SalishHawkFan wrote:Thomas will probably play up closer, which means NE could strike deep. But I don't think they will. They won't have time.
Yup. I love how this discipline has involved every year.
In 2010, it was just Red, Earl, and Clemons. We could stop the run and thus force offenses to be a little more predictable, and that fed some plays to Earl and Clemons. But it wasn't much.
By 2011, they'd built the secondary to kill quick throws with press coverage and buy time for the initial pass rush. It kinda worked, but left our corners vulnerable to speedy receivers and forced Earl to generally stay deep. We also didn't have the speed or discipline at linebacker to cover the underneath stuff (thus our terrible ranking vs pass-catching RB's and scrambling QB's).
Our additions in 2012 have been HUGE. Our D-line can now handle most of its business by itself, both run-stuffing and pass rush. Since that helps kill the deeper-developing routes, Thomas gets freed up to cover faster guys himself, run support, blitz the A-gap (he's good at this), or help our corners against the more complex route trees. It also frees up our linebackers, who now have the smarts and speed to shake off play-action and help cover the underneath routes.
This is all generalities and it's all a lot more complicated, of course. But basically, we've now got the talent to address every area and free our guys up to reinforce each other or get creative. I think this is what we saw against Aaron Rodgers. This defense is beyond the "patching holes stage" and can take away every option quarterbacks have. Otherwise the Patriots wouldn't be resorting to the faintly-desperate quick tempo stuff. Hope theory becomes reality tomorrow.