By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots defeated the Eagles on Sunday 38-20 at Lincoln Financial Field, and are now getting ready to face the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
After taking a week off from my “10 Thoughts” post for Thanksgiving, here’s this week’s edition. There’s certainly plenty to talk about, so here are some thoughts for this week ranging from my thoughts on the recent victory, along with my thoughts on the upcoming game against the Colts.
1. The Eagles have talent but do not play well together as a team. After watching the Patriots victory against the Eagles, I really saw another example of why I believe you need more than just talent to win in the NFL.
The Eagles have a ton of very talented players on both sides of the ball, but the team I don’t feel is disciplined or well coached to succeed. Their problems, I think, stem from the players and the coaching staff.
If you don’t have your players fighting to win together you are in trouble. Also, the coaches I don’t feel gave their players the right game-plans to beat the Patriots. Talent is great, but you need more than that to consistently win in this league.
2.Tom Brady seems to be healthy to me. Reportedly, there had been some talk that Brady has been suffering with some sort of elbow problem. Well, the balls he through on Sunday looked pretty sharp to me.
He also threw for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Eagles. I think we can hopefully put to rest the health of Brady.
3. The “hurry up offense” continues to pay off for the Patriots. I have come to the conclusion that this style of offense can be a great weapon in certain situations during the game.
In the second half against the Eagles, when the Patriots implemented it, I felt it changed the momentum of the game, and also tired out the Eagles defense. This change of tempo can be lethal when used at the right time.
4. Establishing the run against the Eagles was important. The Patriots came out on offense, and gave the ball often to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He only gained 44 yards on 14 carries, but what he did I think opened things up for the rest of the offense.
Brady after running the ball was now able to use “play action” passing very effectively. I feel the running game forced the Eagles to respect it, so it made the passing game even a bigger weapon. A balanced offense is very difficult to defend.
5.The Patriots showed character coming back from an early 10 point deficit. An issue for the 2009 Patriots had was fighting through adversity. The 2011 version does not seem to have that problem.
When you can find ways to win each and every week, that shows me something. The 3 Super Bowl Championship teams had that quality. I am not saying that the 2011 team is going to be a champion, but they do possess that very important quality that those teams had, and that is character. They don’t panic when they are behind. They just do their job, and play together as a team.
6. The loss of Brandon Spikes I feel has effected Jerod Mayo. One of the criticisms I have heard about Mayo is that he is not a play-maker. I guess you can say those comments are valid.
He is a tackling machine, but he hasn’t rushed the passer much in his career, or made many interceptions. I think this season, the plan was to turn him loose, and let him make plays like Ray Lewis. Unfortunately, he got hurt, and then Brandon Spikes went down.
The significance of Spikes being out is when he is available to play, he can be the middle linebacker which can open up Mayo to come from a side. I really want to see what Mayo and Spikes can do together when they are both healthy and playing together.
7. I am sick of and tired of the “yeah but” reaction from media members after a Patriots victory. I have heard it after almost every Patriots victory on the radio, and read this type of reaction in the papers.
Instead of focusing on how the Patriots won the game, I am hearing how the other team was the cause for their loss. How about the Patriots out-played a team, and give them the credit they deserve?
Also, I am hearing that there is nothing the Patriots can do to improve the defense before we get to the play-offs because of the level of opponents they will be playing. I completely disagree with this thinking, as I feel this is a great opportunity to get better.
The Patriots have many new faces that are getting a chance to play on defense, and several of them are because of injuries. I have seen improvements on the defense for many weeks now, and it is not about the opponent. It is really about improving together as a unit. There are 5 games left that will give the defense a chance to really gel, and become who they could be in the play-offs. These last 5 games are a tool to improve.
8. I am looking forward to the injured players returning on defense. I really want to see how the defense looks when the injured players return.
I really think the defense will look very different, with the additions of Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Brandon Spikes to this unit. These are 3 valuable players that have missed significant time lately.
If there are media or fans that have issues about the defense, I certainly understand it. However, I suggest waiting to see how the defense plays when these players return after a few games. All I am saying is wait until the Patriots defense has all of its players that will be with them into the play-offs. Then, I think it would be fair to make a judgment on the defense.
9. The loss of Peyton Manning this season shows the differences between the Patriots and the Colts. For the Colts to be 0-11 is quite embarrassing to that organization. They still have talented players without Manning and they have that record?
The Patriots were 11-5 in 2008, when Brady went down, and almost made the play-offs. I think coaching and management are the reasons here for the Colts being where they are today. How could this team not have a capable back-up for Manning?
10. Something is seriously lost for Sunday’s game without Peyton Manning. Now, I want the Patriots to win as much as anyone, but I would honestly want Manning to be playing.
We have witnessed so many great games between the Patriots and the Colts. Without Manning playing on Sunday, it is just another game, and that is sad to me.
Those are my 10 thoughts for week 13, but feel free to leave some of your thoughts or concerns on this upcoming game in the comment section below.