I just purchased all 22 film and it is amazing. The first thing I wanted to do was breakdown the Pats last week game against Denver just to get a closer look at what we are going up against and I came away with some of their tendencies ( I know they may switch them up due to gameplan ) aas well as some keys to the game and things we may see the Hawks do to exploit weaknesses.
-All we have been hearing about this last week is the Pats tempo on offense. Well, their tempo is no joke. They use a ton of quick counts and like to get the ball off before the defense is fully set. However, it seemed when they did this it was a quick hitting run. Brady took his time at the line when they threw the ball.
- Brady makes a lot of checks at the line of scrimmage which comes as no surprise. I saw a number of times him checking into a run or a different run and from the looks of it he was doing so based on the DL splits. Denver's splits were way too far apart and they paid for it many times by getting gashed up the middle. I don't worry much about our middle upfront, but they must force them to bounce their runs outside. Even Woodhead who is not a power back by any means, makes his living up the middle on quick hitting runs or draws.
- A play they ran numerous times was a simple run play to the left with a pulling right guard and the RB doing a quick counter step to the right. They then give him the option to stretch it out but there looks to be a designed cutback lane as well. Their line is very good upfront, but what I think they are looking to do with this play is catch the MLB off guard. He is the key to the whole play. When the MLB over pursued this play would pick up 8-10. Wagner needs to be disciplined and stay in his gap. Run D is all about discipline.
- They like to run a lot of motion to get guys going and try and open the field. Welker is in motion a lot and is just so good against zone coverage. He always seems to find the soft spot and it will be very frustrating if we sit back in zone and let Brady dink and dunk because him and Welker always seem to be on the same page. I think he NEEDS to be manned up this game. If there was a certain way to try and slow him down it would have been done by now, but I personally think he needs to be jammed at the line and never left without someone on his jock because he is Brady's first read more times than not.
-Gronk is a monster blocking in the run game. Because of this it makes him dangerous in the flats as they like to use him chip blocking with late releases. I saw numerous times where they would motion Welker on the same side Gronk is lined up, have him cross middle and that was read 1 almost every time. If that was taken away they looked to Gronk quite a bit in the flat. Basically they like to run combo routes which is no secret. But Brady seems to start inside out in his reads, instead of outside in. They run quick crossing inside routes, with long developing otside routes ( lots of times its a 15 yard in route ). Taking aways his first inside reads and getting enough pressure to where he can't get to his outside reads in time is going to be key.
- I feel Earl is going to need to play closer to the line of scrimmage this game (10-12 yards deep instead of his usual 15-20). They are going to need his speed and range for the different underneath combination routes the Pats like to run. There is a reason the Hawks haven't given up many explosive plays and that is because they have Earl so deep that teams can't take their shots. NE will be playing very close attention to how deep Earl is playing. Another option would be to put Kam in the box to cover Gronk.
-Their front 7 is not a lot different than ours really. Wilfork is a monster, Chandler Jones is very good on the outside, and Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo are very good downhill linebackers. With that said, the main difference between our front 7 and ours is the ability for our linebackers to cover. I almost guarantee that the Hawks will be doing anything they can to get a TE or slot receiver on Brandon Spikes. He is a monster in the run game, but is stiff and slow dropping back into coverage. He will try and pop the receiver off the line but if the receiver can get off the bump he is in trouble. If we can get the running game going, the play action seam route is going to be there. Look for that to be a money play this week. Wouldn't be a bad idea to run levels routes or floods to his side either to force him to try and cover. They need to exploit his weakness in coverage.
- Denver ran a lot of trips right or left with a single receiver on an island opposite. The hawks need to get Sidney in these situations because their DB's are not very good. The field opposite trips was wide open that whole game for Denver and they ALWAYS left the singe receiver one on one with the corner. I would look to get Sidney in those situations and have either a rb or te breaking to the flats opposite the trips formation. Obviously a lot of the time the game dictates the play calling, but it is the offensive coordinators job to put his team in the right positions and try and get the matchups they want. This game is going to be like a good chess match.
- Their DL almost always stacks the strong side. The DT will be outside of the guard, with the other tackle inside the other guard almost over the center. Unless this changes, the hawks need to run weakside and weakside often. The cutback lane should be there as well. It is not easy because Wilfork is a mammoth of a man to move, but this is common sense and something I think Russell needs to be paying attention to when he heads up to the line.
- Last but not least, Seattle needs to take their shots downfield when NE tries to bring pressure. When they send guys that means we will have one on one matchups all over the field. This is their weakness on defense and Russell needs to know that when he senses a blitz coming that he will have a huge advantage with his receivers being in one on one situations with NE's mediocre secondary.
New England is playing great football on both sides of the ball. Their offense is ridiculous and is going to be a tough task, even for this defense. The difference between Brady and Rodgers is that Brady will not hold on to the ball too long. He will take the underneath stuff and will dink and dunk you to death if he has to. Seattle just needs to make sure they can take away his first few reads right away and force him to wait for his other routes to develop.There are weaknesses to this team, just like any team. Going to be a great game can't wait.