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Bill Belichick still fears Purple People Eaters

10.31.10 at 10:42 am ET
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FOXBORO — When he looks at the film of the Minnesota Vikings, Bill Belichick doesn’t see Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Alan Page and Gary Larsen and the “Purple People Eaters” that devastated NFL offensive lines in the 1960s and 70s.

But he does see Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, Ray Edwards and, of course, Jared Allen.

And while this group – a much-heralded group coming into the season – ranks a measly 30th in the NFL in sacks with six through six games, Belichick sees what a lot of others don’t. This Vikings front four can still pressure the quarterback and cause match-up nightmares for the offensive line.

“Definitely, it’s one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league,” Belichick explained on Friday. “They’re all a problem, really, but [Kevin] Williams, [Jared] Allen and [Ray] Edwards in particular, those three guys. I think Edwards is a very underrated player. Allen, we all know what he is. Kevin Williams, we all know what he is. Their linebackers complement their pressure well with [E.J.] Henderson and [Ben] Leber and [Chad] Greenway.

“Those guys are fast and they get pressure in a different way, but they are fast in the line of scrimmage. If you have to commit a blocker to them, if you have to commit one of your linemen to them, then you’re basically singled up across the board on the other four guys, as opposed to having a three-on-two or some kind of three-on-two situation, whether you’re three-on-two inside, or three-on-two to one side or the other if nobody blitzes. Once they blitz a guy, then whoever blocks that linebacker leaves you singled across the board. I think their pass rush is very good. They get a lot of pressure.”

And in the three years before this one, Jared Allen has been the single-most feared pass rusher in the NFL, collecting sack totals of 15.5, 14.5 and 14.5 dating back to his final season with Kansas City in 2007. This season he has one. Eventually, one would think, he’s going to break out. Pats left tackle Matt Light is hoping that’s not today.

Edwards and Allen on one the ends and both Williams form the middle of the line. Double-teams are tricky but necessary to prevent one of the Williams from getting through the middle of the offensive line and blowing up the run game. And if the middle of the line disintegrates, Tom Brady becomes a vulnerable target.

Let the coach explain.

“I think the double team guy on that is [Kevin] Williams. That’s the problem: if you don’t help the guard with Williams then the guard is really isolated on Kevin Williams because the center is tied up on Pat Williams and the tackles are tied up on the ends, whichever guy it is Allen or Edwards. And so a lot of single opportunities come from Williams, but it’s hard to double him with a center because the center is on the same side as the guard.

“So you either have to do it with the tackle and that leaves you with a back or a tight end or whatever the combination is, it leaves you with somebody else out there on Allen and Edwards, which is a problem. Or if you leave your tackle on them, then it leaves your guard singled on Kevin Williams, which [is] a problem. That’s kind of the idea of the over and under front – to have a player in that three-technique who’s got a nose tackle on the other side of the center and an end on the other side of the tackle, so that those guys have to kind of block their respective guys and then you have the three-technique singled on a guard.

Many times this year Belichick has moved Vince Wilfork out to the end to try and overpower the opposing tackle. Well, Belichick pointed out that in Kevin Williams the Vikings have the luxury of doing just the opposite, which could mean a long, long day Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal and Dan Connolly.

“Guards generally play in, obviously, a more confined space than the tackles do, so if you have a guy that’s really a good defensive end playing tackle, like you have with [Kevin] Williams, then you really have an end on a guard instead of an end on a tackle. He’s a tall guy with good range, real good quickness. He’s powerful. He could easily play defensive end, but he’s matched up the guards and that’s a tough matchup.”

Read More: Alan Page, Bill Belichick, Carl Eller, minnesota vikings Print  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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