Defense under Barry

milani

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I don't think run first when I think 4-3. 4-3 is fundamentally a pass-first defense.

Tracking the history and evolution of defense is hard. What lead to what is often lost to the history of time. And even when we can track it, or parts of it, we don't know why.

One common story as to how the 4-3 came to be, at least one I heard, as a team running a 5-2. The team they were facing keep completing short routes over the middle. As this is an old story, the route wasn't clearly explained. The middle man in the defense, somewhere between a NT and MLB, had the assignment of jamming the center and the dropping to cover the middle. After getting burned for a few plays, he stopped jamming the center. At the snap of the ball, he just dropped. Proceeded to collect a bunch of interceptions, and the game was won.

That history aside, let's talk about *why* the 4-3 is a more pass-centric defense.

1. You have fewer and/or smaller defenders closer to the ball. In a 3-4, both "ends" are lined up no wider than the outside shoulder of the tackle. In old-school, 2-gapping 3-4s, they were headup on the tackle. In modern, shaded 3-4s, you have a 3T, a 1T, and a 5T, which matches most 4-3 under defenses. However, the weak ILB is closer to the ball.

2. The biggest 3 of a 3-4 are typically bigger than the biggest 3 of a 4-3. 4-3's NT, 3T, and strong end vs. 3-4 3 down linemen.

3. In a 4-3, your defensive ends are typically lined up wider to give them better rushing lanes. That's good, but it does create some softer spots in the front 7.

Regarding your second point:

In both a 3-4 and 4-3, 4 is the base rush. You always expect the back 7 to clean up the pass. Your linebackers are involved with run defense (otherwise play action wouldn't work) in either scheme. So again, what's the difference?
Well again look at a few of the great defenses. The Bears 46. The front 4 and Singletary could just not be blocked. The Steel Curtain with Mean Joe. Now 3-4s can be better suited to running QBs like Michael Vick who depend on escaping 4 down linemen and then using their speed. At the time of the big front fours in the sixties you had MLBs like Nitschke, Sam Huff, and Joe Schmidt. Then Butkus came along. The 4 in the 4-3 enabled them to ploy their super talent. But also at that time there was only one QB who presented problems for those defenses with his feet. That was Fran Tarkenton. He created new problems for 4-3 defenses.
 

mradtke66

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Well again look at a few of the great defenses. The Bears 46. The front 4 and Singletary could just not be blocked. The Steel Curtain with Mean Joe. Now 3-4s can be better suited to running QBs like Michael Vick who depend on escaping 4 down linemen and then using their speed. At the time of the big front fours in the sixties you had MLBs like Nitschke, Sam Huff, and Joe Schmidt. Then Butkus came along. The 4 in the 4-3 enabled them to ploy their super talent. But also at that time there was only one QB who presented problems for those defenses with his feet. That was Fran Tarkenton. He created new problems for 4-3 defenses.

I don't doubt there were some impressive defenses, but this seems to me like looking back with rose colored glasses. (This sounds more antagonist than intended. Sorry)

All of those linebackers would be a-okay in a modern 3-4. "Pure" 2-gapping schemes perhaps not, but now? They would do just fine. Which is kind of what I'm harping on. There are certainly differences between a 4-3 and 3-4 but they have far more similarities.

As far as the 46 defense...I'd argue it has more in common with 3-4s or 4-3 under (which is sometimes called 3-4 with 4-3 personnel) that a "true" 4-3. I'm contradicting myself slightly when I talk about pure vs. not, but I'll do my best to explain.

The 46 starts by shifting the line to the weak side. This starts to create an odd front. The strongside DE is now aligned as a 3T DT, you have NT on the Center, and the other DT is also a 3T. The weakside DE ends up not involved with the shift. He's staying on the outside shoulder of the tackle.

On the strongside of the formation, both players that would be called the outside linebackers are aligned on the LOS to the tight end side. To keep the straight, I'll call them Tacklebacker and Endbacker. As aligned, it looks kind of goofy, but how it makes sense in my head is think of the Endbacker being locked up with the tight end. Unsure how common it was in 1985, but let's pretend the tight flexes and becomes a slot receiver...and the Endbacker goes with him.

All of a sudden, you have 5 men on the LOS...that sure sounds like a 3-4. The two men off the LOS are Singletery and Mr. 46 the Strong Safety. Singletary, interestingly, is not aligned in the middle of the defense, but he's shifted to the tightend side of formation. Somewhere between the guard and tackle. He's your scary, angry man that can deal with lead blockers.

Mr. 46 is aligned over the weakside of the formation. Over the tackle. Playing a safety/linebacker hybrid role. Not unlike what many 3-4s have been trying, even Green Bay (admittedly unsuccessfully) with players like Josh Jackson.

So 5 men on the LOS, two split linebacker guys not aligned over the center. One snot nose player to the strong side, one smaller, faster, playmaker to the weakside. How is that not a proto 3-4?

Snark aside, the 46 had far more in common with modern, single-gap 3-4s than its contemporary 4-3s. Or 4-3 over defenses (ala Jimmy Johnson). One could even see this. A few times under Capers, the Packers had a "bear" call, which shifted the linemen in (both ends became 3Ts), the OLBs widened their alignment, the SS came into the box...stop me if you've heard this one :)
 

captainWIMM

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I liked him moving inside at the time because he could not beat an average OT from the outside. And he could wriggle himself up the middle. Not that he was a great inside LB but he was done as a pass rusher from the end position.

Matthews wasn't an elite pass rusher from the edge at that point anymore but he still had 24 sacks over four season after starting to line up as an outside linebacker again in 2016.

This wasn’t a conversation about Clay Mathews. It’s ok to let it go ;)

My point was that the rushing defense mainly improved because the Packers mostly faced terrible rushing offenses in the second half of the 2014 season.

With Matthews still lining up inside they finished 29th in yards per rushing attempt allowed the following season.
 

gopkrs

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Matthews wasn't an elite pass rusher from the edge at that point anymore but he still had 24 sacks over four season after starting to line up as an outside linebacker again in 2016.
Yeah, every once in awhile you play against a bad OT.
 

milani

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I don't doubt there were some impressive defenses, but this seems to me like looking back with rose colored glasses. (This sounds more antagonist than intended. Sorry)

All of those linebackers would be a-okay in a modern 3-4. "Pure" 2-gapping schemes perhaps not, but now? They would do just fine. Which is kind of what I'm harping on. There are certainly differences between a 4-3 and 3-4 but they have far more similarities.

As far as the 46 defense...I'd argue it has more in common with 3-4s or 4-3 under (which is sometimes called 3-4 with 4-3 personnel) that a "true" 4-3. I'm contradicting myself slightly when I talk about pure vs. not, but I'll do my best to explain.

The 46 starts by shifting the line to the weak side. This starts to create an odd front. The strongside DE is now aligned as a 3T DT, you have NT on the Center, and the other DT is also a 3T. The weakside DE ends up not involved with the shift. He's staying on the outside shoulder of the tackle.

On the strongside of the formation, both players that would be called the outside linebackers are aligned on the LOS to the tight end side. To keep the straight, I'll call them Tacklebacker and Endbacker. As aligned, it looks kind of goofy, but how it makes sense in my head is think of the Endbacker being locked up with the tight end. Unsure how common it was in 1985, but let's pretend the tight flexes and becomes a slot receiver...and the Endbacker goes with him.

All of a sudden, you have 5 men on the LOS...that sure sounds like a 3-4. The two men off the LOS are Singletery and Mr. 46 the Strong Safety. Singletary, interestingly, is not aligned in the middle of the defense, but he's shifted to the tightend side of formation. Somewhere between the guard and tackle. He's your scary, angry man that can deal with lead blockers.

Mr. 46 is aligned over the weakside of the formation. Over the tackle. Playing a safety/linebacker hybrid role. Not unlike what many 3-4s have been trying, even Green Bay (admittedly unsuccessfully) with players like Josh Jackson.

So 5 men on the LOS, two split linebacker guys not aligned over the center. One snot nose player to the strong side, one smaller, faster, playmaker to the weakside. How is that not a proto 3-4?

Snark aside, the 46 had far more in common with modern, single-gap 3-4s than its contemporary 4-3s. Or 4-3 over defenses (ala Jimmy Johnson). One could even see this. A few times under Capers, the Packers had a "bear" call, which shifted the linemen in (both ends became 3Ts), the OLBs widened their alignment, the SS came into the box...stop me if you've heard this one :)
Good descri
I don't doubt there were some impressive defenses, but this seems to me like looking back with rose colored glasses. (This sounds more antagonist than intended. Sorry)

All of those linebackers would be a-okay in a modern 3-4. "Pure" 2-gapping schemes perhaps not, but now? They would do just fine. Which is kind of what I'm harping on. There are certainly differences between a 4-3 and 3-4 but they have far more similarities.

As far as the 46 defense...I'd argue it has more in common with 3-4s or 4-3 under (which is sometimes called 3-4 with 4-3 personnel) that a "true" 4-3. I'm contradicting myself slightly when I talk about pure vs. not, but I'll do my best to explain.

The 46 starts by shifting the line to the weak side. This starts to create an odd front. The strongside DE is now aligned as a 3T DT, you have NT on the Center, and the other DT is also a 3T. The weakside DE ends up not involved with the shift. He's staying on the outside shoulder of the tackle.

On the strongside of the formation, both players that would be called the outside linebackers are aligned on the LOS to the tight end side. To keep the straight, I'll call them Tacklebacker and Endbacker. As aligned, it looks kind of goofy, but how it makes sense in my head is think of the Endbacker being locked up with the tight end. Unsure how common it was in 1985, but let's pretend the tight flexes and becomes a slot receiver...and the Endbacker goes with him.

All of a sudden, you have 5 men on the LOS...that sure sounds like a 3-4. The two men off the LOS are Singletery and Mr. 46 the Strong Safety. Singletary, interestingly, is not aligned in the middle of the defense, but he's shifted to the tightend side of formation. Somewhere between the guard and tackle. He's your scary, angry man that can deal with lead blockers.

Mr. 46 is aligned over the weakside of the formation. Over the tackle. Playing a safety/linebacker hybrid role. Not unlike what many 3-4s have been trying, even Green Bay (admittedly unsuccessfully) with players like Josh Jackson.

So 5 men on the LOS, two split linebacker guys not aligned over the center. One snot nose player to the strong side, one smaller, faster, playmaker to the weakside. How is that not a proto 3-4?

Snark aside, the 46 had far more in common with modern, single-gap 3-4s than its contemporary 4-3s. Or 4-3 over defenses (ala Jimmy Johnson). One could even see this. A few times under Capers, the Packers had a "bear" call, which shifted the linemen in (both ends became 3Ts), the OLBs widened their alignment, the SS came into the box...stop me if you've heard this one :)
Good description of the 46. Now the 46 was also a gambling one. The Bears could do it because they had the better athletes. In their 2 initial playoff wins they shut down the running game of the Giants and Rams. They left a lot of one on one coverage and neither opponent could capitalize. Another observation to point out is that back even in the days of Otto Graham, Unitas, Van Brocklin, Tittle, Starr, and Jurgenson the NFL was a run first league. Far fewer TD passes and fewer passes altogether. The evolution of the 3-4 would have come sooner if defensive coaches believed it would have worked. Coaching innovators like Paul Brown, George Allen, Tom Landry, and Hank Stram would have jumped at the chance if they thought it would work at the time. Recall that in those days a holding penalty on the offense was 15 yards not 10. 1st and 25 or 3rd and 20 forced a lot of punts. The 3-4 made its mark when the teams went pass happy and the rules were made to help the offense. Recall that illegal contact after 5 yards was legal then so long as it was not a hold. The 3-4 basically gives you 3 linemen and 4 LBS or it forces you to take a true lineman like Julius Peppers and put him into pass coverage. That 4-3 to 3-4 switch was the main reason Aaron Kampman could no longer be a Packer.
 
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Matthews wasn't an elite pass rusher from the edge at that point anymore but he still had 24 sacks over four season after starting to line up as an outside linebacker again in 2016.




My point was that the rushing defense mainly improved because the Packers mostly faced terrible rushing offenses in the second half of the 2014 season.

With Matthews still lining up inside they finished 29th in yards per rushing attempt allowed the following season.
So you’re arguing against getting the best talent on the field simultaneously?
That doesn’t even make sense Captain. Help me here.

The Packers held their opponents to 19.6 points per game after the bye week, 2014. The opponent run game was only a part of that. 2 of those were playoff teams and one was the Super Bowl winner. Those 2 playoff teams averaged 20.5 points per game against us! Are you suggesting that if we took Clay out of that equation at ILB..

1. we would’ve held them to less points?

2. We would’ve held them to a lesser rushing total?
 
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In 2014, we only held a one minute edge in time of possession on the opposition. Where our defense shined was being +14 on turn overs. Pretty amazing since Favre did have a tendency to throw into traffic.
 

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So you’re arguing against getting the best talent on the field simultaneously?
That doesn’t even make sense Captain. Help me here.

The Packers held their opponents to 19.6 points per game after the bye week, 2014. The opponent run game was only a part of that. 2 of those were playoff teams and one was the Super Bowl winner. Those 2 playoff teams averaged 20.5 points per game against us! Are you suggesting that if we took Clay out of that equation at ILB..

1. we would’ve held them to less points?

2. We would’ve held them to a lesser rushing total?

The Packers moved Clay inside because they were desperate that year. It was an experiment that had, at best, temporary moderate success. Mathews was starting to slow down and was no longer able to consistently just run around and past the offensive tackles. The Packers were also in desperate need of an inside linebacker. We can argue forever about how good he was at it. Statistically, he was not… However… we don’t need to form our own opinions because the Packers did not keep him there on successive years. In fact, he was moved back outside for the remainder of his Packer tenure.
 

Poppa San

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In 2014, we only held a one minute edge in time of possession on the opposition. Where our defense shined was being +14 on turn overs. Pretty amazing since Favre did have a tendency to throw into traffic.
I thought Favre was long retired before 2014. Definitely don't recall him as the GB QB that season.
 

swhitset

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I stand corrected. Rodgers, not Favre. The stats are accurate. Just had a brain fart on QB.
Except you said “ Favre had a tendency to throw into traffic” which while true for Favre … makes absolutely no sense when you take into account that Rodgers does not do that.
 

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2014 still stands out to me as the year that got away. The offense was rolling, the defense, although not great, was one of the better post-2010 Capers' defenses and was good enough to win the Super Bowl. No guarantee that we would have won the Super Bowl but I liked our chances that year.
 
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2014 still stands out to me as the year that got away. The offense was rolling, the defense, although not great, was one of the better post-2010 Capers' defenses and was good enough to win the Super Bowl. No guarantee that we would have won the Super Bowl but I liked our chances that year.
We should’ve been in the SB at minimum. I think we wouldve matched up well against NE.

I know this sounds optimistic but I don’t think we’ve played our best game. I think getting 2-3 starting OL back and a starting CB and likely 1-2 Veteran OLB is much bigger than we think. IF both returning LB’s are 95%+ I think Barry is going to be like a kid in a candy store.
 

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2014 still stands out to me as the year that got away. The offense was rolling, the defense, although not great, was one of the better post-2010 Capers' defenses and was good enough to win the Super Bowl. No guarantee that we would have won the Super Bowl but I liked our chances that year.
That season still haunts me. That 2014 team was solid.
 
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That season still haunts me. That 2014 team was solid.
Dont let them fool you. The 2014 Defense was actually very good down the stretch (19.6 points per). It’s common sense that you don’t do that with underperformers. I started by being a sheep and listened to others about Clay in particular. But I’m one not to believe everything everyone says. I then did the research and found that their story didn’t add up. Some will have you believe that CM3 was the weakest link. I challenge you to do your own 2014 research (because several posters are trying to protect their narrative by using other seasons etc..). Mathews had one of the best pure statistical 1/2 seasons of his entire career in 2014 (part 2 second half). Had Clay played like that all season? He would’ve been a 1st All Pro. He was elected to the Probowl that season and that does t happen by playing poorly and that’s exactly what prompted my own extensive research.

The rest of the D (Burnette, Peppers, Perry etc..) played much better once we got Clay, Perry and Peppers playing in unison. It was clearly and unequivocally the best Packers coaching move that season bar none. So much so that imo it saved an ailing Dom Capers job another season. The guy was asked to play out of position and did so humbly and admirably.
 
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Except you said “ Favre had a tendency to throw into traffic” which while true for Favre … makes absolutely no sense when you take into account that Rodgers does not do that.
I realize that Captain Obvious. In fact Rodgers only had 5 INTs all year in 2014. The stats are still what they are. It points out even more how well the defense played throughout the entire year. It's also impressive that they did that well when there was such a small difference in possession. The defense obviously had to spend time on the field playing, not bailed out by an offense that was heavily into ball control.
 

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I realize that Captain Obvious. In fact Rodgers only had 5 INTs all year in 2014. The stats are still what they are. It points out even more how well the defense played throughout the entire year. It's also impressive that they did that well when there was such a small difference in possession. The defense obviously had to spend time on the field playing, not bailed out by an offense that was heavily into ball control.
Sorry if it wasn’t obvious what the hell your point even was when you started referring to Favre and his penchant for throwing into tight coverage 7 years after he left the Packers. I realize you had said that you got the QBs mixed up… but I assumed you just typed the wrong name… didn’t realize you were actually so out of touch that you really were talking about Favre. I’m sorry that I gave you more credit than was warranted.
 

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2014 still stands out to me as the year that got away. The offense was rolling, the defense, although not great, was one of the better post-2010 Capers' defenses and was good enough to win the Super Bowl. No guarantee that we would have won the Super Bowl but I liked our chances that year.
I would rank last season as #1 in terms of Super Bowls we let slip away during the Rodgers era. The way the Chiefs played, I really think we would have won it.

2014 is less certain to me. Don't think McCarthy is/was smart enough to beat Belichick twice in one season.
 

milani

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I would rank last season as #1 in terms of Super Bowls we let slip away during the Rodgers era. The way the Chiefs played, I really think we would have won it.

2014 is less certain to me. Don't think McCarthy is/was smart enough to beat Belichick twice in one season.
You are correct on that. If MM lets the Seattle game get away that he had in the bag then no way he can beat Belichick. Now La Fleur against Reid is a maybe. But Petine is not Todd Bowles either.
 

kevans74

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Sorry for joining the party late,

Although we could call all hypotheticals and factors a "wash" due to the emergence of Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes(who I always liked the pick btw). Also, who knew Campbell would be so great, but Barry's specialty is supposedly LBers so go figure :)

You have to give Barry a lot of credit because he has done this without 2 All Pros for most of the Year.

J'Aire Alexander - probably a Top 3 CB in the NFL when healthy; a true "man to man" shutdown corner. It doesn't really matter what kind of scheme you play, J'Aire is your old school lockdown CB, he fits into ANY defense. He also makes plays and gets interceptions.

Za'Darius Smith - Obviously his injury gave way for more snaps for Rashan, but this is a double digit sack guy the past 2 years. I mean he's easily Top 5 to 10 when healthy. No question.

I mean Barry has done this without 2 All Pro top guys
 

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Sorry for joining the party late,

Although we could call all hypotheticals and factors a "wash" due to the emergence of Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes(who I always liked the pick btw). Also, who knew Campbell would be so great, but Barry's specialty is supposedly LBers so go figure :)

You have to give Barry a lot of credit because he has done this without 2 All Pros for most of the Year.

J'Aire Alexander - probably a Top 3 CB in the NFL when healthy; a true "man to man" shutdown corner. It doesn't really matter what kind of scheme you play, J'Aire is your old school lockdown CB, he fits into ANY defense. He also makes plays and gets interceptions.

Za'Darius Smith - Obviously his injury gave way for more snaps for Rashan, but this is a double digit sack guy the past 2 years. I mean he's easily Top 5 to 10 when healthy. No question.

I mean Barry has done this without 2 All Pro top guys
We did have some guys step up. I'd like to believe that's talent and good coaching.

I'm not a bit disappointed in what they've done with the defense this year, with the injuries.
 

kevans74

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We did have some guys step up. I'd like to believe that's talent and good coaching.

I'm not a bit disappointed in what they've done with the defense this year, with the injuries.

Right. I mean the statistical ranking is "about the same" but I think if you look at it hoistically, Barry has done a helluva job
 

captainWIMM

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So you’re arguing against getting the best talent on the field simultaneously?
That doesn’t even make sense Captain. Help me here.

The Packers held their opponents to 19.6 points per game after the bye week, 2014. The opponent run game was only a part of that. 2 of those were playoff teams and one was the Super Bowl winner. Those 2 playoff teams averaged 20.5 points per game against us! Are you suggesting that if we took Clay out of that equation at ILB..

1. we would’ve held them to less points?

2. We would’ve held them to a lesser rushing total?

I'm absolutely in favor of getting the best players on the field. The reason the Packers moved Matthews inside in 2014 was that the run defense struggled mightily in the first eight games (allowing an average of 153.5 yards per game). The main reason the unit improved was that they faced five opponents which finished the season 24th or worse in rushing yards the rest of the way. Once they faced top running teams in the playoffs they struggled again giving up 339 yards in two games on the ground.

In addition, with Matthews still playing inside in 2015 the run defense didn't perform well either ranking 21st in yards given up and 29th in yards per attempt.

Dont let them fool you. The 2014 Defense was actually very good down the stretch (19.6 points per). It’s common sense that you don’t do that with underperformers. I started by being a sheep and listened to others about Clay in particular. But I’m one not to believe everything everyone says. I then did the research and found that their story didn’t add up. Some will have you believe that CM3 was the weakest link. I challenge you to do your own 2014 research (because several posters are trying to protect their narrative by using other seasons etc..). Mathews had one of the best pure statistical 1/2 seasons of his entire career in 2014 (part 2 second half). Had Clay played like that all season? He would’ve been a 1st All Pro. He was elected to the Probowl that season and that does t happen by playing poorly and that’s exactly what prompted my own extensive research.

Matthews was excellent rushing the passer from inside. He was average at best in every other aspect of playing inside linebacker though.

You are correct on that. If MM lets the Seattle game get away that he had in the bag then no way he can beat Belichick.

The Packers beat the Patriots earlier in the 2014 season.
 

milani

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I'm absolutely in favor of getting the best players on the field. The reason the Packers moved Matthews inside in 2014 was that the run defense struggled mightily in the first eight games (allowing an average of 153.5 yards per game). The main reason the unit improved was that they faced five opponents which finished the season 24th or worse in rushing yards the rest of the way. Once they faced top running teams in the playoffs they struggled again giving up 339 yards in two games on the ground.

In addition, with Matthews still playing inside in 2015 the run defense didn't perform well either ranking 21st in yards given up and 29th in yards per attempt.



Matthews was excellent rushing the passer from inside. He was average at best in every other aspect of playing inside linebacker though.



The Packers beat the Patriots earlier in the 2014 season.
Not in the post season at a neutral site. No way.
 

mradtke66

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2014 is less certain to me. Don't think McCarthy is/was smart enough to beat Belichick twice in one season.

I go one further--I was flat out worried (had we made it, of course :) )

When we played them the first time, the gameplan for the Pats was defense was obvious. In no particular order:

1. Take Cobb and Nelson out of the game. IIRC, they put Revis on Nelson and doubled Cobb (though I might have that backwards.) The one time the did not run this scheme, Nelson scored his touchdown.

2. Don't let Rodgers beat you with his mobility and keep him in the pocket. The ends rush-contained the entire game. I don't remember a 5+ man pressure all game.

3. Given 1 and 2 above, make that rookie Adams beat you.

This plan was obviously a good one, as the final margin of victory was 5 points.

Assuming the Packers made the Super Bowl that year, no. 2 above is no longer necessary. That's the season Rodgers injured his calf and struggled to move at the end of the season.

So now Belichick can keep number 1 and 3, but he doesn't need 2. He doesn't even have to blitz, but just letting his ends get up field and push the pocket make up that 5 point difference.
 
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