One of the major differences between New England and most of the other teams in the NFL is that the Patriots are relentless attackers and have no fear of the outcome.
In theory, the Ravens like this approach. But they don’t have the quarterback or the coaching expertise to pull it off, which is why the Patriots are defending Super Bowl champions and the Ravens have missed the playoffs three straight years.
On offense, the Patriots will attack from anywhere on the field whether they have possession on their own or the opponents’ 1-yard line. They gamble when the offense becomes stagnant as it did Sunday, when they ran trick plays in two straight series.
They don’t always have great offensive players, but the coaches design good plays. The way they flood zones, use pick plays and clear out to run underneath routes shows how well the offense is schemed.
All you had to see Sunday was quarterback Tom Brady’s third-and-18 conversion pass across the middle to wide receiver Danny Amendola in the fourth quarter. The outcome was predictable.
The Ravens can’t do that. Even with better personnel they can’t — or don’t — draw up those types of plays. But it’s not just the Ravens who lack this type of aggressiveness. Jacksonville tried to protect 10- and 11-point leads by pounding the ball with running back Leonard Fournette, which is a sound strategy. And that might work against most teams, but not the Patriots and Brady.
And instead of crashing inside the guards, why not run outside the tackles and attack the perimeter? But the Jaguars’ lack of aggressiveness wasn’t just on offense.
On defense Jacksonville stayed with the four-man rush for almost the entire second half and the Jaguars got very little pressure on Brady. When they did blitz in the second half and brought pressure off the edge, linebacker Myles Jack pounded Brady into the turf.
Unfortunately, the Jaguars blitzed only once.
On the opposite side, New England was bringing pressure from cornerbacks 12 to 15 yards off the line of scrimmage. The Patriots mixed alignments up front to confuse quarterback Blake Bortles.
Jacksonville tried not to lose. New England tried to win. Of course, it’s easier to be fearless when you have a coach like Bill Belichick, a quarterback like Brady and systems that attack instead of wait to be attacked.
Second chance for Schwartz?
Some NFL team has to give Jim Schwartz another opportunity to be a head coach.
In his second year as coordinator of the Philadelphia defense, Schwartz, 51, has turned the Eagles into one of the league’s best defensive teams. The Eagles are fourth in points allowed (18.4) and yards allowed (306.5), and tops in run defense, permitting 79.2 per game.
Schwartz, a Mount Saint Joseph graduate, was rumored to be a candidate for the New York Giants head coaching job that went to Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
A former linebackers coach and quality control assistant with the Ravens, Schwartz can be a little cocky at times but has consistently produced some of the league’s best defenses in his stops in Tennessee, Buffalo and Philadelphia.
He had 29-51 record as a head coach in Detroit from 2009 to 2013, but that shouldn’t be held against him. It’s like coaching in Cleveland, which is like being sent to prison for a crime you didn’t commit.
Too much Romo
CBS commentator Tony Romo communicates his knowledge of the game very well, but he has become overwhelming lately.
He is starting to get into the sound effects with the moaning and groaning, and it appears someone told the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback he is good. He talks too much.
I thought he was going to cry when New England tight end Rob Gronkowski left the game Sunday with a possible concussion. And Romo just oozes and gushes over Brady and the Patriots after each win.
His insight is welcomed, but the cheerleading isn’t necessary.
Not the QB battle everyone expected
As the postseason started, the wish was for the New Orleans Sains to play New England in the Super Bowl so we could watch the epic QB battle of Drew Brees against Brady.
This Nick Foles-vs.-Brady matchup won’t create much excitement. After watching the Patriots beat Jacksonville, I think it’s going to take another top quarterback to beat New England, as the Pittsburgh Steelers almost did with Ben Roethlisberger several weeks ago.
A defense can slow Brady down only so much, but in the end opposing teams are going to have to put up substantial points to beat New England, and Foles can’t match Brady in that area.
Who will be the Vikings’ QB?
The Vikings have quite a QB quandary now that the season is over.
All three of their signal callers — Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford — will become free agents in 2018. The one most likely to return is Bridgewater because he is just 25, and a former first-round pick who went to the Pro Bowl in 2015.
A knee injury forced him to miss the past 16 months. Bradford, 30, is a better passer than Keenum, but he has been injury-prone. Keenum did well filling in for both most of the season and made big plays at crucial times, but the Vikings also had to tone down the offense for fear of mistakes.
Keenum might have played his last game for the Vikings on Sunday.
Former Ravens in the Super Bowl
The Ravens will be well-represented by former players in the Super Bowl. The Eagles have five former Ravens on the roster in defensive ends Steven Means and Tim Jernigan, safety Corey Graham, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and receiver Torrey Smith. The Patriots have former Ravens defensive lineman Lawrence Guy, once one of the team’s hardest workers, and linebackers James Harrison and Nicholas Grigsby.
It’s nice to see Smith be productive. I thought Jeremy Maclin would come up big like that for the Ravens at times this season, but he seemed to check out once he realized early in the season that quarterback Joe Flacco was inaccurate and that it wasn’t worth getting hurt making catches across the middle.