Throughout the Bill Belichick era his teams have been notorious for their elimination of the opposing team’s greatest offensive threat. Each Patriots’ team in each game game-plans for this and by taking away for instance Tyreek Hill. In the AFC Championship we consistently saw the Patriots double cover Hill. Sure, you can say it almost cost them as it took overtime to win, but that should be a testament to the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes rather than lack of execution.
An argument can be made that the Rams pose more threats than the Chiefs on offense strictly based on depth all over the field. Regardless the Patriots do indeed have their hands full. To me one of the most intriguing aspects of the Super Bowl will be how the Patriots play defensively. Which Rams offensive weapon do New England try and eliminate? How will they handle CJ Anderson? What are their plans for Jared Goff? To further examine what the Patriots gameplan on defense will be, let’s first take a look at the NFC Championship game.
In the first half the Saints devised their defensive plan around Todd Gurley. Vonn Bell and Demario Davis took turns shadowing Gurley on every play through the first half. The Rams tried making small adjustments using sweeps and stretched play actions but the shadows still followed and so did Gurley’s struggles. The Saints played a lot of Cover 3 and when not in that coverage they played zone the majority of the first half. When on an empty backfield the Saints were blitzing forcing Goff into rushed decisions. In the second half the Saints made their adjustments surprisingly taking away what had stifled the Rams offense.
Mcvay made his adjustments with long crossing routes and using CJ Anderson much more. Instead of stacked boxes against Anderson the Saints backed off dropping more into coverage, zone coverage that is and wrongly so. Sporadically the Saints would play press man and jam all receivers and it was very successful and yet it they employed that seldomly. The big play could prove crucial in the Super Bowl with Reynolds, Cooks, and Everett having receptions of 33, 36, and 39 yards respectively.
I expect the Patriots to do all they can to scheme Gurley out of the game. Likely using the same tactics of shadowing Gurley, it will be extremely interesting to see how Mcvay and Gurley adjust in this game. One of the most interesting elements will be whether the Patriots will drop more in coverage and let Goff have time and hope he makes the wrong decisions or sending blitzes.
The Rams offense is built on explosiveness and consistency by taking Cooks and Gurley away this will prevent Los Angeles’ speed and will prohibit their explosiveness. Their consistency is built upon Robert Woods who got 10 targets against the Saints and the Patriots will look to eliminate his consistency and disrupt the continuity of the Rams offense.
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Patriots Defensive Game Plan.