By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots defeated the Colts on Sunday 31-24 at Gillette Stadium, and are now getting ready to face the Washington Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field.
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 Redskins.
1. Regardless of how it looked, a win is a win against the Colts. The Patriots did not have one of their best performances against the Colts on Sunday. They were cruising going into the 4th quarter, and gave up 3 touchdowns in the final 15 minutes.
I criticized the team plenty in my last post on how they played in this game. However, the bottom line is they got the victory. You don’t get extra style points for a victory. The only thing I was hoping to see was continued improvement on defense. However, we still have 4 games for the defense to get better.
2. I think Coach Belichick was experimenting on defense against the Colts. The Patriots had 3 new starters in this game including Matthew Slater who is a wide receiver.
The Patriots also came out in nickel coverage, and played a good amount of that defense in the 4th quarter. I think part of the poor play from the defense had to do with these factors. I don’t think we learned much about the defense in this game either positive or negative.
3. Nate Jones did a nice job in his debut. He was a street free agent one day, and the next he is playing defensive back for the New England Patriots. I thought he did a solid job in coverage in his first game in the Patriots secondary.
I don’t know what kind of role Jones will have the rest of the season, but to play well in your first game with your new team is encouraging. I think we will have to see in the coming weeks though if he can be more than just a part time player.
4. Devin McCourty could be the key to the defense in these final weeks. McCourty was returning after being out injured for several weeks. He had a tough game, but part of that was probably still injury related.
For the Patriots to truly go far in the play-offs, McCourty could be a huge factor in their overall destiny this season. On defense, if you have McCourty able to play at the level he was at last season, it could open up Belichick to be more aggressive up front.
Kyle Arrington has done a very good job at the other cornerback position, but McCourty has the potential to be a shut-down corner. Hate to put it on his shoulders, but he needs to step up his game the rest of the season, and into the play-offs.
5. The play on defense was disappointing on Sunday. I honestly believe it is unfair to make a real judgment on the defense until injured players like Patrick Chung, and Brandon Spikes return.
What made the performance so disappointing had to do with how I knew the reaction would be by the media. I think the defense in this game was in a no-win situation. If they played well, it was expected, and if they played poor, they would be questioned on how they will perform in the play-offs. The reaction in the media was typical.
6. I wish the “hurry up” offense was not used to ignite the unit. I feel the hurry up can be a useful tool when used in certain situations. I don’t like how it needed to be used in this game to get the offense in gear.
Why is the offense struggling in the beginning of games? It could be play-calling and execution. I just don’t want them to use the hurry up as a remedy to their issues. It should be used as a weapon, and not to fix problems.
Former Patriots wide receiver Taylor Price turned out to be a big disappointment. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
7. Taylor Price turned out to be a huge disappointment. I really thought he was going to be a future standout at the wide receiver position. Well, the Patriots cut the former 3rd round draft pick last weekend.
The Patriots continue to fail in developing wide receivers. In the end, you have to put more on Price, because it is up to the player to reach his potential. He obviously did not do that in New England.
8. The running game was not strong against the Colts. I was really expecting a huge day from the running backs, but that did not happen. The Colts coming into the game, as one of the worst rush defenses in the league.
I put this bad performance on the line, and the running backs. I still have confidence in the running game, but the offense will need to do much better in future games than what we saw against the Colts. The running game is an important part of the offense.
9. Should the Patriots be concerned about facing a Mike Shanahan coached team? When Shanahan was the coach of the Broncos, the Patriots had continuously struggled to beat them.
At first glance, just the fact that Shanahan is the coach of the Redskins made me think for a minute about this game. However, then I remembered who he has at quarterback, and any fears about this game went away. Rex Grossman honestly is a horrible quarterback. This season he has thrown 10 touchdowns, and has 15 interceptions. They also have a poor running game to fall back on as well. The Patriots should win this game fairly easily.
10. The Patriots are in a no-win situation with the media regarding the Redskins game. If the Patriots win big it is expected, and if they struggle or lose, it would be a huge disappointment.
So just like last week, I will be limiting my access to shows, and stories about this game. It isn’t worth getting worked up about.
Those are my 10 thoughts for week 14, but feel free to leave some of your thoughts or concerns on this upcoming game in the comment section below.
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