The Patriots Find Success With Outside Zone
Many things went wrong for the Ravens on Sunday, and one of the most disappointing was their inability to stop the run. New England ran a whopping 34 times against the Ravens for 142 yards (a 4.2 YPC average) and two touchdowns.
Most notably, LeGarrette Blount had 16 carries for 76 yards, a 4.8 YPC average. Blount has become a staple in the Patriots offense over the last month and is paying huge dividends. Though his career appeared to flatline last season, he’s showing new signs of life under Bill Belichick. The bruising back (Blount is listed at 6′ tall and 240lbs) showed good vision and agility against the Ravens, and once he was in the secondary, Ravens defenders had a hard time bringing him down.
New England used their outside zone against the Ravens Cover-2 a few times, and Blount really made the Ravens defense pay with his cutback ability. I took a look at two plays where good blocking by the O-line and good vision from Blount resulted in big gains.
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Once the offense has the defenders flowing toward the play side, cutbacks become very difficult to defend. The Ravens were clearly overpursuing the Patriots’ stretch zone plays, and Blount made them pay every time. Though the Ravens defense did an admirable job of keeping the game within reach (for three quarters, at least), the success of the Patriots’ ground game was disconcerting.