PS Dynamic Opposition has taken over the NFL – Championship Sunday

Posted: January 19, 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.

Another Wild PS Ending

The first three games weren’t that close, but the weekend finished up with a barnburner. We may see the same this weekend.

That is a quote from last week’s Divisional Playoff Preview. My PS Meter had the Chiefs, Rams and Saints as big favorites, but I had a feeling that Philly Magic could give us another close one again. I also had high hopes for a Charger/Patriots Classic between two Hall of Fame Quarterbacks. While the latter did not happen, the former did as we saw almost an exact duplicate of the first playoff weekend.

Takeaways from Week 2 of the NFL Playoffs
  • As forecasted – Road teams dominated the first week, Home teams the second.
  • There have been only 2 close games so far and each one involved the Eagles in Game 4
  • Both Chargers games involved me switching my pick, which came back to haunt me. My only 2 losses so far (6-2).
    • Wk 1- The Harbaugh Shutdown = Chargers Win (see last week)
    • Wk2 – The Bradley Insanity = Chargers Loss(see below)
  • In a Wild NFL season, suddenly there’s near perfect consistency. Both playoff weekends mirrored each other to an almost eerie degree.  
    • Game 1 – Blowouts by Indy Wk1 and KC Wk2.
    • Game 2 – Comfortable Wins by Dallas Wk1 and the Rams Wk2.
    • Game 3 – Two more blowouts with “Garbage Time” comebacks. Both involving the Chargers.
    • Game 4 – Philly Magic helped salvage both weekends with exiting games that went down to the wire.
  • 3 of the 4 Winners this past weekend controlled TIME of Possession.
    • The ProPS aggressive model will look to “eat” the clock.
    • Most College PS teams run some form of No Huddle- looking to expand SPACE rather than time.
    • The College game looks for “free” points rather than controlled scoring. Tempo Schemes create many more scoring opportunities on both sides of the ball.
Could this be the Week?!

After a very ordinary year of Postseason Football in both the Pro and College game, we may be in for a treat this Sunday. These 2 Matchups plus the Chiefs/Rams game were the “Games of the Year”!

The Pats dynasty is still going strong, while the Chiefs, Saints and Rams have been a cut above all year. Four great Offensive coaches (3 HC + OC McDaniels). Four improving Defenses. Four top Special Teams. A potentially great day of football.

NewEngland Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs

The Pats Attack

As I said last week, I’m always behind NE as a Super Bowl threat every year because of Bill Belichick. He always has the best Coaching Staff, Schemes and makes the best Personnel moves.

I also said Belichick is no longer the only cutting edge coach. The rest of the NFL finally has a clue. There is a lot of PS Aggressive Variety everywhere now. Age may eventually play a factor, but first and foremost, the rest of the league has caught up.

Well…not so fast. Is the end near? Maybe. But it didn’t look like it last Sunday. For sure, I didn’t give enough attention to their fantastic OC, whom I have admired for years.

Pro PS Power by Josh McDaniels

I touched upon it last week, but maybe should have focused on it more. Josh McDaniels is still a top notch OC. His schemes and play calling continue to rank with the best. He took a page out of the LA Rams book this past weekend and absolutely ripped Chargers DC Gus Bradley a “new one” with PS Power.

  • The Rams did it with Gillman Power Plus the day before. The Pats did the same with ProPS POWER
    • Power Runs + Short Passes from creative Pass Spread and ProPS Schemes. SPACE
    • Great Play Calling by McDaniel. Breaking Tendency w/ Situational Timing. TIME
    • Great use of RBs White & Michel plus Slot WR Edelman. Gronk as a decoy. TEAM
  • Again, like the Rams, NE controlled the Time of Possession with their Power through their SPREAD
    • Sean McVay’s Gillman+ leans heavily on Space&Timing, where McDaniels combines all of it – SpaceTimeTeam – for his ProPS attack.
    • Like the Rams, NE set up their Pass Spread with their early Power. Then went back to Power, then Spread, etc. Accordion Effect!
  • The Play Calling of both coaches is fantastic. Out of the Box Situational Timing. Sometimes in direct opposition of what we have seen in Football for over 100 years!

Bradley Insanity

I’d be remiss not to mention the Chargers role in all of this. Two weeks ago I said that the Chargers DC was a smart coach with a conservative background. He will come up with aggressive tactics, but doesn’t always incorporate enough variety to stay aggressive.

Last week I commented that Bradley’s 7DB Sets vs Baltimore was “a hint” of PS2020. Not only did the scheme help cover for the injury to LB Jatavis Brown, but it also counteracted the speed of Baltimore’s PS Offense with QB Lamar Jackson. Unfortunately, some of that success was a mirage.

  1. John Harbaugh virtually shut down the Ravens fantastic PS Offense.
  2. The Ravens never adjusted by using Power Option Schemes vs this “light” Defensive package.
    • In the future, 7 and 8DB sets may be employed regularly, but with DB hybrids that weigh some 220-230 lbs and run like gazelles. That quantity of athlete doesn’t exist yet.
    • With ProPS, it’s easy to come out in “heavy” offensive sets and power run vs this DScheme.
    • Defenses of the future will use these hybrid DBs all over the field attacking the offense with furious aggression to eliminate the effectivenes of simple power heavy sets by the offense.
  3. Bradley didn’t use much Aggressive Variety out of these sets. Mainly a 4 man rush with a cover zone/man mix behind it.

When I saw the Chargers start the NE game in that same 7DB set again, I couldn’t believe it!? Running the same package with the same conservative play calling against a Belichick prepared team and a McDaniels Offense?? Are you nuts!!?

With a week to prepare, this was easy for the Pats. Just power up the run game from heavy sets. Mix in some spread passing to keep the middle unclogged. Mix up the play calling with one of the best in the biz.
Simple.

New England’s 1-3 Defense

In the meantime, NE is running some cool 3rd Down packages and playing better on Defense. I love their 1-3 scheme. DE Trey Flowers lines up as a NT with 3 fast, but powerful LBs floating on or near the LOS. Add to that Belichick’s usual mix of man/zone coverage from his own version of a 7DB set.

The difference in the Pats 7DB set, compared to the Chargers, is Aggressive Variety. With 3 LBs moving around, NE combines an aggressive pressure/coverage mix. They also mix fronts and personnel. They run a 2-3, 3-2hybrid, and a 3-3. Lastly, they only use these schemes on passing downs so teams can’t power it down their throat as they did to LA.

Belichick plays with more aggressive schemes than former DC Matt Patricia. Unfortunately he’s not always aggressive on Offense. Especially with a big lead. A lot of the late scoring by the Chargers last week was due to the NE offense trying to run out the clock and giving the ball back. Ummm..Phillip Rivers is good.

Thankfully the D stayed aggressive and time eventually ran out for Rivers and the Chargers.

KC Full ProPS + Colts Letdown

It’s asking a lot for a young team, coming off a huge road playoff win with a first year head coach, to do it all over again versus one of the greatest offenses we have ever seen.

A Big Letdown

A little snow and the Colts TampaPS Defense did nothing to slow down the Chiefs vaunted Full ProPS Offense. The Colts had the big letdown as I feared, fell behind early and had to play catchup the rest of the game. Unlike John Harbaugh the week before, Andy Reid DIDN’T get passive. Something that’s haunted him in his playoff past.

Indianapolis was so flat that I think it actually effected the Chiefs as they got sloppy in the 2nd Half. Thankfully for them the Colts never really woke up. Even failing to get off a final play with about 10 seconds left near the Chiefs goaline.

KC Depth

The Chiefs had two new starters in their 5man Secondary. Both youngsters. They also continually substituted young guys on both sides of the ball. I don’t think this was due to injury as their injury report for this week is the best of any of the Teams left in the playoffs.

Most likely this was just DC Bob Sutton and Reid making personnel decisions based on performance. This is a positive and couldn’t come at a better time. The Chiefs are still relatively old on Defense, but this late season Depth can ease some worries going forward.

Bob Sutton finally gets some help

Sutton is an old school DC who has progressed his concepts over the last few years to PS. He mixes Blitz fronts and Coverages in both subtle and extreme ways, depending on personnel and matchups.

Recently the Chiefs have struggled on D mainly due to age. Now more and more young guys are stepping to the forefront. The more experience gained, the better this defense has been playing. Saturday may have been their best game of the season.

Eric Berry, their fantastic veteran Safety, may be ready to play in the Championship game. He’s excellent at reading Offenses and robbing routes. A couple of years ago he was a nightmare for passing offenses. Any additional help from him would be most welcome versus either Tom Brady and the Pats.

Prognostication – NE blowout or Chiefs in a close one?

I know I said this last week, but we may be looking at a classic again. Unless Andy Reid gets conservative and pulls a “Harbaugh Shutdown” like he’s done in the past. In that case the Pats will roll as they did the week before.

This game will come down to which team is more aggressive and makes more big plays. My PS Meter calls for:

  • 60% probability of a close win by the Chiefs
  • 65% probability of a Pats blowout
    • QB Pat Mahomes inexperience
    • Reid’s past playoff demons
  • 55% Chiefs Win Overall

The Chiefs 5% Edge – Belichick Conservative Ball Control + Chiefs Energy

This 5% for the Chiefs has a lot to do with the reasonable chance that Belichick will hold back the Offense in an effort to control the clock. It worked last week, but this week’s a different matchup . The Chiefs will score points. The last thing the Pats want to do is hold back their own powerful offense.

That 5% also has factored in it, the roll the Chiefs have been on all year. Having played NE already, they will be confident they can get this done. Having their leader, S Eric Berry, back on Defense will also add to the good energy.

PS Aggression – Chiefs

Expect big plays all game long from both teams. Great players and coaches everywhere. Andy’s innovations this year give the Chiefs a slight edge on Offense. Both are known for their Special Teams. Belichick always has a trick up his sleeve, but the Chiefs have Tyreek Hill.

This game will be in the 20s or 30s depending on NE’s ball control, but may very well come down to a big play on Defense. With both defenses improving and playing aggressive schemes, I wonder if it will be Berry making that key play for the Chiefs?

The Chiefs have the Energy, Aggression, Depth and Health. Plus the Home Field advantage. A NE win or even blowout wouldn’t surprise me, but I think this is finally it. The Chiefs end the Pats run. The dynasty? We will see.

NewOrleans Saints at LosAngeles Ram

Rams PS Power

Last week when I mentioned both teams “eating some clock”. I didn’t exactly expect 300 yards on the ground and a 36 minute Time Of Possession! This was a brilliant display of Power thru Timing – both in terms of play calling & misdirection run schemes. Breaking Tendency from the first play to the last. PS Power with continuing hints of Gillman+. Or should I say Gillman Power Plus.

PS Gillman Power Plus
  • Drive 1 – 7 out of 10 plays = Power runs from different sets, motions and schemes. Plus one sneaky play-action screen pass to the TE.
  • LA usually runs a ton of play action early. Dallas’ TampaPS “Bend Don’t Break” Defense overplayed this idea, putting them back on their heels and susceptible to power runs early.
  • Rams mixed a lot of Jet Sweep SPREAD runs to WRs to open up the Inside Power Runs. PS Power.
  • Dallas “Bend Don’t Break” Defense started breaking as the Rams mixed in more pass plays on Drive 2.
  • Rams moved completely to the other end of Variety on Drive 3 – Pass to set up the Power Runs. Beautiful Simple Play Progression on first 3 Drives.
  • The Rams also snuck in some No Huddle. Another PS Concept – Aggressive Time. Both TD Runs in the 1st Half were from an Up Tempo scheme.
  • The Rams continued this Power Mix in the 2nd Half. While Dallas did hold the Rams to some FGs, they only stopped them from scoring once…barely – on 2nd+3rd & short incomplete passes.
  • The last drive was simply running out the clock for the win. Fittingly, Goff faked a power run left, rolled right and ran for it himself. Rams constantly breaking tendency. A strong Dallas D constantly on their heels.
  • Dynamic Duo – Newly acquired CJ Anderson and Todd Gurley both ran for over 100 yards.
Phillips D = Passive…??

The Rams Defense under Wade Phillips really got conservative after the Rams got to 23-7. He ran a lot of standard Cover 3 and 6 looks with very little pressure. No Variety erodes Aggression.

This somewhat surprised me, because Phillips is known as an aggressive coach. Sometimes over aggressive due to a lack of Variety. I like that he started to use more variety late in the year. Mixing in more zone with his press coverage schemes. But now he’s using too much soft Zone. He almost let Dallas back in the game.

Phillips was lucky his talented NT Ndamukong Suh blew up a big 4th&1 play late in the game. He was also lucky that Dallas didn’t have their talented Center Travis Frederick all year long. His replacement, Joe Looney has played well, but he’s simply not the same caliber. Suh blasted Looney right back into RB Elliot on the play.

CB Marcus Peters is also freelancing way too much still and giving up big plays. More importantly, Phillips needs to stay aggressive with him. Use Peters as a blitzer, robber – any way to get him involved and activated. In general, Phillips needs to mix more blitz and fronts like he was doing at the end of the regular season.

Saints Survive Philly Magic – An Ode to Doug Pederson

I knew that a 20-25% chance may be enough for the Eagles. That’s the Chaotic Unknown – or in this case, The Philly Magic. But even that has reason behind it. Doug Pederson. A coach I have analyzed since he took over as the Eagles Head Coach in 2016.

Over the last 3 years, Pederson has been, hands down, the best Head Coach in the NFL. Pederson inherited a bit of mess in Philly when he took the job. He quickly transformed this team with PS Strategy on and off the field.

He took a weak transitional team, led by a rookie QB, to the brink of the playoffs in his first year. Made great off-season moves and took a stronger team with some big injuries to a Super Bowl Win the following year. This year, with possibly the most injuries I’ve ever seen on one team, he almost got to the Championship Game! Really…this is incredible.

Philly Magic one more time?

In his last game of this year, Pederson had the odds stacked against him. Not only is Philadelphia the most banged up team in football right now, they suffered 4 more injured starters during the game! Still, they jumped up 14-0 with Pederson’s “play script” to start the game. A great mix of Power+Spread using Space+Time to keep the Saints PS Defense off balance.

On their 3rd drive, QB Foles got a little greedy, bypassed his open outlet, and forced a deep throw to TE Ertz that resulted in an interception. Thus began a slow slide into oblivion. The Saints eventually woke up from their Bye Week Letdown and began to control the Space/Time with their own ProPS WC+ Offense.

Big Plays = Clock Control for Saints

The Saints held the ball most of the game after that interception. The turning point came on the following drive on a 4th&1 fake punt. PS Wild Card Taysom Hill took the snap and ran up the gut for the 1st Down. On that play Eagles top DLineman Fletcher Cox was triple-teamed, creating a wedge for Hill to run through and injuring Cox. The home crowd started going nuts. The Saints never looked back.

Without this play…who knows? But now the Saints were awake. Just in time. HC Sean Payton mixed his own version of Power+Spread+Team with short to medium passes, power runs, spread runs and PS Run/Pass Options with Hill. Eagles DC Jim Schwartz actually stayed aggressive all game long as I said he would need to do. The problem this time? He backed off into deep zone coverage on 3rd&Long. QB Drew Brees picked him apart every time.

The few times the Eagles actually had the ball, the Offense began to struggle converting 3rd downs against the Saints Aggressive Mix on D. DC Dennis Allen’s Aggressive Rob Ryan Mix was starting to confuse Foles. Then the Saints Offense would go back to work with their Bill Walsh style of ProPS. Spread the field horizontally to open up some runs and deep throws. Keep mixing the plays and eating up clock.

One Last Chance

The Eagles had a chance with one last drive. They drove to the Saints 27 yard line after a big pass to Ertz and a Rouging the Passer Penalty on the Saints. But #1 receiver Jeffery let an easy pass slip thru his hands, ending in an interception to end to the Eagles season. Jeffery has been a huge contributor to the Eagles success, but like most of the team has been struggling with injury and looked beat up at the end.

After a great early start, the Eagles ALL started to look beat up at the end – not just Jeffery. But they fought their butts off and deserve as much credit as their coach. This is a TEAM in every aspect of the word. Hopefully the ownership will continue to work as a Team with Pederson as the Eagles have a lot to build on for the future.

Prognostication – PS Meter Saints / Heart Rams

Two variables worry me about the Rams:

  1. Wade Phillips Conservative Gameplan Last Week
  2. Jared Goff’s Inexperience vs the Great Experience of Drew Brees

It’s these two factors that have my PS Meter giving the Saints a 55% probability to win this game. But these Variables beg the questions:

  • Was Phillips scheme last week an aberration?
    • He has been aggressive throughout his career
    • He started using more Aggressive Variety at the end of the regular season.
  • Will Goff’s experience in last year’s playoffs and last weeks game be enough?

I think the answer may be yes to both. If it is, the Rams can definitely win this game.

ProPSWC+ – Gillman+ vs Walsh+

The main event is these two Offenses. The PS Gillman style Offense of Sean McVay vs the PS Bill Walsh style Offense of Sean Payton. We saw this matchup in the regular season and it was an incredible spectacle. We saw this same type of spectacle when the Rams played the Chiefs and the Chiefs played the Patriots. All 4 teams in the playoffs now are operating some of the most innovative Schemes ever seen in the NFL.

The difference this time is that all four of these defenses are better. Unless Wade Phillips stays conservative. IF Phillips goes back to his aggressive tactics, which I think he will, this game will have a different feel. There will still be great offense, but now the defense will play more of a roll as well.

Probability or Chaos

One thing that’s hard to measure is the Chaos factor involved in every Energy System. Energy is a combination of both Order(m) and Chaos(c2). Order is the “facts”. What we think we know. Chaos is what we feel in spite of what we think we know.

I really hate to go against the Saints at home. They were a slight pick of mine to win the Super Bowl heading into the playoffs. But I’m “feeling” the Rams.

I feel the Dallas win gives them confidence. I also feel they letdown some the 2nd Half of the year, starting with the Saints game. They will want to redeem themselves.

Plus the injury factor is suddenly favoring the Rams. Gurley is back and there’s been no additional injuries. In the meantime, the Saints Oline is banged up and they lose their best DLineman in Sheldon Rankins.

PS Power – Rams

The Saints will move the ball, but the Rams have playmakers all along their front 7 and will make some big plays on D. I also think their Secondary will contribute. I know that CB Peters has been struggling, but he’s due. If DC Phillips raises the aggression, Peters will be involved. The whole D will be involved.

I also like their new Dynamic Duo of Gurley and Anderson. I feel they can control the clock again with Gillman Power Plus. Especially with Rankins out. This will keep Brees and co off the field. If the Saints sell out for the run, the Rams will burn them with their big time play-action, heavy protection and deep route designs.

The Saints are the favorite, but I’ll take the Rams in a wild one. Less scoring than the regular season game due to clock management, but the same effective offense you saw last week. Plus a more dynamic defense to get them into the Super Bowl and a possible rerun of the “Game of the Year” with the Chiefs!

~DP

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

  2. Christian Woods says:

    top notch analysis. a lot to absorb. times are changing and Drew will let us know what is happening.

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