FOXBORO, Mass — The New England Patriots are renowned for doing a slew of things well, and for Mike Zimmer, one thing in particular stands out.
During his conference call with New England media Wednesday morning, the Minnesota Vikings head coach explained why the Patriots are so difficult to defend against.
“Well they’re obviously very well coached, they’re very disciplined in everything they do,” Zimmer said. “They’ve got as you said a lot of weapons, the guy pulling the trigger is one of the best of all time, and I think the way they’re running the football really accentuates all those things.”
And at the ends of his answer, he slipped in an interesting little comment.
“And (they’re) the best play-action team in the NFL.”
Quarterback Tom Brady long has been tremendous at executing play action, even when the offense is particularly pass-heavy. But with dynamic running backs in James White, Sony Michel and now Rex Burkhead, teams have to especially be prepared for the run.
Because of that, it’s not uncommon for the opposition to get busted by the fake, and Zimmer later expounded on his endorsement of the Patriots’ play-action skill by explaining what it is they do so well when running those plays.
“It’s a combination of (everything),” Zimmer said. “A lot of teams run play action (out of formations) that they don’t really run the runs out of. But their play action looks exactly like the run, the offensive line does an outstanding job, Brady’s really good with the play action and the receivers do a good job of getting to the spots where the linebackers or the safeties are getting sucked into.”
The Vikings defense is among the league’s best, ranking in the top five in pass, rush and total yards, as well as 10th in points allowed. As such, the Patriots’ ability to deceive will need to be at its best Sunday.