Here we go…
…It’s time for the start of the NFL season later today…well, for everyone but the Broncos and Ravens of course. The Patriots have been shuffling the back end of their roster all week. Now that it seems to be complete (at least for this week maybe?), I’ll make a few comments on it and the moves that led to it. I’ll also throw a few thoughts about the actual game…a game that the Pats should really win pretty handily I would say. Though with a new head coach and a new QB that no one has any history on (at the professional level anyway), as well as a RB tandem that is pretty damn good (with the backup, Fred Jackson, a guy that has consistently gashed the Pats D), I suppose you never really know until you step on the field. I still feel pretty good about it though.
*I really thought Tebow would make the team. If they were going to take the plunge with him at all, I figured it would be a long term thing. Give him a chance to develop, though he may never have. Build some plays over time specifically for him, which they seemed to do in the preseason. Maybe that was the plan, then he played like total garbage in the games. And also supposedly wasn’t great in practice. So maybe that forced their hand, who knows? There had to be some weight given to the fact that he was playing with mostly 3rd string type guys around him, or no better than backups anyway. Maybe around starters he would have been better? Yeah, doubtful, I know. Wouldn’t rule out him coming back down the road, if there is ever a need for a 3rd QB. No one else (in the NFL) will sign him. And it seems he won’t go to any other leagues. It also appears he doesn’t want to attempt to change positions. So he will be out there.
*Some of the guys I felt were locks to make it, did not. Benard, Francis, Mesko, Ballard specifically. Not sure what happened with Ballard. Everyone was talking him up all of the preseason. He was running with the ones for most of it. Then he is out there in the last quarter in the last game…never a good sign. Didn’t look like he was running well, but of the 2 active TEs that we will go with, neither can really block (Sudfeld, Hoo-man). Maybe they use Develin and/or reserve lineman somehow for that blocking TE role. Mesko, I get. Liked the guy, but Allen supposedly has a better leg. Money probably had something to do with it (also seeing Mesko had one year left on his deal), but if Allen was a stiff, they probably wouldn’t have kept him to save a couple of bucks. He’s never held for kicks though, so it’ll be interesting to see if that affects the operation and Gostkowski’s accuracy, at least at the beginning of the year. Benard was getting talked up too, but maybe that was all a mirage. The biggest surprise of this group to me was Francis. I guess he was hurt, but he was just waived with an injury settlement. So he is not on IR anymore and is free for anyone to sign. I thought he showed some promise last year and the DT depth is scary thin. Maybe there is more to the story.
*The secondary concerns me most. I’m still more than fine with the offense. The defensive front seven, despite lacking some depth, should be pretty stout. But the secondary…I was surprised they did not give Dowling another year. But then when no one has picked him up yet, maybe I shouldn’t be all that surprised? (Side note: Remember the past few years when they had all these guys that were hyped up at the end of the roster, but they couldn’t keep them all? Then when they released them, fans went crazy (Oh my GOD, I cannot believe they released WILL YEATMAN! He was going to be the next great TE!) and a lot of teams actually did make waiver claims on a lot of them (even though most have amounted to nothing)? What was it, I think one of their cuts got signed this year (Mesko)? So much for “too much depth”). Adrian Wilson apparently is finished. Harmon, Ryan and Tavon Wilson are very unproven. Cole and Ebner are really just special teamers. Dennard probably should be in jail…and may end up there at some point this year…if they stop pushing off his hearing. Arrington is much better when he is the 3rd CB and not 2nd, etc…talk about scary…and we haven’t even mentioned Gregory yet.
*I wish I understood all the moves made this week. Just all the ins and outs. I get some of it. Maybe they really wanted a guy like Kline, but just enough for the practice squad, but don’t think they can put him there initially so they play some games to make sure they keep him. So he makes the initial 53, then gets cut a few days later, clears waivers because all the other teams have set their rosters, then goes to the practice squad (and of course is back on the 53 this week for whatever reason). But the Cole, Develin, Washington ins and outs? More practice squad stuff with Cave and/or the other (from Miami) Francis? Cole was gone for a day. Maybe he was in on it. I don’t know. Some of the roster shuffling just confuses me. Tarpinian makes the initial 53 (or 51 actually), then gets released and signed to the practice squad. Then gets released from there. All within a week. Weird. Also the fact that the Pats claimed 4 dudes on waivers right at the start was a little odd as well. Bad teams usually make a lot of claims, good ones don’t. But, in Bill we trust, I suppose. Just wish I knew why they had to do all of that. Seems like it would be interesting to hear..,to me anyway.
*As I said above, the Pats should win easily, though I am not predicting a score here. (Nor am I making season predictions like I did for the Sox. That way, I cannot be wrong). It’s a little concerning that they will go into the game with only 3 safeties active, and two of them are Gregory and Tavon Wilson. We also don’t know what Dennard will look like back there, because he hasn’t played (and that’s if he even does play the game, we don’t know yet). I imagine the Bills will play to their strength of running the football (at the same time taking some pressure off their rookie QB). Even though Spiller and Jackson can create problems, the Pats D is built to stop the run, so hopefully they can limit the damage there. I don’t see Manuel coming out firing balls all over the place, despite Stevie Johnson saying no one can cover him, but again, I guess you never know what people tend to do when they are new. Especially when that is a way to beat the Pats, throwing into their secondary. So we shall see. It’ll be great to get this season going, that’s for sure.