2016 Season Blog.

Pat Vs Houtson.

7 Things For Thursday Night.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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Part II.


4. Secondary- 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.

Fuller 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.

"You 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.

"You 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.

Fuller 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.

Although 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.

I 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.

"Now 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.

Osweiler 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.

"Obviously, 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.

And 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.

"We 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.

"Guys 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.

Hopkins is a top five WR in the NFL, But now when you double him they can send Fuller deep and Braxton into the slot.

5. Offensive Explosion- 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.

"The 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.

"So 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.

"It's 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.

6. 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.

So 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.

The 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.

"LG [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.

7. 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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