…and perhaps a few early offseason notes. I mean, the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl loss has been analyzed a gazillion times over the last week. How much more is there to say? Well, I had to write something to throw out my final pick record, so I’ll throw a few thoughts out there in no particular order:
*Josh McDaniels is the most recent story, so maybe we should cover that first. That was kind of a slimy thing he did to the Colts. But hey, the contract wasn’t signed, right? He changed his mind, for whatever reason. Sure, he gave the Colts every indication he was taking the job. Then, of course, didn’t. Maybe that’s an indictment on how the NFL handles these situations? If Josh signs that deal in the wild card week, then there is no backtracking, correct? But the NFL doesn’t allow that.
Most people feel bad for the assistants that signed contracts with the Colts. And yeah, there is some validity to that too. But again, why did they sign their contracts and leave their current jobs when Josh hadn’t actually signed his yet? Shouldn’t the head coach be sealed up in blood before anyone else does anything? Sure, the assistants planned to go with him for probably several months. And then officially for several weeks, once Josh told them he was taking the Indy job. But again, nothing was signed. I’ve heard a lot this week about “well, the assistants had been planning to go with McDaniels for up to a year when Josh got a head coaching gig”. Yeah, that may be true. But what if Josh never got a head coaching opportunity this offseason? The assistants were going to quit their jobs anyway like a year ago, even they didn’t know when McDaniels was going to be offered a head coaching position (more importantly, TAKE, a head coaching position)? I don’t know. Assistants often get screwed. And maybe I am taking a hard line here. But I am not feeling as bad as most about their “plight”.
One last thing, the “family” reason for why McDaniels stayed is sweet and all. But it’s also nonsense. Sure, stability for coaches and their families is not something that happens often in the league. But Josh didn’t stay for that reason. The Krafts made him the heir apparent to Bill Belichick. Period. Maybe nothing is signed. But you honestly cannot tell me that McDaniels sullied his reputation around the league and kind of torpedoed his head coaching prospects, at least for the immediate future, without receiving SOME kind of promise in the process. No way he stays otherwise.
*You know what else I have determined is also nonsense? The fact that everyone thinks that if Malcolm Butler plays in the Super Bowl, the Patriots automatically win. Now, don’t get me wrong. Having Butler on the sideline sure didn’t help. And for a player that played 98% of the snaps all season to all of a sudden be benched in the most important game of the year is certainly questionable. But would one player have had made the difference?
Reports came out this week that Matt Patricia and probably Belichick had the players often in the wrong positions all game. They didn’t match up to Eagle packages the best way. They had plays where Marquis Flowers was rushing the passer and their best pass rusher, Trey Flowers, was going into coverage. They left Nick Foles uncovered on his touchdown catch. They had dime defense in for obvious running downs. Etc., etc., etc.
We all know that Johnson Bademosi and Jordan Richards are special teams players at best and in Richards’ case, maybe not even a real NFL player. So Butler comes in. But then Eric Rowe is still out there. And he was terrible too. Maybe Bademosi and Richards still get snaps. And maybe Butler does ok, but the other three still get torched. Devin McCourty was awful too. And Butler has not been great overall this year either. EVERYONE on the defense, with the possible exception of Stephon Gilmore, was brutal in the Super Bowl. No pass D, no run D, no nothing. The coaches did not help things. James Harrison played something like 93% of the snaps. Sure, he was “fresh” from not playing much of the season. But you are really going to depend on him as well?
I think we all want to hear why Butler was benched. But with the entire defense being historically bad, and the coaching also matching that, to suggest that having his presence merely in the lineup would have changed things I actually think is a little bit of a leap.
I will also admit that I told someone during the game that “I would play a dead Malcolm Butler over a fully operational Jordan Richards” though. So there’s that…
*Most New England fans expected Doug Pederson to wet his pants at some point in the game and for the Pats even to win somewhat comfortably. I know I did. But that man deserves a ton of credit for the game he called. He wasn’t afraid, that was a big start. He exploited matchups. Went for it on 4th downs. All that. He was probably the real MVP and not Foles. Hell of a call on the 4th down TD to Foles down by the goal line. The Pats had no idea what was going on for that play. Well, for a lot of plays actually. But that one in particular.
*The Super Bowl loss makes me more angry that Brady did his whole “Tom vs. Time” Facebook thing and that Bill did his “The Two Bills” 30 for 3o. It probably doesn’t matter either way. But I feel like they have never done stuff like that in the past and now here they are doing it the week of the Super Bowl. Tom obviously had a choice on when to schedule his stuff and I am sure Bill did too. It just seems odd that this is the year they decide to do that kind of stuff. Just felt like to me that these guys kind of thought the game was in the bag. Maybe not, but that’s what I’m feeling.
*Speaking of one play on defense, by Butler or anyone else, maybe making a difference, how about the fumble by Brady with just over two minutes left? THAT’S the one I cannot get over. Didn’t we all think that when they got the ball back at that point that Brady would march them downfield and score pretty easily? Sure, Brady got swallowed up pretty quickly. And sure, it’s hard to nitpick an offense that had over 600 yards. But that was obviously a killer.
*On the fumble, it’s also hard to blame an offensive line that played over its head all day. But that was clearly a bad spot for a glitch.
*As for the people on the offensive line, Nate Solder has had a decent, if unspectacular career. Hard to criticize him too much also, since he and his family have gone through some significant battles off the field. But if he’s not retiring as some people think, I’m not resigning him anywhere near the 10-11 mil or whatever he made this year. As average as LaAdrian Waddle and Cam Fleming may be, I’d consider resigning them for short money, hope 2017 third round pick Antonio Garcia can contribute something and then add another vet or two to compete at lesser money. I’m spending every available penny to revamp that defense next year if I’m the Patriots.
*One offensive free agent I would spend a little extra to bring back, however, is Danny Amendola. Even if he is again the fifth receiver on paper next year behind Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. As long as Brady is here, I want Danny here. The guy is just money. He won’t take yet another pay cut to stay after his huge offseason, will he? He’s been taking cuts for years, does he finally go the other way? Not sure what the market will be for him, or what he wants to do, but I’m keeping him here. I’m good with these 5. Not sure I care much about Kenny Britt or Philip Dorsett.
*While we are on offensive free agents, I have loved what Dion Lewis has brought to the team, but if he’s looking to cash in, we’ll see ya later. I don’t blame him because of how his career has gone with injuries and being cut and all that. I’m just not spending a lot of dough on running backs. I’d give Gillislee another shot next year since he is signed. I’d also see if Rex Burkhead would come back at similar money as this year…or less. He missed some time this season but looked pretty good when he was out there. I’d like to see more. In fact, I would have liked to have seen more of him in the Super Bowl, especially after Cooks got knocked out. Would have played him at receiver instead of Dorsett for that matter.
*It’s too bad Alan Branch retired this year and didn’t tell anyone. Could have used the 2016 Branch in the playoffs. Much more so than Ricky Jean Francois.
*I hope Brady isn’t blaming Amendola for overthrowing him on his pass route. Similar how everyone blamed Wes Welker in 2012 for dropping Brady’s wide open pass, including probably Brady himself and as we all know, Brady’s wife Gisele. Both throws could have been better. But both catches should have absolutely been made. Maybe Gisele understands now.
*Man I hope Jimmy G is the real deal for the sake of the 49ers. He’s pocketing like 43 million next year alone from what I understand. Just…wow…thank God Bill got that second round pick for him…ugh…
*Cooks trying to jump over the defender on the goal line when he could have beaten the guy to the outside was pure stupidity. Yes, that play could have worked. But I still think it was a dumb play call. Brady needs to throw it there, simple as that.
*Then the botched field goal the play after. Not Stephen Gostkowski’s fault in that case. Though being that short an attempt, the feeling here is he still should have made it. He got off a decent attempt actually. BUT, the missed extra point was brutal. Gostkowski had a pretty good year. But it’s time to at the very least bring in some competition for him next year.
*Guess the Eagles’ backup left tackle wasn’t so bad, eh? I suppose when you have a 39-year-old James Harrison playing over 90% of the snaps, maybe that’s a big part of the problem. But where also was Trey Flowers? Oh, sometimes he was in coverage. Nevermind…
*Not sure anyone is talking enough about how that stupidity with the kickoff return on the very last drive cost the Pats some pretty good field position. Maybe they are a lot closer on that last play and don’t have to fire up a Hail Mary?
*The strategy of deferring when winning the coin toss is something that has worked well for the Pats over the years. But in some games, doesn’t it make sense to take the ball, score on the first drive and make the other team actually play from behind instead of it always being you? Seems like this would have been a good time to do that, playing against a backup QB and a lot of players that hadn’t been on this stage before. Never know, the Eagles could have folded under the pressure early. Instead, the early lead for them in this game may have given them some confidence. Not to mention that the Pats allowed the Eagles to march downfield pretty easily right before the half. There goes that plan…
I guess that is enough. And we shouldn’t feel too bad I guess. 5-3 in Super Bowls in the 2000’s should make most people happy. Maybe it should be 6-2. Maybe it should be 2-6. The Pats probably should have lost to the Rams, Seahawks, and Falcons. Maybe they should have beaten the Eagles and won both Giants games. Who knows? Sometimes these things even themselves out over time.
Guess I am just trying to keep things in perspective…trying…
Week (against the spread): 1-0
Week (straight up): 0-1
Season (against the spread): 143-124 (53.6%…I can live with that!)
Season (straight up): 180-87 (67.4%)
…at least that’s what the schedule makers must have thought when they put this Denver/Indianapolis tilt on the late season Prime Time slate. I suppose I can see the thinking on the Broncos. But Indy? At the very least they must have thought Andrew Luck would be back by now. I bet the Indy fans did too. But of course we now know the Colts ownership lied to their fans. Looks like they tried to further the notion Luck would be back by keeping him on the roster at the start of the season, instead of putting him on one of the reserve lists. Helped the team sell more tickets I would imagine, in anticipation that the fans may see him at some point. Luck then never suited up, allegedly suffered a setback, then was shelved for the year in the middle of the season. I don’t know…and I’m not sure why I really care actually. The team overall isn’t that good with or without him. Was Luck going to make this team a contender? I think not. But maybe Indy fans did?
And no, I am not rehashing the Patriots’ brutal Monday Night Football loss to the Dolphins here. Ugliest game I have (WE have) seen from them in quite some time. Were they looking ahead to the Steelers? Perhaps. Wouldn’t put it past them. Bill was disgusted when a reporter asked him that after the game…but he shouldn’t have been. The coaches may have been looking ahead too. That game plan was stupid all around. But it’s done. We are on to Pittsburgh…
Denver (-2.5) at Indianapolis
4-9 Broncos against the 3-10 Colts. The Broncos really should be better than their record and the possibility does exist that the Colts should be even worse than their record. At least Indy won’t have to play in the snow at the dome this week. The Broncos lost 8 in a row, many of them blowouts, before blanking the Jets last week. Jacoby Brissett seems to have done an admirable job filling in for Luck, but is taking a beating doing it. Frank Gore is 126 years old, but lit it up in the snow last week. The Chuck Pagano love affair had to have ended a couple of years ago, no? But then again, Vance Joseph is in over his head, wouldn’t you say? Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch…round and round we go.
None of the gibberish above really means anything. Just a bunch of facts there and me rambling on and on…basically trying to decide who to pick here on the fly. I still don’t know, but I have to write something.
Oh, one thing from the snow game did bother me a little. Adam Vinatieri was lining up for the tying extra point from 43 yards away and the commentator, Steve Tasker, said something like “Adam has never had to kick in these conditions, with the stakes being what they are…” Yes, Tasker, a former player, actually said that. About a Bills/Colts game having high stakes with each team likely going nowhere. More importantly, Tasker must have forgotten who made those kicks in the “Tuck Rule” playoff game in the snow. Whatever…
Denver 17, Indianapolis 14.
Week (against the spread): 10-6
Week (straight up): 8-8
Season (against the spread): 112-96
Season (straight up): 136-72
*Patriots 45, Colts 24. Everyone wants the Pats to score 100. I do too. I think the game essentially will still be a blowout. But with the Patriots’ secondary in a state of disarray…and not being really good in the first place…maybe the Colts will score more than many people want. We know the Pats should be able to run on the Colts D. They may have to run more than they initially planned with Nate Solder being out and either Marcus Cannon (average at best) or Sebastian Vollmer (moving to a somewhat unfamiliar position) manning left tackle and protecting Tom Brady’s blind side. I’d love 66-3. But I think we have to be realistic.
*Speaking of Solder, he must be glad he signed that 2 year extension. But as far as his injury goes, we will see. He has kind of been up and down in his career and some wonder why the Patriots pay him so much. But he has largely been solid in my eyes. So that spot is clearly something to watch. The offensive line historically has come together every year and has been pretty good. But that was mostly under Dante Scarnecchia. Dave Deguglielmo is here now. It worked out with him last year after some early bumps. We will see about this year. The rookies inside have performed better than expected. But obviously left tackle is an extremely important position and is a much different story.
*Does David Price’s miserable postseason numbers give teams some pause in pursuing him as a free agent after this season? I think for most teams it should not. The guy is a stud. But for teams that have postseason hopes, maybe it should. I have always wanted the Red Sox to pursue him. But after another clunker last night (I know it was only 1 bad inning, but still…), I am having second thoughts. Ultimately, the Sox need a ton of pitching, so if they want him, they should still go after him. But they should be going after another top flight guy as well. I guess that much is obvious. I suppose it isn’t my 25 mil plus per year anyway, so they may as well make a strong bid.
*Jose Bautista’s bat flip this week against the Rangers really pissed a lot of people off. Not me. Granted, I hate when Big Papi goes through his antics when he hits a meaningless bomb in a 12-1 game. And/or the first inning of an early May game. Etc. But Joey Bats’ dinger was in a key moment of the playoffs…basically the game, even with a couple of innings left. The stadium was electric. No problem with the emotion in that spot. Maybe the Texas fans should reserve that anger for the putrid defense in the inning. Or Sam Dyson throwing a meatball to one of the games best power hitters. Or them blowing a 2-0 game lead. You get the picture.
*I’m all for breaking up a double play. But Chase Utley went in too wide, too late and too high. He’s a middle infielder and should know better. The announcers were saying that Ruben Tejada was trying to make a spectacular double play and he should’ve protected himself better and blah, blah, blah. That all may be true. But I say if you break a guys leg on a slide, something is wrong.
*I very rarely talk about Boston College football. Simply because I despise BC. And I don’t watch a lot of college ball anyway. But the BC/Clemson game was on where I was last night and I have to admit, I was surprised that BC head coach Steve Addazio was on the sideline. I somehow caught only the ending of the BC/Wake Forest game from the week before and was shocked that they somehow only ran one play in the last 29 seconds. Don’t even need to go through the details, but how that guy still had a job the next day was beyond me.
Short and sweet this time! Game is about to start…