Wednesday, November 04, 2009
The Patriots host the Dolphins this Sunday, and you know what that means. The Wildcat offense will once again be overhyped.
I'd actually like to give credit to some people who haven't gotten any in the National Sports Media: the Dolphins offensive line. The whole Wildcat scheme gets too much credit, the guy carrying the ball gets too much credit, Bill Parcells gets too much credit. Nobody gives any credit to Miami's O-Line. And just watch for successful Wildcat plays, then look at the huge holes opened up by their line. Look for how they tie up defensive ends and OLBs, preventing them from making plays on the backside's of runs.
The key to defeating the Wildcat is to defeat Miami's line in the trenches. It's that simple.
Another key is to score points. If Brady and Co. continue to put up touchdowns, it puts a lot of pressure on the Dolphins to throw the ball with Chad Henne. That just makes my mouth water. But the lead has to be two scores at least. Miami used their Wildcat in a 4 minute drill against the Jets down by a TD, and it worked beautifully.
A consistent running offense would be a nice thing to have in order to drain the clock and put pressure on the Dolphins to pass. But oh well, you can't have everything.
I don't think you want just pure speed against a Wildcat. Many of the bigger plays come from the middle, eventually busting to the outside once the carrier gets to the 2nd level. This is where the afore-mentioned O-Line plays a big part.
I think you want size in the middle, in order to maintain the line of scrimmage. I don't know how Ron Brace has looked in practice, but a guy as big as him, tag-teaming with Vince Wilfork, and supported by Jerod Mayo; can really dominate the middle.
If you clog up the center, you force the plays to go outside. That's where you want them to go. The more they run horizontally, the less they run vertically. This is where your speedsters and sure tacklers enter the equation.
Brandon Meriweather and Curtis McGowan will be leaned on heavily to make open field tackles on the outside. But you can't cheat and start them out there, they have to play the middle first, in case anything gets through your Wall of Wilfork-Brace/Pryor-Mayo.
The Patriots DBs aren't outstanding in coverage, but they can tackle. They learned the hard way how to tackle, by making mistakes on coverage.
I think the Patriots are well situated to stop the Wildcat. That's not the Dolphins' only bullet in their gun, but it's one that really hurt last season when these teams first played.
Prediction for Sunday's game: Patriots 31, Dolphins 21
It's nice to see the Celtics having a good start. Better than good, perfect in fact. But it's difficult to get too excited about it. A 105-74 thrashing of the 76ers confirms what we already knew: that the Celtics would walk away with their 3rd straight Atlantic Division title. Only 5 games into the season and the C's have a 2.5 game edge over Philly.
It's really nice to see the bench put up 62 points, led by Wallace's 20 (only Pierce scored more with 21). But we saw the Celtics roar out of the gates last year, too. They were 27-2 before Christmas. And what did that get them? A 2 seed and an exit in the Conference Semis.
So as good as they're playing, and as comforting as it is to once again have a bench, it's not parade planning time yet. But it is nice to go to Philadelphia and stomp the 76ers.
Celtics @ Timberwolves tonight @ 8.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
The Bruins have gone 133 minutes since they last scored. They haven't scored a power play goal in 5 games.
On the same night that Phil Kessel plays his first game for Toronto, it's hard not to think that losing him is a big part behind the Bruins' offensive woes. I don't think so. Losing Savard hurts more, particularly on the power play. Savard sets everything up, and not just in the offensive zone. He's a big part of the transition game, as well.
I'm glad Coach Julien finally brought Matt Hunwick back to the power play unit. And I'm tired of seeing Dennis Wideman give up unforced turnovers. Normally I don't care, because he atones for them elsewhere, but I'm losing patience with this team.
Zdeno Chara still has to make his presence known on the power play. So does Marco Sturm.
This 2-0 loss to Detroit, in and of itself, isn't the end of the world. Zetterberg's goal was a weird one. Patrice Bergeron actually won the faceoff, but inadvertently set-up Zetterberg perfectly.
And you have to give credit to Chris Osgood, who was simply stunning in the 1st period.
Bruins host the Canadiens on Thursday.