2016 Season Blog.

Super Bowl.

7-Things for Sunday: Part II.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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How Does Atlanta Win?


6. Defensive Explosion- The Falcons defense played above their heads the whole Playoffs. "Again, one thing about this game is you are playing against a great team. The six teams we played against were great teams. and the Falcons are a great team. They have done a great job like they did last week against the Packers, shutting them out and getting a couple turnovers, and they are up 24-0 at the half," BB said. "For us to move the ball and score points we are going to have to execute well and perform well offensively. Again, they do a great job of getting you into long yardage situations. They are very quick, they are active up front and then they can rush the passer, they turn the ball over and they strip it well. The reason we didn't score points in those games that you referenced was because we didn't deserve to, we weren't good enough to. We have to find a way to do better than that. Certainly we don't want to play this game from 24-0 or 24-3 or something like that like where Green Bay ended up last week. We have to avoid that or it will be a long night if we don't." It's just that the Packers were so wounded that the more I watched the Falcon defense the less scared I got.

They just kept abandoning the first ten yards out in the flats and the Box in coverage? "I mean, Jules is like a brother to me. I mean, I just can't say enough good things about him because he's just been an incredible player and his development, his maturity, his work ethic, his toughness, his dedication to his craft. I mean, his leadership ability. I mean, everything has been spectacular," Brady said. "I've played with a lot of great receivers and Jules is right there with all of them. He's the lynchpin of that group and he makes our offense go when he's out there. It's been that way for a bunch of years. We move the ball, convert on third down, we score touchdowns in the red area and it's not just his play-making, it's his attitude, it's his leadership, it's how tough he is. I mean you see how big he is, he's not the biggest guy in the world, but he plays like it. He's been there every game this year, he's been incredibly durable and healthy and I love being in that huddle with that guy." You can't do play that Cover Three Umbrella against Edelman, and the Patriots WRs.

They are a very similar Pete Carroll type defense. "They have some of their own characteristics and of course the players are different, so that makes it different. But schematically there is quite a bit of carryover," BB said. "I think just kind of at first glance it might be a little more pressure from Atlanta than Seattle ran. But you know, Seattle did some of it too. I think overall the schemes are very similar. So the players that you can relate to those schemes are, both teams have them: Chancellor and Neal. Go right down the line. They're similar. They play a similar position in a similar defense so that's the player. I'm not saying their skills are the same, but that's what they do. There's probably a similarity to the skill sets. But yeah, it's pretty similar. Ricardo Allen plays in the deep part of the field like Thomas did. So that type of thing." So Brady has some familiarity against this scheme.

But the Falcons defenders are not as good as the Seahawks. "I think in general terms the guys that went out there in all our groupings tried to do what we were asking them to do and be productive. The four receiver grouping, I don't know how many total snaps it was off the top of my head, we knew we wanted to do a few things out of some different groupings that we felt like could help us move the ball, make 1st downs and score points," McDaniels said. "I think they went out there and did some things, were able to convert on a few third downs I believe and help us move the ball. I think each week we go into it and we try to look at a group of players that we've got a lot of guys that can help us be productive on offense in a lot of different ways and in different roles.

"You look at what you have available to you and you look at how the other team plays you or you think that they're going to play you in those groupings and then try to make the best decisions you can to gain the most advantage. Maybe it's more of a fullback and two tight ends, and another week maybe it's three receivers, a fullback and a tailback. There's a lot of different things that you can use and hopefully there's a rhyme and a reason for all of it.

"I think the most important thing is you're trying to put your guys in a position to have some success doing things that they do well. The defense and their matchups, that's always a critical component of making those choices." They have to stop the speed in the passrushers first.

The Pats O-line has been terrific in the Playoffs, especially Solder. "Nate has been a very consistent player for us. I mean, that position you usually match up against a premier rusher or multiple rushers each game that really do a good job of trying to get some pressure on the quarterback or disrupt you in the running game," McDaniels said. "I think Nate has really done a nice job of run blocking, pass protection and all the things we ask at that position. He has really been consistent, detailed, he works hard, always tries to do his job to the best of his ability, he's a great teammate, he's very well prepared. Nate will have to have a great two weeks of preparation just like everybody else on our group will so that we can play our best in a couple weeks here." If the O-line can protect Brady and give the RBs some holes to run through, this game will be fun to watch.

I've said this over and over that I like the way the Pats offense matches up against the Falcons Cover Three defense. If they play defense like they did against Green Bay, the Pats will have to dink and dunk it to death. They will drive down the field on long drives, Mix in power runs, take time off the clock, and win this game.

7. Pats Win- The Falcons D gave up 4.5 YPC last year. That is a dangerous stat when you are playing the Pats. Blount rushed for over a 1,000, and garnered 18 TDs. I have trouble seeing Atlanta little LBs standing up to him all game long. Yes, they could flash inside and trip him up early. But the 2nd Half is going to be brutal on the Falcons' defense if Blount gets going.

Dion Lewis is averaging 4.4 YPC, which is a tick less than the Falcons gave up to RBs all season. If he averages 4.4 YPC in this game, which is more than likely, I don't see how the Falcons win. Plus, White garnered 717-yard rushing and receiving.

Alex Mack is going to play, but he is injured. Not hurt, but injured and shouldn't play. "I think it's a great point," Patricia said. "With this offense, what they've been able to do, with as much attention that goes into the passing game, rightfully so, it's allowed them to run the ball extremely well. They do a great job up front blocking. Alex Mack is in the middle there and he kind of controls everything." Alan Branch is going to lined up on the OC, and his job just got a whole lot easier.

If Branch can dominate Mack, or Mack is at half speed, or gets knocked out? I don't see how the Falcons win this game. "Alan has done a great job for us, and along with his play which is certainly significant, one of the things that's really been impressive about him has been his play time," BB said. "So in addition to his overall production he's played a lot more than he has in quite a while in terms of number of plays. From a production standpoint he's got, again, quite a few tackles, tackles for loss. It's hard to measure the disruptive plays but he's certainly got his share of those." The Falcons said that if this were the Regular season Mack would be out for 6 to 8 weeks.

They want to put him in a walking cast for his broken friggin' fibula, and Branch his going to beat his ass. "He's played very well for us in the running game. He's given us a presence in the pass rush of a long, physical player in the middle," BB continued about Branch. "That's all been really good, and he's played more plays. So all of that is good. How unique is it? I mean, guys that weigh 350 pounds and are athletic and long like he is? I mean, they don't grow on trees. They're hard to find. Ted Washington had that kind of length and size. Ted was 6-5, but Alan moves better than Ted does, or did at that point in his career." He has been elite in these Playoffs at holding up the Center, and then shedding him, and getting into the hole.

With a wounded warrior at OC for the Falcons? How do they run the ball? "We've had some other longer guys like Richard [Seymour] or guys like that, but they weren't 350 pounds," BB said. "There's not too many of them. Gerard [Money] Warren was a big guy that ran well. Money was a very athletic player who wasn't quite as long as Branch but moving into that range." Branch has been, in my opinion, the best D-Lineman in the NFL stopping the run the second half of the season and Playoffs. Plus, when he can bull the OC back into the QB if makes it impossible for the QB to feel comfortable in the pocket.

The Pats also have Brown, Valentine, Flowers, and Long on their D-line who are all excellent run stuffers as well. "It's important just like every other game," Branch said. "It comes to stopping the run and have those guys fight one-handed and try to throw the ball on most downs, giving our pass rushers and DB's a chance to make plays to get us off the field." They have the best D-line for stopping the run in the NFL.

If the Falcons RBs don't run for a 100-yards and/or a TD? How do they win this game?

You can't use a little Umbrella zone against Brady. The Falcons are just too used to moving back, and using that Cover Three Umbrella zone, like they did against Green Bay the entire 1st Half. Brady will know where the cracks, holes, and gaps are before the ball is snapped. How do you beat Brady when he knows your zone before the snap?

The Pats WRs, especially Edelman, are going to chew this secondary up. "I don't think so. I mean that's a hell of a product if he is. I think Julian would be good wherever you plugged him at. I know he's played defense for us before, so he's a football player," Long said when asked if he thought Edelman was a product of the system. "I think people that know football know he's one of the best. The way he works, the way he brings it every day, the role he's played here is very good for what we do, and great at breaking tackles. Tough player. I think he's got, obviously, everybody's respect in our locker room. I think football players that really know the game know he's one of the best." If you let him run free under the coverage all game he is going to be the MVP, like Dion was.

If Atlanta lays back in their Cover Three? How are they going to win the game?

Now, the Pats secondary could get run over by Ice and Julio. But they really haven't been run over by a passing game all season. The Pats secondary is their most underrated unit on the team. Matty Ice is the Best QB the Pats have faced all season, and if they let him he will hurt the Pats over and over. He had a better season then Wilson, and is a better QB then the old Roethlisberger.

Now I'm not saying that Atlanta can't win, especially if Matty Ice goes off. "They're very explosive offensively. Every guy that gets the ball can score a touchdown from 80 yards away or more," BB said. "Defensively they have very good team speed. They've got usually at least nine if not 10 of the players on the field, sometimes all 11, I'd say are pretty fast. They've got a couple of big linemen that they use, they're good. Their ends are fast. The linebackers are fast. The secondary is fast. Sometimes they take out the big guys and put in a couple of more fast guys like Grady [Jarrett] or guys like that. I'm not saying they're like track guys, but for their position they're fast. They're athletic. They're very hard to block in space and pass protection and things like that." If their passrush goes off it is going to be very tough on Brady.

If Ice can lead them to touchdowns it is going to make it very difficult on the Pats. The Pats can punt a couple of times, and kick a couple of FGs, and it hurts them less. Because their defense just doesn't give up touchdowns. The Pats defense, with Atlanta's sudden crack in the O-line right in the center, is not going to give up touchdowns without a fistfight. If Atlanta punts twice in the 1st Half and kicks two FGs, they lose.

Ryan is the best QB on 3rd downs in the NFL this year. If the Pats cannot stop him on 3rd down all game long? It will be very tough for the defense to stop them from scoring two or three TDs. The Pats have to get some stops on 3rd down.

Now, the Pats D has not faced an offense like this, except in practice every week. They have faced WRs as good as Julio: Brown, Fitzpatrick, Hopkins, and AJ Green. And the Pats secondary figured out a way to slow them down. Julio presents some unique problems, but he is not a better WR than those guys.

If the Falcons don't score on their open drive, it puts them in a hole right at the start of the game. If the Pats don't score to start the game it doesn't matter. Atlanta has to score on their opening drive, and they have-have-have to score TDs not FGs.

I'm not a special Teams expert, but I'll take the Pats special Teams over Atlanta every day of the week and twice on Sunday. If they Pats win the Special Teams battle? It just makes it harder and harder to win. The Falcons simple have more questions about how they can win the game than the Pats.

Can Atlanta win? Yes. Certainly. But the more I studied it, the more difficult the road looks for Atlanta than the Pats. The Pats D just doesn't give up touchdowns. The Falcons defense gave up more touchdowns than over 75% of the NFL's defenses. To me, that will be the story of the game. The Pats D doesn't give up the TDs, and the Falcons D does.

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