Strategic keys for Pats, Colts and other Week 8 victors
Posted: Sunday October 28, 2007 10:45PM; Updated: Sunday October 28, 2007 10:45PM
The Colts' overcame the loss of two key offensive starters (Tony Ugoh and Marvin Harrison) and an uncharacteristic slow start by Peyton Manning by leaning on their running game. By using Joseph Addai on a series of outside zone runs, the Colts were able to take advantage of the Panthers' two-deep scheme. And the success of Addai on the ground forced the Panthers to play more eight-man fronts in the second half, which allowed Manning to find Reggie Wayne down the field off play-action.
New England quarterback Tom Brady took a slightly different approach to attack the Redskins' two-deep coverage out of three-receiver sets. Opting not to force the ball up the field on vertical throws, the Patriots threw more option routes to their slot receiver (Wes Welker) and running back (Kevin Faulk) to take advantage of the deep drops of the linebackers. The reliance on the short passing game allowed New England to move the ball at will against a pretty good defense.
The Browns took advantage of the Rams' high-pressure, man-to-man scheme by making Braylon Edwards the primary receiver in their passing game. Taking advantage of his superior size and athleticism, the Browns checked to fade routes when Edwards was matched up against Fakhir Brown. After setting Brown up with two fades early in the game, Edwards slipped inside on a quick slant for his second touchdown. By opting to use single coverage against Edwards, St. Louis gave Derek Anderson easy access to his favorite target.
Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth is making a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year honors. Against the Raiders, he displayed a combination of quickness and strength to dominate his match up with Robert Gallery. His initial penetration forced the Raiders to commit double teams to his side which allowed Travis LaBoy, Antwan Odom and Kyle Vanden Bosch to feast off the edge. Haynesworth's value is not reflected in the stats, but he is the key to the Titans' defensive dominance.
Kevin Jones' insertion into the line up has allowed Detroit offensive coordinator Mike Martz to change his offensive style in the middle of games. With Jones averaging over four yards a carry, Martz opted to stick with run and throw off play-action against the Bears. The move to this conventional offensive approach speaks volumes about Martz's confidence in Jones and is a drastic departure from the pass-first mentality the Lions displayed early in the season.
Detroit's defense used a mixture of blitzes and eight-man fronts to keep the Bears' offense off balance. Eschewing their typical two-deep look, the Lions came after Chicago quarterback Brian Griese from all angles. By using more five and six-man blitzes with a single safety deep, Detroit was able to harass Griese into critical turnovers with constant pressure in the pocket.