Tag Archives: Tom Brady

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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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.

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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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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.

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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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Prognostication is my business: Week 1 in the 2012 NFL

Well I certainly don’t like to be wrong, but I’m starting this week off 0-1. The Giants went out on Wednesday and looked like, well the world Champions from last season as only they can. They lost another game they should have one and looked awful doing so. Such is life for fans of Big Blue. Let’s move past that. It’s time to turn on sports again. The Yanks, G-men, Mets and Sox all look fairly equally pitiful right now so how about Gang Green, the Bills and Pats?

New England Patriots (-5.5) at Tennessee Titans

This is a no-brainer. When pro bowl quarterbacks face non pro bowl quarterbacks they win something like 80% of the time. It’s that simple in this game. Bill Belichick and Mr. Brady are never satisfied and will be on a mission this season to show the league that they are the best team in football. And the Titans are starting Jake Locker? Well he might put up some numbers against the porous secondary, but ask Chad Henne how it feels to get into a shootout with the Pats week one. It’s like riding a horse and buggy in a NASCAR race.

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-3)

Even as I write this I have no clue how this game will go. Buffalo dropped both their games to Gang Green last season and they really weren’t close in the first meeting and the second time we saw Steve Johnson being Steve Johnson. I have to go with Buffalo because of the way they seem to start the season when they feel confident. I foresee a tough low-scoring and boring affair, but hey anything is better than watching the Yankees this week. I’m thinking somewhere in the area of 17-13. The difference will be a Mark Sanchez interception, which I hate to say because the last thing I want is for the Jets’ backup to take his job. Now I’m reconsidering. Phil and I picked the same teams and last season he resorted to coin flips… should I pick the Jets? Maybe he knew I’d read his post and switch to them. Well played sir. So I’ll pick Rex… Fitz… ummmm. Yes the Bills. Buffalo get ready to start the hype machine another 1-0 start is in your future.

-Erik

Will I redeem myself today? Even if I don’t I’m ready for Sundays on the couch. Let me know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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P8triot Questions

The class of the AFC (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

I’ve been saying it all summer as I watched the Red Sox play one of the most embarrassing and cringe inducing seasons in recent memory.

“At least I have the Patriots to look forward to.”

Well this weekend the hope of that  distant future begins and New England sports fans can finally begin to sooth their wounds with a little Foxborough football on Sundays.  See unlike the toxic Red Sox team that I haven’t even watched play an inning in about two months, the Patriots don’t have all that egomania and ridiculousness (like sending a text to management on someone else’s phone like a 13-year old girl). Instead the Patriots montra has always been “Do your job”. Zero locker room incidents just straight wins (homie). Last season with Ochocinco, or whatever the hell he calls him self now,  Chad had no incidents and then he can’t even last through training camp without one in Miami. I don’t know how Belichick does it but he gets his guys to buy in.

So let’s get to the eight (get the headline now?) most pressing or intriguing questions facing the squad.

1. What the hell is going on with the offensive line?

Can’t say I’m one to watch a ton of preseason football. I think I tuned in to about seven minutes total, and four of that was watching the awkward and staged cutting of Ochocinco in Hard Knocks if that counts. Still all I’ve been hearing about the line is that it still has to ‘gel’. Excuse me? The season starts on Sunday isn’t gelling supposed to be going on in training camp when you’re bunking with the guy next to you watching Sportscenter repeats and complaining about the beds that wouldn’t fit a dinosaur?

The Patriots still have Logan Mankins coming back but are trying to fill spots left by Matt Light and Dan Koppen. Brian Waters still hasn’t reported and now his number has been given to someone else. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Nate Solder and Sebastian Wollmer in the past but those two need to really show up this season. You know because if Brady goes down then we can only go 11-5 with a backup quarterback and just barely miss the playoffs. In other words have a failure of a season.

2. Will the defense really be better?

The PAtriots made it clear in the draft that improving the defense is the teams top priority and why shouldn’t it be? You mean a team that ranked near the bottom of the NFL in total defense and was 31st in pass defense (293.9 ypg) might need some help? Did you know that the 2011 defense gave up more yards than the vaunted offense gained? That the unit got sliced up by such future Hall of Famers as Chad Henne and Ryan Fitzpatrick? Yet still this defense was good enough to get within a breath of a Super Bowl title. Now the squad has added Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower and will be getting some guys like Brandon Spikes and Devin McCourty back to full strength. The defense will (and needs to be) better and not just because when you’re at the bottom all you can do is go up. This unit has the look to be at worst a Top-15 defense.

Dont’a Hightower played for Nick Saban, aka college football’s Bill Belichick last, season

3. Which defensive rookie will have the better season?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s not going to be Alfonzo Dennard or Jake Bequette. This question is more easily translated to is Chandler Jones going to turn into JPP 2.0 and rack up 17 sacks in the first four weeks or is Dont’a Hightower going to team up with Spikes and Jerod Mayo to form the best three-man line backing crew in the NFL? I really, really, really like both of these guys.  I think Jones is the one more likely to have the breakout season. Hightower is going to be competing with some established talent whereas Jones is really going to be the No. 1 guy at defensive end. The Patriots lost top pass rusher Mark Anderson in the offseason and need that hole desperately filled.  My predicted lines for the two guys are 34 tackles, nine sacks for Jones and 88 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 INTs for Hightower.

4. Will Wes Welker still be in New England next season?

Rob Gronkowski got paid. Aaron Hernandez got paid. Welker did not get paid. Well alright he signed a $9.5 million franchise tender but that’s a one-year deal not a long-term one he wanted. The man has only pulled in about 781 receptions a season every year (in reality he has led the league in receptions three times with New England, twice pulling in more than 120) and is definitely Brady’s favorite target. But still the Patriots don’t feel like Welker is worth signing long term and I kind of agree with them. Don’t get me wrong I love Welker. Top five Patriot of my lifetime definitely.  His jersey is my game day jersey that I wear every Sunday, so yeah I like the guy.

But I get it. Welker doesn’t do anything that you can’t get from somebody else. He hustles a ton and runs good routes but he doesn’t have size and freakish athletic ability that only comes along once every few years (i.e. Calvin Johnson). Could Julian Edelman or Jeremy Ebert eventually take over his role? Probably. Also if Welker does leave will he be exposed as just a product of a system that just worked perfectly for him. What offense, and what quarterback, really would have been more perfect for Welker over the last few seasons. The answer is none. So even if the Patriots don’t bring him back I don’t really see it coming back to haunt them.

That being said the man has given so much to this team and if the money is there why not pay him? Also got to love this exchange.

5. Is there going to be any run game?

Shane Vereen. Danny Woodhead. Stevan Ridley. Brandon Bolden. Those are the Patriots stable of running backs this season. Guess who has the most rushing yards and rushing attempts on the team? Tom Brady. While Brady is certainly one of the most mobile quarterbacks around that’s not a very awesome running game. With the LawFirm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis the Patriots lost more than just one of the ebst nicknames in sports. They lost a dependable back that never fumbled and punched it in the endzone from a yard out better than anybody. With the passing game as awesome as it is the Patriots haven’t needed a ton from the running game but I’m not sure this group can give us anything. When I play as the Patriots on Madden all I run is shotgun formations and I maybe run it three times a game so my stats at the end of the year are something like 6,981 pass yards, 154 rushing yards. Somehow I think that might be around what the Patriots have this season. My guess is that Ridley and Woodhead are the biggest contributing backs.

6. Will this offense be better than the 2011 version?

Look a number 85 that will actually be an important part of the offense!

With no run game  this question may seem ludicrous. But is it really? The Patriots 2011 squad out gained the amazing 2007 unit and that was without any real semblance of a deep threat. Gronk was the best option they had there but he wasn’t running fly patterns like Moss was in in 07. Enter Brandon Lloyd. Last season Lloyd caught 70 passes for 966 yards and five touchdowns. In 2010 he led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,448 while bringing in 11 scores. He did that all that with Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, Brady Quinn and Sam Bradford throwing to him. Essentially the guy was an All-Pro receiver despite the lack of talent around him. Now he has the best quarterback in the league (yeah, yeah I can hear your outrage Green Bay fans) throwing to him while he’s surrounded by a ton of other targets that can’t just be forgotten like the receivers he’s played along side in the pass. Oh and remember that season when he led the league in receiving? Guess who is head coach was that year? Josh McDaniels. You know the Patriots current offensive coordinator. What I’m trying to get at is that Lloyd is going to have a monster year.

The only issue the offense may face is trying to find enough receptions for everybody. Gronk, Hernandez, Welker and Llloyd are all 80-plus reception guys and although the Patriots will certainly throw and throw and throw some more, there may be a discrepancy somewhere.

To actually answer the question posed above I think yes. Below are my predictions of the four receivers and Brady’s stat line.

Tom Brady 441-643, 5344 yards, 42 TDs, 11 INTs

Rob Gronkowski 83 receptions, 1219 yards, 11 TDs

Aaron Hernandez 61 receptions, 812 yards, 7 TDs

Wes Welker 90 receptions 1333 yards, 6 TDs

Brandon Llloyd 74 receptions, 1198 yards, 8 TDs

7. How big is the Patriots Super Bowl window?

As long as Brady is still under center is the real answer to this question. As soon as Tom decides he needs to spend more time with the family and just being a boss in other aspects of life the Patriots will come back down to earth. Last season the Patriots almost got another Super Bowl ring, something that has been missing since 2004 and that I (along with every other New England fan) really want to see Brady get. Although I have written extensively that Paul Pierce is my favorite Boston athlete ever, Brady is a very close second. If he gets a fourth ring he will be one of three QBs all-time along with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana to have accomplish the feat.

So how many more years does Brady have left. He’s 35 this season and although he’s only had one serious injury that doesn’t mean he

I envision a whole lot of Gronk spikes this season.

can play another five years. I think this team has to be in win now mode. If it doesn’t happen in the next two seasons I’m not so sure it will.

8. How will the Patriots ultimately fare this season?

It’s really not even a question whether or not Belichick and the boys will win the AFC East. That is a foregone conclusion as this point. The Patriots also play one of the easiest schedules I’ve seen for a defending conference winner.  There are maybe two or three games I’m slightly concerned about. At Baltimore, vs Houston and either against Denver or the 49ers. Other than that this schedule just looks like a list of wins for New England. So as far as the regular season goes I see the Patriots either repeating at 13-3 or possibly putting up a 14-2 or 15-1 type season. I’ll say 13-3 before my hubris reaches exhaustible levels. (What it already did?)

How this team will be defined is how it does in the playoffs and I’m supposed to be afraid of the ancient defense of Baltimore (minus T Suggs), the exact same team in Pittsburgh, a Texans team that lost Mario Williams and has a QB with the hairline of a 56-year old or the Broncos and Peyton Manning who has exactly one playoff win against the Patriots and that was before this injury thing. Also everyone keeps talking about all the weapons Manning has. Uh when did Eric Decker and Demarvius Thomas  become ‘weapons’? Plus if the Patriots take care of business in the regular season they will be the No. 1 seed with home field throughout.  ‘Nuff said for the second straight season I’m going to pick the Patriots to take the AFC Conference.

-Phil

How would you answer these questions? Are the Patriots the favorites in the AFC? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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The SeeYouInOctober Tournament of Greatness Championship Game

When we first sat down to come up with our bracket we had more than 100 players from all the teams that we cover in New York and Boston blended from present day players who still have to prove where they belong in the history of their franchise and the true legends. The Celtics and Yankees got the most guys into our final field of 64 because we looked at championships, number of years with the team, whether or not they’re in the Hall of Fame and MVP awards. There weren’t many upsets, although Lou Gehrig and John Havlicek were ousted in the first round by Wes Welker and A-Rod respectively. Our Final Four included Bill Russell, Babe Ruth, Tom Brady and Larry Bird. Now we will reveal who moves on.

Bill Russell played well above his competition.

#1 Bill Russell

Yes it’s official; New York is out of the tournament and our champion will be a representative of Boston. Congratulations, have a bowl of chowda on me. Russell went up against the legendary George Herman “Babe” Ruth and dominated him as if the Great Bambino were one of the six foot centers he towered over in his playing days. Let’s give a run down of the categories we looked at to give you some idea of why he was a number one and why he deserves to play for the title as Greatest Player in the History of New York and Boston.

Championships: 11 (Most all time in any sport)

Years with team: 13 (Threshold was 10. Best ratio of championships to seasons 11:13)

MVP: 5 (1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965)

Hall of Fame? Yes.

For Good Measure: 12 time all star, 5 time rebounding champ, gold medal winner, #6 retired by Celtics

Tom Brady is the best player in the history of the Patriots and his generation.

#1 Tom Brady

We were hoping to see an Elite Eight match up between Derek Jeter and Mr. Brady, but alas Bobby Orr took down the Yankee Captain. We thought it would have been a good debate with both bringing immense success to their organization and being two players to rise to the top of their franchise leader boards in our lifetime. Mr. Brady went from a 6th round pick backing up Drew Bledsoe to the best quarterback in the game today who also happens to be married to Gisele Bundchen. Yum.

Championships: 3 (Most among active players and has played in 5 Super Bowls)

Years with team: 12 (Hard to believe it’s been that long already, but only 10 full seasons as starter)

MVP: 2 (2007, 2010)

Hall of Fame? Future first ballot.

For Good Measure: 7 time Pro Bowler, 2 time Super Bowl MVP, Single season touchdown record (50)


You have the resumes now it’s time to vote!

 

 

 

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