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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Kleptocracy- (from Greek:
klépto- thieves + -kratos rule, literally "rule by thieves") is
a government with corrupt rulers (kleptocrats) that use their power to
exploit the people and natural resources of their own territory in order
to extend their personal wealth and political power.
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