By: Russ Goldman
After a 20-16 home victory against the Dallas Cowboys, the Patriots are now on their bye week.
There’s certainly plenty to talk about, so here are some thoughts for this week ranging from comments on some of the players performances against the Cowboys, along with my thoughts on the hot topics during the bye week.
1. The success of the Cowboys season rest on the shoulders of Tony Romo. I left impressed by the Cowboys, and I think they will make the playoffs. They have serious talent on both sides of the ball, and they remind me so much of the San Diego Chargers. However, talent can only take you so far, and I feel that if they are going to really make a run in the playoffs, Romo will need to raise his game.
I thought Romo played well against the Patriots. His statistics were decent as he threw for 317 yards, and had one touchdown with one interception. I just don’t know if you can win a Super Bowl with Romo. He will need to step up in pressure situations to get his team there.
Vince Wilfork and the Patriots defense did a great job against Dallas On Sunday. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
2. Why did the media focus so much on the “offensive play calling” choices of the Dallas Cowboys rather than the improvement of the Patriots defense? The Patriots defense has been heavily criticized so far this season. When they have a positive performance, why can’t the media give them their due without giving excuses for their opponent’s performance?
I have heard it on sports radio that the defense looks improved, but the “play calling” by the Cowboys was suspect. That is a backhanded compliment, and to me it is just wrong in this case.
The Patriots held the Cowboys to 4-12 on third down, and held them to a three and out to get the ball back and ultimately win the game. The Patriots defense played well against the Cowboys, period.
3. The offensive line protection is starting to concern me. Tom Brady was sacked 3 times, and was pressured a good amount of the game Sunday. That is two games in a row we have seen breakdowns on the line.
Now, we can say that the Ryan brothers have something to do with it, and I actually buy into that. However, when we get into the play-offs, this line is going to need to do a better job in protecting the quarterback.
I know they can protect Brady most of the time, but when it really matters, can they get the job done? I guess I am starting to have concerns about this unit in the play-offs. I hope they can prove me wrong during the season against an aggressive defense.
4. I am not giving up on Chad Ochocinco. I have read so much negativity about this player, and it is all about his contract. I do understand that to a certain degree.
The issue I have is this player came in to a new system, and I think is still acclimating himself. He still has good hands, and has made key catches to extend drives this season. Granted the production is not there, but how do you know it won’t increase as the season progresses?
Ochocinco I feel needs more time to pass before we pass final judgment on him. If he picks up his game in the second half of the season and in the play-offs, it will be worth it. All I ask is to give him that opportunity to prove himself.
5. The tight ends seriously open up the offense. I kept hearing before the season that the Patriots need a “deep threat”. Well, they haven’t gone deep often, and overall have moved the ball down the field very well. In this last game it was a challenge at times.
However, the tight ends make up for the issue of no deep threat. Even if Welker is taken away, you saw Brady go to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski often. Between the two players they had 15 receptions for 142 yards. That is what I call production.
6. Brandon Spikes continues to improve on defense. Spikes had 8 tackles against the Cowboys, and was very active at the line of scrimmage. He also was seen blitzing at times, and making an impact.
With the Patriots not having Jerod Mayo the last 2 weeks, I feel Spikes has seriously picked up the slack. He deserves some praise for his play in this last game.
7. Albert Haynesworth is starting to make a difference. Haynesworth I thought played a solid game. When he was in there, he made it difficult to run in the middle.
However, where he really made a difference was in pass defense. He really can push the center back into the quarterback. He did a nice job not allowing Romo to step up in the pocket. His continued improvement could really pay off for the defense as we head further into the season.
8. Andre Carter played an outstanding game. Patriots fans have been waiting for someone to get after the quarterback for awhile now. It has been a while since the days of Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest.
Carter had 5 tackles and 2 sacks against the Cowboys. He also put real pressure on the quarterback the majority of the game. If he can play like this moving forward, the defense is only going to get more dangerous.
9. The defense turned a corner against the Dallas Cowboys. The question I was hearing after the game in the media was, can the Patriots defense become a championship unit?
Well, at this point they are not at that level, but they proved to me that the potential is there. The defense has pretty consistently now taken away something from an offense. This week the Patriots really contained Jason Witten. When you can take away a major weapon from an offense, that shows me a defense that can make a difference.
Also, the improvement on third downs has been huge. The ability to get off the field when you have to I think separates a defense. It is not all about the pressure. It is the total package of making stops when you really need to. The Patriots did that against the Cowboys, and did it often against the Jets.
The defense is not at a championship level yet, but it just might get there. I wouldn’t bet against it at this point as I think this unit is only going to get better with more games being played together.
10. Talking about Wes Welker’s contract right now is ridiculous. I know Welker was asked the question on the “Dan Patrick Show”, but there is no reason to keep talking about it this week.
It just happens to be the bye week, and the media has nothing really juicy to talk about. So, they decide to push a topic that would make some noise. I think there is no good reason to discuss it now. When the season ends is the right time to talk about Welker’s future with the Patriots.
Those are my 10 thoughts for week 7, but feel free to leave some of your thoughts or concerns on this upcoming game in the comment section below.