Just like after the first preseason game, had to give myself some time to digest that pathetic performance by our supposed Super Bowl contenders, the New England Patriots. Don’t get me wrong. I am not jumping off the bandwagon for sure. This team will still win the division, despite these clowns that are saying the Pats have sole possession of last place right now. The cliche “it’s only one game” does certainly apply. But it is a disheartening way to start the season, I will allow. Anyway…some observations:
*What the hell happened to this “revamped” defense we have been hearing about? “Darrelle Revis will shut down his guy and allow for others to help out elsewhere”. “Chandler Jones will have a huge breakout year”. “Patriots have too many good corners”. “Having Big Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo back will stiffen up the run defense”. Etc. Ok again, so some of this stuff may well happen over the long haul. But it’s a little concerning that NONE of this happened yesterday. I will grant that the Dolphins had more than a few short fields to work with on their drives, but still…Matt Patricia and his crew did nothing to inspire confidence. Patricia hasn’t done anything to inspire confidence for me since he’s been around actually. But that’s a story for a different day…
*Of particular concern on D was the alarming lack of pass rush. Especially since we were all told that the Miami offensive line is “in shambles”. What doesn’t help is when you only play your 2nd best pass rusher from last year half of the game. Yes, Rob Ninkovich may be better off as kind of a “3rd pass rusher”, but the fact remains that he was the Pats 2nd best one last year. And he does seem to have a nose for the ball, as he always seems to force fumbles. Yet he played half the snaps yesterday. One thing I did like that I saw a bit…love to see it more, but at least it was way more than last year…was that Dont’a Hightower was utilized more as a pass rusher. Not that he had a lot of success. But he appears to be better rushing instead of covering. So we will see where that goes. So if losing snaps to Hightower as a pass rusher is the plan, it’s ok with me. But Ninkovich losing snaps to Sealver Siliga or Joe Vellano or even Dominique Easley (now anyway)…not ok…because…
*…the middle of the D-Line got gashed by the running backs. Continuing story from last year. I don’t know what game analyst Trent Green was watching. But I didn’t see Vince Wilfork as being “light on his feet” and “a difference maker”. He had one nice rush. And then couldn’t stop anyone else coming through. Part of it is the stiff he has to play next to (see above). But folks, Vince ain’t the same guy, simple as that. Is it still the torn Achilles recovery? Old age? Just being fat? Not sure…probably a combination of the above. But either way, Chris Jones ain’t gonna be the answer when he comes back from his injury. Maybe Tommy Kelly would’ve helped. But these guys all sucked yesterday. No other way to put it.
*The pass defense was supposed to be a major upgrade, due mainly to Revis. But the schemes being played had me a little confused. Now I am far from an “X’s and O’s” guy. But seeing Jamie Collins covering Mike Wallace in crunch time was something that was more than a little shocking to me. And seeing Tavon Wilson on the field at all was mystifying. I guess when the alternatives are Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon and I suppose Malcolm Butler, then…but maybe Kyle Arrington or Logan Ryan could have played more in some capacity? Revis was also not Revis. But he is the least of my worries at this point.
*We don’t even need to talk about the blocked punt/bad snap.
*Now let’s get to the offense. Josh McDaniels has a better rep than Patricia. Because of this, he may take less heat. But he needs to get some heat here. Along with the Offensive Line coach…GOOOOGE, or whoever he is. Now before everyone lays the blame on the Logan Mankins trade, ALL of the lineman sucked yesterday. ESPECIALLY the tackles. Would Mankins have made a difference? Maybe. But the other guys were terrible. They seemed to rotate a bit, but the snap counts showed that was not the case. Ryan Wendell got a handful of snaps in place of Jordan Devey, but the other 4 played all game (though Dan Connolly rotated between center and right guard). Not a big deal. Bottom line is that Mankins or no Mankins…didn’t matter.
*Going back to McDaniels, the Patriots have a worrisome pattern of completely abandoning the run. Not that their running backs were tearing it up. And we’ve already been through the lines’ struggles. But they just completely went away from it. Making them of course one-dimensional and therefore easier to defend. Think they should have stuck with it longer. Also, Miami was down their top 3 linebackers at some point. Couldn’t he/they have made some adjustments to exploit that a little more?
*No no-huddle offense either. Part of their package for years. Was it the heat, being it was September in Miami? Maybe. But didn’t they just have training camp, two-a-day practices, exhibition games, etc., in July and August? Seems to me the heat shouldn’t have affected them as much as some people have claimed it may have.
*Last, but not least, Mr. Tom Brady. Not very good. Yes, again time to throw was an issue. But looks like he zoned in on Gronk too much. Gronk was in on limited snaps, but Brady was always looking for him. Brady also stopped throwing to Edelman in the 2nd half…well, except the deep pass he fired over his head…then seemed to blame Edelman. Maybe Julian should have kept running under the ball, we won’t ever know. But he was open. I don’t know what the story is with Danny Amendola either. Both training camps we hear about how Brady is working on good chemistry with Amendola. Danny got hurt last year and then Brady also clearly lost confidence in him. This year was supposed to be different. But we never saw him out there really until the 2nd half. Did Amendola just not get open? Does Brady still lack confidence in him? Jeez, he threw to Brandon LaFell more and that was a disaster. Was Aaron Dobson not physically ready? Seemed like he would have been a better choice at WR instead of LaFell…but I guess hindsight is 20/20. But the bottom line was that Brady was off his game yesterday. Let’s hope we can chalk it up to him being always bad in Miami.
*This didn’t matter in this particular game, but I thought it was interesting to see Patrick Chung returning kicks. Yikes! If they aren’t going to throw to Amendola, why not put him back there? Just a thought…
To sum it all up? Ugly! There are areas of concern. But if the AFC East is as bad as it is supposed to be, there is no long-term issue…divisionally anyway. A trip to the playoffs is still surely in order. But if these things don’t get completely fixed, they will probably face a road game in the playoffs and an early exit. Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it though.
Posted on September 8, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged adjustments, Bad coaching, defense, Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, New England Patriots, NFL Season Opener, NFL upsets, offense, Tom Brady. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.