Really interesting work Mike, but my takeaways are a bit different.
My first thought was simply not good enough on 3rd down. The Patriots converted each of their 3rd downs, while the Ravens clearly did not.
A lot of that is on Joe. He missed an open Aiken, took a sack, and then threw an errant pass that was picked off.
In terms of substitutions, I think that is a function of personnel. The Patriots have two very good two-way TEs that allows them to utilize 2 TE sets extremely efficiently.
The Ravens just don't have that flexibility. Waller and Pitta are both pass-catching TEs who are poor at blocking. We're really missing Watson and Gillmore.
Thanks Gabe. I agree on all those points.
I think it was you in the game thread, I apologize if it wasnt, but mentioned that the route combinations just don't seem to make sense. That's where a giant difference in the Patriots offense, and most others differ. Which is why they complete a lot of passes. A lot of manageable 3rd downs. And a lot of wide open receivers on those downs.
I'm thinking if the route concepts make more sense, it takes less skill to get open as a receiver. It doesn't matter who runs the route. If it doesn't matter who runs them, you dont have to sub in and out so much. Makes life simpler, offense runs smoother.
Maybe I'm off base. It goes a lot deeper I'm sure. But there is a reason why the Pats are so damn effcient all the time. It can't be that Brady is simply a robot. Matt Cassel had success there. Jimmy Garappolo had success there. Brady's ability plays a part, but the system seems dummy proof.
I plan on tackling the two minute drill struggles another time. Off the top of my head I think in both the end of the giants game, and end of the first half of the Steelers game, they were slow in moving the ball and getting to the line because they subbed in and out with the clock running. That lets the defense do the same. You should be able to execute a two minute no huddle without a subs. 2 minute and 4 minute drives are what they practice most. Make your subs in a timeout or other clock stoppage. You get too many moving parts going it lends itself to mistakes. Missed audibles, illegal formations.
Again, maybe I'm off base. Some of it just makes common sense, even if it isn't exactly football sense.