Cosell’s Watching the Super Bowl: Patriots Offense was Easy to Defend

From the Desk of Greg Cosell, Greg Cosell, Inside the Game, New England Patriots, New York Giants

NFL Matchup’s Executive Producer shares notes from his review of the Super Bowl XLVI game tape.  Here are Greg’s observations of the Giants defense vs. the Patriots offense.    

  • “Big nickel” with 3 safeties again personnel foundation of Giants defense
  • Vollmer started at RT with Solder the 6th OL on the game’s 1st play
  • Boley and Blackburn were the LB in the base “big nickel”

  • Williams replaced Blackburn when the Giants went to their pass “big nickel”
  • Giants great DL flexibility out of pass “big nickel”: Pierre-Paul, Tuck and Kiwanuka aligned at both DE and DT
  • Pierre-Paul also aligned at DT in the base “big nickel”, Giants felt they had favorable matchups versus the Patriots OG
  • Solder was primarily the RT in the 5 man OL although Vollmer played some snaps as well
  • Giants played snaps of dime with Webster and Amukamara on the outside, and Ross and Rolle inside; Boley was the only LB in the dime sub-package
  • Giants a lot of rotation from 2 deep shell to single high at the snap, Pre snap to post snap safety movement a defining feature of Giants defensive concept

    Danny Woodhead scores a touchdown as Michael Boley and Kenny Phillips fail to stop him (AP)

  • Kiwanuka did not play LB, He only played on the DL based on down and distance
  • Patriots a short to intermediate passing team, Almost no vertical element to their offense  
  • Brady very few throws outside the numbers, He’s primarily a between the numbers passer
  • On Woodhead 4 yd TD catch the Giants doubled Hernandez and Welker, and singled Branch, Gronkowski and Woodhead – Woodhead great route versus Boley, who then was impacted by inside rub element; Brady had too much time
  • Patriots must be consistently efficient with the pass game, Very few explosive plays unless it’s a function of run after catch
  • 1st play of 2nd half was designed to get the ball to Gronkowski down the seam but Pierre-Paul jammed him at the line; Brady great pocket patience hit Ochocinco on deep comeback, a rare outside the numbers throw – Patriots 6 OL personnel with Solder utilized as motion TE
  • Vollmer played more snaps at RT in the 5 man OL in the 2nd half
  • Hernandez 12 yd TD came out of empty, Hernandez inside slot was matched on Blackburn; Blackburn tried to wall Hernandez but was badly out-athleted – Easy throw for Brady
  • Patriots again tried to get a seam throw to Gronkowski on 2nd possession of 2nd half, Again Pierre-Paul jammed Gronkowski and disrupted the route – Brady late in the down incompletion
  • What stood out was how shallow the Giants safeties played in coverage, They were not concerned with getting beat over the top – A great example was Tuck sack on 3rd + 8 in the 3rd quarter
  • Brady at times played a little fast, Not as comfortable playing late in the down as he is early in the down
  • Giants defense, especially the underneath coverage defenders, were very patient; They did not attack run action, They forced Brady to play late in the down on a number of snaps
  • Giants utilized bracket concepts between the numbers, in-and-out man concepts, matchup zone principles, straight man-to-man; They were patient and disciplined
  • Patriots little attempt to run, No balance in their offense
  • Giants game plan was to wall off the inside with their underneath defenders; Take away the shallow crossing routes, dictate specific throws and then tackle for short gains

    Chase Blackburn intercepts a pass intended for Rob Gronkowski (AP)

  • Blackburn interception result of 2 things: Great man coverage by Rolle on Welker in the slot (Brady’s initial read) and quick inside pressure by DT Joseph versus Mankins; Brady forced to move and not enough arm when he re-set to get the ball out in front of Gronkowski
  • Brady was not a comfortable QB in the 4th quarter, At times perceived pressure; Giants continued to do an excellent job early in the down
  • Woodhead 19 yds in the 4th quarter was the result of a Giants coverage mistake off a zone blitz concept, Pierre-Paul did not read Woodhead’s flat route
  • Brady / Welker incompletion in the 4th quarter: Because it’s Welker we expect it to be caught but it was not an accurate throw, Both Brady and Welker underperformed on the play
  • 3rd down play immediately following Welker play was a poor throw by Brady, Time in the pocket and Brady threw it behind wide open Branch on dig route late in the down
  • What surprised me was the Patriots rarely attacked Blackburn in the pass game, He’s the weak link in coverage for the Giants
  • LB Williams played deep middle safety on the Patriots final possession
  • Patriots a very condensed and restricted passing game, Very little intermediate and downfield passing – They were easy to defend
  • Tuck sack on final possession resulted from inside stunt with Tuck and Kiwanuka in “nascar” DL
  • LG Mankins had a bad game, Looked slow and plodding versus Giants DL
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