By: Russ Goldman
Each week after a Patriots victory I usually go back and write a post about “What We Learned From The Patriots Victory”. I have decided to change it up this week, and focus on what good came out of this game. The negatives are obvious, and have been written and talked about to death. I am going to bring you “Five Positive To Take Away From The Patriots Victory Against The Redskins.”
The Patriots were able to hold on to beat the Redskins 34-27 in a game that turned out to be a shootout. Before I give you the positives, I will just mention what most writers and media members are talking about, and that are the issues on defense.
The defensive problems in this game were typical of the entire season, and that is with the secondary. When you make Rex Grossman look like a competent quarterback, that is a problem. He was 19-of-32 and threw for 252 yards with 2 touchdowns.
However, I honestly don’t have anything new to tell you about the secondary, so why really get into it again? As Bill Belichick says all the time, “it is what it is”.
So instead of harping on the negative, let’s take a look at the good to come out of this victory:
1. Dane Fletcher returned from injury and made an impact. I have mentioned often about the injured players hopefully coming back soon on defense. One player that many forget is Fletcher at inside linebacker.
I think he still has the potential to make a difference on the defense. He certainly played well against the Redskins. He came out by putting pressure on Grossman in the opening drive, and also making a tackle. He ended the game with 5 solo tackles, and assisted on two others.
Fletcher also was active on special teams as he made an impact there as well. The defense has its issues, but Fletcher’s play was definitely a positive to take out of the game.
2. Jerod Mayo can be a play-maker in the Patriots defense. The criticism I constantly here about this player is that he can tackle, but can not make game changing plays. Well, the last two weeks he has made two interceptions, and the pick against the Redskins sealed the victory.
Mayo had his typical 6 solo tackles along with 3 assists which is a normal game for this linebacker. But, you can see the spring in his step is back, and he is making an impact on this defense. With Fletcher playing beside him, Mayo was able to be more aggressive, and you definitely saw it as he tried to get after Grossman on occasion. Take shots at Mayo all you want, but he is starting to take his game to the next level when the Patriots defense desperately needs it.
3. The Offensive Line did a nice job at protecting Tom Brady. A concern of mine going into this game was the protection for Brady. Overall, the line did a nice job of keeping the outside linebacker duo of Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo away from Brady. The offensive line only gave up one sack.
The line has been something I have been worried about. They have been improving the last couple of games, and that is a big positive to take away from this game.
4. The confrontation between Bill O’Brien and Tom Brady is a positive. After watching the sideline screaming match between the Patriots quarterback and his offensive coordinator, I was encouraged by the emotion and desire of both.
Brady is frustrated by his play, and probably the offense as a whole. O’Brien with his role in this situation showed that he is not afraid to express himself to the franchise quarterback. It showed me leadership, and determination coming from O’Brien.
I know many fans might forget, but you would see Charlie Weis screaming often at his offensive players, and that would include Brady. Check your old DVD’s and you will see that I am right.
Brady in his press conference acknowledged he deserved the tongue lashing for his poor throw. That shows me the respect he has for O’Brien, and that is important. The Patriots assistant coaches have been criticized often this season for their lack of experience. Well, some of that might be warranted, but in the case of O’Brien he showed yesterday his character and leadership.
You laugh, but that confrontation could have huge benefits to the offense as the season goes on. It shows everyone on offense that the offensive coordinator is calling the shots and cares just as much as Brady does about their success.
5. Rob Gronkowski continues to show that he has the potential to be the best tight end in Patriots history. Gronkowski had 6 receptions for 160 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Those statistics don’t even tell you how dominating the Patriots tight end was against the Redskins.
He broke away from defenders hanging on him on two plays that absolutely made me stand up. Gronkowski is the total package as he can block as well. He is a match-up nightmare, and I don’t know how defenses can defend him in the future.
Needless to say there are plenty of reasons to feel encouraged heading into Sunday’s game in Denver. So ignore the negatives, and try and get yourself ready for what should be an interesting road game this weekend.