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Comparing New England's Deep Ball Defense vs Flacco's Deep Ball Offense: Plus, An Opening Play Prediction


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#1 callahan09

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

First I'll take a look at this from the perspective of the Patriots' Defense.

This is what the Patriots defense has allowed in 2012 (including post-season against the Texans). Green = best chance for success, red = avoid at all costs.

1st Down
Deep Left: 10/23, 246 Yards, 1 TD, 2 INT --> 43.5%, 10.7 Y/A, 61.1 QB Rating
Deep Middle: 10/18, 293 Yards, 4 TD, 2 INT --> 55.6%, 16.3 Y/A, 100.5 QB Rating
Deep Right: 13/25, 350 Yards, 5 TD, 0 INT --> 52.0%, 14.0 Y/A, 137.1 QB Rating

2nd Down
Deep Left: 6/12, 177 Yards, 0 TD, 1 INT --> 50.0%, 14.8 Y/A, 61.1 QB Rating
Deep Middle: 5/10, 135 Yards, 1 TD, 2 INT --> 50.0%, 13.5 Y/A, 89.6 QB Rating
Deep Right: 5/15, 118 Yards, 0 TD, 3 INT --> 33.3%, 7.9 Y/A, 23.1 QB Rating

3rd Down
Deep Left: 5/13, 131 Yards, 1 TD, 1 INT --> 38.5%, 10.1 Y/A, 69.7 QB Rating
Deep Middle: 8/11, 215 Yards, 0 TD, 1 INT --> 72.7%, 19.5 Y/A, 76.9 QB Rating
Deep Right: 5/14, 130 Yards, 1 TD, 1 INT --> 35.7%, 9.3 Y/A, 64.6 QB rating

4th Down
Deep Left: 1/1, 24 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 100.0%, 24.0 Y/A, 118.8 QB Rating
Deep Middle: 0/1, 0 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 0.0%, 0.0 Y/A, 39.6 QB Rating
Deep Right: 2/2, 45 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 100.0%, 22.5 Y/A, 118.8 QB Rating

Total
Deep Left: 22/49, 578 Yards, 2 TD, 4 INT --> 44.9%, 11.8 Y/A, 68.2 QB Rating
Deep Middle: 23/40, 643 Yards, 5 TD, 5 INT --> 57.5%, 16.1 Y/A, 102.1 QB Rating
Deep Right: 25/56, 643 Yards, 6 TD, 4 INT --> 44.6%, 11.5 Y/A, 93.1 QB Rating

By Down
1st: 33/66, 889 Yards, 10 TD, 4 INT --> 50.0%, 13.5 Y/A, 110.2 QB Rating
2nd: 16/37, 430 Yards, 1 TD, 6 INT --> 43.2%, 11.6 Y/A, 56.0 QB Rating
3rd: 18/38, 476 Yards, 2 TD, 3 INT --> 47.4%, 12.5 Y/A, 78.3 QB Rating
4th: 3/4, 69 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 75.0%, 17.3 Y/A, 116.7 QB Rating

All Deep Passes
70/145, 1864 Yards, 13 TD, 13 INT --> 48.3%, 12.9 Y/A, 86.9 QB Rating

Analysis
I was surprised that their defense was actually this effective against the deep ball. They allow a very high completion percentage, but a 1-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio allowed is very good. Flacco has thrown only 2 interceptions on deep passes all season, and of course one of them came against the Patriots.

Obviously the time to throw deep on the Patriots is first down. Caldwell ran the ball on first down almost exclusively in the second half last week. He'll have to take some shots down field on first down this week, because that's the Patriots biggest weakness. Second down is absolutely the wrong time to take a shot down field against the Patriots. There is potential for some success on third down, but it's clear that the Patriots can be caught off guard on first down, but are usually prepared to stop the deep ball on second and third down. Fourth down is too small a sample size to really learn anything from, but the few times offenses have tried throwing deep on them this year, it's worked out OK for them.

A good thing for us here is that Flacco likes to throw the ball to the right side of the field on deep attempts, and he is also very effective throwing deep middle, and those are both vulnerable areas for the Patriots' defense. We should avoid the left side of the field at all costs, as this is where the Patriots' defense is strongest and Flacco's effectiveness is lowest, making for a really bad match-up.

The right side of the field on first down is playing right into Flacco's wheel-house, and this Patriots defense is abysmal at stopping that play. Unfortunately, they do the best job defending the right side of the field on 2nd and 3rd downs, so we need to focus on the middle of the field in those situations.
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#2 callahan09

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:21 PM

And now here is an outlook from the perspective of Flacco's deep throwing stats for this season, broken down in the same way:

1st Down
Deep Left: 7/18, 165 Yards, 4 TD, 0 INT --> 38.9%, 9.2 Y/A, 112.3 QB Rating
Deep Middle: 7/17, 186 Yards, 0 TD, 1 INT --> 41.2%, 10.9 Y/A, 57.5 QB Rating
Deep Right: 10/20, 309 Yards, 3 TD, 0 INT --> 50.0%, 15.5 Y/A, 135.4 QB Rating

2nd Down
Deep Left: 3/13, 89 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 23.1%, 6.8 Y/A, 55.6 QB Rating
Deep Middle: 7/13, 220 Yards, 3 TD, 0 INT --> 53.8%, 16.9 Y/A, 138.6 QB Rating
Deep Right: 11/19, 372 Yards, 3 TD, 1 INT --> 57.9%, 19.6 Y/A, 120.1 QB Rating

3rd Down
Deep Left: 3/12, 83 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 25.0%, 6.9 Y/A, 55.9 QB Rating
Deep Middle: 2/5, 64 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 40.0%, 12.8 Y/A, 87.5 QB Rating
Deep Right: 9/19, 311 Yards, 2 TD, 0 INT --> 47.4%, 16.4 Y/A, 128.7 QB Rating

4th Down
Deep Left: 0/0, 0 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> N/A%, N/A Y/A, N/A QB Rating
Deep Middle: 0/0, 0 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> N/A%, N/A Y/A, N/A QB Rating
Deep Right: 0/1, 0 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 0.0%, 0.0 Y/A, 39.6 QB Rating

Total
Deep Left: 13/43, 337 Yards, 4 TD, 0 INT --> 30.2%, 7.8 Y/A, 90.9 QB Rating
Deep Middle: 16/35, 470 Yards, 3 TD, 1 INT --> 45.7%, 13.4 Y/A, 108.9 QB Rating
Deep Right: 30/59, 992 Yards, 8 TD, 1 INT --> 50.8%, 16.8 Y/A, 129.1 QB Rating

By Down
1st: 24/55, 660 Yards, 7 TD, 1 INT --> 43.6%, 12.0 Y/A, 120.5 QB Rating
2nd: 21/45, 681 Yards, 6 TD, 1 INT --> 46.7%, 15.1 Y/A, 123.4 QB Rating
3rd: 14/36, 458 Yards, 2 TD, 0 INT --> 38.9%, 12.7 Y/A, 105.1 QB Rating
4th: 0/1, 0 Yards, 0 TD, 0 INT --> 0.0%, 0.0 Y/A, 39.6 QB Rating

All Deep Passes
59/137, 1799 Yards, 15 TD, 2 INT --> 43.1%, 13.1 Y/A, 120.5 QB Rating

Analysis
Flacco is obviously good at throwing deep. This breakdown shows that he can have success on every down and in any direction. That said, he has a couple of weak spots. Most notably, we want to avoid him throwing deep left on 2nd and 3rd down, and deep middle on 1st down. In general, we want him throwing deep right most often.

The beauty of the match-up is that by far New England's biggest weakness is deep right on 1st down, which just so happens to be Flacco's biggest strength.

There's another great match-up on 2nd down, as the Patriots are most vulnerable to the middle on second down, which also happens to be Flacco's best part of the field on second down.

On 3rd down, there really isn't a great advantage for us. They are good at covering everything on third down, so Flacco should stick to the middle and right sides of the field where he is most comfortable in general.

I expect the Ravens to throw deep right on first down a lot, and take some shots down the middle on second down. If we have to resort to long third down attempts, we may be in for a long game, so we have to make sure we're executing on those first and second down plays, both in the downfield shots and in the running attempts. We absolutely must minimize stupid penalties that set up eventual third and long situations, because the odds are stacked heavily against us if we get into those situations.
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#3 callahan09

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:22 PM

First Play of the Game
I predict a deep bomb to the right side of the field on the first play of the game. Given what I've outlined above, and if Jim Caldwell has researched this at all to the kind of extent that I have, you have to like those odds. If you can connect on it, you silence the crowd on the very first play. Punch 'em in the mouth and see if they ever get back up. Exactly like that 80 yard Rice TD did to them in 2009.
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#4 Corvus

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:31 PM

Nice work callahan, very interesting comparisons here.

I did hear someone on ESPN earlier this week noting that if you watch the game tape, Flacco has loved throwing deep to the right side of the field all season and has had solid success doing so (see last week, haha). Belichick will have his secondary coached up to watch for it, still think we have some good success there Sunday, regardless
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#5 hawkprey

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:32 PM

Pats fans will be quick to tell you that their defense has drastically cut down on the big passing play since Talib joined and McCourty moved to safety.

But that can work in our favor. If NE's strength has actually become defending the deep ball, that means a relative weakness is the short-intermediate plays. Because we know their pass D isn't great as a whole. New England will pay special attention to the deep ball this week, making it even easier to complete the shorter passes we want, so that we can sustain drives.

Since we have a complete passing game under Caldwell, there's going to be something we can do against that defense and we'll just have to find what it is for this game.

Also, which game did Joe have an interception deep right? Cleveland?
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#6 callahan09

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:37 PM

Pats fans will be quick to tell you that their defense has drastically cut down on the big passing play since Talib joined and McCourty moved to safety.

But that can work in our favor. If NE's strength has actually become defending the deep ball, that means a relative weakness is the short-intermediate plays. Because we know their pass D isn't great as a whole. New England will pay special attention to the deep ball this week, making it even easier to complete the shorter passes we want, so that we can sustain drives.

Since we have a complete passing game under Caldwell, there's going to be something we can do against that defense and we'll just have to find what it is for this game.

Also, which game did Joe have an interception deep right? Cleveland?


Steelers.
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#7 hawkprey

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:46 PM

Steelers.

I've heard different numbers about Joe's deep passes this year: http://espn.go.com/b...ess-in-playoffs

Since adding Talib to the lineup in Week 11 allowed McCourty to move to safety, the Patriots’ defense has looked a lot different. Only the Titans (zero) have allowed fewer 30-yard pass plays than the Patriots from Week 11 on.

Even when New England was susceptible to the deep ball early in the season, it showed a knack for forcing turnovers. The Patriots had seven interceptions on throws at least 20 yards downfield this season, with only Atlanta (eight) recording more.

Despite leading the league with 93 attempts at least 20 yards downfield this season including the playoffs, Flacco has not thrown an interception on such throws. Matt Hasselbeck is the only other qualified quarterback without an interception on a deep throw this season, and he had fewer than a quarter of Flacco’s attempts (24).


Flacco has a +10 touchdown-to-interception differential on deep throws -- Aaron Rodgers is the only other quarterback to even throw 10 touchdowns on such passes.

And yes, the Patriots' defense has begun to make up for their horrible deep play defense to start the year. Although, the QB's they've played are Sanchez, Tannehill twice, Schaub twice, Henne, and Kaepernick. Kaep can throw deep, but most of these QBs rarely throw deep.

And just while we're on the subject: People have been saying Joe can only throw deep to his right. That's not true. It's just that the latest cornerbacks he's been targeting (Hall, Webster, Bailey, Vaughn I think) have been on the right side. And it also has to do with who's lined up where.

Edited by hawkprey, 18 January 2013 - 02:48 PM.

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#8 Yatagarasu

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:00 PM

New England is going to play two deep zone coverage to prevent Flacco from throwing the deep ball. That should open up the intermediate and short passing game that features Boldin and Pitta. Also, we should have a better chance on establishing the run with Ray Rice now that New England is playing a soft zone coverage, but Wilfork and the big men of New England are going to be tough to run on. I hope Caldwell uses unpredictability and a balanced attack because the Ravens have all the tools to beat teams in different ways.

If Ray Rice has a field day like couple of years ago, then that unleashes all the weapons in Flacco's arsenal. I have a feeling that this game is going to be a gun-slinging battle.
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#9 CalvinSmoke

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:41 PM

first man, thank you for putting in the time to make all of this. Good reads and thinking material.I'm so excited and nervous about this game im about to explode lol
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#10 Sizzlebshu

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 04:36 PM

Expect NE to take a similar approach to defending the Ravens as they did in the last AFC championship game. They will try to take Torrey out of the game by playing two deep safeties and double covering Torrey a lot. Boldin will be the one to carry us through this game and it will be imperative to work him out of the slot and run the ball with Rice effectively. We should also use Rice split out as a wide receiver a lot more this game to further abuse the middle of the field.
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#11 H8R

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 04:38 PM

What's the range of "deep"?
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#12 YoubeenGronked

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 04:56 PM

As a Pats fan(yes i watch weekly all season long) the defense has changed ALOT since we got Talib and moved McCourty. The secondary isn't really a HUGE liability anymore the x factor most people seem to be forgetting is the big Man on the line Vince will have an effect this weekend and it should be big. gl on sunday either way. rather have the pats win but if the ravens win at least its not the Steelers or Jets
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#13 AsianRice

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 05:22 PM

Ever since Caldwell took over, I don't know what's he going to call next......damn I look genious in front of my wife before the Redskins game, and ever since then I am pretty quiet lately and my wife kept asking why....dang!
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#14 Malkavian Raven

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 05:32 PM

But what if New England figures on Caldwell & the offense figuring out that they will defend the deep pass; thus figuring that will open the middle of the field for the short passing game... and do a double-bluff and focus on covering the middle of the field?
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#15 ooo sugahhh 52

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 06:01 PM

As a Pats fan(yes i watch weekly all season long) the defense has changed ALOT since we got Talib and moved McCourty. The secondary isn't really a HUGE liability anymore the x factor most people seem to be forgetting is the big Man on the line Vince will have an effect this weekend and it should be big. gl on sunday either way. rather have the pats win but if the ravens win at least its not the Steelers or Jets

trust me no one here has forgotten about wilfork.
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#16 SuggsBarber

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 06:30 PM

Expect NE to take a similar approach to defending the Ravens as they did in the last AFC championship game. They will try to take Torrey out of the game by playing two deep safeties and double covering Torrey a lot. Boldin will be the one to carry us through this game and it will be imperative to work him out of the slot and run the ball with Rice effectively. We should also use Rice split out as a wide receiver a lot more this game to further abuse the middle of the field.


If I'm the Pats D coordinator, against Joe I'd go to more 8 man coverage packages with an occasional blitz.Make Joe beat you in small increments in the hope that he'll make a mistake. Putting Rice out in the slot on some plays I think is a good counter.
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#17 Sizzlebshu

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:26 PM

If I'm the Pats D coordinator, against Joe I'd go to more 8 man coverage packages with an occasional blitz.Make Joe beat you in small increments in the hope that he'll make a mistake. Putting Rice out in the slot on some plays I think is a good counter.

The problem with playing max coverage packages like that is Joe now has the power to audible meaning you will rely on Wilfork and Chandler Jones to stop the run, which if the o line can slow or hold will give Rice ample running room. If anything I see the opposite approach. Blitz Joe frequently and disorient him with different pressures and stress the o line so Joe makes bad decisions. Wilfork already has to be doubled, and we have to hope that Big Mac can take out Chandler Jones (given his success with Dumervil there is cause for hope)

The real key to this game though will be our o line overpowering their d-line and getting the running game going. We have to force Belichick to commit extra men to stopping our two-headed monster so that he has to single cover guys like Torrey or if he chooses to double Torrey, put mismatched linebackers on guys like Dickson and Pitta. Playaction is when we will get our big plays and deep balls in.

Edited by Sizzlebshu, 18 January 2013 - 08:27 PM.

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#18 Brain

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:38 PM

Linebackers Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, and Dont'a Hightower are versatile and instinctive playmakers that Belichick uses all over the field to confuse and mix up opposing offenses. Not only that, but DE/OLB playmaking hybrid Rob Ninkovich is a star that's always around the ball, plays in Linebacker packages and knows now to snuff the ball out.. whether it be a strip sack, forced fumble or key interception. These are some very good interchangeable parts on defense that Bill can miss and match and exploit Flacco with his experience throughout the years. They've done it with Bruschi, McGinest, Vrabel and these guys in NE now are faster, stronger and more athletic.. along with the same instincts and communication. Just a matter of getting everybody in the right place and the right time, and I think over the season they've mastered that. 25 + and leading the NFL in turnovers. And lets not forget that CB Aqib Talib is a very good man coverage corner, and rookie (not a rookie anymore) CB Alphonzo Dennard is smart and technical with ball skills.. he is also a good man coverage corner. That allows Devin McCourty to move to FS and play center field, which he has collected 6 INTs at that particular spot.. And Patrick Chung and SS gives the secondary the ability to play physical with McCourty being able to utilize his speed and athleticism for coverage, keeping Chung mostly focused on run stopping, and manning the middle. Steve Gregory comes in on passing downs alongside McCourty, where he excels at, and plays slot CB sometimes because of his speed.. Long story short, this defense I'm telling you is a lot better, ALOT better than what you realize... And I'll just give you 5 names to watch out for.. Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Aqib Talib and Devin McCourty at FS.. I bet you at least two of those names makes at least one game changing play
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#19 ArmyRavensFan

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:42 PM

As a Pats fan(yes i watch weekly all season long) the defense has changed ALOT since we got Talib and moved McCourty. The secondary isn't really a HUGE liability anymore the x factor most people seem to be forgetting is the big Man on the line Vince will have an effect this weekend and it should be big. gl on sunday either way. rather have the pats win but if the ravens win at least its not the Steelers or Jets


I do not think anyone on the Ravens fanbase has forgot about Wilfork. He destroyed Birk last year in the playoffs.
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#20 berad

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:42 PM

Linebackers Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, and Dont'a Hightower are versatile and instinctive playmakers that Belichick uses all over the field to confuse and mix up opposing offenses. Not only that, but DE/OLB playmaking hybrid Rob Ninkovich is a star that's always around the ball, plays in Linebacker packages and knows now to snuff the ball out.. whether it be a strip sack, forced fumble or key interception. These are some very good interchangeable parts on defense that Bill can miss and match and exploit Flacco with his experience throughout the years. They've done it with Bruschi, McGinest, Vrabel and these guys in NE now are faster, stronger and more athletic.. along with the same instincts and communication. Just a matter of getting everybody in the right place and the right time, and I think over the season they've mastered that. 25 + and leading the NFL in turnovers. And lets not forget that CB Aqib Talib is a very good man coverage corner, and rookie (not a rookie anymore) CB Alphonzo Dennard is smart and technical with ball skills.. he is also a good man coverage corner. That allows Devin McCourty to move to FS and play center field, which he has collected 6 INTs at that particular spot.. And Patrick Chung and SS gives the secondary the ability to play physical with McCourty being able to utilize his speed and athleticism for coverage, keeping Chung mostly focused on run stopping, and manning the middle. Steve Gregory comes in on passing downs alongside McCourty, where he excels at, and plays slot CB sometimes because of his speed.. Long story short, this defense I'm telling you is a lot better, ALOT better than what you realize... And I'll just give you 5 names to watch out for.. Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Aqib Talib and Devin McCourty at FS.. I bet you at least two of those names makes at least one game changing play


snoreeeee

Wait, what? Is there any real content in that?

Sounds pretty and I'm sure the koolaid is on tap but, as we told Denver fans last week, the games are not played on paper. We could write up the same thing (and more) about the Ravens.
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