Cosell’s Watching: Pats Offense Found Rhythm On “Empty”

From the Desk of Greg Cosell, Greg Cosell, Inside the Game, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots

NFL Matchup’s Executive Producer shares notes from his study of Week 16 coaching tape: the Patriots offense vs. the Dolphins defense

  • Allen was again the Dolphins nickel slot corner, He played almost every snap in this game
  • Patriots very multiple with use of personnel and formations, Welker 16 yds on 3rd + 5 on 1st possession he was offset in the backfield
  • Patriots struggled on 1st possession with Dolphins blitz, both a function of poor blocking execution and scheme confusion – S Bell sack to end 1st possession a good example of scheme confusion: 3 to block 3, No one accounted for Bell

  • Dansby very active early, Looked quick and covered a lot of ground, Fluid with excellent range

    Tom Brady tries to elude the Dolphins (AP)

  • Dolphins game planned high percentage blitz and it was effective, They got free rushers at Brady on the first couple of possessions
  • Dolphins played nickel on almost every snap, LB Dansby and Burnett did not come off the field
  • Mankins got hurt in the 1st quarter, Solder moved to LT and Cannon played RT
  • Brady was not comfortable in the 1st half, Dolphins generated consistent pass rush pressure against a Patriots OL that was revamped with different people in different positions
  • Dolphins a lot of man coverage concepts in the 1st half and they were effective, Athletic ability of Burnett and Dansby a big factor
  • Cannon looked a little bottom heavy in pass protection v. the outside rush, Must move his feet quicker laterally at the RT position – Probably best suited to play OG
  • Patriots started 2nd half in no huddle empty out of 2 TE / 3 WR personnel with Ochocinco the 3rd WR – They changed the pace and tempo of the game
  • Brady was not consistently sharp throwing the ball, His accuracy and ball location was erratic
  • Just as we saw v. Denver last week Hernandez ran the ball out of the backfield, Another element you must defend v. the Patriots
  • Taylor the moveable chess piece in the Dolphins nickel sub-package, Aligned all over the formation in both 2 and 3 point stances
  • Hernandez increasingly utilized all over the formation in the Patriots offense, even in the backfield
  • Branch 1 yd TD was a great improvisational route adjustment by Branch when he saw Brady move left out of the pocket, Smart football by a veteran receiver

    Aaron Hernandez runs against Karlos Dansby (AP)

  • Ridley took snaps away from Green-Ellis in this game; Ridley more skilled as an overall runner, Matter of trust and ball security
  • Dolphins played more zone coverage in the 2nd half, Could have been reaction to Patriots no huddle / empty
  • Welker 42 yds in the 4th quarter came out of empty with “11” personnel, Dolphins “man free” with LB Burnett on Welker in the slot
  • Welker overall was targeted 19 times, He caught 12-138 with 10-118 coming in the 2nd half
  • Patriots great success in the 2nd half out of empty, That may well have been the difference in the game for the Patriots offense – Brady ate up the Dolphins blitz schemes from shotgun empty

Later this morning: Greg’s notes on Raiders vs. Chiefs.

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