1. Introducing the "pressure" Patriots. The Patriots started the game dialing up pressure calls and never looked back. They sent everything but the kitchen sink. Coach Bill Belichick sent the "Mike" linebacker (middle linebacker), the "Will" linebacker (weakside), the "Sam" linebacker (strongside), and even the corners got in on the action. These pressures were called with mostly man coverage concepts behind them.
When you do this, you find out a few things about your personnel during the game. First, who can get to the passer when his number is called? Second, who can cover man-to-man when there might be just a single high safety or maybe no safety at all?
There is also a read-blitzing element to it.
Read-blitzing is when you have linebackers who have coverage responsibilities on either a tight end or running back. They read the pass-protection responsibilities and the free man enters the rush. So when you look at it as it's happening, it can look like a max blitz at times. But it's really man coverage with linebackers reading coverage responsibilities. That's commonly referred to as a "book" technique.
Another aspect that stood out was the presence of Andre Carter at defensive end. The Patriots didn't need to call for pressure because of the huge game he had. It was an important showing for him, proving that he can set the edge in the running game and give an offensive tackle fits with a one-on-one rush. He did all that, forcing holding penalties against left tackle Donald Penn, at one point spinning him like a top in pass protection; Carter turned Penn around, and Penn tried to block with his behind. This is important for the entire defense. A presence like that will only make the interior defensive linemen better -- Albert Haynesworth, Vince Wilfork, Mike Wright, Gerard Warren, Myron Pryor and Co. If there is no presence at the defensive end spot, offensive lines will be able to pinch down and use protection schemes that can neutralize the interior linemen. With that type of production from Andre Carter at defensive end, this defense could be very successful.
Based on what we've seen in the first two preseason games, the old 3-4 days seem to be less of a priority. The best example was when Warren used a quick swim move for a tackle, with Pryor spinning and getting in on the tackle on the same play. That's not something you'd see in the base 3-4 system. When you think of the base 3-4, the idea would be to get your hands in the middle of the blocker, stand your guy up, make the read, shed and make the tackle. Now the Patriots are coming off the ball, doing anything to disregard blockers, and it was never more evident than on that play. While it's different, you're also seeing how the players are embracing it, finding their own way of interpreting what the coaches are looking for when it comes to getting in the backfield.Later, Brischu says:
4. No longer a big philosophical shift between base and sub. Watching a game like that, you could see everything going according to plan for the Patriots. The idea is that the 4-3 defense creates negative plays early that result in a couple of three-and-outs, and the offense puts together a couple of early scoring drives; then the opposing team feels it has to play catch up and pass the ball to score points.
With the resounding victory, and how everything was working in the first half, you can see the logic behind the defensive shift.
One of the things that stands out to me with the new 4-3 defense is that you don't have such a big philosophical shift between your base defense and subpackages, where you're trying to generate pressure with a four-man front. When the 3-4 was the Patriots' base defense, it's a two-gapping scheme that didn't produce many negative plays. When offenses brought out regular personnel, as a defender in the 3-4 you're thinking, "I have to be stout, physical and two-gap." Then, when the offense brings out more receivers, you're shifting to more of a penetrating player.
Now, with a shift to a 4-3, it's the same mentality for the players in the front seven regardless of whether you're in the base or subpackages. You don't have two different concepts to worry about during the game.
Read the whole article here:http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/id/6877638/bruschi-tap-new-england-patriots-embracing-new-defensive-scheme
So there's been a clear and very fundamental shift (so far) in what we are seeing from the NE Patriots on defense. We've gotten rid of players that fit one defensive approach, added new ones who fit a new approach, and at least so far in the preseason, we've seen our front seven playing in a new alignment using techniques that sense given this new way. I certainly hope this means increased defensive producion: third down stops, QB pressure, turn-overs, and most importantly low scores for other teams andWs for us.
I'm immensely heartened though, by this. Our coach never stops evaluating, analyzing, and seeking ways to improve the team, and that includes changing how he does things. It's so difficult for institutions and individuals within them to change, especially after past success. His willingness to self-scout and change is remarkable. I can just imagine him and Ernie Adams sitting around, looking at the defensive success teams like Jets and Ravens have had, looking at thier own team/players, and making a bold call to change it up.
He's just the best at what he does.