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Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: The Patriots Off-Season Begins

In this episode we discussed several topics dealing with the beginning of the Patriots off-season.

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The Patriots Should Not Change Their Business Model To Maximize The End Of The Brady Years

I have seen and heard talk by several media members and fans that the Patriots need to maximize the end of the Tom Brady years by bringing in high priced free agents, and loading up for one more run before Brady retires. I could not disagree with this philosophy more, and I will explain why I think the Patriots should add a few pieces to their roster, but also build for the future.

For some reason I am not enamored by what the Patriots became in 2007 when they did load up, and brought in a high priced free agent, but also brought in several offensive weapons through trades and free agency. That team was about the offense totally, and the Patriots became the Indianapolis Colts.

When the Patriots won their titles, they were much more balanced with neither side of the ball being more dominant. The offense was solid, and the defense was very good, but it wasn’t far above the level of the offense. The Patriots won their rings with balance.

I am not one that wants the Patriots to go back to the Randy Moss and Wes Welker years. You have three young wide receivers who unfortunately got injured late in the season, but there is the potential for the Patriots to have a Deion Branch and David Givens tandem once again. Neither one of these receivers were a true number one but they were good enough.

You also have Rob Gronkowski coming back, and if I am the Patriots I look for a replacement for Aaron Hernandez either in the draft or free agency. You should be trying to go back to that two tight end tandem that terrorized defenses.

Also, you do have decisions to make at slot receiver. You will have Danny Amendola back, and he was playing hurt the entire season with his groin injury. I expect once his injury is taken care of in the off-season, I will see the player I saw in pre-season. You can bring back Julian Edelman as well, but that is a decision that the Patriots need to make.

The point of this is that the cupboard is not bare like I have been reading in the papers, and hearing on the radio and television. Injuries do happen, and the Patriots offense should not look like it did in the AFC Championship Game.

I am not against the Patriots bringing in players in free agency, but they should not be bringing in these huge high priced names to appease the media and the fans. They need to put the organization first, and that means finding players that will fit into their system physically and financially.

Do not buy what the media is selling regarding that the Patriots have short changed Brady, and have not given him enough toys. This is simply not true, as unfortunately the Patriots were undone by injuries, and the Hernandez situation offensively this season.

The Patriots have a young nucleus on both sides of the ball, and honestly the future is very bright. I disagree with mortgaging the future to push for one more ring for Brady. I do believe you can get that title with the current plan, and build for life after Brady.

The Boston Celtics went for it as they made some moves to win a title, and I guess you can say it worked, but now the Celtics are back to square one. My fear is that by going for it in one season, it could jeopardize the future of the Patriots.

I have lived through a terrible drought for the Patriots which during that time in the eighties, and the early nineties, the team was the joke of the NFL. Bob Kraft is not cheap, and he is trying to keep the Patriots competitive each and every season. He has done this and whether you like it or not, his business model works.

Look at the New York Jets who went for it over the course of two seasons. They bought several high priced free agents, and it got them to the AFC Championship Game twice. However, look at the Jets now as they are basically back to square one.  The business model for the Jets ultimately failed them.

So, when we look forward to the new season for the Patriots, there are several needs that should be taken care of, but I would stick to the Patriots business model, and find the right players that fit for next season and beyond. Just ask yourself, do you want to become the Jets?

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: AFC Championship Game Recap

In this episode, we looked back at the AFC Championship Game, and discussed what went wrong for the Patriots. At the end of the show, we discussed the needs for the team as we look forward to next season.

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Five Things To Look For: Pats vs. Broncos

After a convincing win against Colts, the Patriots are back in the AFC Championship Game, and they face the Broncos. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.

1. Can the Patriots score points early and often against the Broncos? Scoring early was a key last week against the Colts, and it was a huge factor in the victory. When the Patriots are playing from ahead, the confidence level lately with the team goes way up.

Facing a Broncos team on the road, the best thing they can do is to score early, which could take the crowd out of the game for a bit, and really put the pressure on the Broncos to respond to adversity.

Peyton Manning and his offense has the ability to control the pace of this game, but so does Tom Brady with the Patriots. If the Pats score early and often, I like the chances of the team to get to the Super Bowl.

2. Can the Patriots have a consistent passing attack? The Broncos happen to be pretty good at stopping the run on defense. They also are without one of their best cornerbacks in the secondary, as Chris Harris was recently put on injured reserve. The Patriots over the years have been excellent at taking advantage of a weakness they identify with their opponent.

Even without Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots should be able to take advantage of the Broncos pass defense. A player to watch in this game could be Danny Amendola. You would figure that the Broncos will key on Julian Edelman. Amendola could be huge in this game for the Patriots.

If I were the Patriots, I would take some deep shots early to loosen up that defense. The Patriots have enough weapons to expose this defense, and if they are successful, it will open up the running game. This game could be about throwing the ball, to open up the ground game.

3. Can the Patriots defense be physical with the Broncos wide receivers at the line of scrimmage? I think this is a huge key in this game, as the Broncos offense is all about timing patterns. If you can press these players at the line, you might be able to throw off the timing of these routes, which could lead to mistakes by Manning.

If the officials let them play, the Patriots could have a way of slowing down this Denver offense by playing physical. The Patriots defense in general needs to be very physical today.

4. Can the Patriots defense contain tight end Julius Thomas? He did not play in the first match-up, and is a handful to deal with. This is a player you might have to double-team to slow down. He might not be Rob Gronkowski, but he is a rising star in the league, and a player extremely difficult to defend.

I have a feeling linebacker Jamie Collins will be covering him with help. If they can limit his receptions, that could be a huge help as well in slowing down the Denver offense.

5. Can the Patriots win the turnover battle? In a Championship Game, turnovers can honestly change the game. If the Patriots can win this battle with the turnover margin in their favor, the Super Bowl could be the next step for this team.

In concluding, it is easy to say that this game could go either way, but I feel the Patriots will win this as a team, because Championship Games are usually won by all three units, and not just one. I see the Patriots winning the AFC Championship Game 34-24, which would see them back in the Super Bowl.

If you are looking for more of an extensive preview of this game, please take a listen below to Patriots Fourth And Two.

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Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: AFC Championship Game Preview

This is our preview of the AFC Championship Game.

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Six Takeaways From The Patriots 43-22 Victory Against The Colts

Here are my six takeaways from the playoff victory for the Patriots against the Colts. I generally want this to be a balanced post, but in this game there are more positives than negatives so you will see that reflected in this article.

The Positives

1.The Patriots got ahead early, and that was a factor in the victory. I talked about this in my last post, that it was important for the Patriots to get up on the Colts, and have quarterback Andrew Luck feel the pressure of playing from behind.

Luck certainly made plays that hurt the Patriots, but establishing that early lead might have changed the approach the rest of the game for the Colts. Not that the Colts were going to establish the run, but being down fourteen points early saw Luck really concentrate on getting the ball down field.

The Patriots never relinquished the lead, and by getting up early I feel put serious pressure on this young team. Luck got his points, but his need to score quickly probably was a factor in the interceptions he threw. The early lead was a factor in the victory.

2.The power running game is becoming a serious weapon for the Patriots now and moving forward. The media has concentrated on the running of LeGarrette Blount, but this was a team effort, as Stevan Ridley also contributed nicely in this victory.

Blount ended the day with 166 yards, and a 6.9 yards per carry average. Ridley ended with 52 yards, and a 3.7 yards per carry average. Even though it didn’t look pretty at times, committing to running the ball paid off as the game progressed.

It is funny to look back at history, and hear fans talk about the lack of a deep threat for the Patriots. Well, I am here to tell you that the Patriots won three Super Bowls with a power running game, and complimentary receivers that could get down the field when called upon, but the passing game was more about possession then. The Patriots have that right now, and it is a very good sign moving forward.

3. The Patriots for the most part kept Andrew Luck in the pocket. Keeping Luck contained in the pocket was a huge key, and except for one run, the Patriots got it done.

Not only that, the Patriots really put some decent pressure on him, and made him uncomfortable. The Patriots had three sacks in this game, but it was more about keeping him contained, and throwing his timing off with this pressure. Luck had four interceptions, and this pressure was a factor in the turnovers. Keeping Luck contained in the pocket was huge for the Patriots on Saturday Night.

 4. Linebacker Jamie Collins was all over the field. This was a breakout performance for Collins, as he did a nice job blanketing tight end Coby Fleener in pass coverage, but also made tackles, and got after the quarterback.

He ended his day with an interception, one sack, and six total tackles. I think we have only scratched the surface with the potential of Collins, and that is a great sign for the future.

The Negatives

1. Special Teams were a problem against the Colts. Lately, this unit had been a strength, but in this game they gave up a few penalties on punt returns which hurt field position, and they also had the issue on the punt that went over the head of punter Ryan Allen. The Patriots are fortunate that these mistakes did not hurt them more in this game.

2. The Patriots gave up too many big plays on defense in the passing game. I grant you that a couple of these plays were defended well, but moving forward, this is unacceptable against really good quarterbacks that will punish you.

The pressure against Luck was pretty good, but in a few instances the coverage was just a step late. Some might think I am being too critical, but the secondary can do better I feel.

Overall, this was an impressive win as the Patriots really dominated the game from the beginning to the end. They let the Colts hang around too long, but in the end, they put them away like very good teams can do.

If you are a Patriots fan, you should feel confident heading into the AFC Championship Game, because your team is putting it all together at the right time. It might not look perfect, but they are playing very well as a “team”. They are now in position to do something special, and I wouldn’t bet against them to do just that.

Five Things To Look For: Patriots vs. Colts

The Patriots are back in the Playoffs to face the Colts. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.

1. Can the Patriots score points early and often against the Colts? The Patriots struggles scoring points early in games this season is well known. However, they showed against the Ravens, this ability to score early, and take off from there.

The Colts are coming off of a dramatic 45-44 victory, and have shown the ability to come back from a huge deficit. However, the Colts will be doing it this time on the road, and if you can get up on them, I don’t see this team having the defense to stop the Patriots.

I don’t see the Colts being able to have two come from behind victories back to back. So with that said, getting up on this team by a few touchdowns early, could really put the Pats in the driver seat towards victory.

2. Can the Patriots win the turnover battle against the Colts? The Colts and the Patriots are both excellent in the turnover ratio with the Colts being at a +13 differential, while the Patriots were at a +9 differential.

The turnover differential doesn’t always indicate who wins and loses, but it sure can help. The Patriots defense with all of the injuries this season, could really benefit with creating turnovers in this game. I feel it would increase their margin for victory more in their favor.

3. Can the Patriots commit to the run like they have done the last two games? The Colts were 26th in the NFL in rush defense this season giving up 125.1 yards per game.

The way the Patriots are running the ball lately with LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley, the offense has a great opportunity to control the game on the ground. A great running attack will also benefit quarterback Tom Brady in the play action passing game. If the Patriots can run the ball effectively, it could a huge key in this game.

4. Can the Patriots defense contain wide receiver T.Y. Hilton? This receiver had 82 receptions this season, and was the key weapon for quarterback Andrew Luck against the Chiefs.

I don’t know if the Patriots will put Aqib Talib on Hilton, but regardless this player needs to be bracketed all over the field with two players. If the Pats defense takes him away, the Colts could find it very difficult to move the ball.

5. Can the Patriots defense keep quarterback Andrew Luck in the pocket?  Luck is on his way to being one of the best quarterbacks in the game. He is not only dangerous throwing the ball, but has the ability to make plays with his legs.

The Patriots cannot let Luck break containment, or they could be in trouble. The Patriots struggled against quarterback Cam Newton containing him in the pocket, and Luck while not the runner of Newton, can make plays running the ball.  

In concluding, the Colts are going to be a team to deal with in future seasons, but they just don’t have the team yet to really contend for a title. I think the Patriots have too much on both sides of the ball, and will pull away to the victory in the second half.

If you are looking for more of an extensive preview of this game, please take a listen below to Patriots Fourth And Two.

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Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Patriots vs. Colts Preview

In this episode, we previewed the upcoming Playoff game for the Patriots against the Colts.

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The latest Episode Of The Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast

In this episode, we looked back at the last two games for the Patriots. We also talked about the upcoming playoffs for the Patriots.

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Six Takeaways From The Patriots 41-7 Victory Against The Ravens

Here are my six takeaways from this latest Patriots game. I generally want this to be a balanced post, but in this game there are more positives than negatives so you will see that reflected in this article.

The Positives

1.The offensive line stepped up in the running game, and also protecting quarterback Tom Brady in the passing game. The Patriots ran the ball for 142 yards, and the offensive line opened up great lanes for the running backs throughout the  game.

Going into the game, with an offensive line missing a few starters, there was a good reason to be concerned. However, they gave Brady plenty of time to find the open receiver. This unit deserves a good amount of credit in this game.

2. Rookies Logan Ryan and Jamie Collins step up on defense. With the defense dealing with several injuries before the game, and during it, these two players did their jobs very well.

Ryan did a very nice job at cornerback, as he had two interceptions, and deflected a fourth down pass away. His progression is continuing to show itself throughout the season.

Collins was often seen covering tight end Dennis Pitta, and did a very nice job in this game. I have been hearing for several years that the Patriots need a coverage linebacker. I think Collins is that player.

3. Running back  LeGarrette Blount does his best Corey Dillon impression in this game. Blount continues to impress me from game to game. In this game he ran for 76 yards, with a 4.8 yards per carry, and two touchdowns.

It was brought to my attention by a friend that he reminded him of Dillon late in the game, and I have to agree with that. With Blount, the Patriots have a closer.

 4. The Patriots rush defense steps up in this game. Now, I know the Ravens are not having a good year running the ball, but you have to give some credit to the defense for limiting them on the ground in this game.

Running backs ran for only 82 yards on 23 yards per carry. You can criticize the defense when they get gashed against the run, but you should praise them when they get the job done. Against the Ravens, the defense stepped up stopping the run.

The Negatives

1. The Patriots suffered more injuries in this game. During the game, running back Shane Vereen went out with a reported groin injury. Cornerback Devin McCourty left the game with a reported head injury. The positive is that the players that replaced them stepped up. The negative is that we will have to monitor their status moving forward.

2. I question the offensive play-calling early in the second half. The Patriots ran the ball more than they passed in this game which is unusual. However, I wished that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels called more running plays in the third quarter.

I get that they were trying to get that touchdown to put the game out of reach, but you could have done that with running the ball. The Ravens could not really stop the Patriots on the ground.

Overall this was a dominating performance for the Patriots, and they beat a team that desperately needed the victory. I am hearing excuses on the radio and on TV for how bad the Ravens played. Well, the Patriots made the Ravens look that bad, and that is the bottom line in this game.