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Pats Vs. Houston

Leftover Article.

Defense.

By TOM

Greetings Pats Fans,

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Here is a leftover article from the Houston game. I didn't really feel like I put it together. It is more of a series of thoughts I had while watching the game. But there is some good information here:

You can say what you want, but last week was defensive win. "We had some good things, did some good things on defense," BB said. "The big plays weren't as damaging as they could have been because we had great field position on defense due to the offense and the kicking game, so they were playing on a long field. Even when they hit a 50-yarder they're still 25 yards away from the goal line, things like that. The three big plays were obviously not good, but the third down and fourth down defense combined and the red-area defense, they saved us. That put the offense back on the field and it helped us with time of possession and kept field position for us, so that was big. We had a lot of good plays in the running game. We had good pressure on the quarterback. We had the ball out. We could have turned it over a little bit more than we did, but we were attacking the ball. There were a lot of good things on defense. There are still things we can improve on and need to be a little bit more coordinated with, but there were plenty of good things, too. Any time you can hold a team to six points, especially playing on the road against a quality team like Houston that's well coached, that has a good offensive attack, you've got to feel good about coming out of there with six points and turnovers and things like that, negative plays, not many first downs and good in the red area. That was good." You need defensive wins to get through the Playoffs.

It seems the past three weeks I keep finding things that encourage our Playoff hopes. "It was just satisfying to come out here and get that win," Gronk said. "That's all that mattered to the team. That's all we wanted to do. Come back out and get on the winning track again, and we did that. It is cool that we clinched a playoff spot and all, but we've still got Tennessee next week. We've got a couple more games left in the season. That's all we're focused upon is on our opponent next week." They really haven't done anything yet. But the defense keeps looking better and better every week.

First is was the amazingly clutch drive Brady made at the end of the Denver game that just blew me away. Then it was the fight in the team after the devastating injuries against Philly. This week it was domination of the defense. "Yeah absolutely," Brady said. "I think it is part of complementary football, you have to play to your strengths and certainly the defense the last four of five weeks has been incredible. So it's good when they are on the field. Usually, you don't think about that, our defense has done such a great job in the short field and the muffed punt and the fourth down stops, so they just did a great job." They played as smart and as tough as any defense last week.

The secondary was great at shutting down the best WR in the NFL. But the front seven was even better in this game. "Yeah, those guys did a good job," BB said. "We played a lot of different people, that's what we have been doing along the front. Our linebackers did a good job they had good coverage, they gave up three big plays, but on a down in down out basis I thought we competed well, tackled well, we were able to get off the field on third down, had a couple of stops when they got it down there to hold them to field goals and then a fourth down stop there in the third quarter. Our red to high red area defense, third down defense, those are some big keys for us." They out played the Houston O-line all game.

The most underrated player in this game was Jabaal Sheard. He was all over the field all game. He filled up the stat line with some Sacks. But what makes him so important to this team is that he is an excellent edge rusher, he can rush from the inside, and he also is tough against the run.

And their young guys keep getting better and better. Brown and Hicks were both terrific in the game. "Akiem had a lot of production in this game and when you look at the stat sheet, it's always easy to take a production game and say it was a great game and take a game with a little less production and say it was a bad game," BB said. "That's definitely not the case, that's an overreaction, but he did have good production yesterday. He's played solidly for us for a number of weeks, but it's always nice to see those plays finish with production: a tackle behind the line, quarterback sack and all that. He did a good job, but he's had some of those plays, and again some of those plays were the result of other players kind of forcing it to him or coverage relayed it and so forth. It's still team defense, he was just the guy who recorded the final stat on that play. He has a lot of plays that help us that don't show up the stat sheet so I think it all evens out. He's done a good job, played well last night. As far as the game plan with Houston, they've used more. I think I mentioned this during the week, but they've used more personnel groups by far than any other team we've faced this year. If there were any stats kept on that, I think they'd have to be close to some kind of record. The number of personnel combinations that they've had in the game between extra offensive linemen, receivers, tight ends, backs, quarterbacks, and then on top of that the multiplicity of formations plus the multiplicity of the groupings that are out there, it just becomes exponential. We had certain packages of players to kind of [had multiple roles for them]. We grouped some of those together because to try to deal with each one individually would be beyond a nightmare. It would just be impossible, so we tried to group it a little bit so that when they have certain players out there we have certain players out there, and we have to make a lot of adjustments but it's within a certain package or framework if you will, whereas if you leave the same group out there defensively for all their different groups and all their different formations, then you have one group that has to adjust to every single thing if you know what I mean. The more of you have one group that has to do everything then there are a lot of things that could run together, so by having different defensive personnel groupings for certain offensive groupings and situations in a way it allows you to kind of manage the amount of adjustments and communication adjustments that you are going to have to deal with so that everybody doesn't have to deal with every single thing that could happen: Wildcat, and empty, and multiple guys in the backfield, nobody in the backfield, quarterback in the backfield, quarterback out of the backfield, three-by-ones, two-by-twos, three-by-0's, all the motions, unbalanced line, extra linemen, and all that goes with it. Who is out there on the first play in a game like Houston was totally dependent on who they had out there on the first play." Hicks was great in this game, as was the entire defense.

Malcom Brown is developing into a top player at his position. "It's obviously a big adjustment when you come in from college and your first year in the NFL is always a long road, it's always a difficult one, there's a lot of learning that is involved with it," Patricia said. "He's a guy that really works hard, really is trying to learn what we do and has embraced the coaching and has really tried to adapt to the way that we want him to play. Really, he's done a good job of trying to learn and understand what we do from a defensive standpoint and be able to understand the concepts that we run. That's the biggest thing to have to get used to, and then obviously the consistency of play that we are trying to get and the constant improvement and the ability to change things week-in and week-out. There's certainly still a huge learning curve for him to push through and to learn week-in and week-out this part of the year when we really have to start to play our best football going forward and we are looking for improvement from everybody and improvement from him. I think he's done a good job of understand that this is definitely a tough road and the first year is a hard year, and he's trying to embrace that challenge, and get better every week." He's still a rookie so he is not there yet.

But is sure looks like he just needs some more experience to become a star. "Well, I think the biggest thing for our guys, rookies, older guys, new guys, whoever it is, is to just kind of get into the routine," Patricia said. "I think that is the biggest thing where at this point in the year we are in our routine, we are in our grind, we are week-in and week-out. We have a different opponent and we have to reset and get ready to go and I think that is something that he definitely understands that this is how we operate. This week is different than last week and will be different than the week after. From that standpoint I think he is understanding how the weeks in the NFL operate." He has so much more potential that is it scary.

Now Collins just has to continue to gain weight and strength. "It's big," Patricia said. "He's a big part of our defense. He's a guy that can do a ton of different things on the field. Any time you have a guy that's out there that much who plays a high percentage of plays, not having him is different, and when you get him back, it was good for our defense. I think it was good for him just to be able to get back out there and feel good being on the field." This could be the top defense in the Playoffs with: Collins getting stronger every week, Hightower returning, and with the young players no longer rookies in the Playoffs.

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