1) Run up the middle.
With the loss of Keith Traylor, Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson, the
Patriots have had difficultly slowing down the opponents runs in between the
hashes. In the preseason, teams were able to drive down the field
gaining 4, 5 even 7 yards at a clip on the ground. Some of that has been
chalked up to the inexperience of the Patriots reserve linemen, but that may
not be the whole picture. During the Oakland game, the Raiders drove down the
field with LaMont Jordan gaining 7 yards at a clip, with runs of 7, 2, 7, 2
and 7 yards against the Patriots starting front seven. The success the
Raiders had running forced the Patriots to bring in an extra defensive
lineman to solidify the rush defense and slow Jordan down. With one
more defender forced to play inside the box, the Panthers and Delhomme
should have opportunities to be more aggressive with the passing game.
2) Throw deep.
The Patriots have a solid bend and don't break defense strategy in
their secondary. The strategy is to play the zone and take away the big
plays. The Raiders have shown that without the Patriots doubling the
primary receiver (albeit that was Randy Moss), they're susceptible to
big plays. A receiver with speed can get open before the Safety can get
over to cover. If the Panther are able to run off the Safety help thereby
getting man coverage, they should be able to hit some deep passes. A
couple big plays early will force the Safeties to adjust, thus enabling
Carolina to open up the Patriots defense for mid-range passes as well.
If the Panthers have time, and can show patience in going with the deep
ball, they'll eventually get the yardage they need to be in scoring position.
3) Get to Brady
Its a well known fact that teams which don't bring enough pressure to
get Tom Brady out of his rhythm suffer the consequences of being picked
apart. The times Brady has pressure in his face (up the middle) he's
hurried throws overthrowing wide open TE's like Graham, or receivers on
mid-range patterns. Last season when Miami was able to bring the heat,
Brady had one of the worst games of his career. It wasn't that Brady
was off as much as it was the aggressive attacking defense forcing the
Patriots to settle on 3-yard dump offs and multiple 3-and-outs. If the Panthers
can bring the heat forcing Brady into quick decisions, they're going to
have a lot less Deion Branch outs, posts or Tim Dwight fly patterns to worry
about. The times Brady gets hurried or pressured throughout the game
his QB rating has dropped under 80 (Pittsburgh, Miami) ... without that
pressure he usually nets closer to 100 or more on his way to racking up
Behind Enemy Lines: Patriots Edition
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