2016 Season Blog.

Pats Vs Broncos.

7-Things for Sunday. Part II.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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Hanging On.


4. New Challenge!- The Patriots face a new challenge in this game. Their defense dominated the Ravens this week like a top five defense. Their offense also dominated the top ranked defense like they were the Rams. The question is can they do it again? Can they play defense at a tiptop level consistently the rest of the way.

If you take away the two Special Team turnovers, and Brady's gaff in the Redzone, the Pats dominated a very good Ravens offense and defense from start to finish. It really was a beating. They have to have that kind of effort again this week, but also different. They are traveling not only across the country, but way up in altitude as well.

They have to get that oxygen on the sideline. When I was young, I traveled to Denver and backpacked in the Rocky Mountains for a month. I got altitude sickness the first couple days on the trail. I got dizzy and sick to my stomach. They told me it was the altitude and the lack of oxygen. So I know first hand that the altitude stuff is for real. It does different things to different people, and it really messed me up.

So they not only have the short week and travel, they have to take oxygen on the sideline to even things up a bit. "Absolutely. We've had a lot of snaps. I mean, we've taken a lot of snaps when you go all the way back to OTA's, and training camp, and all of the practices and all of the meetings. Do we need another snap at ‘Ride 34 Bob?' I don't know. We could always use it but we've had a lot of them this year," BB said. "Do we need another snap at a coverage? You try to balance that out; how many more plays versus how much rest, walkthroughs versus practice, pads versus no pads, all of those things. But the more snaps you have, the further along you are, I would say in particular if you're doing something well then the more confidence you'd have that you'd be able to execute it at a good level. But you can't just stop doing it. I mean, I don't think just sitting on a couch for a week is the way to get ready for a game. Even though you'd be well-rested you'd leave a lot of other preparation components behind. So there's some kind of balance in there." Going up to Denver is not like going to other places.

You have to be ready for the lack of oxygen in the air, which I don't think the Pats have traditional done a good job of handling. "Maybe you want a certain amount of rest but you have a certain amount of preparation to do so where do you draw the line: 60-40, 55-45, 70-30, 30-70? You have to make that decision," BB said. "One thing that comes with having a long a week that comes with a short week, to a certain degree you try to either get ahead or maybe get a little more rest in a long week knowing that you have a short week coming up, or get further ahead so you don't have as much, if you will, as much to do as you would normally have because you try to push some of it to where you have a little bit more time." So they have the short work and the altitude to deal with this week.

So it is not just oxygen management, it is time as well because of the short week and travel. "Time management and efficiency, combining rest with your work product. Yeah, it's all part of it. We're all different. Some of us need more rest [and oxygen] than others. Some of us work faster in certain areas than others," BB said. "We're all individuals yet we have to come together in a team concept and figure out some kind of schedule that we can all be on. Once you know what that schedule is then you as an individual try to maximize the time that you have and how you get the most out of it. All of those things are important but it's hard to maximize all of them. You have to pick and choose and figure out what the right mix is." This is probably the most difficult game, scheduling wise, of the season.

The players really have to take extra physical and mental precautious to try to be at their best this week. "I think it factors. But again, your time is your time. So if we play on Thursday night, which we did earlier in the year, then you work in that timeframe," BB said. "If you play on Monday night then we had a different timeframe last week. I think you take what you have to work with and you try to figure out how do you make the best of this time. Whatever it is, four days, five days, six days, seven days, eight days, bye week, whatever it is you just try to take the time and maximize it and all of that is important: player rest, player reps, film study, meeting time, travel, all of those things." And let me tell you, these things really matter late in the season.

I don't think they handled these questions very well late last season, especially in Denver, and that was a large part of the collapse that cost them Home field throughout the Playoffs "What's the right mix?" BB said. "It changes from year to year. From like you said, early in the season to late in the season. Or maybe where your team is at a particular point in time relative to injuries or a variety of other things that can impact and affect the mental and physical condition of the team [like oxygen]. You try to take all of those into consideration, look at your options and pick the best one." The Pats collapsed last season in Denver in the 2nd Half.

There were a lot of factors in that game that helped cause that, like the lack of O-tackles to block their speed rushers. But no one will ever convince that oxygen wasn't a big part of it. I personally went through the worse extreme of the high altitude in the Rocky mountains. It didn't last long, but it was scary and gross. When you have a 50-pound pack on your back, and have to snake your way down the side of mountain with 500-feet of shale to walk on, and your dizzy from altitude sickness, it is not something that you easily forget.

This week is another perfect example of why Home field in the Playoffs is so important. Everything is harder on the Road. If this game was in Foxboro everybody and their brother would be calling for a blow out. The only reason that everyone isn't predicting a blow out is because it is in Denver. If the Pats win this game they will play two Playoff games in Foxboro, and go to the Super Bowl. Losing it makes the ride much more difficult.

5. Offensive Explosion- The best news for the offense is that they are very familiar with coach Kubiak's offense. "We're into these guys right now. You know, it starts at the top. Coach Kubiak does an excellent job with this offense and this offensive philosophy," Patricia said. "I think it's one that has proven all of the places he has been: Houston, at Baltimore, obviously at Denver. He and Coach Dennison do a great job of implementing their offensive system and I think it's one that is really system-based. It starts with the quarterback. They're really trying to give the quarterback a good game plan where he can go out and execute fairly quickly and well and not put too much on his plate. They're going to run their run game which is a heavy-based, stretch-zone type of scheme where they're going to try to create space in the defense and get the ball downhill, really just doing a great job as far as using their personnel." There will not be a lot of surprises on the field for the Pats defenders.

They are a terrible run team. They are within 4-yards of the Ravens average per game on the ground, with a rookie RB and a castoff, with Anderson out. "So Booker, the back, is very quick. He's athletic, he's big, he can get downhill," Patricia said. "Forsett, obviously signing him, is someone extremely familiar with this offense so they'll rely heavily on that." They run a similar zone blocking scheme as the Ravens ran against us this week. Also, Booker was a fumbler in college at Utah.

Siemian has a better arm than Manning had last season, but that is about it. He is a second year guy still finding his way. He is not Flacco either. He is throwing for less passing yards per game than the Patriots defense is giving up. They have too great options at WR, but everyone else is below average at best. You could see the Pats try and double Thomas and Sanders, and force Siemian to try and hurt them with everyone else.

They will also use their athletic tight ends in the passing game to cause trouble underneath their WRs. "They love the tight ends so Green and A.J. [Derby] will be in there quite a bit," Patricia said. "They definitely will use them in both the run and the passing game. And then obviously the two wide receivers are a huge, huge problem. Thomas and Sanders are two of the best in the league." Both Green and Derby can also get down the seam and cause trouble on the 2nd and 3rd levels.

But the real trouble from this offense comes from their two great WRs. "Thomas is big, long, does a great job on the deep balls, has got great hands. I mean he makes some unbelievable catches. For a young quarterback who's doing a great job of just getting the ball where it has got to go, when you have receivers like that you can take some chances and you can put the ball up even if you have some double-coverage situations or really good coverage. You can put it up there and those guys will go make a play," Patricia said. "Sanders, obviously [is] extremely explosive, extremely fast. Just a great player. So this offense, this offensive scheme, Coach Kubiak, they do a tremendous job of preparing each week and running the offense in a very controlled fashion which gives them the chance to control the game, control the clock, get the ball downfield. They take their vertical shots, they'll stretch you horizontally. They'll use the run game to set up the play-action game. Now the boot game, which gets them out of the pocket," If Ryan takes away Thomas, like he did last year, and the Pats stuff the run, their QB is going to have a long day.

He is not a guy who can do it all on his own. "Siemian does a great job of finding those guys," Patricia said. "Really a lot of the times on those boot plays you see a lot of teams just kind of get rid of it quickly. He does a good job of getting the ball downfield on those type of plays and they're getting those chunk yardages where they're being able to move the ball. So we've got to be able to handle all of those situations that come up. Then obviously there are some things there too where the quarterback has some ability to change the play at the line of scrimmage. We saw a little bit of that last year. We've seen it this year on film where they can identify what we're in and get themselves in a better situation. So we're going to have to really, really do a great job of getting ourselves ready to go here." He obviously has a much stronger arm than Payton had last year, but he doesn't have anywhere near the mastery of Kubiak's offense that Payton had.

The Denver offense is very similar to the Ravens offense, but they don't have that veteran QB who has seen it all. To me, this is so much more of a mismatch than the Broncos have on our offense, with Cannon and Solder healthy. The Pats defense has to go after the Broncos offense like they went after the Ravens offense.

6. Defensive Explosion- The Broncos defense is not as good as the Ravens against the run. They are giving up 53 more yards per game on the ground, not including this weeks game against the Pats. The problem is that they are much better in pass defense, and are giving up 39-yards less in the Air per game. Mostly because of their rush. The Pats need to use the ground game to help Brady in the play action, and slow down the rush.

We will see a healthy amount of Blount, Dion, and White running the ball. "We feel like it's our responsibility in those types of situations to finish the game on offense with the ball by getting as many first downs as we need to get. Our offensive line, our tight ends, our backs, James Develin, our offense in general I think feels very confident about trying to be aggressive and physical at that point in the game and running the ball for as many first downs as you can, or as you have to," McDaniels said. "We always talk about trying to be a tough football team and I think there is no better measure of your toughness on offense than your ability to run the ball when the other team knows you're going to run it. Our guys have really tried to embrace that challenge. We haven't been perfect in that situation for sure. There are certainly times when we could have done better and we work hard to try to do that, but I think our guys have a great attitude, a great mindset, a great approach in that situation and want that responsibility. Last night, I thought they really did a nice job of trying to close out the game on offense by running the ball for those first downs." They have a young interior O-line that is really coming together.

I thought Shaq was the best run blocking OG in the Draft two years ago. "Shaq is a guy that has worked extremely hard coming off some nicks and bumps and all the rest of it last year. He's worked to get back in and really be a strong contributor and a consistent performer for us," McDaniels said. "His attitude has always been very good. He works extremely hard at his craft. Dante has done a tremendous job with that whole group, getting them to play well together and getting each man to improve in his fundamentals and his technique. I've said that numerous times that they couldn't ask for a better situation than to have Dante Scarnecchia as their position coach." Scar loves those zone blocking runs, and Shaq has really excelled at blocking on the move.

He has been a beast pulling outside on power runs. "Shaq practices hard, it's important to him, he loves the game of football. He enjoys competing and playing, he's tough, he can really move, he's got great agility," McDaniels said. "I tell him he's got built-in leverage because he's not the tallest guy in the world, so that gives him an added advantage in terms of being underneath people and ultimately, playing the offensive line position, that's really the most important thing. You've got to win with leverage and pad level and Shaq has done a nice job of that. He's matured, he understands the pro game, he's more comfortable in our system this year and I think we're seeing that in his play. " He is finally starting to show that now.

The O-line will be tested this week, and not just the O-tackles outside, but by the Broncos Odd front inside. " Denver is a tremendous, tremendous challenge. Coach Phillips has always had great defenses. Their players play: extremely physical, fast, aggressive, never out of position," McDaniels said. "They rarely give up big plays. They're at the top of the league in basically every category. They can rush the passer. They can create turnovers. They're very difficult to throw the ball against. They create negative plays in the running game. They're one of the best teams in the league on 1st down which means they're ultimately one of the best teams in the league on 3rd down." They want to make plays in the backfield.

And playing at Home really helps them a ton. "Then playing in Denver is always a huge challenge with the noise as an added element for them," McDaniels said. "We have a lot to digest in a short week and our guys will be excited to get in here and get started tomorrow on them. They've got great players. They're well-coached. It's a hard place to play, and we've got a lot of work ahead of us." The Pats have to do a better job at the line, and snapping the ball to Brady in a more unified manner than last year.

If they can get Blount going than this game is already over. "I couldn't trust him more," McDaniels said about Blount. "He does a great job of taking care of the ball, always has. It's been a strength of his game since we've had him. He's a guy that works hard at his ball security. He practices it each week, and that's got to be the number one thing when you're talking about giving the ball to somebody in those critical situations is that you've got to trust that they're going to come up with it at the end of the play and never give the opponent an opportunity to take it away. Our number one goal in any type of a four-minute offense situation is to protect the football and LG has certainly done a nice job of that." If he can pound the defense on the ground, Brady is just unstoppable in the play action game.

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