New England Patriots: Super Bowl spotlight

Spotlight: Giants' unique DE package

January, 28, 2012
1/28/12
9:30
AM ET
There is a lot happening from a media perspective when it comes to coverage of Super Bowl XLVI. Keeping up with it all can be intense.

With this in mind, I'm going to pick one topic per day to "spotlight" and the choice will be based on the most interesting thing I heard from coaches or players.

The Giants' pass rush, and how they will sometimes have all four of their ends on the field at the same time, generated some chatter among Patriots blockers.

"A lot of teams don’t have the personnel to do that," Patriots guard Logan Mankins said. "That’s what makes their pass rush good, that they can get that many guys in there at one time that can all rush the passer."

The ends are Jason Pierre-Paul, Dave Tollefson, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora,

The New York Times recently wrote on the Giants' defensive line and how, "In some third-and-long situations, the Giants will use three or four ends on the field at one time, with Tuck typically playing at tackle. The speedy formation provides them with a dynamic, hard-to-slow pass rush when they need it most."

Tuck's role as a tackle showed up in Super Bowl XLII, as the Giants generated pressure up the middle to get quarterback Tom Brady off the spot. It was effective.

With the Giants moving different parts around up front, recognition will be key in Super Bowl XLVI.

"The biggest difference is knowing who you’re going against from play to play," right guard Brian Waters said. "You have to know that every one of those guys have different elements of their game from JPP and his long arms and his super athletic ability to a guy like Tuck who is a veteran, a guy who is always going to give you one look and do something different to the bigger guys in the middle, the guys who are real physical. It’s a lot different; you have to know from guy to guy who you’re going against."

Spotlight: What Spikes brings to D

January, 27, 2012
1/27/12
12:00
PM ET
There is a lot happening from a media perspective when it comes to coverage of Super Bowl XLVI. Keeping up with it all can be intense.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Spikes
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesBrandon Spikes is peaking at the right time for the Patriots.
With this in mind, I'm going to pick one topic per day to "spotlight" and the choice will be based on the most interesting thing I heard from coaches or players.

We lead it off with the impact of second-year linebacker Brandon Spikes, who has had an up-and-down year (he's currently on the "up" side).

Spikes got off to a strong start in training camp -- one day he delivered a jarring hit in goal-line work that electrified the crowd -- before missing the final month of preseason and the season opener with an ankle injury. Upon his return, he was gradually integrated into the mix, his playing time increasing on a week-to-week basis before hitting a high point Oct. 30 at Pittsburgh when he was on for 74 of 80 snaps.

That total was significant because it showed how Spikes, viewed by many as a run-stuffing linebacker who comes off the field in obvious passing situations, was playing in almost every defensive package. At the same time, the Patriots were hurt by the inside passing game of the Steelers that day as Spikes showed he still had strides to make against the pass.

The following week, in a 24-20 loss to the Giants, Spikes injured his knee early in the third quarter. The injury sidelined him the next seven games and sparked a question of how much he could contribute in the playoffs.

We now have our answer. Spikes is contributing a lot.

(Read full post)

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