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Monthly Archives: September 2005
At the beginning of the season there were already question marks on the D-pleted defense. Bruschi, Johnson, Phifer, Law, Crennel all goneÖ
In the first two games we have seen a rash of injuries to the defensive backs and the questions continuedÖhow would the Patriots D handle ëFast Willieí and ëBig Bení in Pittsburgh?
The answer came on a wave of improvement on the D-line and the play of reserves such as Don Davis and Gus Scott. The bitter twist was the injury to Rodney Harrison in the first quarter. A torn ACL (and possible MCL as well ñ ouch!) keeps him out for the year.
Now the questions are turning into statements:
You lose the heart (Bruschi) and the discipline (Harrison) of a Super Bowl defense and therefore will not repeat.
Corey Dillon no longer able to run the ball
Still play off caliber, but the Pats canít win the show.
We have one of the best D-lines in the game and hard-core veteran Linebackers and excellent talent in Asante Samuel and Eugene Wilson. The talent behind the defensive starters are professional football players. They know the game and Eric Mangini will utilize their strengths to put together the best team to play this weekend against San Diego.
How many times do people forget we have one of the best coaches in the history of football in Bill Belichick and Tomí Coolí Brady as quarterback?
As far as offensive preparation and weapons are concerned, the Patriots have unlimited capabilities. Belichick and Scott Pioli have masterfully combined a great offensive group designed to succeed as a team. There may be question about having two rookies starting on the offensive line and Corey Dillon ëoldí and not able to run. Ha!
Shame on all of you that think this way!
The Patriots prepare for each game and only one game at a time. History has shown that the Patriots have started more players that past two years then most teams have the previous three or four years. Andre Davis is gone this week but may be back in three. Troy Brown again on defense ñ why not! There are other former Patriots (Phifer) that may provide other opportunities.
Each week will have a different look and as well it should. Bring on LT and the Chargers. Bring in Drew Brees and the ëno huddleí offenseÖ. being well coached and able to execute, the Patriots will win.
Everything I have seen so far indicates that Rodney Harrison is out for the rest of the year with a tear in his ACL (other reports also a MCL tear). Some say it could be a career ender for the 32 year old safety.
He is one of my favorite players on the team. I hope that the injury is not as serious as reported and pray he has a full recovery.
Most of what I have read so far this week has the Steelers winning, but no one has them winning by a huge margin.
They write about the Steelers regular season winning streak and how the Patriots beat the Steelers in the playoffs last year to go on to win the Super Bowl.
They mention quarterback Ben Roethlisbergerís start as the best ever and running back Willie Parker filling the void left by Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis.
There is mention of the poor display of the Patriots running game, poor play of the offensive line and the absence of stopping the run on defense. The also bring up the poor health of the Patriotís defensive backs. Leading to the ultimate question: Will T. Brown play defense or not?
In the end, little is mentioned about the Patriots defensive line being one of the best in the NFL, Tom Bradyís ability to play great football, the talent of the receivers (all healthy) and the fact that Belichick is the best coach in the NFL.
The Patriots defense is good at not being beat by multiple talents. Give them the run and take away the pass (ala Raiduhís Moss ñ yes he had one for 73 yds, which was played poorly by Poole and Harrison, but it could have been much much worse). Stop the run and force them to throw? Hhmmm not seen yet this year, but the Patriots did hold Stephen Davis to 77 yds rushing.
I think the Patriots defense will continue to solidify. The defense will work to force the Steelers to beat then on the ground or in the air. If the DBís are still too beat up, then look for the Patriots to go to a 4-3 and contain Parker and apply pressure and interrupt Roethlisbergerís throwing rhythm. With Asante Samuel, Eugene Wilson and Harrison able to shut down one side of the field and containing receivers, the chances of getting severely burned in the air is minimized.
If the Patriots decide to let the Steelers run, then it will probably be a 3-4 set up with the outside linebackers putting pressure form the outside forcing Parker to run inside for hopefully shorter yardage.
In any case, the DBís for the Steelers are only slightly improved from last year. Their linebackers are some of the best in the business, and with Corey Dillon playing against the Steelers this year, they need to take the Patriots running attack more serious then the 5 yards gained during last years regular season game.
This will open up a bit more pass action scenarios and Brady is the right man for the job. Add in the fact that the Patriots are also able to utilize their tight ends in pass plays and various blocking schemes the offensive side looks more balanced against the Steelers defense.
If the Patriots play well on both sides of the ball it will be a close game. If the mistakes, penalties and poor special teams play that lost it for the Patriots last week continues (this will be the differentiator this week!), then we will see the Steelers run away with a win.
You are what your record says you are. But in this case so do a few of the stats.
Tom Brady (23-44 for 270 yds and 1 TD) had a terrible day (one fumble and one interception) in trying to carry the World Champions on his shoulders for a win against a Carolina team fired up coming off a loss last week and also losing defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. Corey Dillon was held to an unimpressive 39 yards. Where was the offense?
The defense we can understand is still work in progress and the fact Stephen Davis was held to 77 yards is over shadowed by 3 one-yard TDs he punched through the defensive line. Jake Delhomme was far from Super Bowl caliber finishing 11-26 for 154 yards and no touchdowns.
So what was it?
Heart? Drive? Commitment? 12 penalties for 86 yards? It seems that the Patriots were not in the game and keeping it close enough to win did not work. Obviously there is still work in opening up holes in the offensive line for Dillon to run through and the defense line still needs to stop the short yardage runs, but it seems like the Patriots lost track of the basics.
I will still need to see a bit of film and read bit more to comment in more detail, but coming off the plane and seeing this at the airport bar was embarrassing. This is not the team we expect to show up and play and if the Patriots play like this next week, Pittsburgh will eat ëem up.
The Steelers are coming off a another win and extend there regular season winning streak to 16 games and are chasing the Patriots to break the record of 18 games in a row. Last year the Steelers stopped the Patriots winning streak, this year it is up to the Pats to stop the Steelers and show they are the defending World Champions.
If you ask me, Bill Belichick seems to lose the games that will have the biggest impact on his players. Losing last year at Pittsburgh helped the Patriots focus and become better, maybe this year they needed a dose of reality a bit early. Lets hope we see a positive impact playing again on the road in Pittsburgh.
IN BILL WE TRUST!!
I write this as I am waiting in the airport lounge waiting for my flight to London. Yes I will miss today’s game, but hopefully get to see some highlights in London and find an internet cafe to write a few words of praise on todays win by the Patriots.
I can honestly say that I do not have much fear of the Panther’s offense. I think even as the Patriots defense is learning its way into an improved 3-4 after last weeks game, this is still a learning opportunity. Belichick and co. has had over a week to prepare and that is a long time to know what works against your opponent.
I also expect to see improvement in the running game today and Corey Dillon busting out after last weeks disappointing display. He needs to understand this week builds into neyt week, as the lasttiem the Pats went to Pittsburgh – he was not there and it was the worst rushing game I have ever seen.
Well my plane will board in a bit and tonight instead of ‘Grid Iron or American’ Football – I will have a pint and watch probably Arsenal play in English Premiere or Champions League. And that is only because Rugby will not be on the tele.
I have been thinking about the first Patriots game and am still wondering what to think about this season.
What are my concerns?
Offensive Coordinator? Yes there were a few times when the Pats could not establish the running game that I did become concerned about the play calling. Then there were the few 3 and outs in the 3rd quarterÖ
Special teams play? Too many yards given up on the kick returns? Poor tackling? Two blocked kicking attempts? Poor blocking?
The O-line and the running game? No holes or gaps for Dillon? Poor blocking in front of Dillon?
The linebackers not able to stop the run, missed assignments and poor tackling?
Poor tackling by the secondary?
Yes they are all concerns.
In the mean time the talent and depth in the secondary and receiver corp. provides comfort that even without a few players from last year. Dillon looks as strong as ever. The D-line is considered one of the best in the league and where Seymour isnít there will be Warren and Wilfork for the pressure, tackle or sack!
The other positive is the ever-cool Tom Brady. He would sure like to get some throws back from the last game, but 306 yards and a QB rating of 105 is pretty darn good. He looked so comfortable and it is only the first game!
Of course we have the best coach in the business and as the Patriots do every year, they get better as the season moves on. Over the next 2 weeks they will be playing against hard teams on the road.
Both the Panthers and the Steelers are considered as contenders to make the playoffs and potentially the Super Bowl.
Both have lost key games (playoffs and Super Bowl) against the Patriots in the past.
Both will be looking to beat the World Champions New England Patriots.
Both will be able to provide Bill Belichick and the Patriots hard ën tough games to learn from and get better.
IN BILL WE TRUST! GO PATS!
Was it just me or did it seem too obvious that the Raiduhs wide-receivers and tight ends were towering over the Patriot’s secondary?
Ronald Curry 6-2, Johnny Morant 6-4, Randy Moss 6-4, Jerry Porter 6-2, Alvis Witted 6-0
Courtney Andersen 6-6, Zeron Flemister 6-4, Randall Williams 6-3
Compare to the Patriots
T. Poole 5-8, A. Samuel 5-10, R. Gay 5-11, C. Scott 6-1
E. Wilson 5-10, R. Harrison 6-1,
Yep only a slight difference………
Wahoo! Opening night and we start off with a win! Yeah Baby!! Undefeated!
Ok so the hoopla is over and we can get down to business. And although it was a win it wasnít quality. There are still some things that need to be worked out on both sides of the ball.
I think the offense looked pretty good throwing the ball in the first half, but it was tough for Dillon to gain any yardage. You have to give the Raiders defensive line credit for containing Dillon. Even late in the game when the Raiders defense seemed to be always on the field, Dillon only had a few good runs.
Some can say it is the first full game the teams have played and not everyone is in top shape, to get beat on for 60 minutes, but what the hell, they get paid to be in top shape to play 60 minutes!
Branch, T. Brown and Watson did well catching the ball. Tim Dwight had a catch for a TD and did fairly well returning kicks ñ a good start for him. Daniel Graham made some good blocks.
Although a few 3 and outs will happen ñ last night it was mostly due to the pressure from the Raiders defensive line in the second half. The O-line will need to work on those pressure situations, because in the first half Brady had plenty of time to get into rhythm and throw, but when the heat came at him in the 3rd quarter it was tough going. Mankins did a nice job in his debut start as a rookie. And fellow rookie O-lineman Kaczur also had a good night.
The defense gave up a lot of yardage, but the Patriots always are willing to give up a lot of tough yards over giving up a lot of yards on one play. Other then the 70 some-odd TD catch by Randy Moss, where both Poole and Harrison were their own enemies, there was not much else given up for big plays.
There were a few miss steps within the linebacker group and a few too many missed tackles (Asante Samuel!)
Other then the first series, LB Mike Vrabel did a great job putting pressure on Collins and also stopping LaMont Jordan in the backfield off of a screen pass.
The D-line kept good pressure on Collins for most of the game, but it seemed inconsistent. The Raiders tried early to change up the run v pass plays and the Pats did not bite on them, but it did seem that fitness was an issue in the second half when Collins started to gain some momentum.
Overall I am happy with the win and that there were no big highlights showcasing Randy Moss! The Patriots players and coaches are very honest on how well they think they played and they all know there is still more work to be done.
It will be a tough schedule the next couple weeks visiting the Panthers and then again on the road to visit the Steelers. But I am confident the Pats will continue to improve week to week.
24 – Tom Brady completed passes for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns
23 – Corey Dillon rushes for 63 yards (it looked like more to me!) and 2 touchdowns
7 – Deion Branch catches for 99 yards and a touchdown
6 – Troy Brown catches for 51 yards
2 – Ben Watson catches for 55 yards
2 – Josh Miller punts inside the 5-yardline
1- Vince Wilfork interception
1 – Tim Dwight catch for a touchdown
1 – Patriots win
0 – Patriots losses
Previously I made some not so bold predictions for the 2005 season:
In 2005 teams to beat!
AFC EAST: Patriots ñ Yes!
AFC North: Ravens (this bracket could be close, would like to see the Browns get it though)
AFC South: Colts (light warm games end of season will not help them in the post season! Jaguars have improved and if they can go head to head w the Colts may be here instead!)
AFC West: Toss-up but would have to say Chargers
NFC EAST: Eagles ñ T.O. or no T.O.
NFC North: Lions (Mariucciís Magic?)
NFC South: Falcons (as long as Vick is healthy)
NFC West: Rams (I would like to see Arizona get there act together!)
Sleeper Teams: Jaguars and Cardinals
I havenít thought of any AFC / NFC winners as yet, but let me know what you think of this so far!
So what do I think now? Still the same.
AFC Championship game: Patriots versus Ravens
NFC Championship game: Falcons versus Panthers
Super Bowl: Patriots versus Falcons
World Champions: Patriots
Yes I can really see a 3-peat happening!