11-07-2006, 03:38 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Ten questions for the Pats (Fox Sports)
Kevin Hench hits all of my topics.. some additional thoughts. In the end the better team won in November, the Pats didn't make it easier on themselves but seasons and history are judged by the post season and we are still in the hunt. Still can't see worse than 12-4, if the AFC West teams beat each other up and Baltimore slips we could still get a play-off bye, worst case we host a wildcard game. Still better than 28 other teams, life is not so bad.
CB - Samuels & Hobbs, a lot of talk about the Patriots lack of shutdown corners. Exactly how mant shutdown corners are there in the NFL.. Champ Bailey, who else... Manning has made better CBs look a lot worse. I would still try to extend Samuel as well as take a CB high in the draft.
Manning - He was just sic.. even with great pressure from the front 7 he was able to make plays.
FO - One of the biggest disapointments was that each of the major holes, were all known in the off season but no quality players were brought in.
1) CB depth - lack of depth, answer = Eric Warfield
2) Safety Depth - Harrison coming back from injury, answer = T Buck, Mitchell
3) WR - loss of givens and potential loss of Branch, answer = Caldwell\
4) LB Depth & Lack of Speed - it showed in coverage, Bruschi & Seau have lost a step and are at a mismatch against most TEs. But even with their warts it gets a lot worse if one of the starters misses some action
Ten questions for the Pats
Kevin Hench / Special to FOXSports.com
Posted: 22 hours ago
In the same spirit as the guideline that proscribes calling ex-girlfriends (or current ones) when you're drunk, you probably shouldn't whip off an indignant column about your team in the irrational haze of a brutal loss, especially when said team is 6-2 and almost certain to win the AFC East.
But putting aside my better judgment and the better angels of my nature for a moment, here are 10 questions I'd like to ask various members of the Patriots organization in the wake of Sunday night's wretched 27-20 loss to the Colts.
NFL Week 9
1. My first question is for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (cc'd to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady who no doubt share the blame). Why didn't the Patriots pound Indy into submission on the ground? The Colts entered Sunday night getting gashed on the ground for 5.4 yards a carry. The Patriots ran on six of their first eight plays, moving the ball to the Colts' 34-yard line. It looked like it was going to be a long night for Indy's undersized front seven. Then Tom Brady threw an incomprehensible interception into double coverage on a play where Doug Gabriel was never open even momentarily. Beginning with this ill-considered toss the Patriots threw 33 times and ran 27 the rest of the way. Twin engines Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney would each be limited to 13 carries, only 20 between them after the first drive. Why? Why? Why? Is that three questions?
2. This is for vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli (and Belichick). How long is the organization going with the Smurfs at cornerback? Asante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs -- 5-foot-10 and 5-9, respectively -- get beat constantly, get flagged frequently and can't tackle anybody. What's that leave? I didn't think it could get worse than Javon Walker toying with each of them on separate touchdown passes in Week 3, but Sunday night was an absolute nightmare. Samuel got flagged for illegal contact on 3rd-and-17 when he chucked Reggie Wayne 20 yards downfield. But he got off easy. On the other side, Hobbs was often juked into a different zip code as Marvin Harrison spun him around to the tune of eight catches, 145 yards and two touchdowns. Unperturbed, Hobbs did manage to summon the personal pride to woof at Harrison on those rare occasions when the future Hall of Fame receiver was not celebrating a first down or a TD. Aren't little guys supposed to be able to cover? Because as a depressing montage of missed arm tackles from this season would attest, they can't tackle anybody. Where have you gone Mike Haynes and Raymond Clayborn? Ty Law and Otis Smith?
3. Follow-up. Is there any chance the organization will abandon the fantasy that Troy Brown is a serviceable defensive back? He took the field just long enough to line up across from tight end Dallas Clark and grab Clark's facemask on the snap for a penalty that negated a third down stop. It kind of reminded me of his brief-but-painful appearance against Cincinnati when he was burned by T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a first down on third-and-long. The Patriots all-time receiving leader -- another Smurf at 5'10 -- deserves better than getting thrown out there on an island against a tight end.
4. Coach Belichick, how long can you endure this tragic kick coverage before you revert to sprinkling your special teams with first-teamers? The tackling efforts of Don Davis and Heath Evans on Mewelde Moore's 70-yard punt return for a TD last week were comical and it didn't get any better this week as Terrence Wilkins had kickoff returns of 70 and 43 yards.
5. Tom Brady, what the hell is going on at home? After Sunday night's four-pick disaster against Indy, Brady has a 70.9 quarterback rating at home and a 99.9 rating on the road. And just like in the Denver loss earlier in the season, there were many times where Brady looked a little lost and listless out there against Indy. John Madden repeated the oft-uttered refrain that Brady's favorite receiver is the guy who's open, but he not only threw into coverage repeatedly on Sunday night, he also missed several wide-open guys, even air-mailing a four-yard screen pass over Maroney's head. The Pats have yet to play a decent 60 minutes in Foxborough this year and Brady, uncharacteristically, has been a big part of that.
6.7. Is Kevin Faulk reliable? It was Faulk's fumble that began the calamity of last year's playoff loss to the Broncos. On Sunday night Faulk dropped a pass on third-and-goal on the Patriots' penultimate possession then outdid himself by stonehanding a short toss up into the air where it was intercepted by Cato June on the Pats' final possession. With not enough carries to spread around between Dillon and Maroney, maybe it's time the explosive rookie started getting some of Faulk's third-down reps.
8. Is rookie kicker Stephen Gostkowski a nervous wreck because Belichick has no confidence in him, or does Belichick have no confidence in him because his rookie kicker is a nervous wreck? I'd hoped the Patriots had turned a corner when Gostkowski snaked in a 49-yarder in the third quarter, but then the rookie blasted a 36-yarder a mile wide right.
9. Why can't New England safeties stay healthy? After grinding through six safeties during the torturous 2005 season, it has started all over again in 2006. Eugene Wilson was already ruled out for Sunday night when Rodney Harrison got injured on a busted play in the first quarter when Indy converted a 3rd-and-15. (Even if Harrison hadn't been injured, this might have been the worst play of the season for New England: the Pats rushed three and dropped eight, but Marvin Harrison and Dallas Clark both still managed to get wide open behind the New England defense.) Gus Scott, James Sanders, Arturo Freeman ... the names from last year swim in my head. Perhaps hiring a yoga instructor could curb this epidemic.
10. Have Patriots fans been hopelessly spoiled by Belichick and Brady? Hey, finally one I can answer. (But seriously, why didn't New England run 50 times against the Colts ...)