Four Downs: Wilfork a great example for young Pats

Following up on my early week film work, I’ve got a few thoughts I wanted to share on Vince Wilfork, LeSean McCoy and some good defensive play out of the Packers and Ravens:

  • Wilfork showed the young Patriots’ defense last week why he’s a great example of what being a pro is all about. There was Wilfork, the building block of the defense and its most senior member, out on the field during the second half of a 31-0 game, lining his guys up. Most guys would be relishing having the day off or putting their baseball caps on, treating it like a preseason game. He looked like he was having more fun than anyone else in the stadium. Not only is Wilfork a great example, he had his first two sacks of the season. He’s known as a run-stuffer but is a a very good pass rusher who constantly collapses the pocket. He even played all three positions on the defensive line.
  • I can see Eagles RB LeSean McCoy being a big part of the passing game against the Packers. One strategy the Bears used against the Packers, whether it was by plan or necessity, was to feature Matt Forte in the passing game. Linebacker A.J. Hawk is the player the Packers match up against running backs, and I think it’s a matchup that favors backs who are good receivers out of the backfield. It’s a tough matchup for Hawk. Keep an eye on that.
  • There are two things I really like about the Ravens. The Ravens struggled to beat Cincinnati last week, but they always struggle against the Bengals. The Ravens forced five takeaways, and every defensive coach in the world always stresses one thing more than any other: Good things happen when you get to the football. Every defensive coach says it, but not many teams do it. The Ravens do it, and it was on display last Sunday. Check out the fumble recovery by Haloti Ngata and you’ll see what I mean. Same thing on the forced fumble that Ray Lewis recovered. At one point I froze the projector and six Ravens were surrounding the ball, and no Bengals. The Ravens do it as well as anyone, and it’s one of the reasons they continue to play great defense. It’s the little things that not every team does.
  • One thing about the Packers is they contest every pass, on every level of the defense. Of all the stats out there — they’ve allowed seven points or less six times and are second in scoring defense — they’re all great. But why? How? What do the Packers do? The Packers play a lot of zone defense and contest passes at every level. It starts with the defensive line. Each member always has his hands up. Linebackers dive and get their hands in the passing lanes. The defensive backs get their hands on receivers and don’t let them get free release at the line of scrimmage. They’re not a complex defense, but there are reasons why the Packers are very good. It’s a testament to Dom Capers and what he’s teaching. Watch how many passes Michael Vick gets batted down at the line of scrimmage this weekend. Nothing is more frustrating for a quarterback.

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