Tag 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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NFL Draft Grades: New England Patriots

Getting in good with the boss-man early. Well played Mr.Jones and Mr. Hightower. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Before we start how about a quick aside? The NFL Draft is an overhyped TV event. The first round is three hours long when you basically already know what’s going to happen or if something different occurs you will be immediately notified by your smartphone or laptop. Why do people like watching it? For the awkward hugs with Goodell and the players. To see the insane suits guys where. To bask in the glow of Mel Kiper’s peak of the year?

Anyway, going into this years NFL Draft I wanted two things.  For the Patriots to stop loading up on late round picks to get value by trading away first round selections. Second for the team to stop worrying about upgrading the offense, it doesn’t need it it’s the defense that needs to improve.

Tom Brady isn’t going to play until he’s 40 whether he’d like to or not and this team has to be in a do whatever it takes to win now mode. Part of that is drafting players who can come in and immediately be contributors not guys who will develop into stars.

Well voila the Patriots did exactly what I wanted and put together the most aggressive draft I’ve seen Bill Belichick put out. In the first round the Patriots traded up not once but twice to lock in two defensive players and then continued to go defense all the way until the teams final pick. No Aaron Hernandez’ this year. No Stevan Ridley’s, even though LaMichael James and Dwayne Allen both stayed on the board for quite some time.

Yes the Patriots followed my two basic ideas, albeit without any real input from me.  (I know I can’t believe they don’t ask me for help either.) Now let’s see if they got the right guys, based on my opinions of them before they even play an NFL snap. I know super fair.

First Round- Pick No. 21- Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

Jones was the first guy the Patriots traded up to take and to be honest when I saw the name I drew a blank. Hadn’t heard of him and had no clue why the Patriots were trading up to get him. I still think they probably didn’t need to do that and I know now why I hadn’t heard of him. He played for Syracuse. The Orange may be on the map when it comes to college basketball but it’s been a long time since McNabb was under center and the Carrier Dome had a good football team to watch.

Still Jones has great size (6-5, 266 pounds) and 35.5 inch arms for the defensive end position where the Patriots haven’t had a real solid player since Richard Seymour. Getting pressure on the quarterback is something the Patriots have struggled with in recent years and getting a guy like Jones coming off the edge would be a step in the right direction. Plus his brother is Jon “Bones” Jones the UFC fighter who said of his brother “His swag can’t be touched.” Well I’m sold.

Grade: B+

First Round- Pick No. 25- Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

This was the trade up that made my night in the first round. I watched a decent amount of Alabama football over the last two years, mainly because they were on TV all the time and also because me and my room mates adopted them as our team after purchasing a lamp that had the Alabama logo on it in a garage sale.

In watching ‘Bama I was always really impressed with Hightower. He moves quickly, hits like a ton of bricks and is versatile enough to play just about every spot in the linebacking core, regardless or whether or not the Patriots go 4-3 or return to the 3-4 next season. Another exciting aspect about Hightower is that he is definitely a guy that will come in and make an immediate impact. He played in the NFL’s minor leagues (aka the SEC) and will probably be starting come Game One.

Grade. A++++++ Roll Tide.

Second Round- Pick No. 48- Tavon Wilson, S, Illinois

Uhh okay. After a fantastic first round came this pick. Now I want Tavon to come in and be great but this seems like on of those Belichick moves where he is so busying trying to outsmart everybody else that he over thinks himself. Perhaps Tavon will be a great safety but he didn’t seem like he was in danger of being taken this high in the draft with so many other talented players left on the board.

Now that doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff to like about him. He like Hightower is versatile as hell and can play safety or corner which will be nice with the Patriots seemingly always weak in that position. See Julian Edelman getting time at cornerback last year.

Grade C-. Just didn’t like how high he was taken.

Third Round- Pick No. 90- Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas

Another SEC player and a pass rusher is a nice sight. Hopefully there will be no rubbing off from Bobby Petrino on this kid. Bequette had a great combine by putting up 6.90 in the three-cone drill and a 4.07 shuttle which is better than many running backs. So at 6-4, 275 pounds he will certainly be a quick defender. Plus he can also slide in at OLB and has been described as hard working, high football IQ and all that stuff which essentially means he won’t rely solely on being more athletic than everyone.

Grade B.

Round Six- Pick No. 197- Nate Ebner, SS, Ohio State

Coming straight out of THE Ohio State University is this former rugby star who hadn’t really been anticipated as a draft pick. Although he is listed as a strong safety he probably has a better chance making it in special teams. He is obviously tough (rugby is no joke) and should be motivated coming into camp.

Grade C+. When your ceiling is solid special teams guy it’s tough to get too high a grade even in the later rounds.

Round Seven- Pick No. 224- Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Everything I’ve heard about this kid is that he has second round talent but dropped due to some legal issues. He was arrested the weekend before the draft after all, not exactly showing great decision making but with his talent Dennard might end up being a big steal.  He was cutting his chops in the Big-12 and then Big 10 meaning he’s faced some big time receivers (Justin Blackmon for example) and he can play in the slot.

Grade B+ Great value pick but off-field issues can’t just be thrown aside.

Round Seven- Pick No. 235- Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern

And it is with Ebert that the Patriots draft of defense ends. To be honest this is my favorite pick other than Hightower. Ebert isn’t a flashy reciever, he’s small and quick and a reliable pass catcher who holds a bunch of receiving records at a small school in a power conference., Remind you of anyone? To me Ebert can come in and work on being the same type of receiver as Wes Welker. (By the way the fact that the Patriots haven’t signed Welker is insulting and concerning.)

Maybe he won’t be a contributor right away but will definitely be a guy on the roster who will develop. Perhaps Mallett to Ebert will be the next Brady tom Welker.

Grade A.

-Phil

How did you think the Patriots’ draft went? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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Brady Region Round Four: #1 Tom Brady vs #3 Bobby Orr

Tom Brady, to noone’s surprise, made it through to the final of his region. Next up would be a spot in the Final Four.  Mr. Brady took down fellow Boston legend Bob Cousy in dominating fashion in the Sweet 16 and will look to do the same to yet another hero in Beantown against Bobby Orr who pulled off a minor upset that will leave any Boston fan smiling, by taking down Derek Jeter to advance this far.

They’re have been two once in a generation talents at quarterback over the last decade and the New England Patriots are lucky enough to have one of them. Who knew that the Jets would bring Tom Brady and the reign of terror that has been the New England Patriots in the AFC East when they knocked Drew Bledsoe out of a game and the Patriots were forced to bring in a scrawny kid out of Michigan. Since then Brady has torn through the NFL winning three Super Bowls (and making it to five), winning two MVP awards and leading the league in just about every major passing category there is over his career including the single season record for passing touchdowns (50) during the 2007-08 season. So yeah he’s pretty good.

Orr only played for 10 years but what a decade it was. The defensemen won two Hart Trophies and couldn’t possibly have had enough room for all the Norris Trophies he won. He led the league in points twice while also bringing two Stanley Cups to Beantown most famously the 1970 cup when he scored “The Goal” which clinched the game and created one of the most iconic goals in sports history where Orr flew across the ice, completely parallel to the ice.

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Brady Region Round 3: #1 Tom Brady vs #5 Bob Cousy

Another round, another relatively easy win for Mr. Brady. Although Patrick Ewing got a few more votes than Victor Cruz did the Knick’s big man just couldn’t stack up with No. 12. I guess never winning a ring is always going to haunt Ewing. Well Brady won’t have the luxury of going up against someone with fewer rings in this matchup. The Couze has no shortage of championship hardware and might get some nostalgia votes here.

They’re have been two once in a generation talents at quarterback over the last decade and the New England Patriots are lucky enough to have one of them. Who knew that the Jets would bring Tom Brady and the reign of terror that has been the New England Patriots in the AFC East when they knocked Drew Bledsoe out of a game and the Patriots were forced to bring in a scrawny kid out of Michigan. Since then Brady has torn through the NFL winning three Super Bowls (and making it to five), winning two MVP awards and leading the league in just about every major passing category there is over his career including the single season record for passing touchdowns (50) during the 2007-08 season. So yeah he’s pretty good.

Cousy began his career with the Celtics in 1950. Yes that’s right 1950 just five years after World War II ended. He went on to play 13 seasons with the Celtics under arguably the greatest NBA coach of all-time Red Auerbach. Cousy won six NBA championships and an MVP (1957). He played in 13 All-Star games and was named to the NBA First Team 10 times. His number now hangs in the rafters of TD Garden, alright not as illustrious as the former Boston Garden but still. Basketball wouldn’t be the same without Cousy’s influence.

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Brodeur Region Round 2: #12 Jim Rice vs #13 Wes Welker

Not sure anyone can say they saw this one coming. Jim Rice took care of business and pulled off the upset against fifth-seeded Willis Reed. But this is March Madness, everyone knows at least one twelve beats and five. The second half of this matchup is where the real surprise lies. Somehow Wes Welker took out Lou Gehrig. Yes that Lou Gehrig. I guess Boston fans are that loyal.

An eight time All-Star and an MVP winner, Jim Rice is often forgotten as one of the best players, or at least hitters in the storied history of the Boston Red Sox. He was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 on his 15th and final time on the ballot after career in which he batted .298, smashed 382 home runs and drove in 1451 runs. The Red Sox also retired his No. 14 jersey that year.

A 5-9, 190 lb. guy from Texas Tech doesn’t scream great wide receiver yet somehow Wes Welker has been just that, especially since coming to the Patriots in 2007. He has had at least 111 receptions in four of his five years with the Patriots including three seasons in which he has led the NFL in receptions while compiling 7226 yards and 32 touchdowns.  Insert obligatory big things come in small packages type  cliche here.

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Brady Region Round 2: #1 Tom Brady vs #8 Patrick Ewing

It’s no surprise that Tom Brady moved on so easily by collecting every vote in his first round matchup with 16th seed Victor Cruz. It was a surprise that Patrick Ewining was so dominant in gathering votes in his matchup with ninth-seeded Dominik Hasek. Ewing also won with the entirety of the votes cast and will now try to upset #12.

They’re have been two once in a generation talents at quarterback over the last decade and the New England Patriots are lucky enough to have one of them. Who knew that the Jets would bring Tom Brady and the reign of terror that has been the New England Patriots in the AFC East when they knocked Drew Bledsoe out of a game and the Patriots were forced to bring in a scrawny kid out of Michigan. Since then Brady has torn through the NFL winning three Super Bowls (and making it to five), winning two MVP awards and leading the league in just about every major passing category there is over his career including the single season record for passing touchdowns (50) during the 2007-08 season. So yeah he’s pretty good.

Drafted first overall in the 1985 draft, Patrick Ewing went on to be one of the best guys to ever strap up in the orange and blue and MSG.   Ewing would go on to play for the Knicks for 15 years in which he was an All-Star 11 times and an All-NBA First Team selection once (1990). Although he never led the league in any category Ewing’s career numbers of 21.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg and 2.4 bpg are still stellar. Too bad he played during the Jordan Era as the only team he was ever a part of that made it to the NBA Finals came during the lockout shortened season 1998-99 season, the year after MJ retired. On the bright side Patrick Ewing was a guest star in one of the greatest sports movies of all time, Space Jam, where he was unfortunately again overshadowed by his airness.

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