‘Playbook’ mailbag: Best strategy is blitzing Brady

The questions keep rolling in heading into Week 3. After watching a couple weeks worth of coaching tape, we can declare that we might actually know something about the league this year. At least a little.

Keep the questions coming (at playbook@nfl.com or #askplaybook on Twitter), because there is a chance they could be answered on-air by Joe TheismannSterling SharpeBrian Baldinger or Matt Millen (Don’t forget to join the debate on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook).

Why does everyone believe that the AFC South is for the Texans to win? Peyton Manning is out, not their D. — Alfred Harper, Houston, Texas

First off, the Colts defense isn’t anything to write home about. They are undersized and can easily be pushed around up front.

Houston is simply a better team than anyone else in the division. The Texans have a well-established QB in Matt Schaub, arguably the best wide receiver in the league (Andre Johnson) and a potent running attack (even without Arian Foster).

What has really held the Texans back over the last few years is their defense. But new coordinator Wade Phillips has the team playing well.  We aren’t saying the Texans are going to win the division, but without Manning in the mix, this could be their year.

The Rams WRs and RBs are decent, but not elite.  And now with their best receiver and running back banged up, why haven’t the Rams done more to surround their young and talented QB with better offensive weapons? — JoJo in Maryland

The Rams have done a lot to help out young QB Sam Bradford. They went out and drafted WRs Austin Pettis and Greg Salas and TE Lance Kendricks. They went and got WR Mike Sims-Walker and RBs Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood in free agency. And the Rams expect WRs Brandon Gibson and Danario Alexander to have break-out seasons. Considering those injuries, we think the Rams might as well let this young team develop together. As an organization, it doesn’t make sense to continually bring in a ton of new guys. They will have to learn the system. You might as well see what you have with this young talent.

Where do you see the protection weaknesses for the Eagles, as they need to better protect Vick? — @tdallday

The Eagles really aren’t doing a horrible job protecting Vick. Sometimes, Vick has trouble protecting himself.

Vick is not quick to react to blitzes, and often tries to let his athleticism take over in escaping from pressure rather than staying in the pocket and making a quick throw to counteract it. Moving around in that way can make the offensive line look silly from time to time. Vick needs to do a better job recognizing what defenders are his responsibly on overload blitzes. Obviously there isn’t an offensive line that can pick up all the blitzers. Every playbook in the NFL is set up for the QB to take someone.

Why didn’t San Diego blitz more? They gave Tom way too much time.  I like winning but everyone knows you blitz Brady! — @superbuffundo

It’s a matter of picking your poison when you play Tom Brady and the Patriots. As it is with any great quarterback, do you blitz or not blitz?

We agree, the best approach is to blitz Brady. You need to move him off his spot; you can’t allow him to get comfortable and scan the field.

San Diego decided to blitz Brady 11 times out of his 42 passes in Week 2. How did those 11 plays pan out for the Chargers? Brady went 8-of-11 passing with 152 yards and a touchdown.

The debate continues …

Why hasn’t the revamped OL of the Cowboys taken to the ground game? How can they improve? — @feafleaker

First and foremost, the Cowboys have faced two of the toughest run defenses in the league. Both the 49ers and the Jets were top 10 run defenses in the league last year and have continued that success through the first two weeks of this season.

The Cowboys’ interior line needs to improve at winning battles at the point of attack. They have been unable to generate any movement on double teams, which has hurt their ability to get to linebackers on the second level. These issues have been a huge reason the Cowboys have been unable to generate any big running plays thus far.

What makes the Redskins running game so good? — Mike, Washington D.C.

If you remember Mike Shanahan’s teams in Denver, they ran the same zone-blocking scheme and had 1,000-yard rushers almost every season. The Redskins run the same scheme, which requires a patient running back to follow three simple step: flow, plant, go.

The system requires running backs to allow the defense to flow. Then, they must use their vision to see the field and plant their foot to drive through open running lanes. To be successful, you need a mobile offensive line, and the Redskins have that. They can combo block on down linemen and get to the next level. When all this comes together, you a have fantastic running attack.

“Playbook”, the ultimate football Xs and Os show, airs Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network. Check the NFL Network broadcast schedule for further details. Follow “Playbook” on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

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