Cosell’s Watching the Divisionals: Pats New Chess Piece Checkmated Denver

Denver Broncos, From the Desk of Greg Cosell, Greg Cosell, Inside the Game, New England Patriots

NFL Matchup’s Executive Producer shares notes from his study of Divisional Weekend coaching tape: Patriots offense vs. Broncos defense. 

  • Hernandez has become the ultimate movable chess piece, aligning all over the formation, including the backfield
  • Gronkowski 17 yds on 1st possession came with Gronkowski and Hernandez, and Welker, Edelman and Branch on the field; Broncos 3-3-5 personnel, with LB Mays matched on Gronkowski
  • Hernandez 43 yd run came with Hernandez single back out of same 2 TE/3 WR personnel with Broncos again in 3-3-5, Hernandez made S Bruton miss in the open field  – Consecutive no huddle plays
  • Edelman played significant snaps in this game as the 3rd WR, Ochocinco played 1 snap
  • Patriots wrinkle for this game was personnel package that feature TE Gronkowski and Hernandez, and WR Welker, Branch and Edelman – Patriots went no huddle out of it
  • Patriots ran outside zone with Hernandez in the backfield and Brady under center, and they ran “shotgun power” with Hernandez in the backfield
  • Broncos also played dime with Bush the 6th DB versus Patriots 2 TE/3 WR personnel package
  • Hernandez clearly focal point of Patriots offense on their first couple of possessions
  • What stood out re: Patriots pass game was how quickly Brady was getting rid of the ball, Throws were immediately defined
  • Patriots again great success out of 3 man bunch concepts, Broncos at times matched up man-to-man and really struggled
  • Patriots work between-the-numbers in the pass game very well, Pass game a function of route concepts with different receivers from different distributions and locations
  • Branch 61 yd TD came out of balanced “12” formation, Woodhead was the back; Broncos “man free” with Goodman on Branch – Branch go route, Brady great throw
  • Patriots continued to utilize the no huddle with effectiveness, Used it out of different personnel packages
  • Broncos played more coverage as the game progressed, They predominantly matched nickel corner Harris on Welker – Dime DB Bush was matched on Hernandez at times
  • Patriots significant snaps with 2 TE/3 WR personnel, and Hernandez in the backfield on several of those snaps
  • Broncos played almost every snap in either their nickel or dime sub-package
  • Broncos picked up their blitz frequency in the 2nd quarter, part of approach to challenge Patriots pass game that was playing pitch and catch in the 1st quarter
  • Gronkowski 19 yd TD at the end of the 1st half came versus “Tampa 2”, Gronkowski and Welker were in opposite slots with Hernandez offset in the backfield to Gronkowski’s side; LB Williams opened to Welker (the 2 receiver side), That opened the seam throw for Brady
  • Other than Branch 61 yd TD the Patriots pass game was methodical and efficient, A lot of quick timing throws – Patriots very effective utilization of 2 TE/3 WR personnel package  
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