2016 Season Blog.

Pat Vs Arizona.

7 Things For Sunday Night.

Part II.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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Part I.



4. The Prime Directive- Palmer got banged up in the third Preseason game. So the prime directive is to hit and harass Palmer as much as possible. The Pats Offense is a big underdog without Brady, Gronk, Solder, and Vollmer on the road. So the Pats defense is going to have to win this game. They start doing that, by hitting Palmer enough for him to start feeling his age.

But, it is hard to tell because we don't know who Jimmy-G is yet, and we don't know what this team is yet. "I don't think you really know your team until the middle of October, especially now with limited training camp," BB said. "It's different than what it was when I was with the Giants; 50 preseason practices and, you know, you had a lot better idea, but it is what it is. Every team has the same opportunities. I think you'll see a lot of movement, a lot of adjustments in the first third of the season like we've seen historically here in the last few years.

"So, there is uncertainty on your team and then there is uncertainty in the team that you're playing against, in this case Arizona. We've got, whatever it was, 18 games from last year [on tape]. Obviously, they can't do everything that they did in those games but you've got to be aware of it. There are things that they did in the regular season and post season that they felt good enough about doing them in those situations.

"We've got to respect them. [Their] different combinations of personnel and so forth. There is no way they could run the 1,200 plays on either side of the ball that we have on them from last year, [or] 1,100, whatever it is. So there is a lot to get ready for on their end. And then as you said the uncertainty with every new team at the start of the season in the first, I don't know, four, five, six, whatever games. That's normal."

The only reason the Pats have a chance in this game is because their defense was so great in the Preseason. If the defense can play as well as it did in the Preseason, they can beat the Cards. But again, the uncertainly of what the D will be in the regular season vs. the Preseason leaves a lot of questions. Who will step up? Who will slide down? Who will hit a wall? Who will take that next step up to stardom.

The defensive backfield is not only young, but they have shut down every offense they faced in the Preseason. "Well, I think the group has definitely grown together," BB said. "I mean they've had a lot of experience together, a lot of things that we can do now that we wouldn't of been able to do at this time last year with that group of players because we've done them for a year or we did them in different game plan situations last year.

"We obviously have some new players that are involved in the mix, [like] Cyrus. I mean even Coleman who was here but he didn't play a lot last year. He missed some time at various points in the season. [We also have Jonathan] Jones. So there are guys that are a little new to some of that, and again, we always have to review it and each situation is different.

"Even though you play the same coverage; or the same adjustment against Arizona that maybe we played against somebody else, it's a little bit different because: of what Arizona does, and who the players are that they're doing it with, and so forth. It continues to evolve but the fact that we have some experience back there and I would say with the linebackers in coverage: Jamie, and [Dont'a], and Freeney. That there is definitely a level of communication and continuity there that is beneficial. And the fact that we've done some of those things from a year ago, there is definitely some carryover." They have the DBs to make Palmer hold onto the ball longer.

The DBs have to give the rush more time to hit Palmer, their primary objective. "Bruce has a pretty, I'd say, diversified attack. So they do a lot of things that they do consistently," BB said. "[He] did them in Pittsburgh and a year in Indianapolis and in Arizona, but every game has its own variations and its own individual matchups and all of that. He's a very creative coach.

"He has got a foundation that he builds from and then he can also expand that into whatever areas he feels like you're vulnerable at. He does a good job of it. You kind of know what they want to do but there are a lot of changeups, there are a lot of variables that he'll throw at you. I think if you just read the article last year in Sports Illustrated you get a sense of how broad their game plan is, how many options they have.

"I mean it would be impossible to get ready for all of those just based on the volume of what they do, but I'd say that's reflected in the way they play. There are a lot of things that are consistent and then each week there are things that you haven't seen before that you wouldn't have been able to practice [against], whether that's moving players into different positions and doing the same things, or doing new things or doing things that something they've done a lot of and then off of that they set up something else that you haven't seen but it's a complimentary type of play. So, [they're] tough to prepare for. He does a great job. They have very, like I said, very good skill players so they're hard to defend no matter what they're doing." But the more you hit the quarterback the simpler things have to get.

If the Pats can hit Palmer than they can win the game. It will help cause interceptions by the young secondary, and unleash the linebackers into the backfield to maybe force a fumble. With Solder and Vollmer, and Gronk out of this game, the defense has to win this game for the Pats. They have to keep the score low, and maybe win 17-14 or 20-17. If they let the Cards offense go off, the crippled Pats offense cannot keep up them, with a pair of crutches at O-Tackle.

5. Facing the Challenge- The Pats are not ready for this game, but then again neither are the Cardinals. It is the first game of the season, with a wacky Preseason for both teams. The Cardinals really fell apart in the 3rd Preseason game, and Mathieu and Peterson didn't even play in that game.

I think that is the key to victory for the defense. I don't think the Cards offense is completely physically ready for this game. Palmer got decapitated by Houston in the 2nd quarter, and the entire starting offense left the field soon after. They did not play a complete half in the Preseason. Which is one of the biggest conditioning tools in preparing for the season. Remember how gassed the Denver defense got on the Panthers 17 play drive Thursday Night. They were spent after that drive, and the game was over right there.

I don't think the Cardinals offense, and likely their defense, is conditioning-wise prepared for this game. The Pats defense has to take advantage of the Cardinals odd Preseason. Where the starters didn't play through the 2nd quarter in the 3rd Preseason game. Plus, they didn't really play in the 4th Preseason either.

If I am wrong, the Cardinals offense can do some damage. "Well obviously, we have a huge challenge in front of us this week," Matt Patricia said. "We will have a very explosive offense that we're facing. It's all going to start with their head coach and his offensive system." But I'm not certain which team is more prepared for the other.

I think the HC of the AC went a little too light on his veterans this Preseason, after they almost got to the Super Bowl. "Arians does a great job of incorporating the position players and skill players that he has into the system that he runs," Patricia said. "It's a very productive offense. The quarterback Carson Palmer's done a great job of orchestrating that offense and if you look at the different things they've done through the course of the time there through last year, you're looking at a team that obviously, they gain a lot of yards in overall yardage. They gain a lot of yards in the passing game. There's a lot of big-play passes downfield. They have vertical speed at the receiver position. They have tough players at the receiver position." The Pats DBs have to cover deep, and not give it all up on one deep play. But besides that I think the Pats D is better than the Cards offense.

As long as they keep the WRs in front of them, they can make life very tough on Palmer, and make the other guys beat them in the passing game. "They have really good and big tight ends that can push the ball vertical and also run, block on the edge," Patricia said. "They have excellent backs, really good players that create yardage and get downhill into the defense. A very balanced offense, both run and pass. A very productive offense both in yardage and points: putting a lot of points on the board, controlling the clock, big plays downfield. So it's overall a really good offense, very balanced, very dangerous team we are going to face this week." Because Palmer can throw fifty-to-sixty yards downfield in a flash.

The Pats D has a lot of new players they are working into the line up. "Every first game of the year is new. So it doesn't matter if you're a new player or a player who has been here for a while, whatever the case may be, we start over every season," Patricia said. "It's the first game of the year, traveling out to Arizona. There's a lot of things that you have to be ready to handle, things that we're really not sure what they're going to do or how they're going to play from that standpoint. There's a lot of unknown, I guess is the best way to put it and we just have to go out and try to execute to the best of our ability like we've been doing through the spring and through training camp. For us it's just kind of normal mode: head down, and grind through it like we do, and just try to prepare to the best of our ability to go out and perform well." They are working in a lot of new young players into the defense: Cyrus, Flowers, Johnson, Mingo and Rowe.

Continuity is going to play the biggest role in this game for both teams. With this being the first game and all the young players being worked in, there are going to be a lot of adjustments.

Arians is certainly going to have some tricks and traps for the Pats D. "It's hard to really say what game has more in-game adjustments than the next, but this certainly, from a game standpoint, would be a game where we're going to have to adjust something at some point," Patricia said. "There probably will be something we haven't seen or something that comes up that we need to fix just like every other game. That's just kind of what we're trying to do when we go into every game. If there are problems, we're going to adjust and fix it. And make sure that it doesn't come up again in the game and hurt us. Certainly we'll have to do that again this week." The defense has to stop Palmer if the Pats want to win this game.

Hit-hit-hit Carson! Because he will stand in there like a statue trying to throw deep. "Carson is definitely willing to stand in there and deliver the ball under pressure and wait until the last second to get rid of it," BB said. "I mean he is a big, strong guy now. He's big for a quarterback and has a good frame so I'm not saying any quarterback wants to get hit a lot, but there are some guys that can absorb more of those than others. Not as big as Roethlisberger, but he's a big quarterback." That is the prime directive.

6. It is not just Palmer- This offense is not just about Carson Palmer. They have a top offensive line. They have three guys who have been to the Pro Bowl. They will line up and hit you, and beat you, and knock you down. The Pats have to hit Carson at all costs, but they can't let the run game beat them either.

They have some serious weapons in the run game. "Sure, you can start with David Johnson, # 31: big, strong, fast, very patient runner, a guy that can get downhill into the defense very quickly," Patricia said. "He's very elusive, a patient runner, so you think you might have him pinned in the backfield and he just slides into open space and has enough strength and power to break tackles and get vertical. Very dangerous from that standpoint, can get out of the backfield, can catch the ball, can make plays in space. Certainly a guy that can get to the edge, get downhill, kind of, ‘do everything' running back there." David is the kind of RB who looks likes he is about to become a star.

Chris Johnson showed he still had a ton in the tank against Houston. "Chris Johnson we obviously know is very explosive, very fast player, very good space player, but is a guy that will run the ball downhill and take it into open space and try to get positive yards," Patricia said. "I think that's one of the things with all their backs that they do. They try to make sure there are no negative plays. If you look at it, they're falling forward, they're getting yardage, they're always positive with their run plays." It is very hard to earn a TFL against the Cards O-line and the Johnsons.

Plus, they have an explosive third back. "Two very productive players and even Ellington," Patricia said. "#38, is another explosive, fast guy. And really good in space. Does a good job with the ball in his hands, whether it's in the pass or the run game. A guy they're putting out there to try to get the ball to. Three very good backs, all a little bit different but all still do a lot of the same things." The RBs will get some yards, but that is okay as long as they hit Carson.

They are the dessert, not the Main coarse. "Sure, I think it's a good complement, what they're trying to do and why they're so balanced between the run and the pass game," Patricia said. "Obviously the run game sets up the play-action game and the more they can get you to commit to the play-action with the second-level players on defense. Then the deeper balls or the longer throws downfield are going to be opened up, and they certainly have the speed to get those receivers downfield into that space.

"So, from the run/pass complement, the run and play-action game, those are two great qualities they have working in their favor in both those situations. The receivers are big, they're fast, they can get vertical, but they do a good job also in the catch-and-run category. They'll get the ball out quickly. Carson does a great job of reading the defense, getting the ball out fast to the receiver as he spreads the ball around and they do an excellent job in the catch-and-run. Once the ball is in their hands they're still very dangerous as far as splitting the defense or creating a big play. One missed tackle and you have a problem." They cannot let Carson bomb them out of the game, even if they have to give up some runs.

7. In The End- The defense wins this game, or the Pats are in big trouble. Waddle garnered some good experience in Detroit, and Fleming got a ton of experience this past year, and the 4th Preseason game. But they are not Solder and Vollmer. With the offense crippled, the defense has to keep the Cards under 17-points.

My prediction is that the Cards get an early lead, likely with a long kick return. But the Pats comeback and win in the 2nd Half. But I said earlier in the week that the Pats can't beat the Cards without Solder and Vollmer (and don't forget Gronk). I have a lot of trouble coming off that idea. So it is all defense or done. If the Cards score over 20 the Pats are cooked. Bet on this game at your won peril. Leave it be, and double up when the Pats are at Home the next three weeks with Gronk and Solder.

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