Archive for September, 2010

Ten Things I Think About The New England Patriots

Every week I like to mention thoughts that are on my mind about the team. I apologize for missing last week. However, I certainly have plenty to write about now.

Last Sunday the Patriots hung on for a 38-30 victory against the Bills. Any victory against a division opponent is important, and this week I will be commenting about this game and other Pats related topics.

As always here are my “Ten Things I Think About The New England Patriots”.

1. I feel a win is a win. I have been reading and listening to criticisms all this week about how the Patriots played in their 38-30 victory against the Bills. I need to say in my best Roosevelt Colvin impression, “everyone just needs to calm down.”

The Bills have traditionally played the Patriots tough. In fact, last year the Pats almost lost to the Bills at Gillette Stadium. It might not have been a convincing win, but I don’t think it is an indicator of how this team is ultimately going to play by week 10.

On offense I think the Pats were sharp, and could not really be stopped. The defense did not play well, but I am going to call it growing pains. It should not be assumed that the defense is going to be the same by the end of the year. I just don’t believe in that scenario. I heard the same criticisms of Matt Cassel when he first became a starter for the Pats. It took him to the latter part of the season to blossom into a good quarterback.

I will say this until I am blue in the face, please give this defense a chance to learn from their mistakes and get better. In my opinion, a judgment on them right now is just unfair.

No matter how you feel the Pats played they ultimately won the game. That is the goal. Now, let’s see if they can build on this win this week in Miami.

2. Mental errors on defense hurt the Patriots against the Bills. The Patriots defense over the years is best when everyone is doing their job and in position to make plays. What I noticed on Sunday was poor tackling and taking bad angles to the ball.

Rob Ninkovich had bad tackling technique on one play that led to a nice run for the Bills. I also witnessed other occasions of poor tackling. On top of that I saw bad angles to the ball carrier on many occasions. Brandon Meriweather is the best example of this issue. He took the wrong angle on a play near the goal line that led to a touchdown.

These issues of mental errors can be fixed in practice. It is not a talent problem. It is simply doing your job correctly.

3. I don’t agree with all the criticism towards Bill O’Brien. He does not have the title of offensive coordinator, but he is the coach calling the plays.

He is only in his second season in calling the plays. It took Josh McDaniels I think two seasons to really be proficient in play calling. I have already noticed improvements from game to game. The offense has been incredibly diverse in three games. I think O’Brien has something to do with that. Let’s see where the offense is in week 10. I have a feeling they will be in rare form.

4. Bill Belichick is not past his prime. This topic has come up the past few weeks on the local talk shows that maybe the game has past Belichick by.

I think that is completely ridiculous. He is dealing with a very young team that will take time to grow. This is a rebuilding year. No one wants to say it but I will.

To think because other coaches careers have ended badly means this will happen to Belichick is absurd. Every coach is different, and I don’t think age has anything to do with it. Belichick can be the coach of the Patriots for as long as he wants in my eyes. I have seen no evidence that the game has passed him by.

5. I don’t think the loss of Scott Pioli is hurting the Patriots. I heard this argument yesterday on the Felger and Massarotti show by a caller. I think Pioli had terrible drafts his last few seasons with the club.

I actually think Nick Caserio has done a tremendous job the last two seasons drafting players that have real potential to help the Patriots now and in the future.

Pioli is responsible for drafting Chad Jackson, Laurence Maroney, and Garrett Mills. He might be doing a nice job in Kansas City right now, but it is too early to say that he has turned that franchise around. I think Pioli leaving, in the future will look like good decision for everyone involved.

6. I don’t buy this notion that the recent draft picks are not getting better. This is a topic I disagree with Michael Felger on. He has been mentioning lately on his talk show that recent Patriot draft picks are not improving. In my opinion he is pointing the finger at Brandon Meriweather and Darius Butler.

Brandon Meriweather and Darius Butler have not had great starts to the season. However, I thought Meriweather made strides to improve last season. I will give him until the second half of the season to make any judgement on him. Darius Butler is still learning and needs more time to improve. I would give him a full season before I have any real opinion his progress.

I think Patrick Chung has improved tremendously. I also think Ron Brace is starting to show flashes of a player getting better. How about Brandon Tate on offense? He is starting to show glimpses of a potential go to wide receiver in the future. Sebastian Vollmer I think has already established himself in his second season with the Patriots as a solid contributor on the offensive line. We should also not forget the great play of the young tight ends.

The 2009 and 2010 drafts are a few years away from making judgements on. However, I would say right now though their are several members of these draft classes that have contributed solidly to the Patriots. How can you say most of the young players are not getting better? I just disagree with this argument.

7. Danny Woodhead could be a nice change of pace option for the Patriots. I am not putting him in Canton yet, but he could give the Pats a nice option to keep teams on their toes.

Woodhead has already shown to be very effective on draws. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him utilized on third downs. He certainly has the quickness to be a nice change of pace player. It is just another option for Tom Brady to make the Pats offense even more diverse.

8. Dan Connolly deserves a good amount of credit for his play so far. I have noticed him several times making great blocks that have opened holes for the Patriots running backs. He has also been solid in pass protection.

I want Logan Mankins back with the team, but I haven’t noticed a huge drop off. It is time someone gave Connolly some praise for his fine play.

9. Ron Brace is starting to show improvement. We barely saw him on the field last season. I have seen him in on some plays so far this season. Most important though he is being trusted to be playing in meaningful situations with the team.

In three games he has 6 tackles. It is not a huge number but it is a start. He actually had 4 tackles against the Jets. If Brace does become a solid contributor on the line, that will be another young player to watch out for in the future.

10. I am predicting a 35-24 upset victory for the Patriots in Miami. Playing in Miami is traditionally a difficult place for the Patriots to play. However, I think this result will go differently than probably most experts think.

I think Tom Brady is ready to really break out in Miami. I have watched the Dolphins so far this season and their defense I think has holes. Dustin Keller did a job on Miami on Sunday Night. I see the tight ends having a huge night for the Patriots. If the Jets can put up a huge amount of points on Miami, I have no question the Patriots can do that as well.

On defense, I think the Patriots can hold Miami to 24 points. This will be a huge challenge for the young defense. Miami still runs the ball to win, and that is why I think their scoring may not be as high as many people think.

In the end I just think it will come down to too much Tom Brady and no Jason Taylor. His loss on Miami is bigger than most experts think for that defense.

What part of the Patriots offense or defense is on your mind? I’d love to hear from you, so be sure and post your thoughts in the comments section located directly below this post.

What We Learned From the Patriots Victory Against The Bills

The Patriots may have beaten the Buffalo Bills Sunday at Gillette Stadium 38-30, but this game turned out to be a struggle for New England. 

Going into the game I really thought the Pats would win comfortably, and there wouldn’t be any nervous moments. Well, I give credit to the Bills for coming to play. They never gave up, and kept fighting right to the end. I don’t know if we learned anything new from the team today, but they won a game in the division, and that is the bottom line. 

The offense looked strong and was clicking the majority of the game. On defense this is a young unit that is continuing to go through growing pains. Special teams also really struggled and actually helped keep the Bills in the game.  No matter how they looked today, the Patriots won and in the big picture that is all that really matters.

On offense, Tom Brady looked like he is in mid-season form. He had complete command of the offense, and at times looked impossible to stop. New England was also very balanced on offense, with Brady throwing for 252 yards, and the Patriots runningbacks combining for 200-yards rushing. 

In the running game BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a tremednous day, running for 98 yards. Overall this unit is rounding into great form, and I have complete confidence that the offense will continue to get even better. However, Sunday was certainly one of the strongest performances we’ve seen to date.

On defense, unfortunately there are not many positives to to take away from this one. The Patriots defense made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like a Pro Bowl NFL quarterback, and he is a below average player at best. New England also could not stop the Bills running game. The worst part of this unit had to be the mental errors they made on Sunday. Several defenders missed tackles and assignments.  They looked like a very young defense that is struggling to find its way. For the Pats to have any chance this season, this unit is going to need to show improvement because from what we’ve seen to this point, they’ve played like a below average defense.

On Special Teams, this unit was very poor. CJ Spiller ran back a kickoff for a touchdown. Zoltan Mesko had a very bad day punting averaging 38 yards per punt. On kick off returns Brandon Tate did not give the Pats great field position to start drives. Stephen Gostkowski was 1-1 in field goals, and was the only bright spot on Sunday.

The Buffalo Bills I believe will be lucky to win 4 games this season. For the Pats to struggle on Sunday doesn’t make me feel comfortable going into next week at Miami. However, in the end they won the game and that is the only statistic that really matters.  

As I always do, I like to look back at my keys to victory to see what kind of role they played in the game.  Below is my analysis of  “My Five Keys To Victory For The Patriots Against The Bills”, which I posted last week prior to Sunday’s game.

1. The Patriots need to stop the run.  The Patriots could not stop the running game of the Bills. As a team The Bills ran for 134 yards and a 5.4 yards per carry average. Marshawn Lynch was the leading rusher with 79 yards. 

Pats defenders missed tackles, and were often taking bad angles to the ball carrier which led to more yardage. Many of these mistakes can definitley be fixed. They weren’t blown off the ball. This is just another sign of a young defense. They will have to be better next week at stopping the run against Miami.   

2. The Pats need to put serious pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick.  The Pats did not put significant pressure on the Bills quarterback. He had more than enough time to survey the field, and find the open man. The defensive backs had a tough day indirectly caused by a lack of pass rush. Ryan Fitzpatrick was 20-28 for 247 yards and two touchdown passes. The Pats did not do a good job of making him uncomfortable in the pocket.

3. The Pats need to get the tight ends involved in the game.  This key yesterday was definitely a success for the Pats. Aaron Hernandez is really starting to have the effect on the Pats offense that Dallas Clark has with the Colts. He had 6 receptions for 65 yards. Rob Gronkowski continues to be a major threat, and a go to guy in the redzone. He had 3 catches for 43 yards and one touchdown pass.

These two tight ends have brought a new dynamic to the offense that I have not seen in a long time. The great thing about the tight ends is they are only going to get better.   

4. The Pats need to make an effort to run the ball. The Pats were very successful in this key as well. They ran for 200 yards with a 5.3 yards per carry average. BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the Pats with 98 yards.

The crazy thing about the offense is that I had hoped that the Pats would have a balanced attack against the Bills. I wouldn’t have guessed the Pats would have run 59% of the time in the game. The running game was a big part of the victory, as it kept the clock going, and kept the Pats defense off the field.

5. The Pats need to score touchdowns in the redzone. This was another very successful key yesterday. The Patriots were 3-3 with touchdowns inside the redzone. You can’t do any better than that. The Pats will need to score more touchdowns this season to help out the defense, but on Sunday they dominated inside the redzone.  

So on Sunday we learned that the defense is still a work in progress. However, the offense is good enough to win a game for the Patriots.  Hopefully as the season progresses the defense can improve to the point that they can win games on their own. One can only dream.

What are your reactions to Sunday’s game?  Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of New England’s 38-30 win over Buffalo.

My Five Keys To Victory For The Patriots Against The Bills

Before each Patriots game this season, as a preview I will be providing my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory. So be sure to check back each week, as the plan will be to release this every Saturday morning. Here’s this week’s edition.

WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live on CBS. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.

GAME NOTES: The Bills are coming off of a bad 34-7  loss at Green Bay last weekend, and after having lost both of their games this season and are 0-2. This is a team in transition. Unfortunately for Bills fans this season could be a difficult one to watch.  However, the Bills tend to give the Patriots a tough game whether it is home or on the road, and I still think New England is going to have to play well to win.

On defense, the Bills still have a very good group of defensive backs. Donte Whitner and Terrence McGee should be taken seriously, and Tom Brady needs to be aware of them on the field. Up front they still have Marcus Stroud who can be a force, and cause problems for the offense. Their defense despite the loss of Aaron Schobel is also still solid. 

On offense, the Bills have their issues. They certainly will be able to run the ball. They have three real good backs in Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, and CJ Spiller. The problem they will have on offense will be in the passing game. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be starting in the place of Trent Edwards. He is an average quarterback at best.    

The running game is where the Bills offense will need to concentrate on if they want to win. I don’t think it will be with their passing game.  

This game is really a “must win” for the Patriots. They can’t afford to lose to this team in the division. New England should win this one, but I don’t think it will be as easy as many think.

Here are my “five keys” for this week that I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.

1. The Patriots need to stop the run. With the Bills going with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback I have a feeling they will be running the ball a good amount. All three of their backs have the potential to give the Pats problems.

However, I am confident that the Pats can shut down their running game. The majority of the yards the Jets got against the Pats were in the second half when the Patriots were in their sub packages. As long as the Pats are in their base 3-4 defense I think they can stop them on the ground.

2. The Pats need to put serious pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick. I really think the Pats should throw the kitchen sink at the Bills quarterback. They need to make him as uncomfortable as possible. I would blitz him from somewhere on every passing down. The Pats over the years have rattled average quarterbacks with different looks and increased pressure.

3. The Pats need to get the tight ends involved in the game.  This is a game where I think the Pats should really involve Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in the passing game. The strength of the Bills defense has to be the defensive backs. The tight ends could have a field day in the middle of the field as they will probably be covered by their linebackers. If you get the tight ends involved it could also make it easier to get the ball to the wide receivers. This is a perfect game to show how diverse the Pats passing game could be.

4. The Pats need to make an effort to run the ball. I think the Patriots can run the ball on the Bills. If the Pats can make an effort in the running game, it could really open up their entire offense against the Bills. The Pats don’t need a completely balanced attack, but they need to show the Bills a commitment to the running game.  

5. The Pats need to score touchdowns in the redzone. With an opponent that is offensively challenged you don’t want to be kicking field goals. You want to put them away early. It is imperative that the Pats take advantage of their redzone opportunities.

If the Pats score touchdowns early and often the game could be over at halftime. That is why redzone efficiency is vital against the Bills. You don’t want let them stay in the game.  

I really think this is a game the Patriots should take care of by halftime. The Pats have too much offense, and the Bill do not have enough scoring power. I am predicting a 31-14 victory for the Pats against the Bills. 

What are your predictions?  Feel free to post them in the comments section and I look forward to reading them.

Has Bill Belichick Gone Too Far With Promoting Within On His Coaching Staff?

With the loss to the Jets, a major topic this week has been the youth of the coaching staff, and the lack of coordinators. At first glance you might think Bill Belichick has taken it too far with so many coaches being promoted within on his coaching staff. Young coaches Bill O’Brien and Matt Patricia are thought to be the the coordinators without the titles. Well, I took a closer look at the staff and I came up with an interesting conclusion. Belichick’s coaches actually come from inside and outside of the organization. There is also much more experience on this staff than most people think.

One of the qualities that I have admired about Belichick is that he develops young coaches from an early age, and brings them through the organization. The most notable would have to be how Josh McDaniels started at the bottom, and worked his way up to eventually becoming offensive coordinator. 

Belichick as a young coach was given his first coaching job on the Baltimore Colts staff under Ted Marchibroda. Belichick paid his dues at an early age, and I believe keeps passing it forward to young coaches.  

However, the Patriots current coaching staff is not just made up of young coaches. Let’s start with the most senior of coaches in Dante Scarnecchia. His title is assistant head coach/offensive line for the Patriots. Dante has been a coach with the Patriots for 26 years. The Pats do have a veteran coach on the offensive side of the ball.

Also, you have running backs coach Ivan Fears who has been with the Patriots for 13 years. He originally came to the Patriots during the Dick MacPherson years. He left in 1993 to become a coach with the Chicago Bears. He came back to the Patriots in 1999.

On the defensive side of the ball you have two former players for Belichick on the staff. Pepper Johnson has been on the Patriots staff for 10 seasons. He is currently the Defensive Line Coach. 

Corwin Brown is in his first season as a coach with the Patriots. He has been a coach at the College and Professional level since 2001.  He has a very interesting title. In his bio it lists him as Defensive Coach. Many Pats fans might remember him when he was a player during the Bill Parcells years. Last season he was the Defensive Coordinator for Notre Dame.    

Special teams coach Scott O’Brien has 16 years of NFL coaching experience. He is in his first with the Patriots. The last two seasons he was with the Denver Broncos as Special Teams Coach.

Now let’s take a look at the two coaches that seem to have the job of coordinators without the titles.

First, Bill O’Brien has been a coach for a long time. He started his coaching career in 1993 as an assistant at Brown. He then moved on to coach at three ACC schools and they were Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke. His final ACC job was offensive coordinator at Duke for two seasons. He coached 14 seasons before coming to the Pats.  He began his Patriots tenure in 2007. He is currently the Quarterbacks Coach for the Patriots.

Second, Matt Patricia is the Linebackers Coach. Before coming to the Patriots he spent 6 seasons at the College level at three different schools getting valuable coaching experience.  He is now in his 6th season with the Patriots coaching staff.  

In concluding, if you really analyze the Pats coaching staff you will see a real mix of youth and experience. Belichick has promoted from within, but many of these coaches had coaching experience prior to coming to the Patriots. So, if you don’t think Bill O’Brien or Matt Patricia are doing there job it certainly is not from a lack of experience.

The only proper conclusion I can come up with is that Bill Belichick has not gone too far with promoting from within. These coaches earned their role with the Patriots. You want to know why I think that? If Bill Belichick trusts them with his offense and defense that is good enough for me, and I think as the season goes on we’ll see more improvement from both sides of the ball.

What We Learned From Watching The Patriots Loss To The Jets

Yesterday’s 28-14 loss to the New York Jets was really tough to watch. I knew that a Patriots victory would have been devastating for the New Yorkers. Going into the game, the Jets were a desperate team, and the Pats were a team trying to build an identity with many young players. What you witnessed yesterday was that desperation won over a team trying to grow up.

I am sure you are going to read and listen today that the Patriots are “who we thought they were. You will hear that the defense was terrible, and there is very little positive to take away from a loss. I am going to tell you that these reactionary views of a loss are not looking at the big picture. This was one game and one loss. The season is a marathon and not a sprint.

In all three units of the team there is youth in many key positions for the Patriots. On defense it is in all 3 levels of this unit. On offense there is youth on the offensive line, and in some of the skill positions. On special teams you have a young punter, and many other players who are learning on the job. The young players are going to make mistakes.

There are positives to take away from this loss. I still saw players flying around on defense. I also saw this unit pressure Mark Sanchez and hit him. I also witnessed players in the right place to make plays on defense. On the offensive side of the ball I saw young skill players making contributions. The Patriots are a work in progress, so I’m looking at this loss as a learning experience.  I have to say I’m feeling more confident than ever that the New England Patriots are only going to get better as the season goes on. I say let them make the mistakes now and learn from them.

New England needed to try and get Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez more involved in the second half of Sunday’s loss (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)

On offense, I witnessed a well tuned machine in the first half. The Patriots were moving the ball at will. Tom Brady was sharp, and he was involving everyone in the game. In the second half I saw Brady become dependent on Randy Moss. Forcing the ball to Moss was really the issue in the second half. Instead of spreading it around like you saw in the first half, Brady threw it up to a covered Moss twice which resulted in two key interceptions. 

But, I also watched young skill players learning on the job. The tight ends and the young wide receivers made some plays. I think these players will only get better as the season progresses.

On defense, I watched two cornerbacks go through the growing pains that I thought we would see. Braylon Edwards and Jericho Cotchery did a job on Devin McCourty and Darius Butler. However, as I stated earlier, these corners were in positions to defend. I think with experience some of these catches you saw yesterday, in future games they could become deflections or interceptions.

But, I did see some encouraging signs from this young defense. They were getting to Mark Sanchez and hitting him. Jermaine Cunningham had some flashes in this game. Mark Sanchez did not have all day to throw the ball. To his credit he made the plays to win the game yesterday. This unit in my opinion was not terrible. It was just learning on the job.

On special teams, unfortunately this unit struggled yesterday. Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal.  This unit also didn’t give the Patriots the great field position I had hoped for.

Overall, I am chalking this loss up to a good learning experience which I think will pay dividends later in the season. The Patriots are “who I thought they were,” which is a young team finding its way. I think you will see a much different result the next time these teams play.        

As I always do, I like to look back at my keys to victory to see what kind of role they played in the game. Were my factors a difference yesterday? Below is my analysis of  “My Five Keys To Victory For The Patriots Against The Jets.” 

1. The Patriots offensive line needs to protect Tom Brady. For the most part they did their job yesterday. They gave Brady time to throw the ball, but all it took was one bad play by this unit to overshadow a good performance. Late in the game with the Patriots driving Matt Light was beat by Patriots nemesis Jason Taylor, who sacked Brady and caused a fumble which was recovered by the Jets.  That play effectively ended any hope they had for a comeback. 

 2. The defensive line needs to stop the running game of the Jets.  Early in this game I thought they did a good job. However, in the second half LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene started to run the ball effectively. The Jets ran for a total of 136 yards. The ability to not stop the run in the second half hurt the Pats. 

3. Wes Welker and the Patriot tight ends need to move the chains for the Patriots. I Thought all three players were able to be effective and move the chains. Aaron Hernandez had a solid game. He had 6 catches for 101 yards, while Wes Welker had 6 receptions for 38 yards. I just wish that Brady went to these players more in the second half.

4. Special teams need to really have a positive effect on field position for the Pats. This unit was decent, but did not really have a situation where the Pats had great field position to start a drive. A few times the Pats started at around the 30 yard line. I was hoping there would be situations where the Pats would start a drive at the 40 or even midfield. Again, it wasn’t not a bad job against a Jets team that has a pretty good special teams group of their own.    

5. Tom Brady’s quick release and decision-making ability could offset the Jets pressure.  Brady did a nice job in getting the ball away to his receivers. He was able to offset the Jets pressure pretty well throughout the game.  I just question his repeated attempts to force the ball to Moss in the second half, as that one still doesn’t make any sense to me.

I have to say that my “keys” yesterday were minor factors in this loss. This game came down to growing pains on defense, and a dependency on trying to throw to Randy Moss on offense.

I tip my hat to the New York Jets yesterday. They won this game, and deserved the victory. The crazy thing is the Jets might have done the Pats a favor. They taught them some lessons that I think are going to pay off later this season.

Patriots and Jets Inactives

Here are the Patriots and the Jets inactives below. 

Patriots inactives: Danny Woodhead, Taylor Price, Terrence Wheatley, Dane Fletcher, Steve Maneri, Quinn Ojinnaka, Brandon Deaderick, and Kaczur.

Jets Inactives: Clemens (3rd QB), McKnight, Ducasse, Brown, Cumberland, Dixon, H. Green and Pace.

My Five Keys To Victory For The Patriots Against The Jets

Before each Patriots game this season, as a preview I will be providing my five keys to the game that I hope will lead to a Patriots victory. So be sure to check back each week, as the plan will be to release this every Saturday morning.

WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live on CBS. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.

GAME NOTES: The Jets coming off of a bad 10-9 loss at home to the Ravens will be desperate to get a victory against the Patriots and don’t want to drop another one in front of the home crowd. Their next game is on the road against the Dolphins, and they definitely do not want to go into that game 0-2. I am expecting to see a Jets team that will do everything they can to beat them, so it should be quite a game.

On defense, the Jets were very impressive against the Ravens. They pressured and hit Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco often. They also held Ray Rice to 43 yards and a 2 yards per carry average.  Overall they gave up only 282 yards, and this defense should be a tough challenge for Tom Brady. 

On offense, the Jets really struggled last week against the Ravens. Their running game was average at best, with Ladainian Tomlinson running for 62 yards. However, the Jets feature back is Shonn Greene and he was only able to run for 18 yards with 2.7 average per carry. 

Mark Sanchez certainly was not sharp against the Ravens. He threw for only 74 yards, and in fact overall the Jets offense was below average. They tied a franchise record with only 6 first downs. 

Against the Patriots they are going to have to generate much more offense if they hope to win this one. The Jets will probably have to rely on their defense to dictate the game, and give their offense a chance to hopefully capitalize on good field position – something they didn’t do against Baltimore.  

This game should be a fight to the bitter end.  So how will the Patriots be able to pull out a win in the New Meadowlands Stadium?   

I have “five keys” that I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats. These points I am focusing on involve all phases of the game.

1. The Patriots offensive line needs to protect Tom Brady. I expect the Jets to throw every type of blitz at Brady Sunday. It will be up to the offensive line to stop the pressure from players like Bart Scott , David Harris, and Jason Taylor. If they can give Brady time to throw the ball, the Pats could move the ball against this defense.

2. The defensive line needs to stop the running game of the Jets. Shonn Greene and Ladainian Tomlinson have the ability to control the game for the Jets. It is up to the Patriots defensive line to stuff the Jets, and make them one dimensional. If the Pats can force the Jets to make Mark Sanchez beat them, it could be a long day for New York, and potentially a good one for New England.

3. Wes Welker and the Patriot tight ends need to move the chains for the Patriots. I have a feeling that the Jets will stop any running game the Patriots have on Sunday. I also think that Darrelle Revis will do a very good job on Randy Moss.

It will be up to Wes Welker, and the tight ends to move the ball for the Patriots. There could be some great match-ups for Brady to expose on Sunday. Kyle Wilson and Antonio Cromartie really struggled last week for the Jets. I could see Welker having a field day against these players.

Also, Todd Heap had a nice game for the Ravens against the Jets defense. I could really see Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez being able to take advantage of open spaces in the Jets defense.

4. Special teams need to really have a positive effect on field position for the Pats. This was a key last week and I thought played a role in the victory. On defending kick-offs last week the Patriots were excellent in coverage. The Bengals often had to drive 70-80 yards if they wanted to score a touchdown.

On kick-off returns Brandon Tate was tremendous. He even ran back the kick-off to begin the second half for a touchdown. Field position last season was an issue for New England. This unit could be a weapon on Sunday for both the offense and the defense in regards to field position. 

5. Tom Brady’s quick release and decision-making ability could offset the Jets pressure. Watching the Jets game on Monday I noticed that Joe Flacco was holding on to the ball for quite a while. You cannot do that against a blitzing defense like the Jets. 

As we know Brady has the ability to get the ball to his recievers very quickly. His decision making and quick release could end up being a weapon on Sunday. Brady rarely holds the ball too long, so the Jets may find it harder to get to him this week.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see New England come out in shotgun, and a no huddle offense. The Patriots have done this before against blitz heavy defenses.    

This will be a very tough game for New England. However, I am predicting a hard-fought 21-14 victory for the Pats against the Jets. 

What are your predictions?  Feel free to post them in the comments section and I look forward to reading them.

Ten Things I Think About The New England Patriots

Each week I like to mention different subjects that are on my mind regarding the Pats, and last week gave me plenty to think about.

The number one thought of the week has to be the victory for the Patriots against the Bengals. What was shocking about this game had to be how well the defense played. I was pleasantly surprised by the intensity and speed of this unit, and I have to say they have given me hope for the future.

Besides the victory, there were many other subjects involving the team this week. I took the time to look over some of the challenges facing the team this week, and there’s plenty of things to discuss.

So below are my “Ten Things I Think About The New England Patriots” for this week.

1. The Patriots victory over the Bengals was  a complete team effort. During their 38-24 win last Sunday at Gillette Stadium over the Bengals, the Patriots dominated in all phases of the game.

The offense was not really challenged at all during the game, as Tom Brady had his way for most of the afternoon with the Bengals defense. He also threw for 3 touchdowns, including two to Wes Welker. This unit is already in top form.

On defense, this unit was fast and aggressive, and they were an integral part of New England’s 1-0 start. Even though the defense gave up 24 points,  they were very active and helped decide the game in the first half.

On special teams, this unit helped give the Pats great field position, and also were involved in scoring after Brandon Tate ran back a kickoff  to begin the second half for a touchdown.

2. The speed of the Patriots defense was a pleasant surprise.  Watching the opening game, the first thought that came to my mind was how fast the Pats defense looked. They were flying around, and swarming to the ball.

Patrick Chung is one player that completely stood out. He was constantly around the football. He certainly did a very good Rodney Harrison impression with his play on Sunday. The corners also stuck right with Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, and up until the second half more or less held them in check.

But, the defensive speed seemed to be in all levels of the defense. This unit is young and they’re going to make mistakes. However, I have already seen the type of defense I hope the Pats show for years to come. Speed kills and it was on display against the Bengals.     

3. Rob Gronkowski is a physical force who can catch the ball. This player has really impressed me with his physical presence. When he caught his touchdown reception he made the defender look very small.

He also showed the ability to block as he helped pave the way for Wes Welker’s first touchdown. Gronkowski might be more of an asset than I first imagined. He might be the entire package as a tight end.

Randy Moss after the Patriots game was reality television at its best. (FILE PHOTO:Icon/SMI)

4. Randy Moss after the Patriots game was reality television at its best. When Randy Moss took the stage at the press conference after the game I was shocked by the fact he decided rather than talk about their win over Cincinnati, he opted to instead talk about his contract. For 15 minutes I watched with my mouth open thinking why is he doing this?

Looking back at it now, he really did not say anything offensive. I just think his timing was really bad. I thought the good news was that in a way he showed everyone he actually wants to stay in New England. I think that is the silver lining from a very entertaining 15 minutes of reality television.

5. I would offer Randy Moss a short term contract extension.  I have changed my mind on offering Moss a contract. I thought the Pats should move on from Moss after this season. However, he showed me his desire to want to stay in New England so I think they should try and find a way to keep him here.

If I am the Patriots I would offer him a 2-year deal for decent money. I think if he is interested in a short term deal I would like Moss to come back. However, if he is looking for four years I would not offer him that type of a deal. I am now hoping the Pats do offer him a contract, and hope they can get it done.

6. I disagree with trading Laurence Maroney. I might be in the minority when it comes to Maroney. He definitely was not a bust with the Pats. I think he would have helped the Pats this season when Taylor and Morris get hurt.

7. Gary Guyton could be an asset on passing downs for the Patriots. I now see the value of Gary Guyton, and it is on third down and other situations that involve him dropping back into coverage.  He is very fast and can actually cover tight ends very well. We saw this Sunday when Carson Palmer tried to connect on a pass to Jermaine Gresham and Guyton stepped in front and ran it back for a touchdown.

Guyton used in these situations might be very valuable. He has the speed to stay with a player like Dallas Clark. Guyton I think now has a real role on this defense.

8. The offensive line continues to improve and play well. This unit will definitely be tested against the Jets. However, they played great against the Bengals. They kept Tom Brady pretty clean, and also opened up holes for the running game. Dan Connolly is really doing his job filling in for Logan Mankins. He might be the most pleasant surprise so far this season.

9. The lack of crowd noise is an issue at Gillette Stadium. I have already written about this subject. I think it is time the fans really made a difference in the game.

The fans should be allowed to stand up and make noise during the game. I  don’t understand why this is discouraged by some stadium staff who have asked myself and fans to sit down. I have also been told by other fans to sit down as well. It is time to make a player like Peyton Manning a little more uncomfortable at the line with some serious noise to disrupt his concentration. 

10. I am predicting a 21 – 14 victory for the Patriots against the Jets. This game is going to be very difficult for the Patriots on Sunday.

All of a sudden this game is a must win for the Jets. They really need this victory. They are on the road next week in Miami. They cannot afford to go into that game 0-2. So I believe it’s going to be a bit test, and I expect that they will be throwing the kitchen sink at the Patriots Sunday.

I do think the Jets will score some points against New England. I believe Sanchez is going to come out throwing and they may try and go deep early against this young secondary. I think Darius Butler and Devin McCourty will be tested once again, but I actually think as the game goes on the Pats defense will get stronger.

On offense, I think it might take Brady a few drives to really get going. In the end he can still get the Patriots three touchdowns, and that should be enough for a victory.

What part of the Patriots offense or defense is on your mind?  I’d love to hear from you, so be sure and post your thoughts in the comments section located directly below this post.

It Is Time To Make Noise At Gillette Stadium

Yesterday Tom Brady commented about how loud it is when they go on the road to play the Jets, which brought to the surface a subject that needed to get out in the mainstream media. The Gillette Stadium crowd is very quiet compared to other stadium and crowds in the NFL. Crowd noise definitely gives your team an advantage.

It is time to make noise at Gillette Stadium.

If fans were as loud as they were when I visited Invesco Field, the Patriots would have an instant advantage. (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)

The best example of crowd noise I can give is when I went to see the Patriots play the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field in the 2003 season. The crowd noise for that game was incredible. It added to the overall experience of the game, and it also hurt the offense for the Patriots as they had a hard time hearing Tom Brady. At some points during the game you could actually feel the vibrations of the noise around the stadium.

Now, like I mentioned I thought the Denver Broncos had an extra advantage in this game because of the crowd noise effecting the Pats offense. As a fan of football I loved the noise and the passion of the Broncos fans. They were into the game from the first kickoff to the last whistle.

Hands down this was the best Patriot game I had ever experienced. The Patriots won this game in dramatic fashion. But, what really made it memorable for me was the overall fan experience at Invesco Field. The fans stand up, make noise and let their presence be felt.

Let me start by saying I think Pats fans are the best in the league. We are into the game, and we want to make a difference. Part of the problem for the lack of noise at Gillette is the encouragement by the actions of other fans and Gillette Stadium officials.

I know I am not the only person who has experienced this at a Patriots home game. When the visiting team’s offense is near me I generally want to get up and make noise. On many occasions I am told to sit down by either other fans or by Gillette Stadium officials.

I am sorry, but you cannot make enough noise sitting down. I am a passionate fan with a loud voice. I would like to make a difference. I would love to see Peyton Manning get flustered by the crowd noise like Tom Brady did in Denver.

This lack of crowd noise is a real issue that I am glad is being brought out to the open. It is eight regular seasons games a year. Pats fans are the best in the league. They should be able to express themselves and make a difference.

Please feel free to comment about this issue and voice your opinion on the crowd noise at Gillette Stadium in the comment area below this post.

What We Learned From Watching The Patriots Victory Against The Bengals

Going into the game on Sunday there were many questions I had regarding the Patriots. Would Tom Brady and the offense be able to be dominant against a good Bengals Defense? Would the Patriots defense be able to contain what was thought to be the high-powered offense of the Bengals? Would the Pats be able to improve their field position with their special teams unit? The answer to all three questions turned out to be an emphatic “yes”. The Patriots took care of business in all three phases of the game yesterday in beating the Bengals 38-24.

On offense, I think it is safe to say that Brady is completely healed from his knee injury of two years ago. He was sharp and in complete control of the offense. Brady finished 25-of-35 for 258 yards, and 3 touchdowns, and looked just like the Tom Brady fans are used to seeing.

On top of Brady’s performance, you had the return of Wes Welker who had 8 receptions for 64 yards, along with two touchdowns. This is amazing considering many in the media did not see his return coming until the middle of the season coming off of his knee injury. I think Welker proved them all wrong yesterday.

The Patriots were also able to run the ball, with Fred Taylor showing once again if healthy he still is a top NFL running back. He ran for 71 yards on 14 attempts. His average per carry was 5.1, which is excellent. Yesterday the offensive line showed some signs of being able to open up holes, which could make the running game more effective than it was last year for New England.

On defense, the best way to describe this unit yesterday would be “active.”  What I watched was a young athletic defense flying to ball. The defensive line also did a nice job against the run, holding the Bengals to just 87 yards on the ground with an average of 3.5 yards per carry.

Rookie Devin McCourty has turned out to be a pretty good player so far for the Patriots (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)

The secondary for me was the brightest part of the defense. Patrick Chung was everywhere yesterday. He had 12 tackles, and was constantly around the ball. Devin McCourty and Darius Butler I thought both did a nice job covering their receivers.

The big surprise on defense had to be the pass rush. I got sick and tired of hearing in the media this off-season saying that the Patriots have no pass rush. Well, one game doesn’t make a season, but it definitely made a great first impression. The Patriots harassed Carson Palmer, and did pressure him often. They hit him six times and sacked him once. 

The score doesn’t indicate just how well the defense played against the Bengals, and I think this performance could be something to build on.

On special teams, this unit definitely did their job. Brandon Tate had another great day on kick returns, returning a kick-off 97 yards for a touchdown to start off the third quarter. Also, the special teams unit consistently covered kick-offs very well, giving Pacman Jones very little room to run. They were flying down the field, and hitting like missiles.  The only disappointment for me had to be Stephen Gostkowski missing two field goals, but overall, this unit was dominant on Sunday.

There was so much positive to take from this victory. However, it is only one game, and we will have to see if the Pats can build on what they accomplished against the Bengals as they get set to travel to the new Meadowlands to take on the Jets next Sunday.

As I always do, I like to look back at my keys to victory to see what kind of role they played in the game. Were my factors a difference yesterday? Below is my analysis of “ My Five Keys To Victory For The Patriots Against The Bengals”  

1. Special teams need to really have a positive effect on field position for the Pats.  The special teams unit definitely got it done yesterday. On kick-offs, they consistently kept the Bengals inside the 30 yard line and did an excellent job of containing Pacman Jones.  Tate did a great job in kick-off returns, and his kickoff return for a touchdown more or less put the game out of reach, and ended up being the difference in the game.

2. The Patriots cornerbacks need to contain Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.  Now, if you go strictly by the numbers you would think that Darius Butler and Devin McCourty did not do their job on Sunday. Chad Ochocinco had 12 receptions and one touchdown, while Terrell Owens finished with 7 receptions of his own. 

Butler was inconsistent, but at times he really did a good job.  McCourty showed the promise that I think he could eventually be a number one corner, as he was continuously in tight coverage on his receiver. These two young corners I thought did their job well overall.

3.The Patriots need to handle tight end Jermaine Gresham.  I thought the Patriots did a nice job on Gresham. He did catch a touchdown pass, and had 6 receptions. However, the Patriots were up to the challenge of staying with this tight end. They even got a big payoff one play. Gary Guyton was covering Gresham, and while in coverage intercepted a pass and took it back for a touchdown.  All in all I thought they handled him pretty well.

4. The Patriots need to score touchdowns when they are in the redzone. The Patriots definitely did a great job in this key area, which is obviously a nice improvement over last season. They scored on 3 of their 5 trips inside the redzone with touchdowns. Honestly, the last drive was more to run out the clock. So, for me it was more like 3 of 4 in the redzone, which is very good.  Brady threw two touchdown passes to Wes Welker, and one to Rob Gronkowski, with Gronkowski’s being an impressive leaping grab where he twisted back for the ball in mid-air to make the reception.

5. Tom Brady and the offense need to control the ball and the clock.  Again, statistics can be a little misleading. Overall, the Bengals had the ball for 31 plus minutes compared to the Pats who had it for 28 plus. However, the game was decided in the first half when the Pats really did a good job controlling the ball.  The Patriots were not one dimensional in this game. The Pats ran for 118 yards on 23 attempts, while Brady was 25-of-35 for 258 yards. It turned out to be about a 60-40 split which is fine for the New England.  They are always going to pass more. But, they showed yesterday that they can run the ball effectively.

Overall, this was an impressive win in all phases of the game. Next week the Pats go on the road to the play the Jets, so we’ll see if they can improve on a solid performance that has me feeling pretty optimistic heading into this AFC East Division battle against Rex Ryan and company.