E Skolnick's blog
Well, I’m back to the theory that our coaches are sub par. The game planning and play calling in this game was atrocious, in my opinion. I can’t even list all the head scratchers in this game; from bootlegs with Pennington, to running 4 out of 6 times in the red zone, to having the ball at the 47 yd line right before half with 27 seconds and throwing a screen instead of down field to try and get a FG.
One critical point in the game was when we were down 20-13. We forced Baltimore to punt after our score and had moved the ball out of our end zone after a poor decision by Bess. The play calling from the 20 yd line; wildcat run, 2 yds, quick screen to Bess, 5 yards, Pennington to Camerillo, 2 yds. Punt. Huh? Then near the end of the game on 3rd & 10 near the red zone we ran a wildcat reverse. I mean, come on! The next play was completed to Cobbs on 4th down, but he came up short and we turned it over on downs. Just put Pennington in the shot gun with 4 WR and let him throw it for god sakes!
It doesn’t end on the offensive side of the ball either. On the drive where BAL went up 17-6, you had 3 consecutive plays where the defender covering the offensive guy was a mismatch; 2nd & 15, Starks in coverage against McGahee, 3rd & 3, Holliday covering Heap, 1st & 10, Ayodele covering WR Mark Clayton. How can these mismatches happen on 3 consecutive plays? The offensive game plan was much worse than defense, but still…
I came in thinking if we’re smart we’ll go 4WR Shotgun and just let Pennington pick this team apart for the first couple of drives to get a lead. They’re a very tough team to run on and attempting it really is just futile. I remember two years ago Minnesota was a similar type of team (still is really) in the way that you simply could not run the football on them. New England played them in 2006. You want to know how many times NE ran it in the first half? 5 times. 5 rushes. They put Brady in the shotgun and passed it on every play. Score at half time? 21-0. They had 7 rushes through 3 quarters and they had a commanding 31-7 lead. Then they ran it. They finished with 13 total rushes by the RB vs. Brady throwing 43 times. And remember, this was before Moss.
Belichick knew that running against Minnesota was a waste of time, so he simply did what he knew would beat them; pass it. We waited until we were down by a couple of scores and then opened it up. Frustrating is an understatement for this game.
Other Game Notes:
1.) Charlie Anderson. He wasn’t off sides on the play he sacked and stripped Flacco. He timed the snap perfectly and we recovered the fumble at the 30. Bad call. I’d also point out that I was impressed with his hustle on the McGahee fumble later in the game. Anderson was rushing the passer, but chased the play all the way down field to recover Y. Bell forced fumble. You have to like that kind of effort.
2.) These guys have to stop blitzing Crowder from the backside of the formation on 1st and 2nd down. They’ve done this several times this year and we get burnt a lot on it. He’s blitzing from outside of Matt Roth on the back side of the play and leaves the middle exposed on a run. If you’re going to run blitz him, do it from the strong side or left side of the defense because that is where we’re most vulnerable. Again, I just don’t understand how these coaches think when attacking an opposing team.
3.) I’ll reiterate what I said last week; Joey Porter is commendable on his pass rush, but forgettable on his run defense. This really surprises me because I thought last year he did a great job. If any of you or your staff have the time or inclination I’d love to see the rushing stats against our defense when the offense is running to Roth’s side of the field vs. Porter. I bet there is a huge difference in yards per rush.
4.) Roth is stellar against the run. These coaches need to put Roth on the left side of the defense (over right tackle) and leave him there. Early in the season the Fins would try and match up Roth with the TE. Before the snap Roth and Porter would jump around according to this alignment. They don’t do it anymore and teams are simply running to their right a lot more or away from Roth. A typical thing the past couple of weeks is lining up the TE on the left side of the offense to get Roth over there, then motioning the TE right (Roth stays on left) and then they run right at Porter to their strong side. Or they line up TE left and have the fullback lead the way to the right. We have to find a way to get Matt on the strong side of the defense because he’s a lot better against the run.
5.) Ted Ginn. I’m sure all of us are in agreement that it’s about time he was in on at least kickoffs. He also had some nice catches in the game. The kid has soft hands, but I’m starting to think the coaching staff doesn’t know how to use him either. They constantly have him running plays on the outside. I think he’d be more effective in the slot or running certain patterns that bring him across the field vs. just straight up it. Look at the game tape when he is in the slot with around 10:39 to go in the second quarter. The corner tries to jam him, but he puts a move on him and is wide open down the middle. If Pennington sees him, he’s gone. There was no one home. There was another play late in the game when Ginn ran a drag pattern, but was caught short on 3rd down. The design of the play was poor. I’d line up everyone on the right except Ginn, have them run slants or in routes to pull the defense one way and then have Ginn running a drag route the opposite way. By the time the defense could reverse their field Ginn would be at max speed and probably have a big gain. This seems so simple to me, yet we don’t do it.
6.) Vernon Carey – He seemed to have a lot of problems with Trevor Pryce (#90) who forced some stuff in the backfield. The more this season goes on the more I have to conclude that this regime isn’t going to resign Carey. He hasn’t been better than average this year. There are also a lot of good linemen in this draft, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them let him go.
7.) As for the other linemen, Satele and EK still continue to disappoint me. They struggle a lot. Satele just doesn’t seem to be strong enough at the point and he really has problems finding someone to block at the second level or in space. Long, Smiley and eventually Donald Thomas are probably the keepers and upgrades at Center and Right Tackle are preferable.
8.) Patrick Cobbs. I’ve been real impressed with his pass catching ability lately and his explosiveness. Earlier in the season I thought Ricky should be on the field more than Cobbs, but no more. Cobbs has a second gear and an explosion off the line that Ricky doesn’t have and has more “giddy up” than even our wide receivers.
9.) Coming up short on 3rd & 4th downs. This has been a reoccurring theme in recent weeks. We’re constantly coming up inches short of a first down and then punting. We have to either find a better set of plays or give the ball to a better player who can get those extra inches in these critical situations.
Up Next; Buffalo. Dare I say 2-5? Who said playoffs 2 weeks ago? I feel it’s appropriate to run that Jim Mora Coors Light commercial right now…."
Now I have to take some exception to several of his points... well many, like blaming the coachs for penne dinking under on 3rd down plays, or blaming the coaches for the runs on 3rd and long which penne admits he audibled to, or satele being unable to block at the second level (something I believe he does well)<!-- begin typepad category labels --><!-- end typepad category labels -->