…and it is still leaving a bad taste in my mouth two days later. The New England Patriots’ performance on Sunday was just atrocious. I guess it was worse since I saw it live. And it wasn’t exactly a gorgeous autumn day to boot. All in all, not a whole lot to be excited about.
The Buffalo Bills essentially had one player to stop, LeSean McCoy, and the Pats couldn’t do it. Yeah, McCoy’s final numbers weren’t otherworldly (19 rushes for 70 yards plus 6 catches for 38 yards and a TD), he seemed to always get the job done when it needed to be done. As did Tyrod Taylor. A decidedly average quarterback, he seemed to accomplish what he wanted to as well.
You can say whatever you want about the offense. And they seemed bad. But…were they really that bad? I’d call it moreso just conservative. How much can you really accomplish when you play extremely conservative?
Granted, the Patriots had a third string QB at the helm. One with a bum thumb on his throwing hand. And the team once again played with only one legitimate QB active. They still were clearly babying Rob Gronkowski. Danny Amendola seems to be working his way back as well and he is not playing much at this time. Etc.
But I thought Jacoby Brissett looked…competent…out there. I thought he showed well for someone with his experience, not to mention with the limitations the coaching staff placed on him. Sure, the fumble inside the 20 was inexcusable. And he missed a wide-open Amendola on one third down. But he also dropped one right into Brandon Bolden’s hands for a potential TD, only to have Bolden drop it. He probably held onto the ball too long most of the time and did other things that rookies are prone to do. But to me, he didn’t look out-of-place like a lot of rookies do.
They let him throw 3 passes in the first half. THREE!! Not counting the 90 yarder to Edelman on the first play of the game due to penalties. Ok, it was a screen pass that Edelman turned into 90 yards, but a pass nonetheless. Once the coaches saw what direction the game was going in, couldn’t they have opened it up more earlier? Yeah, they did a bit in the second half, but still…not quite enough in my eyes.
I thought the game plan and the adjustments from the coaching staff left a lot to be desired. Especially with 10 days to prepare. But I have to say, I kind of don’t blame them for at least the offensive plans. Guys are banged up, as I said, including your only real QB. The Bills are terrible. LeGarrette Blount had been running well and was just named the AFC Player of the Month for September. And all that. With the game at home, they probably thought they could sneak out of there with like a 20-10 win or something. Even 14-10 or 14-7. Something along those lines.
The other units just didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Special teams…returns in particular…not good. Cyrus Jones is supposed to be a dynamic returner. That quality supposedly separated him from other players in the 2nd round the Patriots thought were about equal where they drafted Jones. But since the lights have come on in the regular season, Jones has been dropping the ball a lot and has been indecisive when he holds onto it. Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal as well. Ryan Allen punted well, but, not a banner day overall.
My ire is mostly with the defense. 16 points against looks good in the box score. Making the Bills attempt 5 field goals and allowing only 1 touchdown may look like a positive as well. But not really. No pass rush, terrible coverage, couldn’t get off the field on third down. Ugly.
I know Billy B. has his way of playing mobile QBs…not a ton of pass rush, contain the QB, some sort of zone D, etc. I know Jabal Sheard and Dont’a Hightower are not 100%. I know Vincent Valentine left the game somewhere in the middle of it, leaving the Pats essentially with only two defensive tackles in Malcolm Brown and Alan Branch, at a position where they like to rotate a bunch of guys to keep those big fellas fresh. I know all that and more. But a hugely disappointing effort all around on the defensive side. Countless missed tackles. A cornerback with an amazing 17 tackles (Logan Ryan…which is not actually a good stat for a CB, by the way). Guys running around TOO wide open, even for zone defense. As noted above, too many third down conversions against. And on and on.
With all that negativity being said and as angry as I have been since the game, I am really here to tell you…it doesn’t matter!! yes, the Pats really should be 4-0. Sure, everyone figured they’d be 3-1, with the loss actually coming against Arizona. Once they got to 3-0 and had a bad team at home, 4-0 really should have happened.
Now that it didn’t, it’s probably a good time to look at the big picture. With their 3rd string QB playing two and a half games out of the four Tom Brady was suspended, the team went 3-1. They still lead the putrid division by a game. And now Brady comes back. Rob Ninkovich is back as well. Presumably, Gronk, Amendola, Sheard, Hightower et al will get healthier. The offensive line will continue to gel (helped by quicker decisions and releases by Brady). The defense should play better and round into some sort of form. Gostkowski should return to his reliable self. Even Jones may learn from his return mistakes. Maybe we see more of Barkevious Mingo chasing the QB around as well.
The goal here is the end of the season, not September. We know Belichick always treats the first month or so as an extended training camp. Gets an idea of what they have. How things can be adjusted. The team should win the division going away still. And be in the mix for home field advantage in the AFC for sure…let’s just hope they don’t blow it like last year.
Maybe an early loss is good for them? No undefeated record to chase. Early wakeup call. Stuff like that.
That’s what I’m going with now anyway…
Posted on October 4, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged AFC East, Bill Belichick, Buffalo Bills, Jacoby Brissett, LeSean McCoy, New England Patriots, NFL, Rex Ryan, Rob Gronkowski, Rob Ninkovich, Tom Brady, Tyrod Taylor. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.