Yeah, I don't think nickel and dime defenses are the way to go against the Pats this year. They made a determined decision to work the run this year, and they've done a good job of it.
That's Bellichek for you, while the rest of the NFL is blathering about how it's a passing league ad nauseum, he's been emphasizing the run game.
The 3-4 is the most flexible base defense, but I think the Ravens could get away with a lot of nickel thanks to Pollard. He's a force in the run game.
Offensively Ray Rice and Pierce should touch the ball on most 1st and 2nd downs to keep third downs manageable, keep the DBs honest, and allow the ravens to take a shot every now and then.
I don't like running up the middle with fatty over there. Would be nice to be able to get the ball on the edges to RR. Pitches, screens and passes into the flat...
The thing about it this time is that we have the running game to take advantage of having 6 DBs on the field, and I feel that the Pats O-line will do better this year protecting him against a 3 man rush.
Bingo. The Texans also tried to use 6 DBs in spots and failed miserably. The Pats gashed those looks. Unless Pollard or Ihedibo is used more in the box with a three-safety look, this type of approach against a much better NE rushing attack might be tough to employ.
I think the Ravens actually did a nice of containing NE in the first game this season. "Contain" being the operative word. It'll be extremely difficult to slow them down as they did a year ago in the AFCC. I just don't see that happening. It'll be up to the offense to play at an even higher level than they did in that game.
I would also expect John to give a call to little brother and pick his brain about San Fran's approach. The 49ers did a great job of being physical, tackling, and disrputing a lot of NE's timing. That was probably the toughest offensive game they had during this stretch without Gronk.
Depending on the defense the Pats come out with, you need to utilize the TE's to get the LB's to have to respect the middle. Sending the WR's on deep routes will also force them to drop back. The you could throw in the run
Now if the Pats go 5 DB's, lots of off tackle runs would be on the menu. I would employ a lot of Pierce if healthy. Then go for some nice play action deep throws.
On D, this is one team that the hybrid defense works well against. The Pats destroyed Houston twice because Brady was able to read what the defense was, and he is so good, he could just pick them apart. I would try to disguise the D as best I could.
The D must also tackle well, because the Pats seem to like to turn short-medium plays into longer plays with runs after catch.
The Offense should be just like the first game, and like against Denver. Flacco had a 117 QBR last game, and a 112 or something like that in the playoff game. Past 3 games he's had close to 1000 yards against them. Air it out and light up their suspect secondary. Bombs away to set up the run game and underneath stuff. Just like we did against Denver.
As for the D. We gotta be able to hit Brady early and often and with just bringing our front 4. Kruger and Sizzle are gonna need to be smacking at his arms all game and Ngata and McPhee and Jones are gonna have to be in his face knocking him down. Let them use their run game, it won't matter too much. Brandon Llyod doesn't scare anyone leave hm one on one all game. Double up Welker all game, blanket him with press coverage and over the top help. Leave Jimmy on Hernandez. Let Pollard roam and make big hits if they try the middle of the field. Take a 15 yard penalty if needed just to get the point across. Make them start alligator arming those crossing routes.
Pees is the key to this game IMHO or Brady will move in 10 yard chunks wearing down the D and getting 7 or at least 3 consistently.