Category Archives: New England Patriots

Back to (Run) School

The most unique spelling of his first name and the fifth leading rusher in the NFL. Mr. Stevan Ridley! (patriots.com)

Anyone catch the Oregon versus Washington game last weekend? If you did then you  might have noticed how similar the Patriots offense looks as compared to the Ducks. Fast paced no-huddle with tons of running out of the shotgun formations and short quick passes.

Just compare the Ducks 52-21 waxing of Washington to the 31-21 victory by the Patriots over Peyton Manning and the Broncos last weekend.

Team A: 497 total yards, 299 rushing, 198 passing, 32 first downs.

Team B: 444 total yards, 251 rushing, 193 passing, 35 first downs.

Pretty identical right? Team A is Oregon. Team B is New England.

Guess what? It’s not a coincidence. Oregon coach Chip Kelly worked with the Patriots’ staff this offseason and yet again Bill Belichick, with the help of Josh Mcdaniels has transformed the offense. In 2007 they were like Texas Tech with the air raid. Last season it was tight end city in a more Pro-Style. This season seems to be a move to spread run attack which is very college-like.

So while every team was ready for Gronk and Hernandez to rip it up it has been another two guys; Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden.

Integral part of the offense indeed. (patriots.com)

Ridley piled up 151 yards against Denver for his third 100-yard game of the season. He is ranked 5th in the NFL in rushing. Who is the last Patriot running back that really produced like this? Perhaps in the one-year revival of Corey Dillon’s career? If not that then its Curtis Martin. Now that’s not to say that five games is enough to compare him to a Hall of Famer (or former Jet) like C-Mart and a big part of it has been the system but what Ridley has done has been very impressive.

Then there is Bolden who was undrafted out of Ole Miss. His numbers aren’t as eye-popping (206 yards, one 100-yard game) but they don’t need to be. He spells Ridley and runs hard. Also still in the shuffle is the versatile Danny Woodhead who picked up the two biggest third downs of the game against Denver.

Also got to throw a ton of credit to the offensive line. With Matt Light and Brain Waters gone the unit had more question marks than a team would care to have and yet the line has held up. You have to have a skilled and conditioned line to run and offense like the Patriots did last week and it never looked like the guys were staggering down the field gasping for air/water/death.

Do the Patriots have the best running back group in the NFL? Probably not. However as the third best rushing squad so far, they certainly have the best system.

Wow, 373 words into a post and we haven’t even touched on the passing game. That has to be some kind of record. With the Patriots seemingly able to run the ball at will Tom Brady didn’t really have to be unbelievable. He completed a good amount of his passes (23-for-31) for a good amount of yards (223) and didn’t turn the ball over. (By the way he’s right behind that Brees fellow on that consecutive games with a touch down streak after another last week). However the numbers belie Brady’s most important contribution. There aren’t that many quarterbacks that could actually run the offense like the Patriots did. The amount of reads he has to make, the audibles he calls all while keeping everyone on the same page. There isn’t a stat for that but it needs to be said, this new system doesn’t work without No. 12 under center.

Sunday also officially put to rest the Wes Welker is being phased out rumor.  13 receptions, 104 yards and a touchdown. He’s had at least 100 yards and eight catches in each of the last three games. Sit down, shut up. Wes is just fine.

One of the victims, at least in terms of statistics, of this new power run offense is Rob Gronkowski. Gronk had just four receptions and 35 yards.  He’s had a few good games but is not at the level he was last season. Only three Gronk-spikes? Can’t say I’m not disappointed by that. However it’s coming with the offense playing a balanced and seemingly unstoppable style of ball so I also realyl can’t complain. Wins over fantasy points and stats all day erry day.

(Yes I just tossed out an erry).

Now let’s talk about the defense. It’d be awesome if the Patriots also looked like a college defnese like say Alabama. That’s not the case. Peyton threw for 337 yards on a bunch of passes that really wobbled and floated. At times it looked like a strong wind would just carry the ball away like the plastic bag in American Beauty. Still 337. The Patriots also had a open and shut game turn a bit more intriguing. That just seems to be the defense’s M.O. It can’t defend the pass very well (30th) and will let team’s back in the game if there is a top-line quarterback on the other side.

If it wasn’t for some fortunate miscues by Willis McGahee, that game could have ended up being even tighter.

Speaking of top-line quarterbacks have to take some time to mention the Manning-Brady rivalry. Brady is now 9-4 against Manning so its nice to see that the Patriots still own at least one of the Mannings.  A few too many Papa John’s adds probably slowing No. 18.

So the secondary is weak but the front seven. Ahh, the front seven. Chandler Jones is a beast even if his numbers don’t always show it.

Familiar sight, this time with Ninkovich making Peyton pay. (patriots.com)

He’s the only pass rusher that seems to get after the quarterback ferociously every down. Jerod Mayo still piles up tackles.  Vince Wilfork clogs the hole as well as ever and I mean the line of scrimmage not his arteries. Brandon Spikes has had a great bounce back season thus far. Also Rob Ninkovich, with a pair of forced fumbles against Denver,  needs to be given more credit. He’s a return of the Bruschi/Vrabel type linebacking corps of the early 2000s.

The Patriots will take on Pete Carrol (remember that failure of a Patriots coach?) and the Seattle Seahawks this coming weekend. Carrol has some experience against an Oregon-type offense with his tenure as the USC head coach. Guaranteed Carrol will go back to some of that knowledge to game plan for the Patriots. Another guarantee is that the Patriots offense will probably adjust accordingly. This week they’re running but with so much skill on the roster, it seems like the Patriots will just keep switching things up while very other team in the NFL tries to catch up.

-Phil

Will the Patriots stick with this offensive plan all season? Are the defense’s weaknesses too much for New England to overcome or can the front seven make up for it? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Tale of Two Halves

Nothing like a 52-point beatdown to get those spirits up. (patriots.com)

It was the worst of times and then it was the best of times.

For the first half and beginning of the third quarter in Sunday’s game against Buffalo the Patriots looked as if the wheels were seriously falling off and that despite all the talent on the roster, a 1-3 start was in the future. Then someone flipped on a switch and suddenly that same Patriots team that could only manage seven points in the first half erupted and laughed it’s way to a 45-point half.

All in all the game ended with the Patriots getting back to .500 with a 52-28 thumping of the Bills that included a 31-point outburst in the fourth quarter.

The usual suspects were involved in the offensive onslaught. Tom Brady looked like the Tom Brady completing 22-of-36 passes for 340 yards and three scores. He made throws all over the field. The short dumps to Woodhead and Welker. The deep throws to the outside to Brandon Llloyd and the deep seams to Gronk. He even dazzled us with his glorious mobility and speed with a whopping FOUR yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter.

Speaking of Welker, I guess all that hoopla about him being phased out was just that. In his last three games he has 22 receptions for

Only three catches, for 50 yards and a touchdown for B-Llloyd. But that was really all that was needed. (patriots.com)

366 yards including the nine-catch, 129 effort he had against the Bills. Some people will mention that his production has only gone up with Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman out but  it’s looney tunes to think that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels decided to put more trust in a guy who was getting arrested for groping chicks last season than Wee Wes, the man for whom a 100-reception season is just another Thursday.

Production wise Gronk looked like his old self again as well. In fact we even got a GRONK SPIKE in this one. He caught a 28-yard pass early in the fourth for the score and with all his momentum carrying him into the end zone he just did one of the sprinting spikes. That is my second favorite type of spike he has done with the top one being when he shakes the ball a little, does some sort of stanky leg impression and then hurls it at the turf like the Hulk taking care of Loki at the end of The Avengers. In the first half though Gronk looked a little lost. He dropped a few passes including a sure touchdown (albeit he was hit during it) and fumbled. He also caught five of 11 total targets. Still it was nice to see him be a tight end and not just a very expensive decoy.

But where the offense continues to be surprising is in the running game. Really this game was won with a balanced offensive attack. GASP. Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden seemingly ran wherever and whenever theywanted all day on that expensive Bills defense. What’s that Mario Williams? Oh this undrafted free agent from Ole Miss is just going to light it up for 137 yards and a touchdown with a stunning 8.7 yards-per-carry average.  Meanwhile Ridley will punch it in twice and pick up 106 yards himself.  The production of these two has me forgetting all about the LawFirm (who by the way is averaging 3.5 yards per carry in Cincy).

Defensively fans need to get used to this team giving up too many yards and third down conversions. It just seems like the way Belichick has this team playing, where it doesn’t allow anything deep and then tightens up in the red zone is how its going to be. Getting lit up for 438 total yards (350 passing) against Ryan Fitzpatrick who couldn’t throw a 20-yard out pattern if he was playing Madden, is concerning but it seems to be more scheme than ineffectiveness.

Where the team has excelled is against the run where the Patriots currently rank eighth in the NFL. Against Buffalo the team allowed the Buffalo backs to pick up only 3.6 yards per carry while giving up only three runs of 10 or more yards and four first downs on the ground. Also a major strength has been the defense’s ability to wait for a team to make a mistake and pounce. Like when Vince Wilfork got a rare clear shot at a ball carrier when the Bills ran a screen pass. Usually Big Vince his still scrapping with an offensive linemen with his right arms while dragging a running back or whoever has the ball down with the left. On that play though he had a wide open shot and absolutely blew Donald Jones Up. Brandon Spikes also needs to get alot of credit in this game as he forced two fumbles while Devin McCourty had a 2010-type game with a pair of interceptions.

Here comes the BOOM! (patriots.com)

In rookie watch, Chandler Jones continues to be a beast. The rook had five tackles including two for a loss and a sack. Dont’a Hightower had a less impactful game (two tackles) than were used to seeing but with how well Spikes played it wasn’t as big a deal.

So the Patriots are now 2-2 and tied for the top spot in the East (with the circus that is the New York Jets and the same Bills team they just ripped to shreds). Hopefully this begins a period of best of times that lasts until early February. The next step for that involves some guy named Peyton and the Denver Broncos.

-Phil

Relieved to see the Patriots look so dominant, even it was for just one half? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Officially Tough Loss

If Twitter has taught me anything it is that everyone really hates the replacement officials. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

So not sure if you had heard but apparently the NFL is using replacement officials. When did this happen?

Alright, all jokes aside, clearly this little experiment is not working. The Baltimore/New England game was called atrociously (on both sides) and the Golden Tate game winning touchdown reception that wasn’t really a reception it would be irresponsible not to mention and or discuss this issue. But really there isn’t much to discuss. The owners (who are somehow not taking much of the brunt of the hate), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell  and the real referees need to get in a room and figure this out. Honestly the rest of the season cannot have games like this past weekend.

I’d go on but really at this point between Twitter, SportsCenter and the personal blogs of millions I’d just be throwing a bucket of water into the Atlantic Ocean. Fix this referee issue. That is all.

Now to the actual reason fans care about the NFL, you know the football. On second thought maybe I should keep discussing the referee debacle since I really don’t feel like writing about yet another crushing New England Patriots defeat.

Before I get into that I would like to say that I wish Torrey Smith and his family the very best in these terrible times. As much as I hated to watch the Patriots lose it was nice to see Smith have such a huge game when he clearly needed it.

Anyway back to the less important stuff. I thought about just writing “The Patriots lost. The End” for this post but that was on Sunday. Now that I’ve been able to stew I can be more objective. (Okay not really but I can pretend).

Another week of disappointment (patriots.com)

Let’s spin it positively. New England is 1-2 but if you look at its defeats its not as devastating a record as it appears. The Patriots lost two games by a combined score of three points against two opponents that have a combined record of 5-1.

But there is also a negative angle to be taken. The Patriots lost two winnable games by not closing in a trend that seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Yet again the Patriots built a lead early and controlled the game for the first three quarters or so before suddenly folding in the fourth quarter. It happened against Baltimore (up nine halfway through the fourth), against Arizona to an extent (out gained the Cardinals 387-245 but lost because of a blocked punt that set up a two-yard touchdown drive). It goes further back to last season in the Super Bowl (team needed just one first down but Wes Welker dropped that pass) and you could even argue that it happened against Baltimore in the AFC Championship game because if Lee Evans makes that catch or that field goal goes in things could have gone entirely differently.

I’m not sure which of these outlooks is more of an accurate assessment but my feelings are that the second option is more indicative of what this team is right now.

After playing extremely well in the first two games and the first few drives of the matchup with Baltimore suddenly the defense couldn’t stop the Ravens at all. In fact on the first three drives of the game the Patriots forced two punts and an interception. From there Baltimore scored on five of their last seven possessions. Now part of the blame can go to the officials as time and time again Baltimore seemed to get bailed out on mysterious holding penalties but its not the only issue. The secondary just didn’t do a good job in coverage. Devin McCourty dropped an interception or two and the defense just didn’t get off the field enough. Watching this defense, especially in tight games, is painful because you just never feel like they’ll get a stop when they need to.

One positive was the stop the unit got on a fourth and one play. As I watched that I remarked that I didn’t think the Patriots had stuffed a run play on fourth and short since John Hannah was still on the team. In fact the run defense was pretty solid although Ray Rice did gallop for 101 yards.

Then there’s the offense which in these tough losses always seems to be just one first down from sealing the game only to fail to convert. Despite getting bailed out themselves on some dubious penalty calls (although the reversed interception in my mind was legit) the Patriots drive to kill the clock featured just six yards of offense actually gained without help from the zebras and had an alarming number of poor play calls. It needs to be mentioned that Josh McDaniels still seems to be readjusting to being the offensive coordinator again. I mean that double reverse to Edeleman was just a dumb play. You don’t need to run trick plays like you’re playing Boise State in the effing Fiesta Bowl.

The offense also failed in the fourth quarter when instead of putting the final nail in the coffin after driving deep into Baltimore territory with a touchdown, it settled for a 20-yard field goal. Seven of the team’s last 11 scoring drives have ended in field goals. That just can’t happen when you have the talent on offense the Patriots have.

Those struggles all come down to one thing; closing. The Patriots have to figure out how to better close out drives on offense and defense and even more importantly how to close out games if they want to rise from this 1-2 rut.

Some quick hits from the game:

Has anyone seen that guy on the left recently? (Matt Stone/bostonherald.com)

-Brandon Llloyd might be able to catch anything and clearly Brady feels that way. He has somehow become Brady’s favorite receiver even though Wes Welker had a vintange performance with eight catches for 142 yards. Time and time again Lloyd made catches that just didn’t seem possible.

-Has Gronkowski become just the most expensive decoy in the NFL? Three targets, two receptions, 21 yards. I don’t know if it’s the play calling or that Gronk just isn’t open but he just doesn’t seem like that important a piece in the offense right now. Could losing Hernandez being an even bigger loss than once thought?

-Stevan Ridley has certainly begun a slow descent back to earth. His carries and yards have all gone down each week with the 13 carries and 37 yards against Baltimore nowhere near the Barry Sanders-esque performance he had in week one. Granted Tennessee’s run defense is horrible. So horrible that even the Lions managed to rush for 100 yards against it.

-Heaping praise on the Patriots front seven, especially rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, seems to have jinxed the unit. The Patriots issues in stopping the pass, especially late in games, has a lot to do with the team not creating pressure. Against Baltimore on Sunday the Patriots had zero sacks and just one tackle for loss. Anybody is going to toss up 380 yards if they have all day to throw the ball.

The Patriots are 1-2 after last weekends loss. The first time since 2003 that they have been below .500. Here’s hoping this weekend everything (referees included) gets back to normal.

-Phil

Should the Patriots feel okay about the 1-2 start? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

Tagged , , , , ,

Prognostication Is My Business: Week 3 in the 2012 NFL

Does anyone like Thursday night games? I know the players don’t as several will miss the games with injuries that typically take a full week to almost heal and I’m pretty sure the fans don’t even like it. They can only be seen on the NFL Network and your team will only be on there once a year, which is hardly a reason to switch to dish and they completely ruin Sundays if your team is playing. To be perfectly honest I don’t even like Monday Night Football. I like my Sundays. I digress. The Patriots nearly came from behind, but still lost, in a game they were favored by nearly two touchdowns while the Giants completed the comeback and won by a touchdown. Buffalo had no need for a comeback as they blew out the Chiefs and the Jets had no chance as they were stifled by the Steelers. Let’s see how they will fare this week.

@ Carolina Panthers -2.5 New York Giants

This is an awful spot for the G-Men. Hakeem Nicks, David Diehl, Ahmad Bradshaw and Domenik Hixon are all out. They are on the road against a dynamic player in Cam Newton who can eat up defenses. The reasons why the Panthers are favored is obvious and as a prognosticator I think it’s the safe bet, but induldge me for a moment and I’ll tell you why as a fan I believe they will win. We still have Eli Manning and Victor Cruz. I don’t think Bradshaw is a feature back, so that isn’t a huge loss. They haven’t had the same offensive line seemingly since 2008. Newton is prone to make mistakes in the form of interceptions so the name of the game is contain and force him to pick apart the secondary. Big Blue is a more seasoned team and can take advantage of the up and coming Panthers. Plus the Giants always do the opposite of what you think they will.

New York Jets -2.5 @ Miami Dolphins

Anything can happen in road games and more importantly in divisional games. The Jets look like a mediocre team this year, which is more than you can say for the fish. Sure both teams are 1-1, but the Dolphins had the luxury of playing a west coast team on their home turf, where they all have trouble adjusting to the new time zone. The Jets will have no such problem and will move the ball on that weak d like an offensive lineman on a buffet. Ryan Tannehill will have more growing pains. Off the field he was winning the battle with his smoking hot wife Lauren, but the Jets are pulling closer as Mark Sanchez is dating Eva Longoria. Or are they winning?

Buffalo Bills -3 @ Cleveland Browns

I’m back in on the Bills. Well in certain situations like playing quite possibly the worst team in the league. CJ Spiller is my proudest prediction thus far. Have I mentioned that yet? I think I may have. I believe that Fitzy will have a big game passing for 300 plus yards while there is another dominating performance for everybody’s favorite losers.

@ Baltimore Ravens -3 New England Patriots

My how the mighty have fallen. The Pats looked like they would roll through this season straight into their second straight Superbowl. We knew they would lose a couple, because everyone does, but the Arizona Cardinals? Now the world has lost faith in this squad as they are road dogs. The Ravens lost last week too remember? I think that Belichick has had this game circled on his calendar for months and will be prepared to baffle Flaco, shut down Ray Rice and allow Tom Brady to do what he does best. Pats win on the road.

-Erik

Did I get it right? Let me know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Try, Try Again – Week Three Picks

Make fun of Tom Brady for the Uggs commercials but you can’t question the toughness of anyone who will get in Ray Lewis’ grill.

It’s been a pretty rough first couple weeks in terms of picking for us here at SeeYouInOctober. Last week I finished with a 1-2-1 mark thnaks to the Giants hitting the seven points on the head. Overall this season I am now 2-4-1. That’s not exactly stellar but last weekend I went 9-0 (and 6-2 against the spread) in picking college games of my full-time gig so I have a feeling things are going to start turning around.

New York Jets (-2.5) at Miami Dolphins

I’m taking another New York team on the road in this one. Miami is just so bad. I know the Dolphins took down Oakland last week but the Jets won’t be recovering from a late Monday night game and have had a full week to prepare. Revis is still questionable to play which could hurt but if the Jets secondary can’t stop Tannehill without Revis I’m not sure that they can with Revis.

Snaps for Tebow: Seven. I think the Wildcat gets a few more laps around the track this weekend. I also predicted Tebow’s first pass attempt of the season.

The Pick: Jets 24 Dolphins 12

New York Giants (+2.5) at Carolina Panthers

Boy do I love me some Cam Newton. The dude is just a beast. Reminds me a bunch of Daunte Culpepper with his ability to throw and

Love Killa’ Cam but I’m taking the Giants this week.

run over dudes. He’s better than Vick because he doesn’t crumple like wet paper towels when he gets hit. In fact he often brings the pain more than takes it. I am wary about him because he reminds me of a young LeBron and I’m terrified he will do something a la the decision that will make me turn on him.

Anyway I really like the Giants in this game. I think that win over Tampa Bay really got the momentum going and even with Hakeem Nicks and most of the rest of the roster out, Eli has clearly made it to the elite level. I also think the Panthers, while a team that will be a ton of fun to watch this season, is still locked for a 7-9 year or thereabouts.

The Pick: Giants 28, Panthers 21

Buffalo (-3) at Cleveland

C.J. Spiller is getting ready for a “Get on my back and I will carry you to 2-1” game. The Browns actually played well in week two and Brandon Weedon actually looked like a real NFL quarterback. This week the pass rush, led by Mario Williams might be too much for the 28-year-old rookie and if Spiller is for real (and I am all in on that being true) the Bills will put up their second blowout in as many weeks. Otherwise the Browns will be 2-1 and tied for first in the AFC North and really who thinks that’s going to happen?

The Pick: Bills 31 Browns 14

New England (+3) at Baltimore

From 13.5 favorite to three-point dogs. That’s what a 20-18 loss to to the effing Cardinals will do to you. Still the Patriots probably would not have been favored in this game anyway. Both teams are coming off of tough losses and desperately want  a win to stay above .500. Plus the bad blood between these teams tied in with the Patriots narrow win in the AFC title game make this a HUGE week three matchup. Still this game seems perfect for Baltimore who even without T-Suggs has a strong defense and will be out for blood against New England. Needless to say I am not looking forward to the painful Sunday night I will be enduring.

The Pick: Ravens 27 Patriots 20

-Phil

Think I got it wrong? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

Tagged , , , , ,

Seeing (Cardinal) Red

Could not better illustrate a picture being worth a thousand words. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Is it ever possible for the Patriots to lose a game that doesn’t leave me feeling the need to kick through my TV screen and toss it into oncoming traffic while my body deals with an elevated blood pressure than rivals the Hulk?

Sunday tells me  not. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want the Patriots to lose. At all. Ever. But when they do does it always have to be so soul crushing? I realize this was only week two of the regular season but in this game I went from optimism (first few minutes), to concern (second and early third), to begrudging acceptance of a loss (Down 20-9 in fourth quarter), to maybe there’s a chance (Gronk’s TD with a little over two minutes left), to HOLY S*** THEY FUMBLED IT! (pretty self explanatory), to HELL YEAH WOODHEAD, followed quickly by several expletives about replacement officials (When Gronk was called for holding on what would have been the game winning touchdown), to calming down and realizing a field goal wins in (next couple plays) until we finally arrived at soul-crushed when Stephen Gostkowski missed a 42-yarder effectively ending the game.

At the end of it all the Patriots lost their first home opener at Gillette and fell to 1-1.

But that wasn’t the only horrendously terrible thing to happen in the game. Early in the first quarter the second member of the Patriots’ unbelievable tight end tandem, Aaron Hernandez, suffered an ankle injury and was taken out of the game. Now he is going to miss ‘a few weeks’. And there is no way we will know how long that is until he is on the field in whatever week he returns. Seriously, the Patriots should be giving the White House and CIA lessons on how to protect confidential information with how open they are about personnel and injury updates.

So all in all Sunday was a pretty terrible day for Bill Belichick and Company that left Patriots fans with more concerns than the previous week.

It’s not as awesome when wide left happens to your team (patriots.com)

Primary among those is on offense. With the return of Josh McDaniels to offensive coordinator (the same guy that coordinated the record crushing 2007 squad) to an already Heisenberg-blue-crystal level potency and the addition of Brandon Llloyd going into this season it seemed like the Patriots were set to have one of the best passing offenses ever or at least in the NFL this season.

So far the results have been less than spectacular. The Patriots are ranked eighth in the NFL so far this season in passing yards and on Sunday yet again looked out of sync. Tom Brady just doesn’t look as sharp as we’re used to seeing. He’s missing passes he usually hits and although he threw for 316 yards, in the first half he didn’t look like he would get to 200. Brady also seems to be trying too hard to spread the ball around, especially to Llloyd who he consistently threw to even when No. 85 wasn’t exactly open.

Wes Welker finally got into the game after not starting once Hernandez went down which is also a concern. I am not one to believe it has anything to do with his contract situation but is it possible that Wes has lost a step? That the squad liked what they saw from Julian Edelman more in the preseason? I am not sure but I am honestly expecting a 12-catch 140-yard effort from Wes in one of the next few weeks causing us all to do a complete 180. Until that happens though I’d be lying if his lack of playing time wasn’t concerning.

Then there is the Patriots suddenly ardent reliance on the run. The game against Arizona was one of the more conservatively called games by the offense I’ve seen in a long time. Stevan Ridley erupted in week one and suddenly Belichick’s handing him the keys to the offense? Quite often it seemed like the Patriots would get a good drive going and then just stall on third down because they would run a draw out of the shotgun on third and eight. That kind of play calling was a major contributor to why the Patriots lost despite out gaining Arizona (387-245) and picking up more first down (25-16) as the team went just 1-for-3 in the red zone.

I just don’t understand it. As the team’s one touchdown drive showed this team can be positively unstoppable on offense when it wants to be. Even though he hasn’t looked as stellar until proven otherwise Tom Brady is one of, if not the best quarterbacks in the NFL. But the Patriots don’t even have to worry about that because he is unquestionably the best player on the Patriots.  Why then is he not allowed to chuck the ball around the field like he did on that last drive while using the run as a compliment? Now some people might be confused because Brady threw the ball 46 times in the game while the Patriots ran it 28 times. However 20 of those pass attempts came in the fourth quarter which just happened to be the only quarter the Patriots offense scored a touchdown.

Chandler Jones is the Truth…wait someone already has that nickname. (patriots.com)

It makes no sense. The 90s Bulls weren’t pounding the ball in the low post to Luc Longley and waiting until the fourth quarter to let MJ  start shooting jump shots and dunking on fools. To me a simple way to win is to give the ball to your best player.

The head-scratching offense took away what should have been another week of praising the retooled defense. Hernandez’s injury, Welker’s playing time and Brady’s slow start have all been much more prominent than a Patriots defense that is currently ranked second in the NFL in total defense. Granted the Patriots have played the Titans and Cardinals (who despite being 2-0 I still think aren’t very good) but that is still a marked improvement from last season. Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower have been as good as advertised and Jerod Mayo continues to just pile up tackles while the return of Brandon Spikes has been a welcome sight.  The secondary is still a bit suspect but Patrick Chung and surprisingly Tavon Wilson have played well at safety and it needs to be reiterated that the Patriots gave up 20 points to the Cardinals with one touchdown drive coming from two yards out and it still took the Cardinals three plays to get in.

Normally I don’t mention special teams but that was really what lost the game but also what kept the Patriots within striking distance. Gostkowski’s missed field goal hurts but he nailed 4-of-4 before that including a 53-yarder. Should he have been able to knock in that last one? Yes but without him the Patriots aren’t close in that game. The blocked punt though was inexcusable. It led to a the touchdown that was the difference in the game. That blocked punt doesn’t happen and the Patriots win this game, in ugly fashion, but still win it.

So while this loss hurt and certainly didn’t make New England fans feel great some perspective helps. This loss was an ugly one where the Patriots played pretty terribly, at least offensively, and a big part of that might have been the loss of Hernandez messing up the original game plan. Even with all the errors and bad play the Patriots still probably should have won this game. Losing sucks but remember that you lose four times in a season you still end up having a great year. This to me just seems like one of those four.

-Phil

What’s your level of concern for the Patriots? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Prognostication Is My Bussiness: Week 2 in the 2012 NFL

Thank goodness for the New England Patriots. If it weren’t for the hall of fame tandem of Mr. Brady and Coach Belichick both Phil and I would have totally struck out on the opening weekend. Buffal Oh No! I was nervous about that pick going into the game and they showed us why. Rex Ryan may actually know what he’s doing? And leave it to the New York Football Giants to be the first team in history to lose a slam dunk home opener post Superbowl championship. It’s always interesting here in the northeast where we shrug off losses like these and keep our sights set on the playoffs.

@ New York Giants -7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Have to believe the G-Men will rebound this weekend. They can’t start the season 0-2 at home and with an extra three days of rest and preparation, they will come out hungry. I think this Tampa team is much closer to the 10-6 team of two years ago rather than their putrid four wins last season, but this is a really bad spot for them. Victor Cruz dropped a few sure catches last week so you have to be worried about a sophomore slump. HOWEVA, he dropped a couple in the opener at Washington last season and was written off as fans clamored for Steve Smith. How’d that work out? Big Blue will be fine.

@ New England Patriots -13.5 Arizona Cardinals

Oh it is so tempting to say that no NFL team can win by two touchdowns. HOWEVA, these New England Patriots don’t play by those rules. The Cardinals are still trying to figure out who they are and who their quarterback is for that matter, but the Pats know exactly who they are. They are the Superbowl runner-ups (zing). That makes them angry and I almost feel bad for the teams on their schedule. With a revamped defense and an improved running game they will dominate the line of scrimmage, time of possession and, most importantly, the scoreboard.

@ Buffalo Bills -3 Kansas City Chiefs

I may not claim to know very much about the NFL, but I do know that good teams bounce back at home and you should never put too much stock in any individual game. HOWEVA, I didn’t like what I saw at all from the Bills last week. I don’t think they’re a good team, so the first rule doesn’t apply and they looked small compared to the Jets, which doesn’t get better. This KC team remembers what happened last year and after seeing what happened last week they are licking their chops. It’s going to be a rough couple weeks for the Bills, but give it a few weeks for CJ Spiller to really establish himself and for the coaching staff to put together a better game plan. Just not this week.

@ Pittsburgh Steelers -5 New York Jets

Do you think the 2012 Steelers are a good team? I’m really not sold. They are aging defensively and have some serious issues on the offensive line. In many ways they remind me of the New York Giants, but I don’t have a vested interest in their success, so I have my doubts. HOWEVA, I really did like what I saw from the Jets week one and it wasn’t the ground and pound. It was the uptempo short throws with a balanced running attack to set up play action. The defensive front line was unimpressive, but nobody can bring down Big Ben. If Revis plays, I think the Jets can win it. Either way it’s a field goal difference.

-Erik

Think I got them right? Let me know via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave a comment.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Not Overreacting – Week Two Picks

IF anything about the Bears-Packers game on Thursday night taught us, it’s that week one doesn’t decide the entire season. The Bears were chucking the ball around the field like the ’07 Patriots last Sunday while the Packers couldn’t handle Alex Smith at home. However last night the Packers brutalized Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense en route to a 23-10 win.

Maybe the Bears offense looked so great because, I don’t know, they were playing a team that won TWO games last season? Perhaps the Packers struggled against a Super Bowl contender from a year ago that only got better on offense in the off-season.

So with the example fresh in my mind it’s time for this weeks picks where the Jets soar into Pittsburgh, the Bills try to regroup against Kansas City, the Giants get rested for Tampa Bay and the Patriots bring in an NFC West team not named San Francisco.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants (-7)

The optimist says: Giants played a typical Giants game where they made some bad decisions and let a game get away from them. There is no way that Eli Manning will play that badly this season. There is also the distinct possibility that the Cowboys might actually be good this season (GASP!) and the Giants were just beaten by a good team. You know who isn’t a very good team? Tampa Bay.

The pessimist says: Victor Cruz has crashed back down to earth and the running game was less than stellar. Maybe the Manning’s only have a finite amount of talent they can use and Eli was only great because Peyton was out for a year. Also Tampa Bay doesn’t have Raheem Morris coaching them anymore.

The Pick: New York Giants 27 Tampa Bay 13

Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots (-13.5)

The optimist says: Kevin Kolb is playing quarterback. That’s right that Kevin Kolb. The guy who was benched for John Skelton to start this season. Now he’s got to contend with the greatly improved Patriots defense and the beast that is Chandler Jones. Plus this game is in New England. Plus the Pats scored 34 points last week while looking pretty mediocre in the passing game. For God’s sake Wes Welker had three catches for 14 yards! Oh and now they can run the ball. Now this line seems to low.

The pessimist says: Being favored by two touchdowns is always disconcerting. It’s just such a daunting number. Didn’t you see Kevin Kolb look like Joe Montana when he led that comeback in the desert last week? Tom Brady didn’t look sharp ALL game just most of it. Plus I’m not convinced this Welker production drop might not be a result of the contract negotiations.

The Pick: New England 38, Arizona 17. I really struggled with this. I had a whole section typed where I picked the Cardinals to win with the points but the more I thought about it I just couldn’t see the Cardinals scoring enough to do so.

Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills (-3)

The optimist says: Last week was just a bad week one. This team is still working out the kinks. Other than a disastrous first half the Bills ended up looking okay. No one comes into the Ralph and pushes the Bills around. Also no one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.

The pessimist says: Ryan Fitzpatrick is our franchise quarterback. A guy that couldn’t cut it in Cincy and played football at Harvard is supposed to carry us to the promised land. While teams like Washington and Indianapolis get RG3 and Andrew Luck somehow the quarterback the Bills invest the franchise in is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Plus the Chiefs might have ended up getting blown out by Atlanta last week but the Chiefs played with them in the first half (Trailed 20-17 at half).

The Pick: Kansas City 24 Buffalo 20

New York Jets (+5.5) at Pittsburgh 

The optimist says: J-E-T-S Jets. Jets. Jets. Did you see the offense last week. Sanchez didn’t even care about Tebow. Or maybe he did and it motivated him to finally not play like crap. Stephen Hill is the real deal and the best wideout this team has had since Keyshawn was being thrown to by Neil O’Donnel.

The pessimist says: Darelle Revis might not play because of a concussion. The Bills might be pretty awful. The Steelers are at home in desperation mode after a week one loss to Denver. Ryan Clark couldn’t play at Mile High because of health issues but he’ll be plenty ready to go meaning the Pittsburgh secondary will be stronger than the one Peyton Manning faced last week. Mark Sanchez is not Peyton Manning. Plus there is always the threat that Heinz Field might  get blown up followed by the city of Gotham er Pittsburgh being overtaken by a masked man.

The Pick: Pittsburgh 25 New York Jets 21

-Phil

What were your reactions to week one? Did I get these right? Totally wrong? Let us know via Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

 

Who Are You and What Did You Do With The New England Patriots?

Ridley’s believe or not, where the Patriots rely on the running game.

Defense and pounding the ball on the ground? What’s that? Do football teams actually do that?

I can imagine that’s what most Patriots fans were thinking on Sunday when the Pats put a 34-13 beatdown on the Tennessee Titans. Was that ever in doubt. I still can’t believe how low that line (-6) was for that game. After week one I’m sure Vegas will be back to putting the Pats up as -17.5 points favorites all season.

So is this new fangled running game part of football? I guess so and for Patriots fans, all kidding aside, it is a welcome sight. The gaudy passing numbers and huge offensive point totals are awesome but the team has been missing a real running threat since that one good season from Corey Dillon. With the LawFirm gone I firmly believed that the Patriots would just ignore the run entirely and throw the ball 98 times a game.

Enter Stevan Ridley who might have had the best day on the ground of any player in the league on Sunday. At least that’s what the fantasy owner that I played this week seemed to think. Ridley had 125 yards on 21 carries and also punched the ball into the end zone once. Now it’s tough to say how much this success will continue after one week against a lousy Tennessee team but getting more production from the ground game would certainly make the Patriots a better team overall.

While Ridley was a nice sign the best sign of the day was the defense. Specifically the rookies. I knew Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones were going to be good but hot damn I didn’t think I’d be seeing it week one. Jones absolutely abused whatever schlub was

My excitement for the draft pick of Dont’a Hightower just keeps getting higher.

playing on the outside for Tennessee and had a sack and a forced fumble.( He would have had two sacks if it weren’t for a bogus offsides penalty). Meanwhile Hightower recovered that fumble and brought it back to the house and was just all over the field putting his hat on the ball carrier. I’m not saying that one of them already has the Defensive Rookie of the Year locked up but they have to be No. 1 and No. 2 in the early season rankings right?

Plus Tevin Wilson, the safety drafted out of Illinois 17 rounds to high, had an interception in the game. I’d say this past draft was one of the best in Belichick’s history. Maybe the best since taking a scrawny backup quarterback out of Michigan.

It was also great to see the secondary look healthy, albeit not particularly outstanding. Getting sliced up for 264 yards by Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck isn’t exactly dominant. Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung were both back. Chung helped on one of the more violent (still legal) hits in the game that may or may not have left six members of the Titans dead. McCourty had seven tackles and looked pretty good.

And now almost 500 words into this post  it’s time to discuss what is supposed to be the team’s strength; passing the ball.  The offense didn’t really need to put up inhuman numbers this week especially with Ridley running well so Tom Brady’s line (23-for-31, 236 yards, 2 TDs) wasn’t as eye-popping as some might have hoped. (You know like fantasy owners that may have taken him No. 2 overall only to have Matt Ryan outscore him in week one. Guys like that might be a little upset. But I’m not one of those guys. Okay I am that guy.) Even though the numbers look solid Brady didn’t look super sharp for the entirety of the game with a few under throws that were head-scratching. Still he’s Tom Brady so there’s no need to worry, at least not yet.

With Brady having a pretty average day the multitude of weapons he was throwing to had to contend with each other to have a good day. As you might have noticed no receiver was in the Like a Boss discussion and really that was because there wasn’t enough to go around with Ridley running so well. Rob Gronkowski had the best day I suppose (except for the whole messed up spike thing. The next time he gets in the end zone the richter scale might need to be adjusted) with six catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Hernandez (six receptions, 59 yards, TD) and Brandon Llloyd (5 receptions, 69 yards) also had solid games. But those guys are all getting paid.

The guy that still wants a long-term deal, Wes Welker, did not have much of a day with only three receptions for 14 yards. That’s normally the opening drive for Wes. Everyone around the Pats, including Welker, are saying it was just how the gameplan went and not anything else but maybe there is more to this contract issue than we think.

With all this said we as sports fans need to remember this is just week one. The positives we saw can’t be blown out of proportion (except Jones and Hightower those guys are legit) and the new-look offense will certainly resemble last years much more often than this reiteration. Overall it’s just nice to get the first win and do so in convincing fashion.

-Phil

How did the Pats look in week one? Is there a change of philosophy occurring in New England? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

 

Tagged , , , , , , ,

The First Like A Boss Award of 2012

One of our most popular features has finally returned as week one of the NFL season wrapped up last night. Each week we select a player or players from the Giants, Jets, Bills and Patriots who were the most boss-like men on the field. This award recognizes the man who went out on Sunday and took charge of the game like a boss. This week the Giants and Bills were received a solid beat down, but the Jets and Pats looked to be in mid-season form.

Here are this week’s nominees for the prestigious LAB.

1- Jeremy Kerley: In the off-season it was Antonio Cromarti who came out and boasted that he was the second best receiver on this Jets roster and many wondered if he was right. You know who didn’t even consider it to be true? Jeremy Kerley, who went out on Sunday and had a monster first half. Kerley nabbed all six passes that came his way including an arrant throw from Sanchez and a touchdown. However, four catches and one TD does not make a man a boss. Oh he took a Brian Moorman punt to the house? Yup that’s how a boss handles his business.

2- Stephen Hill: What? Another Jets receiver not named Santonio or Cromarti? To be fair Cromarti did have a receiving touchdown, but it was thrown by Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 6’4″ 215 lbs. receiver out of Georgia Tech made an impact fitting of his stature in his first NFL game. Hill led Gang Green with five catches, 89 yards and, most importantly, two scores. He looked like those kids who started shaving in sixth grade, but are still on the same field as the kids who still haven’t even hit a growth spurt. He treated the middle of the field like his office and the Bills secondary were interns fetching him coffee.

3- Stevan Ridley: That can’t be right. The Patriots don’t have a running game. Or do they? Last year New England found themselves in entirely too many close games for a team that averaged 32 points per game, but with Ridley’s 125 clock-eating yards, this year could be different. The second year man averaged six yards a carry and punched in touchdown that almost made fans forget about Gronk’s misfired spike. Almost. Ridley commanded the ground game in a way Pats fans haven’t seen since Curtis Martin left for the Jets and many wondered if they would ever see again.

4- Chandler Jones: It is rare to see a rookie step onto the field and make an immediate impact the way Chandler Jones did on Sunday. His numbers weren’t spectacular. It was sure to be the first of many days with five tackles and one bone crushing sack, but that’s what makes it so important. It was the first. With a defense as bad as the Patriots was last season it was important for their draft picks to come in and make an immediate impact and it was palpable on Sunday. Along with Dont’a Hightower, Jones went out to show that this defense can take charge of a game.

And the award goes to…

Jeremy Kerely!!! The Jets receiver got Gang Green on the board in the first quarter and after Stephen Hill put them up by two scores, Kerley went for the jugular and scored on a second quarter punt return. He turned all the plays he was involved in into positive yards and points and in the second half he told the team, “You guys can take it from here.” Just like a boss he gets things started then delegates the work to his subordinates.

-Erik

Think we got it wrong? Let us know via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

Tagged , , , , ,