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Six Takeaways From The Patriots 24-20 Loss To The Panthers

Each week I am going to look back, and give you six takeaways I got from watching the Patriots game. I want this to be a balanced post so I am going to give you an equal share of the positive and the negative takeaways in this match-up for the Pats. Since the Patriots lost, the negatives have to come first.

The Negatives

1. The Patriots failed to contain Cam Newton in the pocket. A major concern in this game was to prevent Newton from getting outside of the pocket, and running the ball. Well, he did that well last night, and a few carries led to key first downs for the Panthers.

I do have to give credit though to Newton, who showed why he is a serious threat to become an elite quarterback. The Patriots should have done better on some runs, but their were others that there was nothing they could have done, because of the talent that Newton possesses.

2. The fumble by Stevan Ridley really hurt the Patriots in this game. There is no way getting around the fact that Ridley has a fumbling issue, and this game it really cost the Patriots points, as he gave up the ball in the red-zone.

Each team had serious time consuming drives, and this fumble took at least three or possibly seven points off the the board for the Patriots. He was benched for awhile in this game, but I was glad he came back in later. Ridley is a talent, but until he fixes the fumbling problems, he will not be the complete running back he should be.

3. The pass protection in the final drive broke down. Honestly, I thought the offensive line did a decent job protecting Tom Brady for the majority of the game, but on that final drive the protection struggled a great deal against an aggressive defense.

I am not used to seeing the offensive line struggle the way it has this season. They needed more from this line late in the game.

 

The Positives

1. Shane Vereen made a difference in his return to the offense. Vereen was used often in the passing game, as he ended with eight receptions for sixty five yards. He was key player on third down, and reminded me of a young Kevin Faulk. The return of Vereen should pay off big time as the season goes on.

2. Tom Brady proved he is still one of the best in the game. This game became a battle of the quarterbacks, and Brady was up for the challenge. He was extremely accurate most of the game, and did everything he could to help the Patriots try to win. He threw for 296 yards, and was 29-40, with a passer rating of 91.2 in this game.

3.  The Patriots defense stops the run against the running backs. I already talked about the problem in stopping the running of Newton, but the Patriots defense did a nice job against the running backs. The Patriots held the three Carolina running backs to a total of 41 yards, with only a 2.56 yards per carry average which is excellent. This was an improvement for the Patriots defense.

In concluding, this was a disappointing loss for the Patriots, because I thought overall this was a well played game by both teams. In the end, one team made just a few more plays than the other.

However, there are serious positives to take out of this game, and I mentioned them above, regardless of how the game ended. You can build on these positives as we head into the stretch run of the season.

Five Things To Look For: Pats vs. Panthers

The Patriots are back in action Monday Night to face the Panthers. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.

1. Can the Patriots offense play fast and feature the passing game against the Panthers? The Patriots are probably going up against the best defense they have faced this season. First, the Panthers defense is currently second in the NFL in rush defense, and they are only giving up 82 yards per game. Their front seven is aggressive, and I think establishing the running game against this team does not make sense.

The Patriots need to spread this defense out, with multiple wide receivers, and tight end Rob Gronkowski. If I were offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, this is an opponent that I would have quarterback Tom Brady back in the shot-gun most of the game, with a running back next to him.

Also, this is a defense, that the hurry up offense could really tire out, so I am hoping we see the Patriots play very fast in this game. If the Patriots can up the tempo on offense, and move the ball through the air on offense, the Pats could control this game.

2. Can the Patriots offensive line finally protect Tom Brady? The Patriots offensive line did a great job against the Steelers with protecting Brady, but they will be asked once again to step up. The Panthers have two excellent defensive ends, as Greg Hardy has five sacks this season, and on the other other side, Charles Johnson, has 8.5 sacks for the Panthers.

Two key players in this game could be Patriots tackles Nate Solder, and Marcus Cannon. If they can contain the outside rush of the Panthers, Brady could have time to do damage against an average secondary.

3. Can the Patriots step up their “red zone offense” against the Panthers? San Francisco last week against the Panthers was forced to kick several field goals instead of getting touchdowns.

The Patriots offense cannot afford to kick field goals against the Panthers. They are going to have to be aggressive in the red-zone, and do whatever they can to score touchdowns rather than settle for field goals.

Gronkowski is getting healthy, and he is your number one option in the red-zone. Also, wide receiver Danny Amendola is back, and the Patriots might have running back Shane Vereen available for this game. If Brady has all of his targets available, there should be opportunities to capitalize in the red-zone with touchdowns.

4. Can the Patriots defense stop the run? The Panthers offense is ranked number ten in the NFL in rushing. It is imperative that the Patriots defense, does not let the Panthers control the clock with the running game.

The two main running backs for the Panthers are DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart. Plus, the Patriots have to be concerned with the running of quarterback Cam Newton. If the Patriots can stop the run, it will force Newton to throw more than he probably wants to, and possibly make a mistake.

5. Can the Patriots contain quarterback Cam Newton? What makes Newton very dangerous is he can beat you through the air, and with his legs. Honestly, I am more concerned with him getting out of the pocket, and running the ball as he is averaging 4.2 yards per carry.

The Patriots defense really should want to force Newton and his offense to work their way down the field. Newton has improved as a passer, but I still want to see if he can have long sustained drives. The job for the Patriots defense is to contain Newton, and see if they can force him to make mistakes in the passing game.

Now, on to the game, the Panthers showed me against the Niners that they have arrived, and are legitimate threat in the NFC. Their defense is really one of the best in the game, and will be a test for the Patriots. However, I just have a feeling that the Patriots offense in the passing game, could cause some problems for the Panthers defense.

This game could be fairly close, but the Patriots are coming off of the bye week, and with two weeks to prepare for the Panthers they will be ready. I see the Patriots figuring out a way to win this game in the fourth quarter.

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

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Patriots vs. Panthers

In this episode, we first discussed the contenders in AFC besides the Patriots. Later on in the show, we previewed the upcoming game for the Patriots against the Panthers.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Mid Season Grades

In this episode, we first looked back at the Patriots 55-31 victory against the Steelers. Later on in the show, we gave our mid season grades for the Patriots.

Six Takeaways From The Patriots 55-31 Victory Against The Steelers

Each week I am going to look back, and give you six takeaways I got from watching the Patriots game. I want this to be a balanced post so I am going to give you an equal share of the positive and the negative takeaways in this match-up for the Pats.

The Positives

1. Rob Gronkowski shows just how valuable he is for the Patriots offense. Gronkowski had a great game as he had nine receptions for 143 yards, and one touchdown. 

However, another great value he offers is simply his presence on the field opens up opportunities for the other receivers in the Patriots offense. I don’t think it is an accident that Danny Amendola, and Aaron Dobson both went over 100 yards in this game. Moving forward the Patriots offense will continue to improve, and Gronkowski will continue to be a factor whether he catches the ball or not.

2. The Patriots offense on third down improved dramatically in this game. A major issue for several weeks now has been the ability for the Patriots to convert on third down.

Well, we saw a marked improvement against the Steelers, as the Patriots went 7-12, and many of these conversions were factors in the amount of points the team scored. This was a step in the right direction for the Patriots offense.

3. Defensive end Chandler Jones steps up for the Patriots defense. With the Patriots defense dealing with so many injuries, it is so important to see Jones having an impact on defense. Jones had six total tackles, and also had two sacks which included some solid pressure on the quarterback. He could be a huge factor in the progression of the Patriots defense this season.

The Negatives

1. Cornerback Kyle Arrington struggled in this game. He was asked often to cover wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, and he was burned on more than a few occasions. Arrington has been decent this season, but in this game he was the weakest link.

2. The Patriots rush defense was just not good enough against the Steelers. The defense this week faced an offense that was not running the ball well this season. Well, when you give up 108 yards to the Steelers, which is a 5.4 yards per carry average, you are just not getting the job done.

They are really struggling on the delayed hand-offs giving up good chunks of yardage. The rush defense needs to improve over the course of the season, or the Patriots could be in trouble when they get to the Playoffs.

3. The Patriots injuries continue to grow as more players go down against the Steelers. Injuries are a part of the game, but the Patriots have dealt with more than their share this season.

Against the Steelers, the defense took a hit as defensive end Rob Ninkovich went out with a reported foot injury. On top of that, safety Steve Gregory went out with a thumb injury, and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard went out late in the game as well. We have to hope these injuries are not too serious.

On offense, wide receiver Austin Collie went out with a knee injury, but honestly the Patriots have depth at that position so it shouldn’t hurt too much if he is out for significant time. The injures continue to come, so only time will tell what type of impact they ultimately have on the rest of the season.

In concluding, whenever you beat the Steelers it is a good win, but this was not a good team the Patriots played on Sunday. However, we got to see improvement with the Patriots offense, so regardless of the opponent, this was a victory that can help the Patriots moving forward.

Five Things To Look For: Pats vs. Steelers

The Patriots are back in action on Sunday to face the Steelers at Gillette Stadium. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.

1. Can the Patriots offense actually feature running back Stevan Ridley throughout the game? It is really time that the Patriots get the ball to Ridley on a consistent basis. Last week he ran for 79 yards, with only 14 carries, which comes out to an impressive 5.6 yards per carry.

There is a serious opportunity to take advantage of a Steelers defense that is 27th in the NFL in rush defense giving up 121.9 yards per carry. Please forget about running back by committee, and feature Ridley in the running game.

2. Can the Patriots offensive line finally protect Tom Brady? The Patriots offensive line continues to struggle to protect Brady. This has been a constant theme lately, and it is time for this issue to go away.

The Steelers only have ten sacks, so their pass rush is not what it has been in the past. The line needs to have a strong showing, because the Steelers defense is actually second in the league in passing yards, so Brady might need more time to find the open receiver.

3. Can the Patriots offense convert on third down? The Patriots last week were again pathetic on third down converting on 2-10 which is horrible. One of the major reasons the Patriots offense has been poor this season, is there lack of ability to continue drives by converting on third down.

A key in this game is to get the percentage of conversion way up against the Steelers. If they cannot improve on third down on Sunday, it could cost them the game.

4. Can the Patriots defense cover tight end Heath Miller? A weakness of the Patriots defense continues to be covering the tight end in passing situations. Miller is one of the better tight ends in the league, and has 20 receptions for 225 yards.

You could see a safety cover him in this game, and they need to contain Miller, because Roethlisberger likes to go to him often to move the chains. If you want to stop the Steelers offense, you can start by shutting down Miller.

5. Can the Patriots defense get after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger? The Patriots did a nice job last week as they put serious pressure on Ryan Tannehill in the second half.

Regardless of the Steelers record, Roethlisberger still has the ability to beat you, if you just let him sit back there. The Steelers are having issues on the offensive line, so there should be an opportunity to bring the pressure. If I was Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, I would blitz early and often.

Now, on to the game, I know the Steelers are down this season, but I still fear their quarterback. I am actually expecting a fairly close game, but in the end, the Patriots should survive and get the victory.

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

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast – Patriots vs. Steelers

In this episode, we first looked back at the Patriots victory against the Dolphins. In the second half of the show, we previewed the upcoming game for the Patriots against the Steelers.

Six Takeaways From The Patriots 27-17 Victory Against The Dolphins

Each week I am going to look back, and give you six takeaways I got from watching the Patriots game. I want this to be a balanced post so I am going to give you an equal share of the positive and the negative takeaways in this match-up for the Pats.

The Positives

1. The Patriots Defense got six sacks against Quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Patriots defense when it had to, put serious pressure on the quarterback in the second half.

Now, I do feel the sacks came from an act of desperation to start blitzing on a consistent basis, but it seriously worked. The Dolphins offensive line had serious issues in protecting the quarterback coming into this game, but that should not take away the effort that was finally made to be aggressive on defense.

The one criticism I have is that the majority of the pressure from blitzing seem to be a half-time adjustment, but in the end the Patriots defense changed the game with their aggressive play. I am hoping this style of play in the second half of the game against the Dolphins,¬†we’ll see more often moving forward.

2. Cornerback Logan Ryan continues to make an impact on defense. Ryan was able to make game changing plays, and it was needed since the Patriots were missing Aqib Talib in this game.

Ryan had two sacks, and on one of these sacks forced a fumble that got the ball back to the Patriots, and really shifted momentum in this game. He also ended the game with five tackles, and almost had an interception. This is the second straight game where Ryan made game-changing plays. 

3. Wide receiver Aaron Dobson continues to improve, and made  a difference in the passing game. We continue to hear how the new receivers are not on the same page with quarterback Tom Brady.

Well, in this game, Dobson had four receptions for 60 yards, and you could see the relationship with his quarterback is improving. He also caught a real nice touchdown pass in this game. We are starting to see real chemistry building between Brady and Dobson.

The Negatives

1. The Patriots defense continues to give up too many rushing yards. The Dolphins had struggled to run the ball this season, and yesterday they ran for 145 yards, and controlled the game on the ground in the first half.

The Patriots in this game gave up over 4.6 yards per carry, and this is just unacceptable. I understand the players that are missing, but the Patriots need to fix this problem.

2. The Patriots  offense was extremely poor once again on third down. In this game, the Patriots were 2-10 on third down which is 20 per cent and really pathetic.

This is the second straight week that converting on third down has been beyond embarrassing. Moving forward, they are going to need to improve on third down if they have aspirations in playing in a big game in New Jersey in February.

3. The Patriots need to feature Stevan Ridley  more in the running game. Ridley had 79 yards with a 5.6 yards per carry average which is excellent.

I don’t understand the fascination that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has with Legarrette Blount, and Brandon Bolden. These backs are serviceable, but they do not have the consistency,and big play potential that Ridley has already demonstrated. It is time to feed him the ball much more, from the beginning to the end of the game.

In concluding, this come from behind victory was not pretty, but it still counts the same in the standings as a win. The Patriots once again found a way to win, when they were in a tough spot.

They are continuing to overcome adversity, and several injuries to get the victory. I think half-way through the season you should be encouraged by the record, and the potential this team has moving forward, because they are still in position to potentially do something special this season.

Five Things To Look For: Pats vs. Dolphins

The Patriots are back in action on Sunday to face the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.

1. Can the Patriots offensive line protect Tom Brady in this game? The offensive line was a key last week, and unfortunately they did a poor job against the Jets. The Patriots face a tough Dolphins defense that has 17 sacks already this season. Defensive end Cameron Wake, and defensive tackle Randy Starks are two players to watch in this game. If the line cannot protect Brady, it could be a long day for the offense.

2. Can Tom Brady spread the ball to all of his receivers? I know when you have a weapon like Rob Gronkowski, you are going to want to get him the ball, but I think he actually targeted him way too much in this last game.

The presence of Gronkowski should open up space for young receivers like Aaron Dobson, and Kenbrell Thompkins. This offense needs to go back to Brady finding the open man, and spreading the ball around to all of his targets. I think if he does that in the game, you will see the Pats put up a good amount of points.

3. Can the Patriots run the ball more with running back Stevan Ridley? Ridley has the ability to carry much more than eleven times in a game, which was the amount of carries he had in the last game. He still ran for 50 yards, and a 4.5 yards per carry average which is pretty good.

The Patriots need to get back to being a balanced offense, and they cannot get away from running the ball with Ridley throughout the game. If you run Ridley more, I think you are going to see the play action passing be more effective as well.

4. Can the Patriots contain tight end Charles Clay? The Patriots continue to struggle in covering the tight end, so it is vital to defend well against Clay.

He is a decent tight end who has caught 26 passes, and also has three touchdown passes. If linebacker¬†Dont’a Hightower is asked to cover Clay, I hope he does a better job than he did last week against Jeff Cumberland of the Jets.

5. Can the Patriots defense get after quarterback Ryan Tannehill? The Dolphins have given up 26 sacks so far this season, so there is an opportunity to put serious pressure on the Dolphins quarterback. The Patriots defense needs to be aggressive against this offense.

The Dolphins do have some weapons in the passing game like Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, and Mike Wallace. The Patriots needs to get after Tannehill, so he does not have time to find his receivers.

Now, on to the game, I am always wary of every AFC East Divisional game. However, the Dolphins have not played well lately, so I have a feeling the Patriots will pull away 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.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast – Patriots vs. Dolphins Preview

In this episode, we previewed the upcoming game for the Patriots against the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. We also played an interview done earlier in the week with Erik Frenz of Boston.com and the Bleacher report, who helped us preview this upcoming game.