Why the Patriots' game plan should be totally different from the Vikings

Malleability – the essential component that continues to separate the New England Patriots from the rest of the league.

Some may have been so accustomed to their unparalleled ability to model and transform each opponent's game plan into a completely different thing from the previous week, in which they realized wrongly that they were not the only ones to know. this was a common trait between the NFL teams.

This is not it.

In New England, when something does not work, it is thrown away. When something works, it is used and built. Nor is it a weekly process. We have seen time and time again gains from large-scale half-time adjustments; staff packages and fun games as unforeseen circumstances arise. Sometimes these adjustments are not even half done. They are made on the fly of series in series.

All of this stems from an environment of ego reduction established at Foxborough – a thing rarely seen or accomplished elsewhere in the NFL. Instead of stubbornly walking when they are presented with new information about the failure of an idea or plan, the Patriots recognize that being wrong is part of the process and that it is more important to adapt quickly at the right time.

All of this, of course, runs counter to the narrative that generally describes the Patriots' system as the ultimate result of an authoritative and knowing Bill Belichick, whose high self is matched only by his intelligence. Does he have the last word on everything happening on the ground and with the list? Of course. But you would have a hard time finding an organization with a climate more conducive to the flow of information between its players and coaching staff than New England.

That said, expect the schematic malleability of the Patriots to be on display again Sunday afternoon as they greet the Minnesota Vikings.

After a decisive two touchdown win over the Jets in Week 12, it became clear that after the first quarter-round match, the Jets before seven were unable to maintain a leverage effect. at the point of attack with consistency. Josh McDaniels had a massive 21-man draw (two-on-one with Rob Gronkowski, James Develin and a half offensively) in the highest season of 34% of the team's shots as the Patriots continued to dig enormous numbers. holes on the ground. The New England offensive line achieved its most complete performance of the season, paving the way for offensive halfbacks, Sony Michel and James White, to have career-highs in the floor race.

This will not be the case this Sunday.

In fact, do not be surprised to see the Patriots follow the offensive game plan in a totally different direction – operating mainly from the shotgun, employing groups of 10 to 11 people and dividing everyone to force the Vikings to protect every inch of the field. Why? Here are three reasons.

Linval Joseph

The Vikings' defense entered the competition in fourth-place rushing per game (93.6), third in the allotted yards (3.7) and fourth in the DVOA against the race (at the 11th week). Linval Joseph is one of the main reasons.

The Patriots have faced a team of talented defensive linemen and home runners this season: Marcell Dareus, Chris Jones, Akiem Hicks, Kenny Clark, Jurrell Casey, and so on. None of them are better at running than Linval Joseph.

In simple terms: the man is violent. His fast, powerful hands hit and block the blockers, allowing his long arms – as thick as phone poles – to stay separate as he scans the backfield before releasing his man. Once free, he has the speed to run behind him who should not be human. He is also incredibly intelligent and has a good instinct when the game of the inner trap comes.

Joseph keeps the talented subwoofers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr clean and available to read, penetrate and disrupt. He regularly allows his new teammate Sheldon Richardson – a familiar face for the Patriots from his years with the Jets – to work one-on-one inside.

Harrison Smith

He is the best security in the sector and it is quite difficult to argue the point of view of anyone above him. He is a complete player that the Vikings use as a chess piece to eliminate some aspects of their opponent's offensive game plan.

So far in 2018, Smith has played 99.29% of team attempts and is the highest league safety against the race according to Pro Football Focus. Strong security woes Andrew Sendejo and the new Viking George Iloka have forced Smith to get a little deeper into the surface, where it is fatal to diagnose racing concepts and impact play on the line melee.

Identifying Smith's whereabouts in each game will be decisive for how the Patriots will attack the Vikings' defense – especially in the Red Zone, where Minnesota is the best in the league. Spreading the Vikings to high school with formations and forcing Smith to give his opinion on his assignment using the movement with Rob Gronkowski when he hides in the surface will prove crucial.

Defensive back depth

We will probably talk a lot about it this week, but the injury inflicted on Xavier Rhodes during the 12th day is huge. Trae Waynes will assume the first function if Rhodes is not able to try this week. With the talented first-round pick Mike Hughes already on the injured list, Mackensie Alexander and undefeated freestyle player Holton Hill are expected to be hard-fought on Sunday.

This This is the main reason why we should see a sharp drop in the number of large staff packages from Josh McDaniels and the Patriots offensive this weekend. Alexander and Hill will immediately become targets of Tom Brady when they enter the field, their goal being to keep them in the game as much as possible.

By systematically forcing Minnesota to accept nickel and dime packages, Linval Joseph's impact is significantly reduced, Harrison Smith's coverage responsibilities for all-in-one security can be unveiled and pressure is heightened on two turns with escaped and unproven corners.

It's crazy what a difference a week can make in the NFL.

Follow Brian Phillips on Twitter @BPhillips_SB, and do not lose sight of his work on Pats Pulpit Live's new weekly show and on post-game shows!

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