The Patriots season got off to a great start in the early hours of this morning dismissing the Steelers 28-21. The Steelers offence showed some great signs but missing some vital parts and giving away too many penalties (yes we’re looking at you Left Tackle Kevin Beachum) they never really tested the Patriots other than some promising momentum in the 3rd quarter.
If you’ve got Rob Gronkowski on your fantasy team you’ve woken up to a great morning as he hauled in 3 touchdowns. This is going to be a bumper year for the tightend, not because he’s finally healthy (which he is) but he’s got a new team mate who is going to get Josh McDaniels offence back to it’s best. That team mate, former Buffalo Bill Tightend Scott Chandler.
Ravens fans will tell you the Patriots can get funky (and now illegal) with formations and last night, after the rule changed robbed them of that opportunity, they got very funky on the Steelers with personnel packages and scored two touchdowns.
Early in the 3rd quarter, following an 8 play drive and a pass interference penalty on the defence, the Patriots found themselves on the Steelers goal line. They sent out their goal line personnel. 4 Tightends, no wide receivers and a running back. In the picture you can see #47 Michael Hoomanawanui in motion. #88 Scott Chandler is lined up in the back field as a full back. #85 Michael Williams is down in a 3 point stance on the far side of the formation and #87 Rob Gronkowski is on the near side.
The Steelers matched them sending out a bunch of run stopping linebackers, leaving only #20 Will Allen in the game as the only defensive back. He’s highlighted above. When #47 Michael Hoomanawanui splits out wide, Allen, the sole DB goes with him. Now the fun part…
#88 Scott Chandler and #87 Rob Gronkowski shift their position and line up in the slot and wide respectively
Now the Steelers Goal Line Defence is Defending the Spread formation! Inside Linebacker #94 Lawrence Timmons is now playing the role of a Nickel Defensive Back and situational Linebacker #57 Terence Garvin is outside covering #87 Rob Gronkowski The Patriots run a simple pick play where #87 Rob Gronkowski runs at the man covering #88 Scott Chandler forcing him to back off and give Gronks new team mate space and Receiver in Space + Tom Brady = Touchdown!
As most offensive coordinators will tell you, half of their play book is just setting up plays in the other half and so it was with this play because after another Patriots drive and a fumble recovery by Gronksowski on the 1 yard line the Patriots were in a position to be put distance between themsleves and the Steelers and put their first win in the bag. When they dialled up the exact same look again. #47 Michael Hoomanawanui goes in motion and #88 Scott Chandler and #87 Rob Gronkowski shift and the Steelers Goal Line Defence is defending the spread once again with all the same guys covering the same guys again. Except look at #57 Terence Garvin Highlighted below.
He’s signaling an ‘X’ to #94 Lawrence Timmons telling him to expect the pick play, he’s learned his lesson right?
Gronk takes a step to the inside to help convince #57 Terence Garvin he’s right and then runs a fade to the back of the end zone…and we know you know the math here….Gronk + Brady + Fade = Touchdown!
And the shuffle and spike!