February 5, 2012


Smarter Stats: Super Bowl Edition -- New England's offense vs. New York's defense (Doug Farrar, 2/05/12, Shutdown Corner)

Actually, don't be surprised if the Patriots do a lot of different things to counteract New York's pass rush and multiple fronts. In Week 9, according to Football Outsiders' game-charting data, the Pats went with six offensive linemen on 13 of their offensive snaps. As the Ravens and Steelers do, New England likes running out of bunch formations, and they'll throw some interesting positional threesomes out there -- you could see BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Danny Woodhead, or Stevan Ridley running to bunches consisting of a receiver, a tight end, and tackle Nate Solder, who played tight end for two years at Colorado. When I talked to Solder about that versatility  on Thursday, he said that he was ready to go wherever Belichick sent him. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to see Solder get a goal-line target, Mike Vrabel-style, in this game.

So then, the question becomes, what of Aaron Hernandez?

The Patriots lined Gronkowski's battery mate up as a receiver 104 times in the regular season, but he was targeted just eight times and caught just five passes for 45 yards. Don't be surprised to see Hernandez -- who is probably the Patriots' best deep threat right now -- lined up in more of a flex, a la Dallas Clark, and catching more passes in a role that forces the Giants to stretch out. Hernandez has also been a valuable target coming out of the backfield, but in this game, he might be best utilized as a man who makes the Giants' defense scatter.

Through the Week 9 game, one of the Giants' most interesting defensive concepts was the use of an intermediate spy -- not to watch Brady and see if he ran, but to lurk and wait over the middle against the expected barrage of slants and crosses to Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, and the tight ends. Brady's first of two interceptions came against such a concept. Hernandez occasionally ran underneath crossing routes to free things up for Welker upfield, but a series of combo or pick routes downfield involving Hernandez, with Gronkowski blocking to give Brady more time, would certainly make things interesting. [...]

One other thing to watch out for is how the Giants choose to cover Welker -- Antrel Rolle was on him a lot on Week 9, and I'd bet Rolle wasn't doing much talking after that game, because Welker beat him like a drum. Rolle has issues changing direction on quick plays in which the receiver cuts inside or out, and Welker caught nine passes for 136 yards in that game.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted by at February 5, 2012 6:51 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus