September 17, 2016

DAVID ALWAYS BEATS GOLIATH:

Any Given Sunday: Patriots Over Cardinals (Sterling Xie, 9/12/16, Football Outsiders)

This is supposed to be a column about underdogs. While there have been many ways to describe the Patriots during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, rarely has the underdog label been an appropriate one. Headed into 2016, the Pats had been underdogs in just 50 regular season games since 2001, by far the lowest total in the league. New England had also posted the best winning percentage in games as underdogs, going 29-21. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have gone 35-31 in 66 such games (the second-lowest total in the league), also finished above .500 as underdogs. [...]


Starting Jimmy Garoppolo in place of Brady is one thing, but throwing Garoppolo out there minus Rob Gronkowski, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Jonathan Cooper, and Dion Lewis sounded like borderline endangerment. Based on the personnel, one might not have faulted Bill Belichick for dusting off his game plan from the Week 17 contest at Miami last year, when his primary goal was ostensibly to run out the clock ASAP and get out healthy.

Instead, Belichick and Josh McDaniels designed a game plan which was certainly kid-proofed but not entirely different from what you might expect from a typical New England offense. The Pats did run the ball on 13 out of 25 first-down plays (excluding the game-ending kneel down), and a few of those passes only came after penalties which put the offense in first-and-long situations. Last year, they ran the ball on just under 44 percent of their first-down plays, which ranked 28th. Additionally, we saw none of the hurry-up tempo which has become a fixture under Brady and which might have made sense against an athletic well-schemed defense like Arizona's. For lack of a better term, taking the air out of the ball was critical to New England's offensive game plan.

Posted by at September 17, 2016 2:16 PM

  

« THE WAR OF ALL AGAINST THE SALAFI: | Main | NOT WORTHY OF OUR NOMINATION, NEVERMIND THE OFFICE: »