By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots defeated the Redskins last Sunday 34-27 on the road at FedEx Field, and are now getting ready to face the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
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 Broncos.
1. I think the Patriots might miss Redskins wide receiver Jabar Gaffney. Against the Patriots, Gaffney had 6 receptions for 92 yards, and 1 touchdown. He has 52 receptions so far this season.
In his time with the Patriots, he was reliable, and could find ways to get open. His numbers have only gone up since he left after the 2008 season. It is good to see him him thriving in Washington, but I wish he was still with the Patriots.
2. Dane Fletcher made an impact against the Redskins. A defensive player that gets lost in the shuffle is Fletcher. He is an inside linebacker that I feel has serious potential.
Against the Redskins he had 6 solo tackles, and put some pressure on the quarterback early in the game. He was also very active in special teams. Don’t be surprised to see more of Fletcher the rest of the season.
3. Jerod Mayo is more than just a tackling machine. The criticism against Mayo in the media has been that he is not a play-maker. He has had an interception in his last two games. Against the Redskins his interception sealed the victory for the Patriots. I think he has proved that he is more than just a player that can make tackles. Mayo can actually change games with his play.
4. The screaming match between Bill O’Brien and Tom Brady is a positive. I like that O’Brien stood up to Brady and let him know his dissatisfaction with his interception.
The offensive coordinator deserves some respect, and he has gotten some of it in the media this week. More important, I think he showed the players, who is in charge of the offense.
5. Devin McCourty had a good second half to give you hope. McCourty at times in the first half, looked like the player we have seen most of the season. He was beaten on some plays, and did not look confident.
However, in the second half, he did play some tight coverage, and did help make some stops. I feel his poor play has a great deal to do with lack of confidence. Hopefully a good second half will be something to build on. The Patriots desperately need his play to improve.
6. The Patriots defense continues to miss Patrick Chung. Say what you want, but he is the leader back in the secondary. He sets up the defensive backfield, and makes sure everyone is where they need to be.
With Chung being out injured, I think his loss is much bigger than most think. Reportedly he was seen with a walking boot on Monday, and that is not a good sign. I am hopeful that Chung will return, because if he does not come back this season, the Patriots secondary could be in huge trouble against a quality quarterback.
7. The Patriots made a smart move in signing Jerod Mayo to a Five Year Contract Extension. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Patriots have made a new deal with the inside linebacker.
Locking up Mayo for the long-term is very important as he is a key player in the defense for now, and into the future. It continues to show that in fact the Patriots do sign their own players to long term deals. They might not sign everyone, but getting long term commitments to key players cannot be overlooked.
8. I feel the Patriots should put pressure on Tim Tebow. I am hoping the Patriots do not sit back in a soft zone against Tebow. I would blitz him often, and try to confuse the young quarterback.
The Patriots need to make him play as a pocket quarterback, and see if he can beat them that way. Stopping the run should be secondary in this game. The priority has to be containing Tebow, and pressuring him in the pocket.
9. The hurry up offense could be a huge mistake in this game. I just wrote about this in a recent article. With the altitude in Denver, I think the hurry up offense would hurt the Patriots more than help it. All it is going to do is tire out those offensive lineman who will already have an issue dealing with the Mile High air.
10. With the upcoming Patriots game in Denver, it brings me back to the 2003 game. I was at that game at Invesco Field, on Monday Night Football. I sat on the 50 yard line, and was 10 rows behind the Patriots bench.
I remember like it was yesterday when Lonnie Paxton hiked the ball that hit the goalpost and gave up the safety. I then watched the Patriots defense get the ball back in Brady’s hands.
Like I have seen so many times since, Brady brought the Patriots down the field, and threw a touchdown pass to David Givens to give the Patriots the victory.
It was an amazing victory as I learned what a great feeling it can be when the Patriots win on the road. It was simply fantastic watching an entire stadium filled with Broncos fans go home disappointed.
More important, that victory showed me that the Patriots were about to do something special. In fact, that was one of the early wins in a 21 game winning streak which included a Super Bowl victory.
Those are my 10 thoughts for week 15, but feel free to leave some of your thoughts or concerns on this upcoming game in the comment section below.