evans, who had ran by Sterling Moore. Moore later said he didn't even know what the coverage call was....but boy did he make up for it. He made a GREAT play putting his arm out and knocking the ball down. It might have been a bit of luck and Evans might have eased up a bit, but he still did an absolutely fantastic job locating the ball and getting his hands on it. He followed it up by making another great play by staying with Pitta on a similar play to the one the Ravens had scored a touchdown on earlier, getting around a guy who has a guy who had 6 inches and 55 pounds on him who was fully intent on boxing him out and again knocking the ball down. I don't think he gets enough credit for that one. So after some real good ball movement by Flacco and the Ravens in a key situation on our clearly gassed defense, Sterling Moore saves our season with a two straight big plays, one that took points off the board and another to force the field goal instead of giving them a first down. Really great individual effort by him there.


....and then there's the conclusion to our Super Bowl run. The missed field goal. A lot has been said about it, so I'll keep it pretty brief. The Ravens clearly had some issues going on. I don't know why they chose not to take their timeout(maybe they were expecting we would?), but Cundiff absolutely wasn't ready to go. He had to run out from the sideline to prevent the delay of game. They would have been much better off just taking it, but I really can't fault them for not realizing that with things moving the way they were.


So yeah, this is really long and I doubt anyone will really read it(willing to bet it's FULL of spelling and grammar errors as well), but it seems too long and I spent too much time on it not to post. I DVR'ed the NFL Network replay and plan on watching it again and then referencing it with these notes to come up with some more cohesive thoughts. I will say right now that watching it this time around, I came away with some different thoughts on some things than I did when the game was live. We clearly didn't play our best offensive football and the defense was exposed a bit, but this a group you can rattle off cliches about and have them actually mean something. Just a mentally tough group of guys that stepped up and made some key plays in big spots. They had some breakdowns, but they deserve a lot of praise for that effort.
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Old 01-24-2012, 10:58 PM    (permalink
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Great writeup EE.

My thoughts on the game (I haven't rewatched it so I'm going off what I specifically remember from the live airing):

-The OL played very well all day. Solder gave up a sack, big deal. Facing a myriad of pass rushers, including Suggs, our rookie RT gave up one sack and a couple pressures. I'll take that every day, and twice on Sunday. They were opening up holes for the running game to be effective enough, and were very good in pass protection. I'm not sure who I want at RT if Vollmer is available. He hasn't played in weeks (months?) and Solder has looked solid, and I agree EE, he is much better in the run game than he gets credit for. I didn't hear Ngata's name more than the 2 times he knocked a pass down...which just means he wasn't in the backfield, which quite honestly surprised me.

We will need this in 2 weeks. I personally think that Light and Mankins will be so sick of hearing about the last superbowl that they will come out and play a hell of a game...at least I hope.

-Vince Wilfork is a man. He was in the backfield all day, destroyed a very well respected (if old) Birk, and basically was a one man wrecking crew. Mayo was saying that Vince called out if it was a pass or a run on every play, knowing what the Ravens were going to do, which is just unreal. He played 70 of 73 plays, which is ridiculous for a man his size. The D line as a whole played very well. They limited the potent raven run game, and got pressure (mostly up the middle) while rushing just 3 or 4. Tough when Flacco rolled out though, as we sacrifice speed to stop the run (Deadrick rushing for Ninkovich).

-Brady looked off from the very beginning. The first drive, ok just feeling out what the defense is doing, but even after that he was just off, most obviously on the misfire to Gronk. No need to rehash everything else that everyone has said, but he was off and he knew it. The only positives I can take from that are 1) he rarely has 2 bad games in a row and 2) that combined with his obvious deep hatred of the giants following the superbowl mean he will be SUPREMELY motivated and focused this week.

-I love Gronk. Guy is a beast. Nearly breaks his ankle, goes to the locker room to get re-taped, and only missed 9 plays. There was one play earlier in the game (first half I think) where he chipped on the LE before releasing into his route and absolutely DESTROYED the DE (I think it was Suggs). He is a beast and we need him to be healthy for the super bowl (obviously). Also, 'Yo Soy Fiesta.'

-It's nothing new, but Hernandez continues to be a matchup nightmare, and when he makes the first guy miss, look out. He was kept in check (somewhat) with the very tight and impressive tackling of the ravens, but he still stood out even on a bleak day for Brady.

-The secondary....well it got...better...? Chung played poorly as his aggressiveness was taken advantage of a few times, and if Flacco was better, would have really hurt. I understand he was keying run first all day, but c'mon man, Smith is the one guy the ravens have who can go deep consistently...DON'T LET HIM GET BEHIND YOU! McCourty played much better in my estimation, but I am far from an expert in DB stuff (I was a lineman, please forgive me). This next game could be ugly given the WR's the giants have.

Oh and the whole 'wrong down on the scoreboard' thing: please, get a clue and stop making ridiculous claims because they are the patriots. It was 2 downs before the kick, Belichick said himself he was confused as the play was unfolding, and if you are that confused, call a damn timeout Cundiff or Harbaugh, or raven punter, or speacial teams coordinator, or Flacco, or whoever! I can't believe I agree with Suggs, but there was nothing there.

Overall, a very good team effort, even if it was lackluster from Brady and the offense, and shaky at times on defense. Need a much better performance next time, and obviously can't hold anything back. I go back and forth, the giants are a much worse matchup than the 49ers would have been. They have the wide receivers and the QB to give us problems, and the pass rush that can hurt Brady and the offense...but then I just think there is something about this team. I think they truly are the underdogs, I don't care what the spread is. With all the talk about how the giants look like 2007 all over again, and how this pats team isn't as good as that pats team, and how the defense is still bad...I just think (hope) they will come out fired up and play a complete game. I'm cautiously optimistic, even if the matchups say I shouldn't be.
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Old 01-25-2012, 04:46 AM    (permalink
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Awesome thoughts, guys. As much as everyone says the Ravens lost more than the Patriots won, we kept the Ravens in that game by failing to execute on offense when we could have put that team away, plus we just had a really poor game plan. And I can't count how many times I've heard "Evans dropped the ball." No he didn't, Moore stripped it away. If Reed or Webb make that play the talk would be how great they are - so even when the defense does make a play they still get no credit. That's what the defense did, and for the most part has done for much of this win streak: They made plays when they had to, and pretty much everyone not a Patriot fan is overlooking that fact.

Now, reading comments around the Net (and I really should be shot for doing that), it's apparent that a Giant victory is a fait accompli: The ball for the Giants will never touch the ground, Brady will get sacked every play and the score will end up 62-0.

I'm pretty sure though the Patriot staff will realize they can run right at the Giants, and their secondary isn't nearly as good as the Ravens nor do they tackle as well. Against the Packers I recall wide open receivers that Rodgers inexplicably missed or the receiver dropping the ball. In many ways the Patriots played like the Packers this last game against the Ravens, but unlike the Packers the defense didn't panic and (again) made plays when they had to.

Make no mistake, if the Patriots turn the ball over or if Brady is off, Patriots lose, no question. But if I'm a Patriot player I'm going into that game with one huge ******* chip on my shoulder. We've won a Super Bowl with lesser talent against a far superior team before.

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Old 01-25-2012, 03:23 PM    (permalink
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OK, I've had some time to cross reference things with actual tape and I think I'm ready to try to put the Ravens stuff into a more succinct format. I'll start off with the offense. As I watched the game again and started taking notes, I was expecting to really lay into the offense. If you go back and read some of the stuff earlier in the post, you can see that the wording was decidedly negative....but I really can't do that. Not as much as I thought I could, anyway.

The offense was clearly off and lacked rhythm, but we did a much better job than I thought we did when I was watching it live. We really moved the ball pretty well on an elite defense. The main thing was that we failed to capitalize on the opportunities we created with that ball movement, missing on a few key plays that we would usually make. You can put a lot of that on Brady for sure, but I think that's sort of ignoring the fact that the Ravens have really great personnel and did a fantastic job forcing us to kick field goals and forcing us off our game, particularly in the red zone. We had 10 possessions in the game and got deep into Ravens territory on on 7 of them...and into the redzone on 6 or those 7. The no huddle and the passes to the tight ends WAS working, contrary to what is being thrown around by the media(and what I thought too really), but we didn't make them pay for the ball movement. I really feel like some of that has something to do with the pace the game was being played at. The Ravens possessed the ball for nearly ten minutes longer than we did. Our defense sent us to the Super Bowl and deserves a ton of credit for that, but it was a battle for them all day to try to stop the Ravens. They made big plays that prevented them from scoring, but they also allowed them to extend drives on third down multiple times due to mental errors and missed tackles. The Ravens had 11 drives on the day and took every single one of them into our territory after three unsuccessful ones in the first quarter. With the way we were struggling to find rhythm, that's not a good pace for us to play at.

That leads into the next thing; the turnovers. The whole day, the offense seemed less aggressive than it usually was. We seemed afraid to throw the ball up the seams like we usually do. We picked our spots and plays to be aggressive...but none of them worked. The first interception to Edelman was the worst of the two, if you ask me. Edelman had some space over the top, but Tom judged it wrong and underthrew him. Had he judged the depth of the play correctly, he might have been able to hit him, but Webb had good position on him to make a play on the ball even if he wasn't able to make the interception. I'm really not sure what we were thinking running that play. Edelman's long on the season was 11 yards and he's never demonstrated the ability to be an effective down the field receiver. It wasn't a bad idea to try to get him in as an extra receiver, but the routes we sent him on just didn't make sense for the type of player he is. I really think that the plays we ran for him were likely designed for Chad and we were just trying to plug him in there. So the entire "Chad is the secret weapon" thing that was thrown around on the radio might not have been as crazy as it initially sounded....he just wasn't there to do it. Either way, I'm hoping we throw out those plays entirely because Edelman just can't do that stuff and it's questionable as to if he should be involved in the offense at all at this point. I don't think the blame falls squarely on his shoulders for that, but there's just not a good feel by him for anything besides the quick game and Brady and he just don't seem to be on the same page.

The second interception was the most infuriating live, but looking back I don't have as much of an issue with it. That's entirely a "history written by the victor" kind of thing as I think I would have viewed it a lot different if we had lost, but the playcall wasn't horrendous. We had moved the ball well on the ground all day and in particular on the last drive. Pollard had been cheating up to play the run and get in position to play the short passes to the tight ends. Jimmy Smith was responsible for the deep zone over the middle and Slater ran right by him from the strong side of the field to the free side. Pollard did NOT cheat up like we anticipated he would out of that look. Slater ran ahead of both of them and managed to create a bit of a seam...but he played the ball like you would expect him to. I'm not sure where he thought it was coming, but he didn't track the ball very well at all. He actually had the first shot at it as it floated right by him and straight to Pollard, he made an athletic play tipping the ball out of a bad position. I'm not advocating that the ball should have been thrown. It clearly wasn't a good read by Tom and he should have read that Smith had help over the top even though he was beat...but Slater didn't help him out on that pass AT ALL. Had he timed and tracked it right and jumped at it, we very well could have kept possession of it.

That sort of leads into the missed opportunities thing a bit. Overall, I was NOT a fan of how this game was called at all. But I'm getting ahead of myself just a little bit. Let's talk about the throw Brady missed to Gronk for a second. Or let's not, actually. Let's highlight another play that we missed on that no one has said a word about yet. Tom actually threw four interceptions on the day if you count back two that got called back. One of them was on one of those seam routes to Edelman that I've already got into a little bit that got called back due to an offsides(not faulting him, clearly taking a non-risk with the free play)....but the other was on a pass that he hit Welker squarely on that hands with that he just let get away from him in the redzone. Pollard(who as much of a punk as he is, was all over the place the other day) picked it off after Welker was unable to get it in as the ball bounced towards him. The play was negated by an illegal contact, but that's a ball Welker usually catches. Part of the reason Pollard was able to make that catch on the deflection was because he had taken a step to the inside and the ball went towards him. Had Welker made that catch, he either would have scored or more than likely have taken it very close. Instead, the drive stalled and we were forced to settle for a field goal after taking it all the way down to the Baltimore 11. The Gronk play happened on the same drive, so those were two REALLY good chances to put up a touchdown that were wasted.

Now, let's talk about playcalling. As I mentioned earlier, we seemed uncharacteristically passive on offense. The shots we took really seemed to be in response to what the Ravens were doing rather than the other way around, like it usually is. I still feel like we really left some plays on the field. I'm not going to get into specifics since their were too many and it starts to become unfair to expect us to get the ball to the best guy on every play, but there were several plays where Gronk was open up the seam and we just didn't look that way. We seemed content to dink and dunk. That works when we're generating plays of 20+ yards after the catch, but the Ravens tackled better than any team we had faced on the year. Pollard and Lewis did a great job with their assignments, bringing guys down in the open field who are usually able to generate more yardage. I'm not sure how much of the lack of aggression you put on Tom and how much you put on the way we gameplanned, but something clearly just wasn't working. What's even worse is that we actually got less effective as the game went on. The adjustments we tried to make at half time with regards to that led to interceptions and stalled drives. The Ravens executed, but they also clearly won the preparation battle and the in game coaching chess match.

Another thing I really didn't like with our approach and playcalling was the redzone/goal line stuff. We did a good job taking rushing yards when we could in good looks, but we seemed to have the impression that we could run the ball on Baltimore on the goal line. This wasn't the case. Aside from the one rushing touchdown by Green-Ellis early, we were largely ineffective running the ball close to the goal. I suppose it isn't that I had a problem with trying it. It's not a bad idea. I just think we got a little too wrapped up in it. When it really comes down to it, we aren't going to win a game on the ground in a tight situation like that. That's just not who we are. It's nice to have as an option and we've shown we can do it all year...but Baltimore an elite rushing defense. Furthermore, they're an elite goal line defense. When you put the two together, we're really playing into a strength of theirs and not putting our best foot forward. That 6-10 yard touchdown pass to Gronk or Hernandez that we usually get just didn't happen. We didn't really go for it either.


Ok...so wrapping up my thoughts on the offense and this post. Longer than I wanted it to be. Clearly not a good game for our offense, but the main thing I came away from watching that was that it really wasn't as bad as I initially thought. People seem to think Baltimore shut us down yesterday...and that's not what happened. They made some great plays and played us tougher and better than anyone had been able to all year, but we made some very uncharacteristic mistakes and failed to capitalize on plays that we usually make. I really think we beat ourselves quite a bit.

Pressure was the big buzz word leading into the week and it turned out to be a non-factor. The line did a fantastic job against one of the better pass rush units in the league, especially on the interior. Baltimore was able to do some things along the defensive line that made Brady uncomfortable, but the reason they gave us as much trouble as they did had a lot less to do with the play of the line than people expected leading up to the week. The only weak chain was Solder...and I don't think he really played as badly as people think. He did a real good job run blocking early and had a whopping three plays that he got beat on, one of which was by one of the better pass rushers in the NFL. All and all, the right side of the line was a lot quieter than people seem to realize. You never want to see Brady pressured, but the reality of it is that it's going to happen against good defensive linemen and just in general from time to time. He may need a little help against the Giants, but I'm not worried about him ruining the game for us like some people are.

Brady played poorly, but maybe not as poorly as the numbers would have lead you to believe. He made two bad reads on the day and the Ravens made him pay for both of them. The receivers didn't help him out very much on the day and we did a poor job getting Gronk involved in spite of the decent numbers, especially around the goal line. If he plays this way against the Giants, since we go as he goes...but I don't feel that he completely **** the bed. He had an off day against a good defense that had our number on that day. It's going to happen from time to time, even with an elite quarterback.


I'll try to do a bit more rambling on the defense later, if you guys can stand it.
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Old 01-25-2012, 03:40 PM    (permalink
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Umm yeah he didn't get hurt until week 15 against Denver.
Im dumb I read it as that he played against the Ravens this week. Carry on.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:03 PM    (permalink
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What can you tell me about Dean Pees?
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:05 PM    (permalink
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What can you tell me about Dean Pees?
Really didn't like him when he was here. Big "rush three and play off coverage" guy. It's hard to tell just what role he had in the defense while he was here, but I've really felt much better about the direction we've headed in since he's departed even if we've had some statistical struggles. If I remember correctly, he was pretty buddy buddy with Greg Mattison and the complaints about him while he was here were very similar to the ones you guys had about him.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:11 PM    (permalink
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Really didn't like him when he was here. Big "rush three and play off coverage" guy. It's hard to tell just what role he had in the defense while he was here, but I've really felt much better about the direction we've headed in since he's departed even if we've had some statistical struggles. If I remember correctly, he was pretty buddy buddy with Greg Mattison and the complaints about him while he was here were very similar to the ones you guys had about him.
ugh this is the one thing I didn't want to hear. He's the frontrunner to become our DC. :( Thanks for the info though.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:23 PM    (permalink
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You want to stay far away from Pees. Far far away.
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Old 01-26-2012, 04:00 AM    (permalink
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I'll try to do a bit more rambling on the defense later, if you guys can stand it.
Not rambling at all; quite liking the breakdown in fact. Thanks for taking the time to post :)
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:37 AM    (permalink
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I got trolled by the New York media today. I listen to a little too much sports talk radio than is good for me leading up to big games. The quality of most of it isn't good, but it's something to pass the time when I can't focus on anything aside from football. The 98.5 show with Scott Zolak and Andy Gresh is usually pretty damn good and the football IQ of those two is far above what you usually get on the radio, so I usually listen to them while I'm at work. But anyway, they did a simulcast with some guys from WFAN today. One of the guys wasn't bad, but one of them was just out of his mind, calling Brady soft(in spite of the fact he had the 5th longest consecutive start streak in NFL history at his position than was only ended by a questionable hit to the knee and the fact he's playing with a separated shoulder), saying that the Patriots don't have a prayer of scoring with the Giants(in spite of the fact we've been the better offense all year), and just generally dumb ****. I'm not sure what they were trying to achieve with that, but jesus that guy was a clown.

I certainly wouldn't mind if we got some of that nationally though. I haven't really been keeping up with the media take on it, but I certainly wouldn't mind being the underdog...even though things like that are certainly a bit overrated.

In actual news, Dorin Dickerson went down for the year. I really like the guy and I feel like he has the potential to make the team next year. We signed Carson Butler to the practice squad in his place. A lot of people thought Garrett Mills would be who we elected to go with, but Butler is a bigger guy who helps us simulate Jake Ballard a little bit better than a hybrid guy like Mills or Dickerson would. Not really all that noteworthy, but in the Super Bowl no stone deserves to be unturned.
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:52 AM    (permalink
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I'm not sure if I have read a single thing from a national writer that believes the Pats will win this one. They keep going back to the Giants pass rush, Gronk's injury, the Giants WRs vs the Pats DBs and act like it's a forgone conclusion.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:02 PM    (permalink
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I'm not sure if I have read a single thing from a national writer that believes the Pats will win this one. They keep going back to the Giants pass rush, Gronk's injury, the Giants WRs vs the Pats DBs and act like it's a forgone conclusion.
That's good to hear. It sounds like ESPN (bleh) has been all about the Pats winning as a foregone conclusion. Of course, that's mostly based on what others have said, as I don't watch ESPN at all. I haven't been watching much NFLN either b/c I just can't handle two weeks of retreading the same few points.

Neither of these teams are studly defensively. The Giants obviously have awesome pass rush ability, but they aren't exactly great at anything else.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:02 PM    (permalink
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ugh this is the one thing I didn't want to hear. He's the frontrunner to become our DC. :( Thanks for the info though.
Yeah, no one liked the Pees Era. The team is still recovering.
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Old 01-27-2012, 01:16 PM    (permalink
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So according to PFF's grades, Ihedigbo was one of the worst safeties in the league against both the pass and the run. Confirms what we already know, but good lord. That's one guy I just want completely off the roster next year.
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Old 01-27-2012, 02:24 PM    (permalink
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So according to PFF's grades, Ihedigbo was one of the worst safeties in the league against both the pass and the run. Confirms what we already know, but good lord. That's one guy I just want completely off the roster next year.
Yes he is absolutely terrible. WHY OH WHY DIDNT WE SIGN GOLDSON??
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Mobility > Accuracy
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Old 01-27-2012, 02:48 PM    (permalink
BradysKnee
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http://youtu.be/Ck9umMvaBzk

Well. That makes me feel better :)
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At the end of the day...

Mobility > Accuracy
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Old 01-27-2012, 05:54 PM    (permalink
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What can you tell me about Dean Pees?
The only positive I can say about him is that one of his corners was Delta O'Neil.

Delta ******* O'Neil. I'd drop 8 every down if I had him, too.
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Old 01-27-2012, 06:07 PM    (permalink
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The Giants have been doing a little bit of talking lately, specifically about Edelman and and Light. Nothing major, but little bits and pieces. Wilfork said something along the lines of seeing why they should be favored too, so even if the Vegas line isn't reflexive of the situation, it seems like the team is positioning itself as a sort of underdog.


...of course, that whole "Oh bulletin board material!" has worked to mix results with the Jets the past few years. So you can't really take much from that, but I certainly hope the team comes out motivated to play because we're going to need it.
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Old 01-27-2012, 06:50 PM    (permalink
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Not players, but a newspaper: “Tom Fraidy”

Pats players just need to watch a little NFL Network, too. Last night in the all but useless 'tale of the tape', Wilcox gave the offensive edge to the Giants - and Billick gave the coaching edge to Coughlin - which is just so lol. Let's see any other coach in the league do what BB has done with this defensive backfield :)

Another thing I find humorous, so called analyst when discussing the Pats never fail to find a way to work in "31st ranked defense" (or if you're Marshall Faulk, "worst defense") but oddly only state the Giants "thirteen points per game in the playoffs." Etc., etc., etc.
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Old 01-27-2012, 07:02 PM    (permalink
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Guys, we need to win. I can't handle losing to the Giants twice.
I'm pretty sure BB feels the same... throw in BB's "vow" to Mr.Kraft that he'll play better (than in the AFCC)
Then of course, The Gronk. We really need him to be able to go close to 100% if we want to win.

The gameplan against the Giants O (Nicks, Cruz, Manning and Bradshaw... and let's not forget Ballard who made some big catches for them in our earlier matchup)...
... is what I'm looking forward to the most
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Old 01-27-2012, 07:08 PM    (permalink
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Not players, but a newspaper: “Tom Fraidy”
That was sort of the sentiment coming out of that radio thing I was talking about yesterday. Tom can be rattled, but the fact that they are questioning his toughness when we've seen him complete more throws with a guy about to take him out than anyone. Brady is fearless in the pocket. Can he be rattled? Sure. The ghost rusher thing wasn't a "fear" thing though, he was just feeling pressure that wasn't there.
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Old 01-27-2012, 07:51 PM    (permalink
BradysKnee
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Not players, but a newspaper: “Tom Fraidy”

Pats players just need to watch a little NFL Network, too. Last night in the all but useless 'tale of the tape', Wilcox gave the offensive edge to the Giants - and Billick gave the coaching edge to Coughlin - which is just so lol. Let's see any other coach in the league do what BB has done with this defensive backfield :)

Another thing I find humorous, so called analyst when discussing the Pats never fail to find a way to work in "31st ranked defense" (or if you're Marshall Faulk, "worst defense") but oddly only state the Giants "thirteen points per game in the playoffs." Etc., etc., etc.
Alot of the NFLN analysts hate New England. Marshall Faulk and Jamie Dukes come to mind.
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