Inside the football strategies that worked in Week 7
Posted: Sunday October 21, 2007 11:02PM; Updated: Sunday October 21, 2007 11:14PM
The Patriots continue to get off to quick starts by using a mixture of spread formations to keep the defense off balance. By spreading the field with various empty backfield and four-receiver looks, New England is able to dictate the type of coverage that defenses use and Tom Brady exploits the soft coverage most teams go to. This gets Brady into a good rhythm early with high-percentage passes and keeps defenses from attacking the Patriots with an assortment of blitzes for fear of leaving their defenders in single coverage against New England's dangerous receiving corps.
Buffalo used the no-huddle offense to get off to a good start against Baltimore. Though other teams have had success against the Ravens using the quick-tempo approach, the move was surprising considering the Bills were starting a rookie quarterback -- Trent Edwards. But Edwards has shown maturity beyond his years and appears to have the poise to handle the responsibility of managing the game from the line of scrimmage. His ability to quickly recognize fronts and coverage allowed Buffalo to go to the fast-paced offense and limit the Ravens' personnel changes and blitzes.
The Ravens' Willis McGahee had a big game in a losing effort thanks to a subtle adjustment by Brian Billick at halftime. After witnessing the Bills' throttle McGahee with a seven-man front, Billick called more off-tackle plays to take advantage of the soft spots of Buffalo's two-deep scheme. McGahee's 46-yard touchdown run was an off-tackle run with fake reverse action and capped a drive that saw McGahee touch the ball four consecutive times on off-tackle runs. Though the Ravens came up short, they should be able to build off McGahee's second-half success.
Lost in the Cardinals' loss to the Redskins was the stellar play of Darnell Dockett. The third-year pro has taken his game to Pro Bowl level this season and is proving to be one of the best defensive tackles in the game. His six sacks led all defensive tackles entering the game, but his ability to disrupt the run also should earn him earn Pro Bowl honors. Using outstanding off the ball quickness and brute strength, Dockett spent the majority of his time in Washington's backfield despite facing some double teams.
The Giants' running game continues to wear down defenses behind the three-headed monster of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Reuben Droughns. By establishing the run early on an assortment of downhill power runs, the Giants controlled the tempo of Sunday's game with long, time-consuming drives. New York running back Brandon Jacobs bulled his way to 102 yards on a steady diet of isolations and off-tackle power plays.
Detroit offensive coordinator Mike Martz went against his normal offensive approach by establishing the run to set up the pass. Martz called Kevin Jones' number on a variety of draws to take advantage of a Bucs' overaggressive pass rush. With Jones established early, the Lions were able to use Calvin Johnson on a reverse in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach.