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2016 Season Blog.

Pat Vs Cincy.

7-Things for Sunday: Part II.

By TOM

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Brady 2nd Game Back, and We're Gonna Be in Trouble.

By TOM

5. Offensive Explosion!- I kind of like Cincy's offense. I like their RBs, and I love their WRs and TE. Dalton is one of the top Regular Season QBs in the NFL. They can pound. They can go deep. And they can dink and dunk down the field. However, it seems that the key to their offense is Tyler Eifert, and he has not played. If he is out of this game it should be an easy win. If is back, they could carry their momentum from the 4th quarter last week, when Dallas went into an ineffective Prevent, and cause a lot of problems.

AJ Green is one of the top two or three Regular Season WRs in the NFL. "The quickest; very quick," BB said. "He has good stop and start quickness. He's a very good intermediate route runner. I'd say there is a number of those players you talked about [that] are really just two level players: short catch-and-run, and deep speed, built speed type routes. Green's very good at intermediate routes: comebacks, in-cuts, curls, routes like that. He has great quickness at the top of his route and excellent hands so he's able to extend and create separation with his length and his catching skills. He makes some incredible one-handed catches or catches where the defender is just draped all over him and he's able to just get his hands a few inches out further than the defenders and make the play. His catch radius is exceptional. But I'd say the thing that really to me puts him at the top of the league in receivers is his ability to affect all three levels, particularly those intermediate routes." He has three TD passes of over 80-yards, and nine total of over 50 regular season TDs.

He Dalton have been in sync for years. "He has a great combination of a physical skill set: he's big, he's long, he's dynamic, he's fast, he has great hands, he's very explosive, he can get in and out of his breaks and he can go up and get the ball," Patricia said. "So, even if there are situations where Dalton's in trouble, the quarterback's in trouble, he can throw the ball up. [Dalton] strongly relies on A.J. to be able to come down with it and go up and fight for it and get the ball and it's just his physical size is an issue out on the perimeter, and then obviously combine that with the speed to get vertical through the defense and get behind everybody. That creates a big matchup problem for us." When they are in a grove Green cannot be stopped.

Then when they get in the Redzone they have some big tight ends to throw to. "Then once we get to Eifert being out there, [he] is another very big, long, tall kind of guy that has great reach and range from a passing game situation," Patricia said. "So, definitely a go-to player for them in those red area and third-down situations. [He] can really catch the ball well. He has got good quickness to kind of get in and out of breaks. He's got enough suddenness to create that separation where now he can use his length to be able to get the ball." But Eifert missed last week with a back issue that makes his return less scary. But if he gets in this game he could change their whole Redzone offense.

He has missed the first four weeks with a bum ankle, and they have had to groom their two other TEs earlier than expected "They've done a really good job of playing both of the other tight ends," Patricia said. "[Tyler] Kroft and [C.J.] Uzomah has been out there and been very productive for them, and then once we get to Eifert being out there is another very big, long, tall kind of guy that has great reach and range from a passing game situation." If Eifert is out, Kroft and Uzomah have not been able to make up for his loss in the Redzone.

They also have one of the best one two punches at runningback. "They use both the backs very well. Jeremy Hill, I'll start with him being the bigger back, kind of the more downhill, power running back," Patricia said. "Strong, explosive, likes contact, will get into the line of scrimmage, get the tough yards, does a good job of running with his pads low, just a downhill, really just a tough, physical type of running style and he's got really good balance, which means he can also push the ball out into the edge. [He] does a good job of breaking tackles so you really got to get a good angle on him where you can wrap him up and try to drive through the tackle. He's definitely a problem from that standpoint and being able to handle him." Hill has been terrible so far this season. So they can't let him get started. If they stuff him early and often he will fold. He has been averaging under 4-yards a carry so far this season, and the Pats just have to keep it that way.

Bernard has been terribly inconsistent, but played well last week and got his average up to 3.5 YPC. "Then Giovani Bernard next, kind of being that different change of pace back," Patricia said. "As you might say, a third-down sub-back, but really he's going to run all the same runs and they're going to run their offense with him in there and he does a great job of getting the tough yardage, too. He'll come downhill, he'll hit the holes. They do an excellent job in the run game." He also has 25 catches on the season and is averaging 8.4 YPC.

They have a good O-line that has struggled a little so far this season, but both guys have run behind it well before. "Their offensive line is very experienced," Patricia said. "They've been playing out there together for a while and they do a good job in the run game of kind of scheming the run plays up, creating the space and opening the gaps. Bernard does a good job of exposing that, too, and then with a little bit of a different kind of dynamic to his skill set where he has some different bursts, and speed, and quickness and ability to move in and out of those holes. The same run play may look two different ways to defend because of the back so that makes it a little bit more difficult also. Both of them are productive in the run game. I think they'll run either one and they'll try to get both of the guys the carries to get the run game going, and you know, that's what they want to be able to do." They want to pound the ball to draw the LBs and Safeties closer to the LOS.   Then try and go deep to Green and LaFell. "They want to control the game with the run and be able to throw the ball vertical downfield, use the play-action game, use the drop back game and get the ball to their receivers and the tight ends," Patricia said. "LaFell obviously being over there is another excellent, tough, physical wide receiver that catches the ball extremely well. He's a really good route-runner. He's really smart, can read coverage so he's playing extremely well right now, too. They have a really good offensive skill set combined with the tough, physical offensive line." It is a very old school approach on offense.

You cannot let them get their play action game going. "That is what makes them so difficult to defend, but both of the backs are extremely good and they use both of the backs in the passing game also," Patricia said. "They'll get them out into space, get them the ball and let them be able to work out there in the perimeter along with in the screen game. They're just running their offense. Dalton does a great job of finding the open player in the pass game, controlling the run game, getting the run looks into the specific defensive fronts that they want and really just running the things they do well." The Pats D needs to punch them in the face early and often. The Bengals offense has really struggled with Eifert out. So just don't let them get started, and cruise Home to victory in a tight game.

6. Defensive Explosion- Burfict is back. He is the bully in the middle of their defense. They have to hit him hard and often. If they don't? Their defense gets braver and cheaper by the quarter. So you have to run at him to start, and knock him back a few times. Which is easier said than done, and makes 3rd down conversions even more difficult when Brady is not going to be on top of his game.

But I'm not sure you can make a living running against their big D-line. "Big," BB said about one of my favorite players Gego Atkins. "One of the most disruptive players in the league. He has great explosion and quickness. He's hard to block in the running game. I mean he's not the biggest guy but he's explosive and he's quick. He knocks blockers back and if guys are overaggressive on him he's quick enough to slip them and get in the backfield and make plays." Atkins can cause a lot of problems in the run game.

But he's not the only troublemaker on their D-line. "But they do a good job with Sims and Peko," BB said about their other two inside veterans. "I mean they have three players in there. They're all a little bit different but they're all good, and then of course Atkins in the passing game is very disruptive. He's usually on the opposite side from Dunlap so it's hard if you're five-on-four. It's hard to get help to both sides. It's impossible. He's a dynamic player, great motor, quickness, balance, playing strength, instincts, really good." You do not want Atkins hitting Brady. 

And we have barely gotten to their D-ends. "And Dunlap's equally disruptive and effective on the other side," BB said. "A different style but: long, great ball awareness, causes a lot of fumbles, strip sacks, good pass rusher, hard to block because he's so long, very athletic, occasionally gets into coverage. A hard guy to throw over, takes up a lot of space. Will Clarke's done a good job for them. [And Michael] Johnson. I mean they've got a good front. Very good!" You cannot let those guys get in a grove in this game.

Brady has not always played well against this defense, and it is his 2nd game back. "It's definitely a different team," Josh said. "Some of the scheme is certainly similar in terms of their coverages and the way they play their fronts and so on. There is some similarity, but I'd say this defense is probably… it's been in place for a while now. You know Coach Lewis has been there for a long time and they've got a lot of players there that have really been involved in this system for a number of years. They know it very well. Rarely, if ever, do you see them out of position." They want to make it a war at the LOS.

The O-line has to be very smart, and pick up the blitzes between their regular rushers. "They're very well coached, Coach Guenther, Coach Lewis those guys do a great job of preparing them each week," Josh said. "There's some looks that they give you in the blitz game that have always been challenging and that will be no different this week. We're going to have to do a good job of making sure that we're aware of our assignments and know what we need to do to prevent them from making some big plays in the pressure game. They've got a big front. Very active, long defensive ends. Really tall, long arms, can really extend and press you away from their body, get their hands in the air in the passing game. And if they get anywhere near the quarterback they can usually get a hold of him because their length is so good." You cannot let their rushers get on a roll, because we need White running patterns out of the backfield, and not chipping and blocking.

The O-line also has to play smart and tough and open some holes for the RBs. "And then Atkins and Peko have been in there for a long time," McDaniels said. "Atkins is a very quick, active, powerful, disruptive guy. One of the better defensive linemen in the league. And Peko has been in there for a number of years. Very difficult to move, gives you a lot in the running game. [He] can also do some things in the pass game, push the pocket. Linebackers are real active; you've got a lot of different guys there. They got Burfict back who makes a big difference for them in terms of just running their defense, making plays, tackling ball carriers, making impact plays." The Pats want to pound the ball to keep pressure off of Brady.

But they also have two big Strong Safeties, who want to come down hill and hit as well. "And their secondary, this is probably as physical a group of safeties as we're going to play all year and everybody in the back end catches the ball well," McDaniels said. "So, when you make a mistake they usually capitalize on it. They did a tremendous job of that last year and they've already started to do that again this year. It's a team that you better make sure you do your job on every snap or they're going to make some big plays on you. They've got talent at all three levels, they're deep, they play a lot of people. As I mentioned, the system can be challenging when they start dialing up some of their pressures that they use in different situations. [It'll be a] great challenge for us this week. A team that we have some familiarity with but we have to get back on these guys in terms of knowing who we're playing against and how they play and really be ready. This is a really, really good football team we're playing on Sunday." Their safeties can be beaten over the top, but this is not the week to be relying on Brady to do that.

They get their big and ugly LBs up on the line and try to blitz them up the A-Gaps, like Patricia likes to use Collins and Hightower. "They use that quite a bit," McDaniels said. "And they have all kinds of different adjustments and looks and pressures off of it. It's not all pressure. There's definitely some coverage and they drop out of there and you think they're blitzing and they get you to do some things you don't want to do. You have to block those people somehow, someway in every pass pattern that you want to call if they line up in it. They have as an extensive a package out of that front as any other team in the league. They do a lot of great things out of it. It's not all one thing or the other so there's a lot of things that need to happen after the ball is actually snapped. You need to make sure you take care of your assignment. You need to read things after the ball has been given to the quarterback and hopefully we're all on the same page and we can execute our assignments. But it takes a lot of work. It's going to take a lot of preparation for us this week. Like I said, they're as well-versed in that as any other team we're going to play." If the Pats can establish the run they win easy.

I just don't think they can. Their LBs and Safeties are just much better against the run than the pass. They lack the elite speed in coverage that Brady can normally exploit. They have good Corners, and good speed at the Corner position. So Brady has to hit the tight ends and James White in this game, and let them make 1st downs for him. And maybe, just maybe, hit Gronk or Bennett on a deep one once or twice in this game to put it away.

7. Pats Win- Well, uh, it seems the sizzle has gone out of Bengals. They are the worst team in the Redzone so far this season. They are batting .310 when they get inside the 20. That just sucks. If the Pats can hold them to field goals they win easily. Of course, that never seems to happen to us, as teams too often see coming into Foxboro as their Super Bowl.

They are going to need James White a ton in this Game. "James has been a solid player for us for the last two years," BB said. "I think a little more experience, there are some fine points that he's better on. He's done a good job with the ball in his hands, making guys miss, making plays in space. We saw that last year. I think he's in good condition. He's able to consistently throughout the course of the game do those things, get open, catch the ball, make guys miss, very good in blitz pickup, smart kid. He's a very consistent, dependable player. You get the same thing from him every day; good." They need him to make a few guys miss when Brady dumps the ball off to him.

This is not a defense that you can just ground and pound Blount up the gut and expect to win. "I think any runner needs to develop a timing with the line and the blocking pattern," BB said. "You get to the hole too fast and you kind of don't have the chance to really see the blocking pattern develop. You get there too slow and it closes. Setting up blocks, knowing which way you're going to cut but trying to keep the defender in the gap that he's in as long as possible before you cut to the gap that's really vulnerable. If you go there too soon then they just adjust and fall off and make the play." White has really stepped his game up to a new level so far this season.

He can make the Bengals big LBs miss on the second level. "What we refer to as pressing the line of scrimmage: pressing the blocks, keeping the defenders in the gaps they're in. He's had several good runs on that," BB said. "Again, second level decision making for a back is important. Once you're through the line of scrimmage then working off of the receiver blocks and the leverage that they have on the defenders, trying to maximize the space and the potential yardage there. I mean just all of those things, experience, and again, he was a good runner in college. It's not that he like hasn't done it but I think just more experience doing it, more experience of running our plays with our blockers against the timing of the play and so forth has gotten progressively better." He can make those slick subtle moves to get those invaluable extra yards.

So White has to be big in this game, because Brady is going to be off and throwing short to his playmaker could be the key to this game. "James does a of things for our offense and one thing about James is he's unselfish," McDaniels said. "He studies and prepares extremely hard, he knows his job and he's willing to do whatever we ask him to do to help us win. So, he's been a valuable guy for us in terms of blitz pickup for the last two years. He has certainly made a lot of plays out of the backfield in space with the ball and then he's continued to improve as a runner, too. So, James does a lot of different things. He wears a lot of different hats and we count on James for a lot of important plays. He does his job, whatever role that is, and we're looking forward to continuing to try and improve with James as we go through the course of the season. He's still a young player who hopefully his best football is still in front of him." Brady has to throw short this game, and just let his playmakers make the difference.

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