The Haphazard Blog


Patriots vs. Ravens Recap

by on Oct.17, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

If it wasn’t said enough leading up to this game, it will be said even more now. The Patriots are going back to the style of play they had during their Super Bowl championship years. I can see where the sentiment comes from, but the defense has a ways to go.

The Patriots started out poorly on defense. They mirrored the Bills game by doing a great job on 1st and 2nd down and then let the Ravens convert a 3rd and long. Then on the same drive they let it happen again before finally getting a stop in the red zone. I think Derrick Mason ran a bad route short of the sticks though. Either way, they held them to a field goal.

The reverse that the Patriots ran was really slick. Instead of the traditional hand-off, BenJarvus Green-Ellis tossed the ball up to a spot as Brandon Tate was coming across. It let tate grab the ball in stride from the air and quickly get the corner. It was a gutsy call when considering the timing and fumble risk. What I didn’t like was Tom Brady trying to block Terrell Suggs. He went diving at his knees and that kind of move by a quarterback reminds me too much of the concussion Trent Green suffered trying to do the same thing a few years back.

Brady was pretty angry in the 2nd quarter following a couple of dropped passes. You could hear a “god damnit” and later saw him on the sideline still yelling. It reminded me of his anger with Joey Galloway last season. Brady later had some bad throws of his own.

The Gillette Stadium crowd had some pretty good moments making noise during the game. The 2nd quarter and the end of the game stood out to me.

I have no idea why Julian Edelman didn’t let that punt bounce. It was a long punt and could’ve gone into the end zone for a touchback.

I think Bill Belichick made it clear he doesn’t have confidence in his defense when he didn’t use a timeout after they stopped the Ravens for 1 yard on 1st and 10 with 1:39 left and didn’t expect much from the offense as he let the clock run after stopping them on 3rd and 9 with 1:10 left.

The interception Brady threw was a poor throw. He was hurried (or at least felt the pressure) and overthrew Wes Welker who was also double covered. Poor decision on his part and the Ravens capitalized quickly with a touchdown.

I noticed there was a NFL shield screen bug added to the telecast. Watching the Red Zone Channel on DirecTV, I haven’t really seen it for other games. So it seems like DirecTV has added it to the individual games as opposed to CBS.

After the Patriots seemed to get most of their offense from unconventional plays, they have a good drive in the 4th quarter to get a touchdown.

How good does the Patriots defense make opposing QBs look? During the broadcast, once Brady started to complete passes and get into a rhythm, they said Brady was starting to look like Joe Flacco.

Matt Light continues to have inopportune plays. Doing well for all but a couple plays just isn’t quite good enough. He got beat pretty bad a couple times and then got a holding penalty. Momentum killer, but somehow Brady finds Rob Gronkowski open for 24 yards on 1st and 25. I really think if the Oakland pick ends up being real high and there is an elite left tackle, the Patriots pounce. Light is in the final year of his contract and you can almost always expect him to get beat at a critical point in a game. A left tackle is likely to be low risk choice with high value. Especially if there is a rookie wage scale and top left tackles (and top pick left tackles as well) get paid nearly $10M/yr.

On that big play to Gronkowski, Brady got up real mad. He pounded the ground while he was on his back and then was jawing with Suggs. My brother made a good observation, and watching the replay he was right. On the ground he looked bad towards the official and it seems he was real mad that Haloti Ngata (who’s a beast) wasn’t flagged during the play. It seemed clean, but he did fall on Brady taking him to the ground. I’ve seen it called before. Brady was actually yelling at Ngata and then Suggs joined. My brother said Suggs probably told Brady to stop whining and he”s probably right. :)

Weird play calling right before the two minute warning. They seemed to think they didn’t have to run a play before the two minute warning. They ended up calling a timeout and then couldn’t get the touchdown, settling for the tying field goal.

They opted for a hail mary over a 62-yd field goal attempt to win it in regulation. I wonder why Belicick chose not to take the shot. Most likely wanting to avoid a block, but how big of a risk is it being the last play of the game. They could end it right there before OT.

Aaron Hernandez had a pair of drops during OT that immediately put the Patriots in 2nd and 10. They went 3 and out both times. A lot of credit to the defense from the 4th quarter through OT. They forced the Ravens to punt on their last 5 drives letting the offense score 10 points to force OT and eventually win the game with a FG on their third possession of OT.

All in all, it did bring back memories of past Patriots close games and the ability to just make the plays needed to get the win.

October 18 Update: Somehow I didn’t even mention Deion Branch and all of his production in the 4th quarter and OT. He was ready for the entire game and came up big. Also, Danny Woodhead’s continued production along with him taking Ray Lewis down on a blitz pickup. Someone joked if Lewis caught Woodhead, he might be accused of murder a second time, but Woodhead held his own.

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Patriots vs. Dolphins and Bye Week Recap

by on Oct.14, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

I started to take notes during games so I could remember things that I noticed later. More than any game so far this year, they come in real handy. The Patriots won handily 41-14, but thinks weren’t looking so bright in the first half. It would be easy to forget.

To start the game, Anthony Fasano was wide open in zone coverage and able to convert a 3rd and 3 for over 20 yards. Heading into this game, I was hoping for 3rd and short over 3rd and long because the Patriots pass defense has left a lot to desire so far. Looked like the Dolphins decided if they can’t cover 3rd and long, they probably can’t cover 3rd and short. The Patriots did eventually force a punt and it was good to see Wes Welker back there to return the punt. It was a positive sign that he is still doing well in his recovery. (He did also tell ESPN that he definitely was not back to 100%, plus he really hates the brace.) Unfortunately, he muffed the punt and it looked like he was tackled awkwardly. Fortunately, he was able to get his leg out of the turf and bounced back up. But it was scary for a split second.

They decided to start Vince Wilfork at defensive end. They moved him to that spot during the Ravens playoff game last year because Jarvis Green was getting run all over. This time, it seemed like they wanted to discourage Miami from running to the right from the beginning (they only tried 5 times). It makes sense if the plan is to put their best outside linebacker on the opposite side. My thinking is they don’t have 2 guys who can set the edge. so they have their best defensive lineman take care of it on one side.

On another 3rd down play (this time a long one), Brandon Spikes points to Davone Bess as no one covers him and he catches the ball and runs for an easy 1st down. Looking like it was going to be a close game and long night for the defense.

This doesn’t seem to happen often, but ESPN mentioned that BenJarvus Green-Ellis had never fumbled the ball (147 carries) and somehow, he didn’t fumble it the whole night.

I made a note to find out where Cameron Wake was drafted, but they mentioned during the game he was an undrafted free agent. Looking into it further, the Giants signed him in 2005 and cut him. He played in the CFL in 2007 and 2008 and then after he was one of the best defensive players for 2 years a bunch of NFL teams wanted him. I’d say he fits the description of a “high motor” guy. I also finally understood what “speed to power” means (between Playbook and ESPN).  Wake gets going fast at Sebastian Vollmer and just powers right through him pushing him backwards and then tosses him aside to get a hit on Tom Brady.

Rob Ninkovich was struggling with setting the edge in the run, but came up big dropping into coverage and picking off a pass for Brandon Marshall. Later in the game he made a great interception by stretching out to grab it. Very Tedy Bruschi-esque with those plays (and the sack later).

That pass to Randy Moss was so close for a touchdown. It definitely seemed like it was catchable at the time, but in retrospect, he had to turn and get his hands on it in very little time. He makes catching the ball look so easy, you just expect him to catch that. (Following his trade, Vontae Davis said Moss said that if Brady didn’t throw such a wobbly ball, he would’ve caught it. Probably true.)

Not sure the Patriots could’ve started the half any better than a kick return for a TD, a 3 and out on defense, a punt block for a short field and the offense cashing in with another TD. Huge swing of momentum for the Patriots. To the Dolphins credit, they took the ball right down the field (the Patriots laughingly fell for a screen pass (not realizing it was way too easy, especially for them, to get a path to Chad Henne) on the way) to get a TD themselves. I think it was at this point where I felt really good about the Patriots. They had a great drive to score another TD. The Dolphins had a real good chance to get the momentum back, but I think this drive showed the Patriots weren’t going to lay down on the road (finally). It looked like after this TD that Brady was telling everyone to get set for a 2 point play. I thought it was way too early for that (and Ernie Adams was smarter than that). Either I misunderstood what Brady was doing or they thought better of it and kicked the extra point.

From there, the game really got out of control. Pat Chung found a crease right between 2 guys and blocked a field goal that they ran back for a TD. (Somehow he wasn’t the AFC special teams player of the week.) For good measure he ran an interception back for a TD as well.

As mentioned in a previous post, Randy Moss was traded during the bye week. There were no other players involved and the compensation did seem low to me for a player of his caliber. I was expecting at least a 2nd round pick, especially to a team in win now mode like Minnesota. Also weird was that they didn’t extend his contract. He’s in the same exact position he was in with the Patriots as far as his contract goes. My thought was given the compensation (Patriots got a 3rd and had to send a 7th to the Vikings) a lot more was going on behind the scenes. It looks like they all agreed to play nice, so we probably won’t ever know what the reasons were. I’d guess it was a lot of things between his attitude and his place in the offense. A few people felt during the Jets loss that Brady was forcing balls to Moss with better options available. Time will tell if this was a good or bad idea. Was Brady forcing the ball to Moss to keep him happy? Was he not looking for the open receiver? I will say that he was right back at hos locker for his weekly interview (instead of the podium).

And now this week the Patriots brought back their old friend Deion Branch. He adjusted his contract for 2011 to come back, but they will be paying him basically what they were going to pay Moss. It seemed like a necessary move considering they traded their #1 WR and needed someone to add back onto the depth chart (or rely on Taylor Price who has been inactive all season). Although the compensation seems to say it (4th round pick to get Branch) it’s far from an equal swap on field. The operative word being on field. He should be able to get up to speed enough to contribute Sunday. I think these moves have a lot of people wondering if the Patriots will be returning to their Super Bowl days when Brady’s favorite receiver was the open one. I’d say the offense is a lot better now than then, but the defense has a long way to go to be as good as the ones they had then.

One thing is clear, this will be an even more interesting season than I thought before, and the NFL seems to be wide open for almost any team to make it to the Super Bowl.

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Randy Moss Killing Twitter

by on Oct.05, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

I was watching some TV and I see all this Randy Moss stuff blow up. Twitter is slow, not sure if this is why, but it must have every football fan buzzing. My biggest concern: How would this trade affect Tom Brady? I know he says he has no control over it, but it has to affect him mentally in some way.

This would be a very bold move and it seems like it came out of nowhere. I mean, now that it’s out there, it’s not a shock, but very unexpected.

I wonder if another player could be involved? Some defensive help maybe.

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Patriots vs. Bills Recap

by on Sep.26, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

I’d say this game played out as I expected. The offense would put up points and the defense would give up points. I didn’t buy too much into the idea that the Patriots would blow out the Bills. It would really take one or two non-offensive TDs for them to really blow the game open. I really think the defense we saw from the second half of the Bengals game through the Jets game is the baseline for the defense. I continue to hope they improve as they play, but that remains to be seen. The offense is good and they just have to find a way to get the job done.

Aaron Hernandez has looked really good these last two games. He is a great target for Tom Brady. I like that he almost always cuts back to the inside and isn’t afraid of contact. It’s scary that he will only get better.

The defense continues to help opposing quarterbacks. CBS ran a stat that said the Bills had failed to convert their last 40 3rd and 10 or longer. So of course when the Patriots had them at 3rd and 18, the Bills got the 1st down pretty easily. There was no pass rush and no coverage. As much as Bill Belichick empasizes that pass defense is a combination of the pass rush and coverage, the Patriots are inconsistent at both once again. They desperately need to find an OLB who can put pressure on the QB. I noticed that Belichick has a play calling sheet in his hand. I wonder if he was calling plays for the offense or defense?

Although the Febreze commercial highlighted the Patriots loss to the Jets, I was amused that they said Mark Sanchez was able to win the game with Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller while ignoring Braylon Edwards who was arrested for DUI (and now will apparently claim antibiotics caused him to blow a 0.16).

It was at home, but we got to see Clutch Brady show up at the end of the half to move the team down for a quick FG. Later, we saw him run the ball for a 1st down and emphatically assist the referees in signaling the 1st down. I’ve been waiting to see him run with the ball since last season. It was good to see  him do that with so much room. Last year, he would’ve still tried to dump the ball off to someone.

I think I saw the reason why Brady doesn’t pass more to Brandon Tate on the second touchdown pass to Randy Moss. Moss beat double coverage and Brady through the ball to him deep. Tate also decided to run towards the ball bringing another defender with him. I can’t imagine they drew up a route that had two people running to the same location and I seriously doubt it was Moss who made the mistake. Brady has to be able to trust his receivers will go where they are supposed to go.

That TD they gave up on the kick-off was bad. They’ve been covering so well all pre-season and to start the year. It let the Bills get right back into the game. I still wonder if Stephen Gostkowski is fully healthy. On 2 drives, the offense killed them with penalties before they even got started. They have to be more disciplined, especially when they go on the road. They made it very likely to go 3 and out (and they did).

Chung still continues to look like the best guy on defense with Vince Wilfork. His decision to run the interception out of the end zone didn’t seem like smart situational football, but he did get an interception at a critical point. Danny Woodhead had 2 good runs on draw plays; a Kevin Faulk specialty. That’s an important hole to fill with the loss of Faulk. We’ll have to see how he handles pass protection against blitzers. Best of all, the Patriots were able to close out the game. A big test next week at Miami before they have their early bye week.

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New England Patriots Musings

by on Sep.25, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

Some random thought on the Patriots.

No one should be up in arms about Tom Brady calling the home crown “friendly”. They are quiet most of the game and don’t do much to help their team. I don’t understand the phenomenon. You pay all that money for tickets, parking, tailgating and food and you leave early to beat traffic? Aside from teams that can’t sell out (this is probably even debatable), the Patriots fans who attend games collectively suck. For the 2009 season, and this season so far, the team can not be fully trusted to keep a lead and win a game when they are leading. Fans really should stick around to the end and lend a hand. My recommended solution is for Kraft Sports to produce a video like Blue Man Group did with their How to be a Rock Star tour, replacing what to do to be a rock star with what to do as a fan (yell when the opposing offense is at the line of scrimmage, yell even louder on third and fourth down, keep quiet when the Patriots are on offense, support the team the whole game). Basically, teach the fans how to be real fans since they either don’t know or can’t be bothered. Mix in players talking about how other fans being so loud made it hard on them. Play this video before the game and during half time. Chop up the “moves” and play them during TV timeouts.

ESPN posted a Madden simulation of the Patriots vs. Jets game last week and I know as I read it, I laughed at the outcome and the manner in which the Jets came back to win. As it turned out, they had it almost right except they gave the Patriots too much credit on offense in the second half. Otherwise, the Jets came from behind and Sanchez had a big game. This week they predict a 42-13 destruction of the Bills.

Losing Kevin Faulk is a tough blow. They didn’t have him for 8 weeks in 2005 and they were up and down through that stretch. I think it’s a loss they can overcome, but it just adds another problem to a team that seems to have a lot of them. The main concern I would have is Brady’s pass protection. Faulk would rarely get beat or blown up despite his size. He would lay his body on the line to take on a blitzer to keep Brady clean. Is there anyone else they can count on every time like they could with Faulk?

What has happened to the Patriots in the second half? I talked about the collapses at the end of the season. There is an ESPN article that sums it up by the numbers. The offense isn’t producing and the defense is also suffering. I think the Patriots have to produce a better offense in the second half. They need to be able to run down the clock so that the defense is spending less time on the field. People are quick to blame the defense (and there’s no question they didn’t play well) in the loss to the Jets, but the offense scored zero points and turned the ball over three times. They had the ball for 10 minutes to the Jets 20 minutes. The defense forced 2 punts, allowed one field goal and two touch downs. Certainly not great, but they got no help from the offense. The defense is simply not lights out or smothering. They have a very difficult time getting consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback. As I mentioned in my previous post, the defense has an incredible ability to make the opposing QB look like a hall of famer (and the numbers bear that out).

So far, things are going as I predicted with the growing pains. I didn’t expect them to look so good against Bengals or so bad in the second half against the Jets. We’ll see how the progress as the season goes. They have a lot of good teams to play this year.

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Patriots vs. Jets Recap

by on Sep.19, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

It started out well, but it didn’t end well.

The announcers said the Jets won the toss and elected to kick. I thought it couldn’t be true, because then the Patriots would also choose to receive in the second half, making the Jets idiots. The Jets got the kick-off in the second half, so the announcers were wrong.

Tom Brady is back. I was sure he was before, but after today, there’s no question. His ducking under Kyle Wilson avoiding a sack while keeping his eyes down field to hit Welker on the other side is classic Brady.

Stephen Gostkowski has missed 3 FGs in a row now. He’s a career 85% kicker, so that means he’d have to make the next 17 in a row to stay at 85%. His kickoff also seemed like they were short (he has been good at getting touchbacks) so it has me wondering if he’s injured.

The announcers seemed to say it was clear the ball hit the ground on Patrick Chung’s interception, but at least to me, there wasn’t indisputable visual evidence of it on the replay review. Regardless, they overruled it and what could’ve been something else to continue Mark Sanchez’s woes was for not. The Patriots did still get a 3 and out, so at the time, things were looking up. Also, Chung has made a very impressive improvement in his second year. He looks like the best guy on the defense.

Tully Banta-Cain continues with the stupid penalties. What a pointless late hit he made. This defense has an incredible ability to make opposing offense and QBs look so good. And to think, I was thinking this during the second quarter before the Patriots allowed the Jets to do whatever they wanted and see the resurrection of the Sanchize and Braylon Edwards catch everything thrown his way.

That TD catch by Randy Moss was simply amazing. I thought the ball was overthrown with him only putting one hand up to grab it, but he was just catching it with ease. Of course, Darelle Revis grabs his hamstring and isn’t seen from again. It’s kind of funny the game was going much better for the Patriots with him in then with him gone. $32M for 2 years. :)

Brady threw a great pass to Antonio Cromartie. Moss was more of a defender in the second half than a wide receiver. I have no idea what happened to the offense in the second half of this game. Where were all the receivers besides Moss? Wes Welker (I noticed he played sparingly after taking that hit), Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate, Alge Crumpler and Rob Gronkowski? It was just 3rd and long followed by deep pass after deep pass. There was nothing underneath? The Jets took away all the supposed weapons in New England’s offense without their best CB? If that’s the case, then there are big worries on offense now. Why did they wait so long to go hurry up and break out the screen passes? Was it only working because the Jets were playing soft with a 2 TD lead? I didn’t see them at least try (and fail). Did the Patriots quit at the end? They had 2 timeouts, the Jets were in 2nd and long. Stop the clock after 2nd and 3rd down, they punt, you have over a minute left. Sure it’s a long shot, but you don’t even try?

I figured the game was over on the second pass interference by Darius Butler. They weren’t stopping the Jets. I guess this is the defense I expected to see in the first game. I’m not going to panic (just as I didn’t anoint them after the win last week), but this was a bad loss. They were outplayed the last 3 quarters, especially the second half. It was the same problems as last year. Road collapses after halftime. It’s only week 2 and just between the Patriots and Jets games, it’s a nice circle. The Patriots beat the Bengals, the Bengals beat the Ravens, the Ravens beat the Jets and the Jets beat the Patriots.

Back to the drawing board, and it’s going to suck being the Buffalo Bills next week.

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My Plate Is Overflowing

by on Sep.19, 2010, under Computer Hardware, Entertainment, Football, Life, Patriots, Sports, Technology, TV

It seems like my todo list is endless now. I’ve been working long hours on a project with a tight time schedule. It’s a good project, but it does take a lot out of you to work so many hours a week. It makes me think about people who work two jobs to support their family. To do that week in and week out (and I’m sure at least one of those jobs is one they don’t particularly like) just shows their commitment to their family. It’s mentally and physically taxing. I’m fortunate to have a job that’s pretty much 40 hours a week the majority of the time.

I have yet to fully catch up after my vacation last month. My MacBook was buried under 3 weeks of mail and bills. I finally got through all that so my desk is actually clean. I hate when my desk is covered with stuff that needs to be taken care of or put away. I still need to go through all the pictures from my vacation and put some of those online.

My DVR still has shows on it from when I was on vacation. Between work and physical therapy, I’m recording more shows than I can watch. The positive out of it is I’m dumping marginal shows this fall. Hopefully between the canceled/ending shows last season, shows I dump this fall and the new shows this fall, I end up with less to watch.

I have managed to watch sports live at least. West Virginia is 3-0. They had an incredible comeback against Marshall (avoiding their first loss to them) last week. I thought they were done when they went down 14-3. I suppose I had some hope of a comeback because I did record the rest of the game and checked in between shows. I was able to tune back in on their TD drive to make it 21-13 and watch the rest of the game to see them pull off the win. I got to miss the suckitude in the middle. Yesterday, they looked better to start the game. Looking similar to the Patriots against Cincinnati to really jump on Maryland in the first half. Then Maryland was making a game of it before WVU had a 9-minute drive to put the game out of reach. It’s nice to see a QB who can pass the ball. It’s been a long time (since Marc Bulger I believe) since we had a guy who can throw the ball accurately and stand in the pocket.

Needless to say, I was surprised by how the Patriots played on defense last week. It was just one game, but they had a great game plan and the young guys executed it about as well as anyone could expect. It certainly adds a new level of anticipation and excitement about the 2010 team’s potential. Hopefully it’s not just a tease. A good test this week against a team with a very good, attacking defense. This will be a real test for the offensive line. If the game was in New England, I’d feel real confident the Patriots will win. I guess I’m still skeptical that the defense is as good as they were last week. I don’t think New England will try that whole whiteboard nonsense again this year. They will have Welker (he had a huge game in the only one he played vs. the Jets last year) and possibly Edelman who is a lot better than he was in week 2 last year. It’s going to be another test, but I think New England will win a close game because the Jets defense is better than Cincinnati’s.

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