Where's the Beef? Gronk...Fells...Hern...
posted at 9/5/2012 4:15 PM EDT
Lots of commentary lately about Belichick's "fixation" with tight ends. Yeah, we've seen this in the past, but it's different this year, and I think a master stroke on BB's part, in concept at least.
Every media outlet in the country has been reporting on the woes of the Pats' "leaky" offensive line, and with some justification. The bookends are a question mark: Solder is beginning his first campaign as "the" left tackle following Light's retirement; Vollmer is back, but likely not in shape to go full tilt for 4 quarters. The inside is a work in progress, too: New starter at the center position; no word on the return of Waters; Mankins is back, but not yet 100%. It is hopeful that Marcus Cannon will provide some good guard play, but he is clearly not tackle-ready for the NFL.
So it's not rocket science to guess the defensive strategy of opposing defenses this year:. Pin the ears back and send the kitchen sink at Brady. Since it is nearly impossible to pick up quality tackles/guards at this late date, Belichick/Josh are opting for the next best thing...a stable of strong, athletic tight ends.
I think Belichick will tell the OL to stay focused on the center rush, where historically Brady has been most susceptible. Tight ends will man both edges to chip away at smaller/quicker defensive ends. Backs will be in line to pick up the occasional safety blitz.
The obvious object is to keep Brady upright until Solder develops true confidence and Vollmer (hopefully) gets fully healthy. Having multiple tight ends that can both block and catch does two important things: A) provides additional blocking beef, and B) forces the opposing D to have to think about their blitzing schemes for a split second longer. Screens and draws will aid in this effort, and should be plentiful this year.
The Pats do not have to stop the oncoming rush; they merely have to delay it long enough for Brady to make a decision and get rid of the ball. Fortunately, he is one of the best ever at getting rid of the ball quickly and to the right guy. And if that right guy is one of several tight ends consistently burning the D when it overcommits, those rushes will lessen materially as the season wears on.
Re: Where's the Beef? Gronk...Fells...Hern...
posted at 9/5/2012 4:33 PM EDT
Any coach who could get two young TEs that are the caliber of Gronk and Hernandez would have some level of 'fixation' on them.
As for the leaky O line...the best way to stop that is to burn the opponent on screens a few times.