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Monday, October 3, 2011
Picked-up pieces from 2nd quarter review

By Mike Rodak

Taking a look at the television copy of Sunday's game against the Raiders and offering some second quarter observations:

1) On the Stevan Ridley rush for negative four yards early in the second quarter, it appeared to be a missed assignment by LT Matt Light. At the snap, Light took two steps outside and turned towards the middle of the field, apparently expecting DE Jarvis Moss to follow the stretch play to the outside, putting Light in position to seal. However, Moss instead shot the gap between Light and LG Logan Mankins, who went into the second level to block LB Rolando McClain, and stopped Ridley in the backfield. This set-up a third-and-14 where Brady overthrew WR Wes Welker against a max coverage defense to end the drive.

2) Picking up where they left off at the end of the first quarter, the Patriots defense continued to apply some pressure to Raiders QB Jason Campbell, with DE Andre Carter and solid downfield coverage forcing Campbell to step up after a first-and-10 play action pass. However, the four-man Patriots rush didn't keep the middle of the field covered, with Shaun Ellis, Vince Wilfork, and Gerard Warren all rushing towards the edges of the pocket, and no linebacker as a "spy." This allowed Campbell to scramble after stepping up, with Carter and Ellis both diving and missing at the quarterback's ankles. Campbell gained 17 yards on the play, added to another 41 yards from RB Darren McFadden on the play before.

3) The Patriots' rushing offense continued to thrive into the second quarter, with RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis picking up 11 yards on another inside "trap" play. The blocking on some of these plays can be complex, with motioning, pulling blockers, and different angles involved. Leverage is important, so these plays can break down quite easily. However, the Patriots' offensive line, TE Rob Gronkowski, and WRs Julian Edelman and Welker all executed their blocks this time, and Green-Ellis wasn't hit until he reached the safeties, after the first down.

4) In this game, the Raiders leaned more towards using defensive backs (especially safeties) than linebackers, often keeping only one or two linebackers on the field. This paid dividends in the outside running game, where Patriots runners had an easier time getting around the edge without an outside linebacker beating a blocker to the spot. On a 12-yard Danny Woodhead run late in the second quarter, Light sealed DE Trevor Scott inside, leaving only Gronkowski and WR Matthew Slater to block the two defensive backs on that side of the field, matchups both blockers will frequently win.