2016 Season Blog.

Pats Vs Pitt.

7-Things For Sunday Night.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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On The Road Again.


5. Offensive Explosion- I don't think Big Ben ever really recovered from his knee injury from October. He did not move very well in the pocket against KC. He was good at moving in short little areas, like a crafty veteran, to give his guys times. But his legs looked like he had some sore old bones. Plus, he was in a walking cast last week as well.

But he can still throw the ball all over the field, and squeeze into smaller holes on the goal line. "As far in the red area, once you get down into that part of the field, they do a great job and Coach Haley does a great job of putting those guys in different positions. There's some misdirection plays, there's some catch and run plays, there's some deep balls that they try to throw into the end zone and take advantage of their speed downfield, and their playmaking ability downfield," Patricia said. "Plus Ben, his ability to get the ball downfield. One of the things that happens a lot in the red area that you always have to defend are kind of those plays that take a little bit longer or get extended. For the most part in the red area it's kind of some timing plays down in there, but if those plays can get extended or prolonged, that's when it becomes really difficult and I think Roethlisberger right now is very mobile, very healthy. [Ben's] a guy that showed even again last night that just slight bit of movement or a slight bit of ability to maybe evade the rush or stand in there just a little bit longer gives his guys enough time to get open in those situations and certainly the red area is a big part of that." What makes Ben special now, is not his freakish athleticism for a QB his size, but his experience and craftiness in the pocket.

This is going to be one of those long ugly games where the Pats D focuses on shutting down Ben and Brown, and Bell scares the crap out of us all game long. "I think the thing other than along with kind of what I said earlier, certainly if there's space or if there's a gap in the defense or if there's an edge in the defense, he's quick to take advantage of that. So he's going to be able to get into that open space pretty quickly," Patricia said. "I don't think you want to sit there and guess. I don't think you really want to sit there and try to play that game with them. I think for us it's always going to go back to the same thing in the run game of being able to play with good technique. And really trying to do a good job at the line of scrimmage of playing our guys. And defeating blocks, and doing the things we do, and tackling and making sure we do a great job of tackling and wrapping up. It should be a full team complement to stopping the run game and that's what we're going to need." Only they will be stopping the pass first.

They have to hit Big Ben early and often to get him off his game, his legs are not as sound as when last we played him. "Pittsburgh's offense [is a] very dangerous, very explosive offense. This will be different for us than obviously the first time with Ben being back. They run a very consistent offense," Patricia said. "Let me put it that way, with Todd Haley. He does a great job of scheming things up and getting the ball to his go-to players. They have very explosive guys at all the skill positions. The running back, Le'Veon Bell, is obviously a very dangerous player. A guy that really does a great job in the run game and the pass game. A guy that's a great space player. [A guy whose] really very dynamic in his ability to make people miss in open space from a tackling standpoint. [A] very patient runner. It's kind of a different style of running game where he kind of gets to the line of scrimmage and really just finds that hole or that seam and he has this incredible burst to be able to get through." Bell is at his best when he can peek-a-boo behind his blockers as he bobs and weaves forward like a boxer, and then explodes forward when he finally finds a lane.

Their O-line dominates by grabbing the front-7 guys shirt, and consistently moving them backwards 2-3 and even 5 to 7 yards and forming a pocket downfield for Brown to read and dance behind. It really is quit amazing. Their three interior O-linemen, Pouncey, DeCastro, and Foster, are best trio I have seen in decades at pushing and sustaining blocks in the run game. Bell loves to hide behind Pouncey and DeCastro, while he peeks upfield. And then boo, he is crashing through a crack on the second level.

It really puts a lot of stress on the front-7, because the run plays can take two or three times longer than any other team in the NFL to execute. "I think the offensive line [is like totally awesome]," Patricia [sort-ah] said. "These guys are big and long and strong and they just cover you up. They really do a great job of getting into their blocks and making it very difficult for the defensive line to get off." The Pats cannot let the Pitt O-line win this game for them.

Because they will run Bell all the way down field on five or six straight runs if you let them. "And then with the speed of Bell and the burst of Bell through the line of scrimmage it's very difficult to get a good hit on him," Patrice said. "So it's a lot of arm tackles, which he can break those and his very strong lower body so he can get through those and get some positive yardage. You just kind of see these smooth runs that may hit for like: 5-yards, 7- yards, 9-yards, 12-yards, then it's like 26 yards." Those are the runs that drive the whole offense down to the Redzone.

Plus, it gets the LBs and Safeties creeping up to the line. "They do a great complement of different scheme runs to get him the ball in different areas of the offense. So it's inside, it's outside, it's counters coming back. So [it's] kind of a wide variety there," Patricia said. "I mean, really just in their run game consistently, we've seen Williams a couple of times, too. It has just been a dynamic run game for them and obviously you can see that here in the last couple of weeks. Which at this time of the year running the ball is critically important to success in the playoffs. So they're doing a great job of being consistent with that." And even more troubling is that the run game then sets up the play action.

They will be patient and run six or seven straight times, until they see the Safeties and LB creeping forward a little, and then run that nasty little play action, where Bell will even stay in to block. "I think in the passing game when you look at what they're being able to do is push the ball both vertically and horizontally," Patricia said. "Antonio Brown is obviously a great wide receiver and a huge threat to get the ball. Once it's in his hands to make people miss and turn small plays into big plays. But I think the other receivers, because there is so much attention that goes to Brown even though he does get open anyways, those guys really kind of stepped up, [like] Rogers. You're going to see all those guys kind of in there playing their part and included with that would be the tight end position. Jesse James had a great game, and does a great job of finding space. Roethlisberger is just so calm in the pocket where he can really just wait, and those guys do a good job of reading coverage or getting off coverage. And the offensive line is doing a great job of protecting him. So then they just kind of get open, or work themselves into space, and he's got an incredibly strong arm so he can just get the ball to them once they kind of uncover." The D-line gets so caught up in run D that they hesitate for a second on passing downs.

Which gives Big Ben more time in the pocket to try and make the big play. "Obviously, the deep threat which is a big play possibility, the catch and run, which you've seen them do here especially in the last couple weeks with explosive-type plays, and then combine that with the running game, it really stresses a defense both in the front to make sure that the run game is handled and then in the deep part of the field," Patricia said. "And they're really doing a great job of taking advantage of, we'll call it, intermediate and horizontal part of the field where there is a lot of space now and they get the ball to those guys in space and they'll catch and run and make a lot of big plays. That's a long answer. Sorry about that." They really are the most balanced offense we will face this year.

But, our defense has really come together since they ditched Collins. "They have a lot of good players, very well-coached," Brady said about the Pats D. "I go against them every day in practice and they're very competitive, very hard-nosed, good stopping the run, and have been very competitive against the pass. It's a very good defense." They will give up the yards, but it is the most difficult defense to score TDs on.

They lead the NFL by giving up only 6 TDs on the ground. They were 10th in only giving up 21 TDs in the air. So they only gave up 27-TDs all season long. Denver gave up 28 Total. Oddly, the NJG gave up only 25. So the Pats are were the second best team at not giving up touchdowns, and are by far the best left. Steelers gave up 35 by the way. Atlanta gave up 46 (and I wrote that before the Atlanta game started, they are just a better team than Green Bay).

6. Defensive Explosion- Pitt really showed they could hit the QB against KC. "Like I said, they have a lot of guys that can do different things. Their down guys are not just run stoppers. Tuitt is a very active guy, and he's created a lot of pressure on the quarterback from the spots that he plays," Coach McDaniels said. "They'll pressure people with pressures, with linebacker blitzes. So guys like Timmons and Shazier and those types of guys. They all have sacks. They all have quarterback pressures. And then the edge rushers, the Harrison's and the Dupree's, those guys. I mean, they're constantly involved in the rush as well. It's not just one guy. That's the biggest thing. It's the entire front." Pitt will attack Brady from every angle.

They like to blitz the DBs a lot. "Plus you're going to get secondary pressures, their nickel back, their safeties are all involved in the blitz packages, which has kind of been a hallmark of their defense over many years," McDaniels said. "Those guys are going to get hits on the quarterback, and you're going to have to pick them up in blitz pick-up and make sure that you don't give them any easy plays there, too. So, you can't really focus your attention on one or two guys. That's not really what this defense is built on." But when they blitz those DBs, D-linemen and Linebackers wind up outside covering WRs.

So Brady has to see that and exploit it, or they will keep sending DBs to do him harm. "They're going to come at you in waves. Different people are going to come on different plays, and you've got to be ready to handle them all," McDaniels said. "And they're all physical, athletic and they know exactly how to execute in their system and in their scheme. They're extremely well-coached. [The DC] coach Butler does a great job. I know coach Tomlin has always done a great job with them. We have a ton of respect for them, and like I said before, this is going to be a great challenge this week." That has been the key to their defense.

Sometimes it happens that team's defenses come together late in the year. "Most [of their] players are playing at a very high level right now. Like I said about their whole group, seem to get better as the year goes on," McDaniels said. "They've always had an element of those experienced veteran players really helping those younger players come along, and learn the system, and learn what it means to play the way they play in their scheme and their system." The Pitt has been an example of that.

However, Harrison had an absolutely great game last week, and it is rare for a player to be that great two weeks in a row. "I think those are two good examples right there of guys that [are] much different in terms of their age and experience, but both physical guys, both very difficult to handle in the running game, set the edge in the running game and they do a good job of trying to knock people back," McDaniel said about Harrison and Dupree. "And then [both] can create pressure on the quarterback, whether it's with speed or power, and they both do it. So they fit into their scheme nicely. They've always done a great job of integrating young players into their scheme, because they know very specifically what they're looking for. I think those two guys are a good example of what they've had for a long time and how they develop these young guys to play really well and integrate them into their system and into their defense." The Pitt D robbed KC of three or four TDs last week.

I don't think that they can play that great two weeks in a row. "There's a balance to all of this. They're aggressive, but they're very intelligent in terms of when they take their chances, because they understand when the time is running out [on the QB in the pocket], and they'll make some educated decisions on when to take a few risks in the secondary," McDaniel said. "But, like I said before, they've given up very, very few big plays in the passing game all season, and so, to me, that's a testament to how disciplined they are. They're not going to give up many plays over their head, and even though you might say they do make some plays on the ball and they are aggressive, you've got to be careful with how much you're trying to risk in terms of holding onto it and doing all of those kinds of things, because you've got to deal with their blitz zones, their different types of pressures inside, and then just their straight four-man rush." They showed they are good enough to slow Brady down a little.

But the more he sees the better Brady gets. "You've got to be smart. You've got to be disciplined. You've got to be patient," McDaniel said. "And like I said, this is as disciplined and as patient of a group on defense, and they're going to play the very same way this week. They're not going to make many mistakes. They're not going to give you many opportunities to have easy yards. You're going to have to earn everything you get. Like I said, it'll be a great challenge." It sounds like Playoff football.

7. Pats Win- Pitt just has too many battles to fight to win this game. Some awesome Pats fan got arrested unleashing a fire alarm on the Steeler this morning, LOL. That alone could cost them the game. I know if I were a Steeler, I'd be too jacked to go back to sleep after an alarm went off at 5 or whatever was in the morning. Plus, the Steelers got the Flu this week. In a week when the Pats had two more days to prepare before Pitt got sick. This just looks more and more like a blowout.

Plus, BB owns Tomlinson playbook like he wrote it for him. Coaches and teams that just do what they do will be dissected and owned by game time by BB. The Pats defense is just too tough to score TDs against, and the Pats offense is going to score TDs against the Pitt D. That will be the difference in the game.

Rapistburger was averaging 327-yards per game passing at Home this season while completing 70% of his passes. In his seven games on the road, he averaged 231-yards per game while completing 59% of his passes. His QB ratings is 20-points lower on the road (78 to 98). He had four games where he threw for two or more INTs, three on the road (and ironically two came again AFC East opponents: Bills and Miami). He has thrown for three or more TDs with zero INTs in four games this season, three at Home. He didn't throw a TD last week at KC, but had an INT. He threw 11 INTS and 10 TDs in 9 games on the Road. That is as scary a disparity as I have ever seen at Home vs. on the Road.  

So in six of the nine road games he played in this year he was at his worst. Plus, Big Ben has been falling apart this season. He missed three games with a knee injury. He was in a walking boot for his ankle last week. He looked like his legs were a mess against KC, and he had five of his six worse regulars season games on the Road.  

Plus, the Pats defense just kept getting better and better all season long. They dominated a bad Houston team last week. But more importantly they scrapped off the rust from the Bye week. Pats win this game in the 2nd Half, like they have been doing all season.

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