By Mike DeVito
- Pressure the Rookie
New England will be facing one of the worst offenses in the NFL this week (32nd in points per game, 31st in yards per game) with a rookie who has recently taken over the huddle. Jared Goff has the ability to make plays, especially big plays down field, but has only played in two NFL games. The best way to handle LA’s offense is to take advantage of Goff’s lack of experience.
First, force LA to be one-dimensional. Their run game not lived up to the expectations this year (83 yards per game) but Todd Gurley is a really good back. Every offense that has a young QB wants to run the football to take the pressure off of him. The Patriots need to stop the run early and force Goff to win the game throwing the football. (No rookie quarterback has beaten the Patriots in Foxboro, since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000.)
The secondary can make it tough on Goff by disguising the coverages. Every defense I ever played for made it a point of emphasis that when we were playing a rookie QB we wouldn’t align in the defense we were playing until right before the snap of the ball. Trying to figure out the coverage and where to throw the football is a lot more difficult when he has 4 or 5 300lb+ defensive lineman bearing down on him. Don’t give him any pre-snap reads.
- Slow Down LA’s Defensive Line.
Aaron Donald gets off the ball faster than any other interior lineman I have seen. He is incredibly disruptive and needs to be accounted for, but he also has 3 other guys next to him (Brockers, Quinn, & Hayes) who are really good players as well. The D-Line is the strength of this Rams team and is one of the best in the NFL. LA is 7th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game and a lot of the reason is because of the pressure the D-Line is putting on quarterbacks. The Patriots O-Line needs to slow these guys down and allow Brady time to get passes thrown. With Brady dealing with an injury and Gronkowski not on the field, blocking up front becomes an even more important point of emphasis for New England.
- Time to Make a Statement
The standard in New England is set so high (and for good reason) and the past couple of weeks have not lived up to this standard. There is never an easy game in the NFL, but if we compare this week’s opponent with the opponents lined up for the last quarter of the season (Ravens, Broncos, Jets and Dolphins) this is as easy as it gets. New England needs to get back to living up to the standards they have set and it has to start this week. Shut down Goff because they should, stop LA’s D-Line, and blow this team out of the water.
Mike DeVito (@MikeDeVito70) is a 9-year NFL veteran, playing with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. He is an alum of the University of Maine, color analyst for Black Bears football on TV and is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm-6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowmaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.