PS Dynamic Opposition has taken over the NFL – Divisional Sunday

Posted: January 13, 2019 in All Things Power Spread

Over the last two to three years, Power Spread has exploded on the NFL scene. This year every NFL team runs some version of PS with concepts and schemes evolving at a surprisingly fast rate. Teams maximizing their Space Time & Talent through Aggressive Variety in all three phases of the game – Offense, Defense and Special Teams.

A Wild WC Weekend

The Power Spread explosion in the NFL this year created all kinds of close games and wild endings. The opening weekend of the playoffs started slow, but finished with a bang. I was almost correct on my initial pick of all 4 road wins, as only one home team won.

My PS Meter had Dallas and Baltimore as home favorites so I changed my pick on both. Won one, lost one. So a 3-1 start for me either way you look at it.

Letting my Seattle pick go was tough, but the right call. Baltimore, with PS2020 Schemes was the right move as well. After finally evolving his Offense, the probability was low that Harbaugh would shut it down at playoff time and hamstring his talented dual-threat QB. But he did and they loss.

The first three games weren’t that close, but the weekend finished up with a barnburner. We may see the same this weekend. Or not. The Colts may surprise and make the first game a barnburner as well. The best game may be the Chargers knocking off the Pats on Sunday. The Eagles could finally bow to injury or give us another classic. We will see…

SD, I mean, LA Chargers at NewEngland Patriots

A Harbaugh Shocker! (Sort of)

In last week’s post I wrote, “Who would’ve thought” before describing Harbaugh’s leap into PS2020 Schemes. The reason for this is that Harbaugh tends to be conservative. My article on The Harbaugh Family and their Football innovations not withstanding, the brothers and their Dad all have a conservative bent. They just happen to be smart guys dedicated to the sport. Almost innovation by accident.

The Harbaugh Shutdown on Offense

The Ravens barely lost a game the 2nd Half of the year and they were on a big roll offensively with QB Lamar Jackson running and throwing all over the field. PS2020. Combined with the great Aggressive Variety of both their Defense and Special Teams, they were virtually unstoppable.

Well, the pressure of playoffs does funny things to coaches. Just ask Andy Reid. What I saw from Harbaugh’s Offense for most of their game vs the Chargers really surprised me. Then I remembered – he has a very conservative bent. You could probably say this for a lot of coaches in the NFL.

Lamar Jackson as a Pocket Passer

In an effort to not make mistakes and protect their rookie QB, they basically turned Jackson into a pocket passer. This is something I see a lot with Bill O’Brien’s use of Deshaun Watson. But at least Watson is decent as a pocket passer. Jackson is not. He MUST use his legs at all times.

What’s worse, there was very little Option Football. What looked like Read Options or Run Pass Options were many times just hand-offs or play fakes. This is not what the Ravens were doing in the regular season. By the time Jackson did start optioning later in the game, he made bad decisions as the tone already had been set.

Don’t Fix it if it Ain’t Broke

Now why would Harbaugh go away from what got his team in the playoffs. One word. Fear.

The Option is a risk. The excess ball handling can easily become a fumble under pressure. My guess is Harbaugh was trying to make it easy for his rookie QB. The problem is he also made it easy for the Charger’s Defense as well.

This also created bad Energy or anti-energy, which in turn created fumbles and mistakes anyway,. The Ravens were overcompensating for the lack of aggression and easy reads by the defense. A complete disaster. Anti PS.

What happened to PS2020 Special Teams??

On top of this offensive fiasco, Harbaugh also got conservative with his Special Teams. He didn’t run a decent kick block pressure until the 2nd Half. He let a rookie kicker off the hook for 4 1st Half FGs! There were 2 kick blocks later from innovative schemes, but it was too little too late.

There was also two big coverage screw-ups that led to huge returns. The energy and discipline was bad on both. Blame a letdown? Maybe. But I really think this was more a case of just bad energy created through a conservative philosophy heading into the game. Thank goodness Harbaugh left his PS2020 Defense alone. They were outstanding.

Chargers a hint at PS2020 Defense

The irony of this whole game is that the Chargers jumped forward on Defense with a PS2020 concept, while the Ravens went backwards. While I did say that DC Gus Bradley had a conservative background, I also said he was a smart coach. His game plan showcased a concept we will see more of in the next decade.

He went to 7 DBs – no pure LBs – on the field almost every play. I have said this long ago, that Defensive football of the future will be played mostly with LB/DB Hybrids that can run and hit. For now the athletes aren’t quite there yet. Nor are the schemes. But Bradley’s scheme was a nice hint of what’s to come

By having all this speed on the field, mainly with Safeties who are a little bigger than CBs, LA was ready for the athletic Jackson. Bradley played a lot of Zone to contain and confuse him, while also employing two solid DTs to plug the middle and 4 DEs to create havoc on passing downs.

It wasn’t as innovative as Baltimore’s D as he still kept one safety some 50 yards deep on every play. Two Safeties when he had a big lead, which lead to a Raven comeback late. He also didn’t mix the fronts or blitz much. But thankfully for the Chargers, Harbaugh’s decision to hamstring Jackson fed perfectly into this scheme.

Rivers and Badgley

I also need to give some credit to these two. Against a PS Psycho Defense, Phillip Rivers did direct one TD Drive with incredible execution versus a monster pressure mix. This ended being the difference in the end.

As for Michael Badgley, what can I say. He was a decent recruit at Miami. A good athlete in HS. He had a really good college career. Went undrafted. Was released by the Colts. Signed with the Chargers and replaced Caleb Sturgis earlier this year. Went 15-16 on FGs during the season and hit 4 1st Half FGs including one over 50!

I’ve made my point about the lack of pressure from the Ravens Kick Block Team, but this kid deserves a lot of credit. A rookie in his first playoff game. If he misses 2 of those kicks, the game is tied and Lamar Jackson is trying to get the Ravens a FG instead of a Touchdown.

Can the Patriots do it one more time?

In the last few years since I have come back to watching the NFL, I have backed the Pats every year. Bill Belichick in general has been the most aggressive coach year in year out. His Passing Spread on Offense and Aggressive Variety on Defense was always top notch. The Special Teams got special attention and was always among the best. There was no reason to think the Pats weren’t a threat to win it all. Every year. This time, I’m not so sure.

Times they are a changin’

A lot has changed recently. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is doing some form of PS Concept in the NFL. On Offense, Defense and Special Teams. Bill Belichick is no longer the only aggressive coach out there. In fact, he’s probably only middle of the pack at this point.

In addition, the Pats are getting old…fast. They have had a lot of veterans who have empowered this team for a long time, but time could be finally running out. Maybe even for their captain – QB Tom Brady. Though he’s still one of the top spread passing QBs in the game.

Are the Schemes still cutting edge?

Maybe more importantly than all of the above is the fact that Belichick’s schemes are no longer that special. Having Josh McDaniel as an OC and play caller certainly helps. His ProPS scheme is still very good. The problem is – so are all the other offenses out there. McDaniel is no longer cutting edge at this point.

On Defense, the Pats lost DC Matt Patricia this year, but I don’t think that hurt them as Patricia tended to overthink his Coverage Mix and lose aggression. Belichick on his own stays more aggressive with press coverage and blitz fronts. Still, he doesn’t use quite the variety of the top cutting edge schemes now. Nothing close to the Ravens PS2020.

Prognostication – Toss Up to the Chargers!

This game is a real toss up in my mind. The Chargers have a very disciplined defense and a smart DC. I expect a mix of zone/man coverage with a “Bend Dont Break” mentality. The Pats will get some points. McDaniel and Brady are too good. But so will the Chargers, who run a nice ProPS scheme of their own. Also with a great QB.

My big question for this game is the Patriots Bye Week. For an experienced team this shouldn’t be a problem. My concern isn’t as much them as it is the Chargers, who have a lot of momentum coming off a strong win last week. I don’t see them having a letdown. In fact, I think they feel real good about themselves and their chances vs the Pats right now.

This will be an old NFL Classic QB Battle. Two all time greats. There will be a lot yards and points as the Chargers are weak at Safety and the Pats struggle in giving up big plays now. One player I like the most is LA SS Derwin James. He’s the x-factor that could wreck some havoc and possibly make a big play late.

In a toss up, I’m going with my heart and instinct on this one. Brady leads a great drive late, but Rivers does him one better. James shuts down the Pats last drive with a big sack/int turnover and the Chargers pull out an exciting thriller with the score in the high 30s.

Philadelphia Eagles at NewOrleans Saints

Philly Magic One More Time

Pederson’s team did it again. Another tightrope. Exactly what I told Philly Fans months ago. All those close losses will even out. They have the vets to come through at playoff time. Just get in. They did and they won.

Now can they keep doing it? Against one of the 3 top teams of the year, I’m not so sure. There is a lot working against them to keep the magic alive.

Walking Wounded

The Eagles are really beat up. Last week I talked all about their injuries throughout the year. Now, even those that can stand are basically walking wounded. I’m not talking no name players. I’m talking top WRs Jeffery ant Tate, DE Bennett, and their leader on the Oline Jason Peters.

The Bears are a very physical tough Defense. Foles did a great job driving the Eagles throughout the game. The Bears “bend don’t break” philosophy with sneaky mixes of coverage + pressure created some errors from Foles and stymied a lot of the drives. Still, he played well and pulled the game out.

The physicality will take its toll. WR Mike Wallace may make a long awaited return which will help if Tate or Jeffery struggle. IF Foles goes down, the Eagles are done. Pederson’s good, but with all the injuries right now, I can’t imagine him winning with another QB going down. I wonder if they’d activate Wentz?

Schwartz passive in the 2nd Half again

I hate to keep saying it, but Schwartz continues to get too conservative under pressure and/or with a lead. He had a nice game plan early. The Eagles mixed press and zone coverage with some different fronts. But in the 2nd Half they laid back in standard zones or easy man coverages. And he almost never blitzed. Even with pressure from the talented DLine, the Eagles almost blew it.

Schwartz really needs to keep being aggressive. He did surprisingly blitz the last two plays. He needs more of that throughout. Especially against a QB like Drew Brees in a Sean Payton Offense.

Did last year set up the Saints for glory this year?

I really felt the Saints had a chance to go all the way last year. This year there have been 3 constants in a season of chaos. The Rams, Chiefs, and Saints. All three Defenses have improved as the year has gone on. This is what may determine who can take that next step. The Saints arguably have the best defense of the 3.

Dennis Allen’s PS Defense via Rob Ryan

Dennis Allen played and coached at Texas A&M, during the innovative time when Bob Davie introduced Zone Blitz Defense to the college game. His influences include Wade Phillips, JL Mora, Gary Gibbs and Gregg Williams. All together that is a real variety of aggression.

Allen was hired by Saints HC Sean Payton to help mesh Rob Ryan’s innovative ideas with the more conventional ideas of Gibbs and Williams. Coaches who liked an aggressive 4-3 defense that doesn’t mix too much. Easily executable so players could play fast. Payton was more comfortable with this style.

The problem was that NFL Offenses were starting to evolve. If the Defense was too simple, then it was too easy to attack. Ryan is advanced in his concepts, but it’s hard for many coaches to understand the solid logic behind it all.

Allen’s PS Defense

What has amazed me is the transformation Allen has made as a DC due to his time with Ryan. While they were together, the Defense was a mess. Too many contrasting ideas not meshing together.

Once Ryan was let go, Allen slowly incorporated more of his aggressive variety. He still runs a 4-3, but he now mixes all kinds of coverage + zone blitzes. He even runs some 3-3, which he got from Ryan. He also will incorporate some of the old standard zones and “Tampa” concepts he learned along the way.

It’s not the most cutting edge, but it’s a strong PS Defense. As the season has progressed, the LBacking core has really emerged, the DLine has played strong and the DBs are back to playing well. This may be the key to the Saints winning their second Super Bowl in franchise history.

Sean Payton ProPS WestCoast+

The Saints are mostly known for their Offense. And rightly so. It’s very similar to the Rams well timed ProPS Gillman+. I would call it ProPS WestCoast+. Both of these offenses incorporate some futuristic concepts with todays ideas. To me it feels like Payton is to Bill Walsh as Sean McVay is to Sid Gillman. More on that another time, but needless to say – with Brees at the helm, a great RB Duo, a great WR, a top Oline and a PS Wildcard in Taysom Hill – the Saints Offense is dynamic and tough to stop.

Prognostication – Saints

I have loved the ride with the Eagles. Going back to last year when I predicted a playoff run with or without Wentz – BEFORE Wentz was even hurt! Last week’s win was awesome magic once again. The number one guy behind all of this is Doug Pederson, who deserves a TON of credit.

I told my Eagles buddies that they just needed to get in the playoffs. From there anything could happen. And I still believe that. The Saints are a 75-80% win probability for this game. A lot because they have been great all year. A lot because the Eagles are so banged up. Some because of the Eagles chance for a letdown after such a dramatic win last week.

Could the Eagles pull off a crazy upset again? Absolutely!

The one thing I like for the Eagles is the fact they were blown out by the Saints in the regular season. I don’t always play that card, but in this case it may work.

Besides his acumen as a strategist, Pederson is also a master psychologist. He handles his players brilliantly. If anyone can find a way to spin that Saints loss into a positive, it’s Pederson.

He may be fighting against a banged up club who may let down emotionally, but they are a veteran team at this point. There’s a chance he could fire them up and watch his team really take it to the Saints in the Dome.

I have to take the Saints. They are too solid. Just like the Chiefs and Rams. But don’t fear Eagles fans. That 20-25% is enough for some more Philly Magic lead by Doug Pederson and Nick Foles! (and don’t forget your Kicker, Jake Elliot – the kid’s a winner!)


  1. […] PS Dynamic Opposition has taken over the NFL – Divisional Sunday […]

  2. […] PS Dynamic Opposition has taken over the NFL – Divisional Sunday […]

  3. […] Fantastic PS Defense by Dennis Allen's Rob Ryanesque Defense!… Then, Wade Phillips goes…… […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.