Xs & Os: How WR bunches hurt Pats

September, 27, 2011
9/27/11
3:30
PM ET
In a piece now posted on the Wall Street Journal's website, Reed Albergotti explores how the Bills attacked the Patriots. Albergotti comes to the conclusion that they beat the Patriots at their own game.

"Belichick's offense is famous for its use of a dangerous but potent weapon: a formation where the offensive backfield is left empty while everyone except quarterback Tom Brady lines up close to the line of scrimmage in unconventional formations. After the snap, New England swarms the defensive backfield with enough eligible receivers to approximate the Mongols sacking Moscow. After three games this season, it's clear that the Buffalo Bills haven't just stolen that part of Belichick's playbook, they've made it their offensive strategy," Albergotti writes.

Albergotti then goes on to explain how the Bills lined up in bunches, and why it was effective.

"How these receivers get open more quickly than usual against these tough NFL defenses is where the bunching comes in. This formation involves a small knot of receivers. One man sets up on the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped. One or two line up directly behind him, slightly shaded to either side. The major advantage of arranging receivers this way is to combat an edge held by defensive backs: the ability to physically bump or 'jam' a receiver at the line of scrimmage to try to interrupt the route he's planning to run," he writes.

Albergotti then goes on to explain how the Bills exploited the Patriots in the running game by motioning players into the backfield when they liked a specific personnel matchup.

A recommended read for those with an interest in Xs and Os.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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