Ok its time to get unconventional. We've all been hoping to see McKnight get some touches. I think I thought of a way to get him involved without really taking touches away from anybody else. But first lets assess the situation as it is currently constituted for the game this weekend.
Our issues are well documented. Our Right Tackle is a sissy, and our two fantastic interior lineman (Mangold and Moore) are not quite themselves at the moment. We're facing a defensive front that has two DTs than can potentially dominate and a backup MLB. Seems like it would favor the Pats if we allowed their DTs to disrupt things with penetration and if their backup MLB can flow to the ball freely. So I think its safe to say that between the tackles power football is not a good game plan in this one. I think the best plan of attack is to target the edges using quick-hitting screens and tosses, and to mix in some misdirection traps on the interior. We want that interior triumvirate to be hesitant, and keep them at bay. And this is where we use McKnight.
I propose that we use McKnight as our queen chess piece. He'd not only be our ultimate weapon in this one, but he'd also be our ultimate decoy. What i'm thinking is kinda funky, so bear with me. I want to go with a 2 tailback set, using a lot of offset-I-formations. And I want to use McKnight in what would normally be the FB position in that look. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that Joe channel his inner John Conner and start blasting fools as a lead blocker in the run-game. No, what I want to do is use Joe to stretch out the defense, draw them to the edges and move them laterally, and exploit mismatches.
First, I'd like to use Joe on some counter action from that FB spot in the offset-I-formation. This will keep Haynesworth and Wilfork from charging hard up the field, and it'll keep the DE who he's running toward to stay disciplined in his rush by not giving up outside contain or running himself out of the play. This will also encourage the middle backer to take some false steps. This also will influence their outside backers to honor that run action, which will give Keller a lot of leverage in his release into his route.
This might create some creases for the running game. We can double those DTs and trap their DEs and use McKnights speed and quickness to hit it up in there and maybe make a guy miss and pop one. We can also use it to influence the pursuit one way and counter back the other way with Greene/Tomlinson. If the middle backer takes a false step, we can pop one right up the gut. We can also play fake to him and then hit him in the flat. If we run action to Keller's side we'll probably get McKnight matched up solo on a backer in space, which is favorable imo.
MOTION TO THE SLOT
If the Pats stay in their base 4-3 against our 2-TB look, we'll have some serious match-ups in the passing game. If they go nickel, we'll have much more leverage in the run game. If they stay in their 4-3, and we motion McKnight into the strong-side slot (between Keller and Holmes), we'll have 3 dramatically favorable match-ups: McKnight in space on a backer, Keller solo on a safety, and Holmes solo on a corner. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel. If they go nickel, then we can force that DB into the box make him take on some of that trap action.
But I also like the idea of motioning Joe out into the weakside slot and running some quick screens to him. They don't even have to be successful, they just have to be a threat and cause the safety and the backer to that side to bite on his presence there. We can pump-fake the screen and pull some guys out of position to make room for somebody else. That could be Plax on a back-shoulder fade, could be Keller on a drag route, Tomlinson/Greene on a draw... He demands attention.
We also can put Joe in as the tradition tailback, with Greene/Tomlinson as the tailback in the fullback spot. That way we can get him on the edge on some tosses and sweeps where he can use his speed and elusiveness to make a play.
Now I'm not talking about making wholesale changes to the offense. Rather, this is just a look that creates some match-ups and keeps the opponent honest and disciplined in their rush. And, of course, it gets McKnight involved. There's no doubt the kid can make plays. Its about time we start figuring out how to get him some touches.