The Haphazard Blog

Tag: 2010 season

Patriots vs. Browns Recap

by on Nov.07, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

Special thanks to CBS for showing all of us at home Eric Mangini chewing dip and spitting on the field. I’m sure there is plenty of spit and blood on the field, but it would still suck to have your face smashed into some discraded dip.

It looks like the game ended up being as bad (for the Patriots) as the first play was.

21-Yard Completion on First and 10

The Browns completed a 21-yard pass and the picture above shows a corner back and safety nearby along with linebackers and safeties 6 yards behind. And it took 4 of them to actually touch the receiver down.

Four Patriots Couldn't Cover One Receiver

Rob Gronkowski had a horrible day. Poor Andy Hart. (Not to mention his other binky, James Sanders, was hurdled by Peyton Hillis.) Gronkowski calls for a fair catch and just stands there as it lands 3 yards behind him. Sammy Morris couldn’t corral it and the Browns got it. Then when the Patriots finally got the ball, he had 2 drops (1 was a low throw, but hit his hands). Later on, he had a killer fumble at the goal line to end the half. Patriots would’ve been 2nd and goal at the 2 down 17-7. For good measure he got a holding penalty and tipped a touchdown pass up in the air.

Luckily, on that tipped ball, Aaron Hernandez was able to concentrate and pull the ball in for a touchdown in the back of the end zone.

Weird U.S. Air Force commercial. It continues the “it’s not science fiction” series, but they show that tag line after a cargo plane seemingly has vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and transforming while flying capabilities.

By the midpoint of the 3rd quarter, the game was quite embarrassing. The Browns were unstoppable. Peyton Hillis (nice trade Broncos!) was running anyone and everyone over, Colt McCoy was scrambling and making plays. To top it off, he ran for a 16 yard touchdown.

The Patriots kept trying to get in the game, but aside from not really being able to string together drives to score I noticed the Patriots receivers and tight ends are unnecessarily jumping to catch passes with their bodies. Makes running after the catch (if they don’t drop it) a lot harder.

As the game came to a close, somehow the Patriots looked worse. They loaded up to stop the run and played very undisciplined. The outside linebackers were not setting the edge. Hillis had no trouble running off tackle with 15 yard and 35 yards (a touchdown). The 15 yard one was after the defense got a 5 yard loss and had a 2nd and 15. After that, Bill Belichick ditched the headset and put Brian Hoyer in and called it a game.

One last note on this debacle. The Browns, ex-Patriots in particular were celebrating like they won the Super Bowl. Considering they’ve actually been there, I can’t really say act like you’ve been there before. But keep in mind that Josh McDaniels went nuts after beating the Patriots last year and has proceeded to go 5-14 since. Beating the Patriots isn’t as big of an accomplishment as it used to be.

To completely ruin Sunday football, the Jets came back from a 20-10 deficit in the 4th quarter to tie it, force overtime, win the coin flip and kick a field goal.  The Patriots and Jets are 6-2 at the top of the AFC East.

Looking forward, I don’t think losing is ever a good thing, but now the Patriots know they have to play a lot better if they want to have a chance against the Steelers (they couldn’t contain McCoy in the pocket, stop Hillis running and didn’t match their physicality) or Colts (porous pass defense against the Browns) in the next 2 weeks. The offense also has to execute at a much better and consistent level.

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Patriots vs. Vikings Recap

by on Oct.31, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

Happy Halloween!

This was a ho-hum kind of game. The teams went back and forth for a bit before the Patriots were able to capitalize on a turnover and then the Vikings came back and made it a one score game again late.

I just want to say again that I hate Sunday afternoon games. Missed the beginning of the game again because the local FOX station had to air some local commercials. Suddenly, the Patriots have the ball.  This may happen again for the Colts game, CBS has the double header.

Alge Crumpler seems to makes a lot of costly and/or stupid penalties for a veteran. This week, it was illegal motion negating a 1st down followed by an incomplete pass to punt. Week 1 it was a false start and then a holding negating a 1st down leading to a punt. Week 3 was holding again. All told, if you read the play-by-play, Crumpler has 3 penalties, 1 injury, 2 incomplete passed and 1 completed pass through 7 games. In all fairness to him, he has been a locker room leader, mentor to 2 rookie tight ends and a staple of the running game.

Blah. Blah. Blah. Brett Favre. Favre. Favre. That is all I hear the announcers saying. It’s like everyone gets paid by the compliment to Favre.

The Patriots offense seems to be getting worse by the week. Is it film study? Conversely, are the Vikings going to win by running all day? It seemed like it, but at the end of the game Adrian Peterson didn’t get 100 yards and the Patriots found a running game.

I really think that the Patriots defense stopped Peterson on that touchdown. I agree with the crowd, bull shit. If you combine the angles, Vince Wilfork stopped the ball and Jerod Mayo finished him off. No touchdown.

I couldn’t stop laughing after Brad Childress decided to challenge the Brandon Tate reception after the network showed 4 replays. I could see it with no replays, but after those? Total ineptitude. Then later he didn’t challenge a turnover. The referees aren’t your only problem Chilly.

The Patriots defense continues their bend, but don’t break ways with a goal line stand. They seem to be getting better, which is what I hoped to see.

I thought Tom Brady was throwing it away when he threw it to Tate for the 65 yard touchdown. But it was another one of those plays where you have no idea what Brady was thinking and it worked out. On the other side, when Brady had a lot of time it seemed like either there was no check down/dump off receiver or he couldn’t find the open guy.

Another awesome interception by Devin McCourty. He ripped that ball away from Percy Harvin as he was going to the ground and took off with it. I think that’s a play Childress has to challenge to see if Harvin was down by contact first.

Favre was knocked out with an injury. With stitches, he obviously was hit in the head by Myron Pryor’s helmet. It was a hit to the chest, but the helmet had to have slid up. By the rules (at least how I read them), that was a penalty (they got an illegal contact anyway, another bad call in my opinion). I’d expect a fine to come his way. On the topic of penalties, not sure how they missed the pass interference call against Welker later. It was a critical point in the game, fortunately, they got the 1st down on the next play.

To end the drive, they ran 2 quarterback sneaks from 1 yard out. What were they thinking there? One yard for a touchdown to go up by 10 and they do that with the Vikings defense in with a goal line package and dug in for the run. Were they that confident that they could get a TD on 3rd or 4th down? Points seem a lot more important than the time left on the clock.

The Vikings had incredible kick and punt coverage teams.

And finally, I just want to echo Bill Simmons.

The Raiders went 29-83 from 2003 to 2009. Somehow, my Patriots have their No. 1 pick during the one year they’ll probably finish 8-8. This makes me angry. Really, really angry.

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Patriots vs. Chargers Recap

by on Oct.24, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

Right off the bat, I had to deal with NFL Sunday Ticket annoyances. If a game is scheduled to air on your local station, DirecTV blacks out the NFL Sunday Ticket broadcast. It really sucks when:

  1. The early game you want to watch is on local TV and turns out to be a blowout. The local channel switches to another game and it’s also blacked out. It will take almost a whole quarter before DirecTV lifts the blackout.
  2. The late game you want to watch is on local TV and another game they want to air to completion goes over. I’ve never seen them lift the black out in this case, you have to wait until the local station shows the game.
  3. The late game you want to watch is on local TV and the team in/near your market goes over. If it goes to OT, they will usually lift the black out until half time, but not until a fair amount of the game has already been played.

So today, I was stuck with scenario #2. By the time they joined the game, there was 10:30 left in the 1st quarter and there were already 2 possessions. What’s the point of getting “all the games” when this routinely happens across the country to fans who live outside their favorite team’s market? Can’t DirecTV do it the other way? Have a god faith agreement to black out a game after they confirm it is airing locally? How about at least having a phone number or e-mail address to alert them that a black out needs to be lifted. They charge $300 a season. Is it too costly to hire a guy to work every Sunday to handle black outs?

The last thing I’ll say is there are at least the Shortcuts so I can see the plays I missed tomorrow. Now, on to the game (at least what I saw).

Someone needs to remind Brandon Meriweather that while he did make a big hit, the guy still got a 1st down. Quit celebrating like Ellis Hobbs. But a good job lowering his target after the dirty hit and big fine the week before.

The Chargers went for an onside kick early and the Patriots did a good job making sure they got it. Last year, they were caught not paying attention and just running back to cover, this year, while they were taking a step back, they were watching the ball. Dane Fletcher was able to fall on it while other guys made blocks to make sure he had the time to secure the ball. There was no panic.

The Patriots ripped of a 9 yard run on 1st down, then threw 2 incomplete passes. This was a sign of a theme for the offense today, lots of ineptitude and inconsistency.

On the flip side, the defense played very well. They were stopping the Chargers on 3rd down, and on a 3rd and long were able to force a fumble and recover deep in Charger territory. It was another good play by Fletcher who seemed to be carrying over his good play from the Ravens game.

After the Patriots scored a touchdown, Richard Goodman pulled a somewhat common rookie mistake by just dropping a live ball after hitting the ground after the catch. I was yelling at the TV as he went down for someone to touch him because I knew he could get up and run. Instead he tossed the ball on the ground and James Sanders picked it up.

Once again, Matt Light did his best impression of a turnstile as Tom Brady was sacked. In general, the whole offensive line played poorly and Brady was under pressure all night. I’ll repeat it again, the Patriots will be drafting a left tackle. Light is useless. He gets beat routinely (but not often enough to be benched) and he can’t even play any other position.

The Patriots came out playing better in the 3rd quarter. CBS showed a stat saying the last time the Patriots failed to gain more than 38 yards in the 1st half was against the Giants (29 yards) in 2003. They also won that game, went 14-2 and won a Super Bowl that year.

Danny Woodhead continues to amaze. He has great instincts for running and he also perfectly timed a high step to avoid a guy who was behind him from making a shoe string tackle that allowed him to get at least another 10 yards on 2nd and 17 to make it 3rd and 1.

The defense started to look pretty porous in the 4th quarter. On one play, they had a 3 man rush on 3rd and long and the Chargers converted the 3rd down with a pass. This is the opposite of how they played against the Ravens where they played their best in the 4th quarter (and OT).  They were able to move the ball and score touchdowns at will it seemed. I felt like I could predict what was happening. Thy started to pass when Vince Wilfork was in for 1st down, mostly as a checkdown to a wide open underneath receiver or running back. So New England countered with a similar plan to the Ravens last week having Fletcher spy the running back. Philip Rivers just went deep in the middle then. So then they decided to take Wilfork out and the Chargers would just run it. Antonio Gates really stepped it up in the 4th quarter despite an injury.

The second onsides kick by the Chargers was perfectly timed. The Chargers player was at the ball just as it was crossing the 4o-yard line. The only chance the Patriots had was to try and go forward and get a hold of the ball, but without their best “hands” guys, would’ve been equally risky.

I thought it was a curious decision for Bill Belichick to go for it on 4th and 1 from their 49 after the 2 minute warning. The Chargers still had 3 timeouts left and only need a field goal to tie the game. A punt gives them 2 minutes and a long field with 3 timeouts. If they fail to get the 1st down, then the Chargers have the ball at midfield with 3 timeouts and need 15-20 yards to be in field goal range. If the Patriots get the 1st down, they could force the Chargers to burn all their timeouts and then punt for a long field to get a field goal. And best case, they are able to run the whole clock out. My guess on Bill Belichick’s logic: I like our chances of getting a 1st down on this play (It looked like the same play they used to get their last touchdown) over my defense stopping the Chargers with 4 downs on a long field.

So after not getting the 1st down, the defense held enough. On the 3rd down play I was hoping for short completion to set up a long field goal. An incomplete might’ve had them go for it on 4th and long. They got a little more yards than I had hoped. They set up for a 45-yard field goal and has a false start! It moved them back 5 yards and I feared they may decide to go for it, but they went ahead with a field goal. My thought was where is Patrick Chung when you need him (someone else did come real close to blocking it), but to the Patriot’s fortune, the kick hit the right upright and was no good. Another tough win.

One final note. No idea if there is a correlation, but the Patriots 3rd down offense has done a lot worse since the Randy Moss trade. And speaking of, next week he comes back to face the Patriots.

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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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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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