When the Patriots Have the Ball: Matchup Discussion and Analysis

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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The "On to Seattle" v. "Pumped and Jacked" thread seems likely to turn into a megathread, so maybe we can split out more focused discussions regarding each side of the ball and special teams.  The Patriots offense versus the Seattle D and the Legion of Boom is the marquee matchup in this game.  Seattle has a fantastic, maybe even historically good defense against which nobody can expect to have great success.  But let me kick off the discussion by offering a couple thoughts on why we might match up better than most teams:
 
1. Seattle's pass defense is built around dominating the perimeter in the passing game, taking away the outside receivers and deep threats which are the prototypical #1 options for most teams in today's NFL, and forcing QBs to repeatedly connect on shorter passes to secondary and tertiary options, especially the TEs and the backs.  But the Patriots offense is built to do exactly that: You're not going to find a better combination of TE, slot receiver, and pass catching RB in the NFL than Gronk/Edelman/Vereen.  And Tom Brady is as good as anybody at identifying what the defense is going to give him, especially in terms of attacking zone defenses, and moving the ball up the field little chunk by little chunk with throws over the middle and into the flats.  I don't think we can afford to give up entirely on the outside (especially with LaFell on Maxwell) and deep passing game as the field becomes too compressed.  But I think a lot of this game will be decided over the middle and in the flats, where the trio of Gronk/Edelman/Vereen should be largely defended by the quartet of Chancellor/Wagner/Wright/Lane.  Those guys on the other side are fantastic and they cover and tackle really well.  But I like our chances as much as anybody, especially if we can stay out of 3rd and long (which is death against this defense IMO).
 
2. Seattle's DTs are poor overall.  Its a much weaker group than last year after losing Clinton McDaniel to free agency and then having Brandon Mebane and Jordan Hill go down with injuries.  There really aren't any dominant run defenders without Mebane and the team struggles to get push up the middle in the passing game unless they move Michael Bennett inside.  The interior OL of the Patriots isn't exactly a strength either so I'm not expecting to dominate inside, but I'm not that worried about getting blown up inside in either the running or passing game in ways that could completely wreck the offensive gameplan.  I think its a game where we can reasonably expect to have a little success running the ball and where Brady should often find a relatively clean pocket to climb and maneuver if pressure comes around the edge.
 
3. Seattle's run defense is fantastic but somewhat lopsided according to FO's statistics, stoning teams that run right and up the middle but only ranking in the middle of the pack against runs to the left end and off left tackle.  I assume this is because the RDE is usually a lightweight player that isn't a great run defender and they no longer have Mebane at RDT dominating that side.  GB had a good amount of success running off left tackle yesterday.  Meanwhile, our offensive running game according to FO has been awful running down the middle but very good running off left tackle and left end (and outside in the other direction too).  While I think our run/pass ratio will be skewed toward the pass, we're going to need to run the ball well enough to keep the defense honest and stay away from 3rd and longs.  And our strengths in the running game might match up fairly well with their biggest weakness.
 
In sum, I think its going to be a fantastic matchup and its going to take both a great game plan from McDaniels and a very patient game from Brady - especially avoiding forcing throws downfield - for us to have success.  But I feel like we have the tools, maybe moreso than any other team in the NFL, to do some damage against this defense.  Nobody should be expecting 30+ points but that's not what we're likely to need to win the game. 
 
What are your keys to the game from an offensive standpoint?  I've written this from a Pats-centric perspective but I'd also love to hear the thoughts of our resident Seahawks fans on what they expect to see.
 

Tony C

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ah, I see we had the same thought about getting some game discussion started. Maybe I should cut-and-paste my post about coaching here since it's hard to differentiate coaching from the questions you pose? In any case, I will say one thing: I think a real advantage the Seahawks have is the play a very straightforward defense that doesn't react much to what the other side of the ball does. As we've seen the last two weeks, the Pats brilliantly play cat-and-mouse with opposition defenses, making them chase their tail trying to follow what the Pats are doing. I doubt this will be true for the Super Bowl.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Tony C said:
ah, I see we had the same thought about getting some game discussion started. Maybe I should cut-and-paste my post about coaching here since it's hard to differentiate coaching from the questions you pose? In any case, I will say one thing: I think a real advantage the Seahawks have is the play a very straightforward defense that doesn't react much to what the other side of the ball does. As we've seen the last two weeks, the Pats brilliantly play cat-and-mouse with opposition defenses, making them chase their tail trying to follow what the Pats are doing. I doubt this will be true for the Super Bowl.
 
Either way is good with me, whatever the mods want to do.  I think you're right that the relatively straightforward nature of the Seattle defense versus the change-the-attack-every-game approach of the Patriots offense is one of the really interesting dynamics at play.  But I'm not sure it favors one team or the other.  Seattle might avoid the kind of cat-and-mouse games that you mention.  But keeping it relatively simple on their part also makes it a bit easier for McDaniels and company to design plays and route combinations to specifically attack certain defensive alignments. 
 

RedOctober3829

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Morgan's Magic Snowplow said:
 
Either way is good with me, whatever the mods want to do.  I think you're right that the relatively straightforward nature of the Seattle defense versus the change-the-attack-every-game approach of the Patriots offense is one of the really interesting dynamics at play.  But I'm not sure it favors one team or the other.  Seattle might avoid the kind of cat-and-mouse games that you mention.  But keeping it relatively simple on their part also makes it a bit easier for McDaniels and company to design plays and route combinations to specifically attack certain defensive alignments. 
A lot of this game will come down to just beating the man over you.  These are two evenly matched teams.  I see the elements of Seattle's struggles of covering the middle and the back out of the backfield as areas the Patriots can exploit.  They can scheme for this by putting explosive players such as Edelman lined up originally in the backfield and get the matchups they want.  But, other than that it's hat-on-hat and may the best team win.
 

wibi

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RedOctober3829 said:
A lot of this game will come down to just beating the man over you.  These are two evenly matched teams.  I see the elements of Seattle's struggles of covering the middle and the back out of the backfield as areas the Patriots can exploit.  They can scheme for this by putting explosive players such as Edelman lined up originally in the backfield and get the matchups they want.  But, other than that it's hat-on-hat and may the best team win.
 
Spot on assessment.  Seattle is not going to change their defensive scheme to counter New England's offense.  They didnt change it last year for Denver and they had a similar amount of weapons to attack Seattle with.  The key matchup, IMHO, isnt going to be against Sherman but against Chancellor.  Chancellor will likely draw the middle deep route coverage assignment in most situations and thats the one New England will try to exploit with Gronk.
 

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I'm not ashamed to say I'm glad the Hawks D is weakened. They're scary and I want the Pats to get #4.
 

amarshal2

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wibi said:
 
Spot on assessment.  Seattle is not going to change their defensive scheme to counter New England's offense.  They didnt change it last year for Denver and they had a similar amount of weapons to attack Seattle with.  The key matchup, IMHO, isnt going to be against Sherman but against Chancellor.  Chancellor will likely draw the middle deep route coverage assignment in most situations and thats the one New England will try to exploit with Gronk.
I don't see that as the key matchup. I think Gronk's seam routes are just too risky for an int in this one and suspect they'll pick their spots very carefully (cover 1). I recognize this is typically a real strength for NE but it's led to turn overs in consecutive games and the Seahawks have better personnel and schemes for defending it. I actually think LaFell vs. Maxwell is more likely to be the key matchup where the Pats try and take their chances.

Agree the underneath Edelman and Vereen routes will be a big part of the game plan. The thing to watch is how well Brady is able to get them the ball in position to make guys miss. There's nobody better at that in the NFL but the Hawks are fast and can really tackle. This is where they might go after the injured Sherman and Thomas.
 

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I assume neither. There's enough film out there for both coaches to exploit as it is.
 

JohnnyK

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wibi said:
 
Spot on assessment.  Seattle is not going to change their defensive scheme to counter New England's offense.  They didnt change it last year for Denver and they had a similar amount of weapons to attack Seattle with.  The key matchup, IMHO, isnt going to be against Sherman but against Chancellor.  Chancellor will likely draw the middle deep route coverage assignment in most situations and thats the one New England will try to exploit with Gronk.
But DEN used the deep ball a lot more, and NE has noone who comes close to D. Thomas (I mean LaFell is great and all, but... ). Do you really not expect any new wrinkles to counter NE's strength in the short/intermediate game?
 

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JohnnyK said:
But DEN used the deep ball a lot more, and NE has noone who comes close to D. Thomas (I mean LaFell is great and all, but... ). Do you really not expect any new wrinkles to counter NE's strength in the short/intermediate game?
 
Assuming that Thomas and Sherman are reasonably healthy, might you expect the Seahawks to try more cover 1 concepts? They're certainly capable of it.
 

wutang112878

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One question along those lines is, since Sherman always plays the left side, who do the Pats send in his direction? Normally I'd say Edelman since that's exactly the sort of shifty guy that might give a tall CB troubles. But with the bad arm I wonder if the bigger LeFell (or even Gronk) might be a better call given that Sherman may not be able to be as physical as he'd normally be.
 
I'd just try to eliminate him from the game entirely.  On every play take your lowest option receiver, who can be split out wide, and put him in front of Sherman.  You could even put in Tyms and just have him run a go every play in the hopes that eventually he beats Sherman or at the very least gets Sherman away from your target throwing area as much as possible.  Then if you are within the 10 and Sherman effectively cant get safety help, I'd put Gronk across from him because I dont think Sherman can win a jump ball situation against him.
 

wutang112878

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Saints Rest said:
Does Browner's knowledge of this defense, in terms of personnel and schemes, give the Pats a leg up?

Or will Seattle's knowledge of Browner's weaknesses/tendencies help Seattle more?
 
I think the book is pretty much out on both of them.  Seattle really seems to be a 'this is what we are going to do, we do it well, now stop us'.  Browner's flaws seem evident as well, not the fastest so he can get beat deep, thus he will usually have help to his side and he commits a lot of penalties.  
 

RedOctober3829

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Thought this was a great illustration of how the Patriots have done against top defenses this season.
 
https://twitter.com/PP_Rich_Hill/status/557563347575787520
 
Also, this nugget from Rich.
 
 
#Patriots played 8 games against a defense with a top 10 Pass/Run D unit by DVOA. Exceeded 34 points 7x (>40 4x). Lone exception: W17 Bills
 
 

mascho

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Devizier said:
 
Assuming that Thomas and Sherman are reasonably healthy, might you expect the Seahawks to try more cover 1 concepts? They're certainly capable of it.
 
They run a lot of Cover 1 anyway. I'd put them at a 40% Cover 3 (their variant, which is a Cover 1 look with the CBs in press-man alignment) and 30% Cover 1. They've played more Cover 2 this year than I expected, when I rewatched them the past few days. They like to shift to Cover 2 when they face empty.
 
What is really amazing (and if you read my snap preview piece you can see my appreciation for him) is how important Earl Thomas is to their defense. I went into that article thinking the matchup to watch between the Pats and Seahawks would be Thomas against Wright/Gronk on their seam/post routes. But after watching all of Seattle's 2014 games...and deep into 2013 it hit me: Teams don't throw those routes because they are terrified of Thomas over the middle. I'm sure I missed a play or two where it happened, but largely Thomas eliminates those plays. (Something Matt Bowen confirmed to me in a quick Twitter chat #NameDrop). 
 
Two things to look for in the Super Bowl (and I'll have more on this next week) are 1: Patriots going empty to get Seattle into Cover 2, and 2: Patriots starting Edelman in the backfield then motioning him outside. Green Bay had a few plays where they put Cobb in the backfield then motioned him into the slot. Seattle countered with Cover 1, but Thomas shifted outside into the slot to cover Cobb and Chancellor roamed the middle. Green Bay hit seam routes from that look to their TE. Look to see if New England tries to get that same matchup. 
 

wibi

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JohnnyK said:
But DEN used the deep ball a lot more, and NE has noone who comes close to D. Thomas (I mean LaFell is great and all, but... ). Do you really not expect any new wrinkles to counter NE's strength in the short/intermediate game?
 
I dont expect Seattle to change much on their defensive setups.  Seattle is confident in their scheme and their personnel and at this point its worked extremely well over the past couple of years. 
 
Seattle changing something major (scheme wise) means they dont believe in what got them to the Superbowl.  The Seattle defense was not the problem versus GB as they held Rodgers to under 200 yards passing and picked him off twice while also keeping Lacy to only 73 yards on 3.5ypc. 
 
EDIT: for clarity and speeling
 

RedOctober3829

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Could we see some 6 OL formations to try to run the ball better against Seattle's front?
 
I think the running game is going to be key for the Patriots.  I don't think they gain many yards against them, but the attempts is important.  They need to keep Seattle honest in the running game so the play action passing game can be effective. 
 
Another important formation to use this game is the bunch formation whether it's in trips or in a diamond.  They need to scheme ways for the receivers to get open in space and not allow their corners to jam and play press coverage.  This will also allow Gronk to get free releases.
 

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wibi said:
 
I dont expect Seattle to change much on their defensive setups.  Seattle is confident in their scheme and their personnel and at this point its worked extremely well over the past couple of years. 
 
Seattle changing something major (scheme wise) means they dont believe in what got them to the Superbowl.  The Seattle defense was not the problem versus GB as they held Rodgers to under 200 yards passing and picked him off twice while also keeping Lacy to only 73 yards on 3.5ypc. 
 
EDIT: for clarity and speeling
 
What was interesting about Sunday was that the Packers were running with a ton of success through a quarter and a half or so. Lacy's first 10 carries went for about 54 yards; he was finding holes, and moving the pile. Then his last 13 carries went for about 19 yards. So clearly Seattle adjusted, but GB did find some success.
 

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wibi said:
What is really amazing (and if you read my snap preview piece you can see my appreciation for him) is how important Earl Thomas is to their defense. I went into that article thinking the matchup to watch between the Pats and Seahawks would be Thomas against Wright/Gronk on their seam/post routes. But after watching all of Seattle's 2014 games...and deep into 2013 it hit me: Teams don't throw those routes because they are terrified of Thomas over the middle. I'm sure I missed a play or two where it happened, but largely Thomas eliminates those plays. (Something Matt Bowen confirmed to me in a quick Twitter chat #NameDrop). 
 
wibi said:
 
I dont expect Seattle to change much on their defensive setups.  Seattle is confident in their scheme and their personnel and at this point its worked extremely well over the past couple of years. 
 
With the preface that I don't know much about the x's and o's, it sounds like there is a coaching difference between these two teams, in that the Patriots offense is more designed as technicians, whereas the Seahawks defense is a more free-flowing scheme that relies on pure athleticism and "feel"?  Is that accurate?
 
If that's the case, are there historical precedents for what happens when there is that kind of a matchup?  How do the other elite defenses that the Patriots have faced this year (statistics quoted above) compare to the Seahawks, in terms of their overall design.
 
And thanks again, I'm learning a lot, which is making watching the games more entertaining--though it has also made me realize that the camera angles shown on t.v. are frustrating...they're all about the big hit, or the end-result, and don't give a perspective on how the team gets its results.
 

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wibi said:
I dont expect Seattle to change much on their defensive setups.  Seattle is confident in their scheme and their personnel and at this point its worked extremely well over the past couple of years. 
 
Seattle changing something major (scheme wise) means they dont believe in what got them to the Superbowl.  The Seattle defense was not the problem versus GB as they held Rodgers to under 200 yards passing and picked him off twice while also keeping Lacy to only 73 yards on 3.5ypc. 
What's interesting about this matchup is the opposite of what was interesting about last year's Super Bowl. Denver's offense and Seattle's defense are both "we do what we do and we're going to execute it better than you" schemes. When the Seahawks proved they executed better, the Broncos didn't really have a plan B.
 
The Patriots are different: they tailor their game plan to the opponent and try to take away their strengths and expose their weaknesses. There are formations and route combinations that Cover 3 isn't great against; you can expect New England to run a lot of those. And they'll have a plan B, C, etc. if plan A doesn't work.  It may not be enough, because the Seattle defense doesn't have much in the way of weaknesses, but I'm really interested to see what the Patriots do and how it works. 
 
RedOctober3829 said:
I think the running game is going to be key for the Patriots.  I don't think they gain many yards against them, but the attempts is important.  They need to keep Seattle honest in the running game so the play action passing game can be effective. 
Studies have shown that running often or well is not a prerequisite for effective play action. Greg Cosell also made this point on his Podcast with Doug Farrar: if a linebackers sees a pulling guard, he's not thinking, "Well, they're only running for three yards per carry, so I'm not going to play the run here." I do think they should try running some to try to expose Seattle's lack of interior depth (especially in the no-huddle if they can catch them in a favorable personnel grouping), but I don't think PA has a lot to do with it.
 
RedOctober3829 said:
Another important formation to use this game is the bunch formation whether it's in trips or in a diamond.  They need to scheme ways for the receivers to get open in space and not allow their corners to jam and play press coverage.  This will also allow Gronk to get free releases.
Yeah, I think we'll see a lot of the stuff - bunches, unbalanced formations, combination routes, and motion to avoid press and scheme open receivers.
 

SMU_Sox

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This is from Football Outsiders. I'll do PFF in the next post.
 
First things first. During the regular season Seattle was relatively inconsistent with how they performed on defense. Their variance was 11th worst at 7.1%. But if you look at them from week 12 and the playoffs they've just been dominant on defense so variance shouldn't be an issue. Then again, can they be as dominant with Sherman and Thomas not 100%?
 
Seattle has two statistical weaknesses (better called non-strengths). Their DVOA against tight ends is -1.1% (still slightly above 0.0% or what should be average) and is ranked 18th. Seattle is also ranked 18th against RB's as receivers at 0.9% (slightly below average). The Patriots have some gentlemen in their arsenal who can attempt to exploit this.
 
In terms of where passes are thrown, and this has sample size issues, here are their "trouble" areas in DVOA: 
 
Deep Left: -2.9%
Deep Middle: 53.8% (I guess no one tries that often - could very very very very easily be a fluke)
Short Middle: -1.0%
 
Hmm, short middle. That sounds like fun.
 

wutang112878

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Whats the sample on Deep Middle?  Because I wonder if teams dont try it often because Thomas & Chancellor are that good at taking it away.
 

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wutang112878 said:
Whats the sample on Deep Middle?  Because I wonder if teams dont try it often because Thomas & Chancellor are that good at taking it away.
 
It's not listed on FO. PFF might have it. I'll check in a bit.
 

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One pass play I'll guarantee BB runs against the Cover 3 is going 4-wide and basically running 4 fly patterns.  Teams have done well on some variation of this play against the Hawks and I expect it to show up in BB/McD's game plan even if he doesn't normally have that play in the book.  Unless someone gets beat outside it really comes down to making Thomas make a choice on who to handle on the two inside guys.  And I could see Brady doing well at pulling Thomas to one side and throwing to the other.
 

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wutang112878 said:
Whats the sample on Deep Middle?  Because I wonder if teams dont try it often because Thomas & Chancellor are that good at taking it away.
 
It's not so much taking it away.  They will give up a few yards but really make you pay for it.  Ask Demaryius Thomas early in the Super Bowl.
 
http://youtu.be/0UevvfswzGk
 

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What about running some plays at Sherman early on to test out that elbow?  I'm not talking about deep passes that he can defend but perhaps a bubble screen at him with Gronk blocking at point of attack.  Let Gronk or Hooman push him around a bit and see if you can't aggravate the injury.  It will be a lot tougher for him to defend passes if he can't raise both hands above his head in the second half.
 

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Super Nomario said:
 
Studies have shown that running often or well is not a prerequisite for effective play action. Greg Cosell also made this point on his Podcast with Doug Farrar: if a linebackers sees a pulling guard, he's not thinking, "Well, they're only running for three yards per carry, so I'm not going to play the run here." I do think they should try running some to try to expose Seattle's lack of interior depth (especially in the no-huddle if they can catch them in a favorable personnel grouping), but I don't think PA has a lot to do with it.
 
 
I think this is right although one thing that happened a bunch in 2013 (not so much that I recall in 2014) is other teams had their DT's say fuck it when they saw run action and just went after Brady hoping it was play action (the Atkins sack in the Bengals game being the best example). 
 
Looking at the Seachicken's line-up you'd think the Pats run it a bunch.  Mebane and Hill are out so they're pretty thin at DT, the Seahawks LBs are on the smaller side, and perhaps the Thomas/Sherman injuries are going to limit how good that secondary is in run support. 
 

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j44thor said:
What about running some plays at Sherman early on to test out that elbow?  I'm not talking about deep passes that he can defend but perhaps a bubble screen at him with Gronk blocking at point of attack.  Let Gronk or Hooman push him around a bit and see if you can't aggravate the injury.  It will be a lot tougher for him to defend passes if he can't raise both hands above his head in the second half.
 
I would have Gronk throw Sherman out of the club on that banged up elbow if I was the Pats.
 

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SMU_Sox said:
 
It's not listed on FO. PFF might have it. I'll check in a bit.
 
Can't find it there either. My guess is that it's a SSS fluke.
 
Anyone who watches the Seahawks know offhand how often opponents test them on deep middle balls? A ballpark is fine.
 
Edit: Their rank on deep passes total is 9th at -2.0% total. That can be broken down to -2.9% deep left, 53.8% deep middle, and -16.5% deep right. So the 53.8% has enough passes to bring down the other two. This also includes DPI. Whether the Pats can exploit that is another question. 
 

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SMU_Sox said:
 
Can't find it there either. My guess is that it's a SSS fluke.
 
Anyone who watches the Seahawks know offhand how often opponents test them on deep middle balls? A ballpark is fine.
 
Not often. Off the top of my head I know Cam Newton hit Kelvin Benjamin on a deep shot in the middle during the regular season, but Thomas and Sherman were on him and Benjamin won the jump ball.
 
As I said earlier, I might have missed a play or two, but that's the only one I recall from their 2014 games. 
 

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Shelterdog said:
I think this is right although one thing that happened a bunch in 2013 (not so much that I recall in 2014) is other teams had their DT's say fuck it when they saw run action and just went after Brady hoping it was play action (the Atkins sack in the Bengals game being the best example). 
I don't think Atkins (and other DTs on similar plays) went specifically at Brady so much as he got so much penetration initially (because the guard across from him was pulling to sell the run-action) that he was practically at the handoff point to make the play either way. That's a risk with pulling linemen to sell PA.
 
Shelterdog said:
Looking at the Seachicken's line-up you'd think the Pats run it a bunch.  Mebane and Hill are out so they're pretty thin at DT, the Seahawks LBs are on the smaller side, and perhaps the Thomas/Sherman injuries are going to limit how good that secondary is in run support.
Seattle likes to rotate their DTs, too, so running from hurry-up could wear them down.
 
SMU_Sox said:
 
Can't find it there either. My guess is that it's a SSS fluke.
 
Anyone who watches the Seahawks know offhand how often opponents test them on deep middle balls? A ballpark is fine.
 
Edit: Their rank on deep passes total is 9th at -2.0% total. That can be broken down to -2.9% deep left, 53.8% deep middle, and -16.5% deep right. So the 53.8% has enough passes to bring down the other two. This also includes DPI. Whether the Pats can exploit that is another question. 
Per Pro Football Reference, Seahawks faced just 10 deep (15+ yards) middle passes all regular season, fewest in the NFL: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/play_finder.cgi?request=1&match=summary_all&search=&player_id=&year_min=2014&year_max=2014&team_id=&opp_id=&game_type=R&playoff_round=&game_num_min=0&game_num_max=99&week_num_min=0&week_num_max=99&quarter=1&quarter=2&quarter=3&quarter=4&quarter=5&tr_gtlt=lt&minutes=15&seconds=00&down=0&down=1&down=2&down=3&down=4&yds_to_go_min=&yds_to_go_max=&yg_gtlt=gt&yards=&is_first_down=-1&field_pos_min_field=team&field_pos_min=&field_pos_max_field=team&field_pos_max=&end_field_pos_min_field=team&end_field_pos_min=&end_field_pos_max_field=team&end_field_pos_max=&type=PASS&is_turnover=-1&turnover_type=interception&turnover_type=fumble&is_scoring=-1&score_type=touchdown&score_type=field_goal&score_type=safety&is_sack=-1&include_kneels=-1&no_play=0&game_day_of_week=&game_location=&game_result=&margin_min=&margin_max=&order_by=yards&rush_direction=LE&rush_direction=LT&rush_direction=LG&rush_direction=M&rush_direction=RG&rush_direction=RT&rush_direction=RE&pass_location=DM
 

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Mark Schofield said:
 
Not often. Off the top of my head I know Cam Newton hit Kelvin Benjamin on a deep shot in the middle during the regular season, but Thomas and Sherman were on him and Benjamin won the jump ball.
 
As I said earlier, I might have missed a play or two, but that's the only one I recall from their 2014 games. 
 
NFLsavant.com has some of this data.
http://nflsavant.com/game.php?team_code=SEA&team_id=4600&stype=REG&year=2014
 
Type Completions Attempts Comp % Yards Avg % of plays
SHORT LEFT     119 166 71.69% 954 5.75 30.97%
SHORT RIGHT    94 154 61.04% 883 5.73 28.73%
SHORT MIDDLE  82 117 70.09% 780 6.67 21.83%
DEEP LEFT        16 49 32.65% 441 9.00 9.14%
DEEP RIGHT      12 40 30.00% 482 12.05 7.46%
DEEP MIDDLE    4 10 40.00% 114 11.40 1.87%
 
Edit --
Digging deeper
Week 1 - 23yd completion to Cobb
Week 1 - Incomplete to Nelson
Week 3 - Incomplete to D. Thomas
Week 3 - Incomplete to D. Thomas
Week 6 - 21yd completion to Witten
Week 7 - 19yd completion to Brian Quick
Week 8 -  51yd completion to Kelvin Benjamin
Week 14 - Incomplete to Riley Cooper
Week 16 - Incomplete to Fitzgerald
Week 16 - Incomplete to Fitzgerald
 
Week 18 - 18yd complete to Greg Olsen
Week 18 - 31yd complete to Greg Olsen
 

coremiller

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The whole "Seattle doesn't alter its scheme from game to game" thing is getting overblown.  That may be somewhat true with their base coverages, but Seattle is one of the best in the league at mixing and matching personnel and scheme in its defensive fronts to counter its opponents' tendencies.  
 

SMU_Sox

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Jul 20, 2009
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FO released a mini-overview of Seattle's D going into the Super Bowl. It's a piece without a central direction so summing it up isn't easy...
 

By either Success Rate or yards per play, the Hawkbusters were by and large better against Seattle than the league average rate regardless of distance -- which shouldn't be surprising, considering they won those games. It's notable, though, that their YAC per reception was still generally lower than league average. Even in their bad games, the Legion of Boom make their tackles. Further, the Hawkbusters threw more Short passes than most teams, with fewer Bombs. (In fact, they only threw six bombs against Seattle in total, five of them by Romo.) That shouldn't be surprising either, considering their high completion rate and low yards per catch. But note also that while their frequency of Mid passes was lower than average, their frequency of Deep passes actually went up. This makes sense considering that Seattle is still largely a zone team; those Short passes were generally thrown to receivers running underneath coverage, while Deep passes went to guys running the seams behind the linebackers but in front of the safeties.
How does New England match up against a defense like that? We tend to think of the Patriots as a team that specializes in screens and slants. Tom Brady threw 291 passes within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, with a DVOA of 9.6%, eighth among starting quarterbacks in both categories. His top receivers on those routes were Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen; those will be the men running underneath routes in the Super Bowl, and the ability of Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright to cover (and tackle) them will be critical.
 
 

dynomite

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tims4wins said:
 
What was interesting about Sunday was that the Packers were running with a ton of success through a quarter and a half or so. Lacy's first 10 carries went for about 54 yards; he was finding holes, and moving the pile. Then his last 13 carries went for about 19 yards. So clearly Seattle adjusted, but GB did find some success.
True, although I remember a number of those Packers 2nd half runs were basically kneel downs more designed to run clock than anything else, right?

Although I will say even in the first half the Seahawks goal line package was terrifying.
 

DanoooME

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wibi said:
 
NFLsavant.com has some of this data.
http://nflsavant.com/game.php?team_code=SEA&team_id=4600&stype=REG&year=2014
 
Type Completions Attempts Comp % Yards Avg % of plays
SHORT LEFT     119 166 71.69% 954 5.75 30.97%
SHORT RIGHT    94 154 61.04% 883 5.73 28.73%
SHORT MIDDLE  82 117 70.09% 780 6.67 21.83%
DEEP LEFT        16 49 32.65% 441 9.00 9.14%
DEEP RIGHT      12 40 30.00% 482 12.05 7.46%
DEEP MIDDLE    4 10 40.00% 114 11.40 1.87%
 
I went through the game logs and I got the same plus Carolina went 2-2 for 49 yards in their playoff game and GB didn't try in the last game.  Catch lengths were 23, 21, 19, 51, 18, 31.  Average is 27.2. I think it's because nobody wants to mess with Thomas.  He's that good.
 
The players who made those catches: Cobb, Witten, Quick, K Benjamin, Olsen.  Olsen was the only one with two catches.
 

wibi

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DanoooME said:
 
I went through the game logs and I got the same plus Carolina went 2-2 for 49 yards in their playoff game and GB didn't try in the last game.  Catch lengths were 23, 21, 19, 51, 18, 31.  Average is 27.2. I think it's because nobody wants to mess with Thomas.  He's that good.
 
The players who made those catches: Cobb, Witten, Quick, K Benjamin, Olsen.  Olsen was the only one with two catches.
 
Apologies for stealth editing to add play data above.  Looks like you and I were looking for the same data at the same time
 

DanoooME

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wibi said:
 
Apologies for stealth editing to add play data above.  Looks like you and I were looking for the same data at the same time
 
No problem, it happens.
 
The key point here being the Seahawks don't like to give up the big play.  The most efficient way for the Pats to get a big play is going to be throw to Gronk in the seam and let him try to run over the defense.
 

lambeau

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Bedard was interesting on Felger and Mazz after talking the coaching staff. He thinks they'll use motion to get Gronk away from Chancellor and KJ Wright and try to get him ogainst Bruce Irvin (maybe Thomas too--want to tackle Gronk with a separated shoulder?).
The staff told him Amendola is finally healthy, and they plan to work him and Edelman against the inexperienced (if talented) nickel and dime corners, (Jeremy Lane, Marcus Burley and Tharold Simon).
He talked with DeGuglielmo, who claimed he trade Solder for only one guy: Branden Albert. Jason Peters? "Nah, he's sloppy!"  
 

Kevin Youkulele

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lambeau said:
Bedard was interesting on Felger and Mazz after talking the coaching staff. He thinks they'll use motion to get Gronk away from Chancellor and KJ Wright and try to get him ogainst Bruce Irvin (maybe Thomas too--want to tackle Gronk with a separated shoulder?).
The staff told him Amendola is finally healthy, and they plan to work him and Edelman against the inexperienced (if talented) nickel and dime corners, (Jeremy Lane, Marcus Burley and Tharold Simon).
He talked with DeGuglielmo, who claimed he trade Solder for only one guy: Branden Albert. Jason Peters? "Nah, he's sloppy!"  
A bit surprised this came out from the staff.  Maybe it's blindingly obvious to people who know the players well, but this seems like publicly divulging an aspect of the game plan in advance of the game... I guess it could be a fake, but I'm surprised they would say what matchups they're going to try to engineer.  Isn't this tantamount to saying they're going to focus on formations with Edelman and/or Amendola in the slot?
 

ivanvamp

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Jul 18, 2005
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Last 13 games for Seattle...
 
Opp - Pts Allowed - Yds Allowed - Off Ranking (Pts) - Off Ranking (yds)
StL - 28 pts - 275 yds - 21 - 28
Car - 9 pts - 266 yds - 19 - 16
Oak - 24 pts - 226 yds - 31 - 32
NYG - 17 pts - 324 yds - 13 - 10
KC - 24 pts - 298 yds - 16 - 25
Ari - 3 pts - 204 yds - 24 - 24
SF - 3 pts - 164 yds - 25 - 20
Phi - 14 pts - 139 yds - 3 - 5
SF - 7 pts - 245 yds - 25 - 20
Ari - 6 pts - 216 yds - 24 - 24
StL - 6 pts - 245 yds - 21 - 28
Car - 17 pts - 362 yds - 19 - 16
GB - 22 pts - 306 yds - 1 - 6
 
So there's no doubt that the Seahawks' defense is tremendous.  But they faced, over this dominant stretch, just three teams with offenses that are in the top 16 in the league (measured by both rankings added together, then divided by two; so Carolina is at 17.5 combined).  Those three:
 
NYG (11.5) - 17 pts, 324 yds
PHi (4.0) - 14 pts, 139 yds
GB (3.5) - 22 pts, 306 yds
 
Still, very, very impressive.  That's an average of 17.7 points and 256.3 yards.  Tremendous.  The Patriots will have to work very, very hard to score 20+ points on Sunday.  I think they can do it, but consider that in their five Super Bowls they've averaged just 21.4 points per game, against much inferior defenses than this, and you can see the they'll have their work cut out for them.
 
It sure would make life a lot easier if they can get a big play or two from the special teams.
 

ivanvamp

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Jul 18, 2005
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Kevin Youkulele said:
A bit surprised this came out from the staff.  Maybe it's blindingly obvious to people who know the players well, but this seems like publicly divulging an aspect of the game plan in advance of the game... I guess it could be a fake, but I'm surprised they would say what matchups they're going to try to engineer.  Isn't this tantamount to saying they're going to focus on formations with Edelman and/or Amendola in the slot?
 
I'd love to split Gronk wide right so Sherman has to take him.  Then run power runs to the right side and let Gronk just piledrive Sherman a few times.  
 

ivanvamp

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Jul 18, 2005
6,104
ivanvamp said:
 
I'd love to split Gronk wide right so Sherman has to take him.  Then run power runs to the right side and let Gronk just piledrive Sherman a few times.  
 
On that note, here's something from rotoworld….
 

ESPN's Ed Werder reports Richard Sherman has torn ligaments in his elbow.

It's the first we've heard of any torn ligaments, but Sherman has continually insisted it's not an issue. Sherman has been practicing in full ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl. Per Werder, Sherman is "improving daily," and "finished with treatment." It's possible we'll learn that Sherman is dealing with a more serious injury than he's letting on following SB XLIX.
 

bakahump

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I was screaming at the TV that they had to test Sherman after the injury.   Just another incredibly bad decision/execution by the Packers in that game.
 

wiffleballhero

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In the simulacrum
On thing I assumed I would read about a fair amount this week but I have not seen anywhere (not looking in the right places?) is Seattle's vulnerability to the hard count. They are a team that really seems to jump hard on the snap and they also appear (both from the numbers but also anecdotally from watching games) really vulnerable to offsides/false start penalties (13 OS/ 33 FS).
 
Brady is very good at the hard count. (I am a homer but I can't really think of another QB who is obviously better?) So I wonder if the Pats can pile up some key yards by exploiting this eagerness or, more importantly, Brady can ding them a few times early and change the complexion of the Seattle defensive attack at the line? 
 

nazz45

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wiffleballhero said:
On thing I assumed I would read about a fair amount this week but I have not seen anywhere (not looking in the right places?) is Seattle's vulnerability to the hard count. They are a team that really seems to jump hard on the snap and they also appear (both from the numbers but also anecdotally from watching games) really vulnerable to offsides/false start penalties (13 OS/ 33 FS).
 
Brady is very good at the hard count. (I am a homer but I can't really think of another QB who is obviously better?) So I wonder if the Pats can pile up some key yards by exploiting this eagerness or, more importantly, Brady can ding them a few times early and change the complexion of the Seattle defensive attack at the line? 
 
Good call. Michael Bennett led the league with 10 such infractions (offsides, encroachments, neutral zone). Picked up two more against Green Bay. It's touched on briefly in an article about their run defense set to come out on Football Central soon (plug).
 

nattysez

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Steve Young said today that he feels that the Pats remain vulnerable to the same thing that cost the their past two Super Bowls -- when a team can create pressure on Brady with only four rushers, the Pats struggle.  Young believes that the Seahawks can do that, though it doesn't sound like you guys share his opinion.
 
Separately, LGBT had only 10 catches this year, 6 for the Pats.  I wonder if the Pats could catch the Seahawks off-guard by running a screen or two for Blount.  Running a passing play or two for Blount would make it (slightly) harder for the Seahawks to overcommit on running plays, which could help open some holes.  That said, he may not be a good enough pass catcher for the Pats to feel like they can risk throwing to him.