Thursday, October 4, 2012
Xs & Os: All 3 phases deliver
By Mike Reiss
The Patriots' two-game losing skid put a temporary hold on one of our favorite features each week, Bill Belichick breaking down plays of the week on the team's official website, Patriots.com.
The "Belichick Breakdown" returned this week following Sunday's 52-28 win over the Bills (watch here), and Belichick dissected plays in five different areas:
1. Punt team
2. Running game
3. Passing game
4. Pass rush
5. Best team play of day
The punt play was a plus-50 effort by Zoltan Mesko (when punting on the opponents' side of the field) downed by Matthew Slater at the Bills' 6. Belichick noted the effective protection (an area that hurt them in Week 2 vs. the Cardinals) and solid work by Slater to set the "picket fence." Also, a strong effort from Mesko to give Slater a chance to down the football with a high punt.
The success of the running game was spotlighted by Brandon Bolden's 27-yard run in the third quarter. Belichick shows a solid double-team block by left guard Donald Thomas and center Ryan Wendell, then another great block by tight end Rob Gronkowski. Then Belichick highlights a nice cut by Bolden to help him gain 15 of the 27 yards on his own.
In the passing game, the excellence of Wes Welker is highlighted as he works from the third inside position in a trips right formation. The play is an example of a well-run double move that shakes linebacker Bryan Scott, and Tom Brady delivers the ball perfectly for a 19-yard gain. A good example of how Welker is more than a "slot" receiver.
To highlight some of the pass rush the Patriots generated, Belichick focused on Chandler Jones' first-quarter sack. The play starts with Jermaine Cunningham getting good inside pressure, while Jones breaks through a double team with a nice inside power move in a play that highlighted how his motor never seems to stop. Belichick called it a good "combination rush."
As for the best team play of the day, Belichick picked Rob Ninkovich's strip sack at the end of the third quarter. He noted the solid coverage on the defensive right side, with rookie safety Tavon Wilson a big part of it. The coverage forces quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to hold the ball longer than desired, which gave Ninkovich time to turn the corner on right tackle Erik Pears for the sack. "Good coverage leads to good pass rush. Good pass rush leads to tighter coverage," Belichick said. "It's a good team defensive play all the way around."