Breakdown: Defense vs Pats

As always the play by play chart is at the end:

Scanning the field:
We debuted a new formation that I didn’t see last week:

That’s a 3-3-5 personnel: 3 DL, 3 LBs, and 5 DBs. Just about everybody is walked up to the line including a safety, while Compton is 7 yards off the ball. His alignment allowed him time to diagnose what was going on in front of him and play downhill with precision. We tried this alignment one more time:
with Keenan as the guy 7 yards off the ball.  Yeah, didn’t work so well but only because we got out leveraged to the bottom of your screen.  Blackmon (bottom of the screen) looks to have contain but can’t shake a block from Amendola.  That was a big storyline for this game: Pats wide receivers sealing out our DBs and creating huge holes for the running back.

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The Bunch Set

McDaniels had a package of plays for us that came out of a formation I called ‘Trips Bunch.’:

Play I

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This is the 1st play of the game. You can see the bunch set of receivers to the top of the screen. The offensive line is going to double the defensive lineman in front of them and then work their way to the Linebacker (called inside zone). Gronk (lined up as an HBack from the bunch set) is going to block Murphy all the way down the line. This type of play is called a ‘split zone’ because the offensive line is blocking inside zone and the backs (Hback and Running Back) are going to split: go in opposite directions.

Normally a defense would defend this by having Murphy stay outside and play contain.  The Inside Linebackers (Riley and Keenan) would play the gaps they are lined up over. But we came with a wrinkle in how we defended this, as shown by the red lines. First, Murphy did not play contain and shot up the line hard and fast. He was replaced by Riley. Riley was replaced by Keenan, and Keenan was replaced by Jarrett. All gaps are still accounted for and Murphy is allowed to run up the line and create havoc.

Click to enlarge

Now you can see Murphy working up the line hard. This really constricts how much cut back room the RB has. Meanwhile Riley is flowing over to replace Murphy and keep contain. Keenan has taken over Riley’s original gap. Jarrett is attempting to replace Keenan’s original gap–which is now a big hole that I drew a curved line over. Notice Trenton Robinson coming down to back up Jarrett.


Here the TE cracks down on Jarrett and drives him all the way back into Trenton. Trenton takes the worst angle possible and fills the same gap Jarrett was trying to fill which really helped out the TE’s job, who now has a 2 for 1 block. Meanwhile the arrow is showing you the RB running right through a wide open hole. Here’s the video:

Play II

Okay, remember that Riley-Murphy gap exchange? I think McDaniels either saw that and wanted to test Riley’s ability to contain, OR he saw how up field Murphy got and thought he had contain (normally he would) and wanted to test that.  Because the next time the Pats come out and run Split Zone out of the bunch formation is on the 2nd Drive, 1st play:

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Final Grades

Free Safety (Goldson) and both CBs are hard to represent here strictly based off of their grade because we don’t see what they are doing downfield.  So a guy like Bashaud is getting filled positive even though he scored out as -1, because he locked down his guy.  Also Kerrigan left the game early so I’m grading him on a curve.  Of course as the season progresses, that could change.  Our nickel package saw a DL get lifted for DB Kyshoen Jarrett.  He graded out neutral.

DL, LBs and Strong Safety (Trenton Robinson) are reflected by their score.  If you are a -1 or +1 I’m grading you out as “neutral”.   I hope to add on to this as the season progresses so we can have an easy view of the grades.

(Click to Enlarge)