On each of the eight first-half possessions, the Patriots started with Brady under center on first down. They threw five times out of those heavy sets, but with all the defensive backs on the field, Brady wasn’t getting a clear picture of where to go with the ball.
McDaniels changed that in the second half.
On the first five possessions after halftime, Brady was in the shotgun with no backs and five receivers on the first play.
Spread ’em out, let Brady take his choice of matchups, and deliver the ball:
Boom, 26-yard pass to Welker.
Boom, 11-yard pass to Bolden.
Boom, 13-yard pass to Welker.
Boom, 8-yard pass to Welker (before an incompletion to Brandon Lloyd).
Basically, let Brady be Brady.
“I think so,” said Welker, of the offense feeling comfortable getting back to the spread as a starting point. “Especially the situation we’re in, we’re down two touchdowns [21-7] and we knew we had to get something going and we had to hit some pass plays and kind of spread them out and do some of those things, and we were able to hit up some matchups and take advantage of them.”
And then go, go, go with the no-huddle while the Bills are on their toes.
One other change in the second half, according to two players, was that Brady was given more freedom as far as play calls and adjustments.
“He made a lot of calls and a lot of checks,” said Barnett.
Coach Bill Belichick downplayed that element.
“I’d say not significantly [different],” he said. “That’s part of what we do anyway; we have an element of that in our offense.
“It depends on what play is called. Some are called either or [run/pass], some we just call and run it. Some we don’t change because we get the look that we think we’re going to get to run the play. So there’s no need to change it. I’d say we probably do it about the same every week, and how it turns out may be different, but I would say our method is pretty similar.”
Well, whatever it was in the second half, the Patriots need to keep doing it.
What’s the old saying? Keep it simple, stupid.
The Patriots did just that in the second half.
They even kept running the same run plays, or a variation. There was an inside zone (sometimes with Gronkowski at fullback), a wham play with Gronkowski, and a neat little toss counter.
“The most discouraging thing about it is they literally ran three running plays,” said Bills tackle Kyle Williams. “They ran the same thing over and over and over.”
Everything was inside against the Bills’ vaunted defensive line. And almost everything had a little delay to allow one or two linemen out to the second level to block against the Bills’ diminutive second level.
Back Brady with a running game like that, and he’s going to be tough to stop.
As long as the Patriots and McDaniels stay true to who they are.
Feels like that’s going to happen after Sunday’s explosion.
The players have learned a little bit. McDaniels has learned a little bit. Time to go to school the rest of the season.