Things For Thursday Night.
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The second biggest factor is on defense, and that is the speed in the
rookie WRs. They have a three wide receiver set that could turn into the
best in the NFL before too long. In two or three years, once Fuller and
Braxton aren't rookies anymore, they could be the best in the League. But
right now we have a chance, because they are rookies and Fuller is still
dropping the ball. It is tough when an offense has to rely on two rookies.
can fly. "He creates and deserves attention," McCourty said.
"You can't just worry about Hopkins. You do that, and he'll burn you
for two 30-50 yard bombs. If you watch throughout the preseason and the
first two games, he's been the guy that's been able to get vertical and
get behind the defense and has big catches for them.
can see they have designed plays to get him the ball and let him use his
speed, even throwing him quick screen plays that make a guy or two miss
and he goes in and gets in the end zone. It's always hard when you've got
two vertical threats out there because you've got to respect both of them.
can't just be out there worrying about one guy going deep because if you
shut that down, the other guy will beat you going deep three or four
times. It forces the secondary to really be on top of their game across
the board." Mr. McCourty is going to have to watch his Ps and Qs with
Fuller on the field.
is not just a pure speed guy either. "Fuller, another big guy in
height and length, great speed, does a great job of getting open, and
someone who they obviously have found a lot of trust in," Patricia
said. "The quarterback has a great on-field relationship, as far as
looks, they're trying to get both of those guys the ball. Fuller can
obviously create the big play very quickly, and it's a big problem as far
as the deep part of the field is concerned." So they are going to
need a lot of help over the top.
Harmon has been playing the single high safety in Cover One instead of
McCourty this year. "Two outstanding players right now,"
Patricia said. "Obviously Hopkins is a great receiver, does a great
job running his routes, has got great hands, can get open, and understands
coverage. He's a real tough matchup. He's a big guy so he uses his body
well. And really he does a great job within their scheme and they feature
him in a really good way. He's very productive, pretty much a go-to player
for them in critical situations, so he's someone they rely on
heavily." So they may look to double Hopkins, with their big Corner
Logan Ryan, and McCourty over the top.
was a big time proponent of Braxton Miller in the Draft as well. "At
Ohio State he mainly played on the perimeter," BB said. "I mean
it wasn't when he played quarterback, [but] when he moved to receiver. So,
he mainly played on the perimeter. [He's] very athletic, fast, big target,
good hands, good after the catch. Houston has used him primarily in the
slot so he has played mostly in there.
he went out in the second quarter last week, then [Jaelen] Strong played
for him. So, you saw him in preseason games but he was really mostly in
the Chicago game and then a little bit in the Kansas City game but then he
missed the majority of that game. But he has played in the slot for the
Texans and he played primarily outside at Ohio State." I also think
Strong is going to grow into a dangerous WR.
has a cannon, and gets the ball deep downfield with some accuracy.
"He had a play against Chicago where we escaped like three tackles
and was able to pick up about 15-20 yards on a scramble play, and then
obviously, has a huge arm," McCourty said. "One thing, as soon
as you turn on the film, you see they're getting the ball down the field
to Fuller and Hopkins, 40, 50, 60 yards down the field they're throwing it
and letting it go. So that's probably the easiest way to lose a game: let
a quarterback drop back and throw the ball over your head. So that's going
to be a huge challenge for us.
Hopkins has been one of the top receivers for the last couple of years in
the NFL, and Fuller has been a guy who has come out as a rookie with
back-to-back 100-yard games, so we're going to have our hands full. Being
in the secondary, that's our first challenge right there; if we don't stop
that, we don't give the rest of the defense a chance to play well on
Thursday." So the secondary and the passrush is likely to decide this
game for the Pats.
of course it all starts with DeAndre Hopkins. "He's a vertical guy,
gets down the field," McCourty said. "I think the biggest thing
he does is just catch the ball. I don't care if there are defenders on top
of him jumping with him, if there are two guys jumping with him, he does a
great job of just locating the football and being able to go up in traffic
and get it.
played them towards the end of the season last year so we got to watch a
whole year's worth of really top-10 highlight plays of guys being there in
coverage and him just going up and getting the football. So we've talked a
lot this week about - it's important to be there, but it's more important
to make a play and get the ball out.
are there on him in coverage, but he somehow comes down with the ball
whether it's deep, whether it's in cuts, comebacks, he does a great job
and has great hands just to go out there and be able to pluck the ball out
of the air." He is as a great WR as there is in the NFL.
is a top five WR in the NFL, But now when you double him they can send
Fuller deep and Braxton into the slot.
They also have a great RB in Lamar Miller. If the Pats drop too far back
on defense, they will run Draws in the BB style. The Pats defense has to
be great the whole game and not let the Houston offense take over. It they
let the Houston WRs take over the Pats could lose by 30.
best way to determine it, I guess, is experience," BB said. "I
think that's one of the things that when you practice against a team like
New Orleans and Chicago that you get exposure to different receivers. I'm
not saying who's better or who's not better. It's not even about that but
it's another seven or eight guys that we get to cover in addition to the
seven or eight guys that we're covering on our team, and another seven or
eight guys the next week when Chicago came in here.
just the exposure of playing bigger guys, quicker guys, faster guys,
different type route runners, how they stem and set up their routes, how
they use their hands downfield, whatever it is. So, it's just sooner or
later over the course of the season you're going to get all of that to
some degree and the more you can practice against it and understand what
they're trying to do. What's best for you. How we individually play a guy.
How I play a guy. We both have to cover them but maybe we do it
differently because our skillsets are a little bit different.
just working through that whole process. I think it's really a lot of, I
don't want to say trial and error, but experience of doing it against
different type guys. And there are some players that they have a specific
skillset but they also have may have a very specific route-tree, that they
run if you look at the whole route tree 80 percent of their routes are a
certain type of route: vertical routes, or lateral-breaking routes,
whatever it happens to be. And then as it relates to that individual
player then the techniques on him are a little more specific to what he
actually, forget about what he can do, but what did they actually ask him
to do? That becomes now a little bit of an overriding part of the
criteria. If they want the guy to go deep, even though he could do other
things, but that's mainly what he does then you've got to work more on
defending that." They have to stop them from going vertical first, or
the score could get out of hand fast.
Defensive Explosion- They
not only got Watt back, but Clowney looks like he is finally ready to play
in the NFL. "They've used him a little bit more inside than probably
they did last year, but he plays outside, too," BB said. "So, he
plays end, sometimes he plays inside in their pass rush, their kind of
dime scheme where they have four defensive ends on the field and some of
their base stuff he plays a little bit of end, plays a little bit of
three-technique in their nickel before they get to their dime, like
early-down nickel if you will. So, he has really played more outside but
he has also played some inside and he has played some end in their 3-4,
which I don't think he had done that in the past, or didn't do much of it
anyways. He has done it a little bit more." He is starting to move
around the field like he knows what he is doing.
now they have an excellent edgerusher on both sides of the QB, which has
made them one of the best defenses in the NFL in this young season.
"The Texans are very good on defense so they take the ball
away," BB said. "They create long-yardage situations. They're
one of the best third down teams in the league again this year, which
they've been in the past. They haven't given up many points. The biggest
challenge is always scoring points. That's the name of the game. That's
what we play for. So, they haven't given up many. I'm sure it won't be
easy to score them. We'll have to do a good job. We'll have to execute
well." Having a rookie at QB doesn't help.
Pats have to get Blount going again. "We've always had a lot of
confidence in LeGarrette," McDaniels said. "He has had a lot of
big games here for us and helped us win a lot of games and he doesn't just
carry the ball; he did some things in terms of protection. He helped us on
the edge with some of their good pass rushers. He has made some plays in
the passing game when we've given him the opportunity too.
[LeGarrette Blount] is always ready to go, practices hard, prepares hard
for each week, and whatever we ask of him he embraces his role on our
team. It just so happened yesterday, you know, he ended up with quite a
few carries and that's happened before. However the game goes, sometimes
that determines that you do something more or less as the game moves
along. I guess today [during film] I thought he did a good job with his
opportunities of producing for us in some critical situations."
Blount is the best way to help Jacoby.
In The End-
I'm picking the Pats. Mostly, because I think Houston will struggle to get
too complicated with the lack of time, and because I am a homer, but I'm
not putting money on it this week. Without Jimmy-G it will be an upset if
they win. The Pats defense should be able to exploit what they saw the
past couple weeks. But it also is contingent on the defense playing great
for four quarter and not two or three. Otherwise the Pats could in big
trouble real fast.
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