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Idle Thoughts – bye week edition

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by patfanken, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    With the bye week ending today, I thought I'd offer a few thoughts about various unrelated topics that have accumulated over this week when the NFL was focused elsewhere.

    1.Playoff expectations - I have none. That's right, no expectations. Rather I have hopes, dreams, and ideal situations, but no expectations. Right now the common wisdom is correct. The Pats can beat any of the teams they can face, and any of those teams are fully capable of beating them. In fact there is a good possibility that the Pats won't be favored in any of the playoff games they play. Perhaps Vegas will give them the nod in the first game, but I would take bets that in an AFCCG vs Denver and any team likely to represent the NFC in the superbowl, the Pats would be big underdogs.

    This regular season, this Pats edition has blessed us with great drama and entertainment. They have over come great adversity on numerous occasions and sent us home happy on game day more times than we had the right to expect. Truly they optimized the the phrase, “the sum being greater than the individual parts” So why burden this team of great effort and mental toughness with any expectations. If any team since 2001 deserves a “free ride” its this one. And I don't have to detail all the losses and bad calls. They have all been well documented.

    So lets just sit back and enjoy whatever happens, knowing that regardless of what happens, things are going to get a lot better next season, which should be a very, very scary situation for the haters around the league....and the topic of the next item.

    2.For 20 teams the fan and media talk has already moved to what FA's they may acquire and which draft choices they are likely to get. Make no mistake, between FA and the draft almost every team in the league will make some kind of improvement. But I propose that NO team in the league will make the kind of improvement that the Pats will make.

    Think about it. Imagine a scenario where any team would add 4 proven, probowl caliber players. Usually the addition of 1 would be cause for celebration. The addition of 2 would require duck boats to be unleashed, Well the fact is that regardless of any pick ups we get in March, and draft picks we acquire in April, this current Pats team WILL be adding 4 proven players, all of whom have had multiple probowl selections, in Gronk, Mayo, Vince, and Volmer :eek;

    I know this isn't news to anyone, but maybe the impact that this kind of comparative talent infusion is. If Roger Goodell, in the interest of competitive balance took away all the Pats draft picks and FA rights, the addition of those 4 players would make this off season a good one for the Pats. So while every team will improve this off season, I can't see any team making the kind of talent leap that we will. And that's pretty damned exciting, if you ask me.

    3.Continuity is a key element in team building, and I for one am rooting strongly that Josh McDaniels does not get the Cleveland job. To that end I offer a really great article by a Cleveland scribe that does a great job stating the case AGAINST the hiring of Josh McDaniels. BTW- after you have done reading this section, I'd recommend continuing reading. This guy writes a very entertaining column and one that should be mandatory reading for us spoiled Pats fans. Sort of a reality check on what its like for the rest of the league's fans

    Here's where you can find it.
    Cleveland Browns' latest criteria for coaching excellence makes Josh McDaniels a surprising target - Bud Shaw's Sports Spin | cleveland.com

    BTW- if the link doesn't work, – go to PFT's Saturday Notes section and go to the Cleveland story, which is the 7th one down and hit the link. Believe me its worth the effort

    4.Speaking of coordinators, I'd like to take this opportunity to come to the defense of both of them, since the 2 of them have been much maligned by some recently

    Matt Patricia – Any DC who works with BB is going to get a bad rap by fans and the media. Its almost by definition. But believe me, if let go, Matt Patricia would be unemployed for less time than Rob Ryan. He is that well thought of by NFL front offices. BTW- this isn't my opinion (well yes it is, but my opinion doesn't mean much because I'm not privy to what goes on in NFL offices.) This is the opinion of my one true NFL connection who DOES have the sources that would confirm my position.

    The fact is people make too much of the fact that it is BB who does the talking to the defense during the game. That is less a reflection of Patricia's skill, than a simple division of labor. On any staff game day responsibilities are divided in many ways. Believe me, while BB is talking to the defense, Patricia isn't standing to the side wondering why BB is doing his job. He is likely the one breaking down and making sense of the raw data the booth is sending down. I wouldn't be surprised if he is giving BB the feedback that BB is passing on to the defense.

    For the last few years the Defense has been the area of weakness of team. It would make sense that having BB give the message to the D would have more weight than any other coach in the league, let alone a young DC. Add that to the fact that BB loves to be hands on, it makes sense that when the division of game day responsibilities are doled out. BB would grab the one that satisfies multiple needs, including a personal one

    Matt Patricia is truly a rocket scientist. Not because he's an RPI graduate with a degree in rocket science, but because he's a very very smart dude. For the time of his tenure as DC, the talent level he's had to work with limited what he could do. We are only just now getting to see a few of the effects of his creativity, and would have seen a lot more if we hadn't lost Mayo, Wilfolk, Kelly, and all of our secondary for multiple games over the course of the season. It should be no surprise the Pats have had 48 sacks (5th best) this season despite having only one legitimate pass rusher

    Make no mistake that each week, it is Matt Patricia who is creating the defensive game plan, NOT Bill Bellichick. BB of course has final say, as any HC would, and I'm sure it doesn't hurt to have his input, but the immediate responsibility is Matt's. And to that end I would note that since he's taken over the job the Pats scoring D had improved every year. Think about this. If the Pats had given up just 15 fewer points over the course of the entire season, they would have ended up with the 6th best scoring D in the league instead of 10th. So personally, I'm glad we have him. I am looking forward to what he produces when his team is at full strength, and I don't want him to leave anytime soon.

    Josh McDaniels – This guy is truly a great offensive mind. Brady has had some very good OC's over his time with the Pats and McDaniels is clearly his favorite by far, based on Brady's own comments on the matter. That should be enough for every Pats fan, but it clearly isn't. I believe that's because we would all love to be the one to call the plays. It's just the nature of being a fan. We can't help ourselves thinking that every failed play was one we could have called better.

    I include myself at times in this. I constantly rail at the TV, when we line up in empty backfields or spread formations on 3rd and short situations. But I also understand that I haven't done the match ups. I don't know the opponents personnel. I don't know the tendencies, or a thousand other pieces of information that McDaniels DOES know when he makes his calls. I also know, that as one who has called the offense, albeit on the HS level, there are a dozen plays over the course of game you wish you can do over. That would be true for EVERY OC in the land. So I think we all tend to be overly critical every game questioning a few calls that Josh is likely questioning himself. No one EVER calls a perfect game.

    The thing we should concentrate on is the offensive system that has been successful every year he's run it. That includes a 2008 Bradyless season, and this year which saw the loss of all of his top receivers from the year before, plus the multigame loss of many of the replacements. Every other year the Pats have been a top 3 offense. What's to hate. McDaniels has brought wins when he's been loaded and even when the O has not been.

    As fans we have a god given right to question why we aren't throwing screens more, or running the ball more, etc. But I think when we are making evaluations of the coordinator we should take into consideration the job that is being done in its totality. And, at least IMHO, the job he's done here is worthy of our support.

    4.And if Josh is reading this, there are 2 plays that I'd like to see this playoff run.

    a. This is one that's already in the books, I'd just like to see it more. Its the one where Edelman/Amendola starts their usual crossing pattern at about 7-10 yard deep, and when the S bites, breaks it deep in the seam. Teams are so geared to jump those short routes, the play seems to be always open when we do run it.

    b. This is one I saw KC run yesterday, and I thought it would be perfect in our offense. Its also one I have wanted to see us run for a while. Its just a simple fake of the quick screen to the bubble WR, that we've run so successfully for the last several years, and then hitting the post to the other side at 15 yds deep. Teams really are jumping that short bubble screen, especially now that we get so much man to man coverage on the outside. I have long wanted to see a play off that look, and KC ran one to perfection yesterday
  2. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    4.I had no rooting interest in the KC/Colts game. That is until KC players were dropping like they played for the Pats. So after they had lost about 4 key guys, I started rooting hard for KC, since they would be a possible Pats opponent. BTW- I'm sure there were Denver fans wishing the same thing. Was that bad? ;)

    5.OK. Now we are down to the Colts or Bengals as a possible opponent. The Bengals have by far the most overall talent, but its the Colts that I fear the most....and I'm not sure why. The Bengals in my mind are front runners. The would be the tougher team to come back from, but are more likely to fold if they had to come from behind. Conversely, the Colts D is very suspect and if we had to come from behind to win a game, I'd much rather be playing the Colts. However if we have a lead, clearly it would be the Colts who presented the biggest challenge. OTOH, a dome team like the Colts is much more likely to have a problem playing at Foxboro in January, than the outdoor Bengals. The Bottom line here is that right up to the final gun, who you want to play will be an interesting topic.

    6.Given the reports, the availability of Aaron Dobson is in grave danger for the playoffs. In fact I'm surprised it wasn't him who was IR'ed when we resigned Collie. Maybe they have hopes he might be available down the road, if we advance to the superbowl maybe, but I very much doubt he will be around for the next 2 games. 3 weeks just isn't enough time to heal a stress fracture, though 5 weeks might be. Personally I think his loss is really big, and I wonder why no one else feels that way. Dobson represented the ONE single receiving threat who has any size what so ever.

    The fact that we are essentially left with Amendola, Edelman and Vareen as our 3 main receiving threats just invites teams to play 8 men in the box and play tough press coverage on receivers not physically capable to beat that kind of coverage on a regular basis. Dobson was a guy who had the size and strength to present that threat and because of it make life that much easier for everyone else. Now we don't have that and it really hurts this offense. Now in the passing game we have to rely much more on finesse and fakery that it will make 3rd and long situations much more difficult, and really makes the red zone, THAT much more difficult against the good defenses we are likely to see.

    7.Once again returning to an off season topic to end on, what are the Pats going to do about our own key FA's this off season. How much is too much for Edelman and Talib. With Amendola, Boyce, Dobson and Thomkins all coming back, can we afford to let Julian walk if the bidding gets too high (ie over $4MM/year) Do we extend Solder this off season? Should we do something about Mankins and Wilfolks contracts this off season and would they accept significant cut in pay to lower their cap numbers? Feel free to discuss

    OK guys, enjoy the games today. I only hope they will as enterataining and exciting as yesterday's edition of Wild Card Weekend. By 5 we will know who we are playing and the entire focus of the board will shift to them.
  3. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Ken - You must REALLY like the number 4.. You used it three different times :D
  4. PatsWickedPissah

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    Thank God the KC play you chose wasn't the QB keeper.

    Bless me Ken. I too have sinned.
    I go nuts with the empty backfield on 3rd & short. And worse yet the 3rd and short where TFB tries the back shoulder pass 20 yds downfield. Other than that, I'm in J McD's camp.
  5. convertedpatsfan

    convertedpatsfan PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I fear the Colts more than the Bengals as well. The Colts are more dangerous because of the QB position. "Andy Dalton on the road" would be the best phrase we could hope for in our first play-off game.
  6. patriot lifer

    patriot lifer Rookie

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    I agree with the sentiment of having no expectations for this team. They can beat and be beat by any team in the NFL, including the potential opposition next weekend. I hear a lot of people disregarding this first round of the playoffs. Let's not forget just in 2010 when we lost in the first round, and if that's not enough, I'll be a broken record and re-mention that we can easily lose this next game given the Pats history this season of very narrow games--even by Pats standards in '03 and '04. We should be emotionally prepared for the loss, which makes a victory all the sweeter.

    Whoever we face, it's going to be a quality team that's going to be hungry to beat us. But it's old hat for our team.


    On a separate note, I will be disappointed if McDaniel's leaves as well. Teams continue to give BB disciples opportunities, only to be let down, and the Browns already experimented with not one but two of BB's former coaches. Is the third time a charm? I will be most disappointed because if this coaching staff with BB, McDaniels, Patricia, Daboll, and Dante have a healthier team, then they're going places next season.
  7. DarrylS

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    I agree completely with this sentiment, we have been decimated by injuries... so my expectations are real... if we get no further than this game, I am satisfied with how well this team has played.
  8. Uncle Rico

    Uncle Rico Rookie

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    No Jersey Selected

    At this point we don't know for sure that Dobson is out — but there has been plenty of angst on the board over the possibility. The "Boyce to IR" thread quickly became a sort of Dobson appreciation thread. I think most of us know this will be huge if (and I assume when) Dobson is ruled out of playoff games. I'm really hoping KT is ready to go, and go hard.

    He must have been watching the Colts game when he typed this up — all those PATs by Vinatieri.
  9. patfanken

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    That only goes to show how badly I need an editor. :D

    I've been busy so I haven't been able to watch the entire first half, but in the bits and pieces I caught, including the TD and FG drives, I thought Dalton has looked pretty good. Too damned good if you ask me
  10. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Regarding Edelman, I'm afraid we're going to lose him. Our salary cap situation is not great and there are plenty of others with space who will gladly do $4+ million/yr for a young 100+ reception receiver, who is the NFL's best punt returner and can do a good emergency job at CB.

    ....that being said you forgot to mention 2 other WR's coming back next year to join Amendola, Dobson, Boyce and Thompkins. TJ Moe and Mark Harrison. Given the Rook-to2nd Year possible jump of Aaaron, Kenbrell and Josh, plus Moe and Harrison and the potential is there for them to work very well with Amendola, Gronkowski and (hopefully) a high pick TE.

    Regarding this: "Should we do something about Mankins and Wilfolks contracts this off season and would they accept significant cut in pay to lower their cap numbers?" - All I can ask is: Did you MISS the Mankins nuclear walkout on the team 2 years ago????? :D
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  11. Zeus

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    Nice job (as always), Ken.

    The favorite party game here is Pin the Tail on the Coordinators. You (and BB) are among a distinct minority who appreciate the efforts of McDaniels and Patricia.
  12. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    Oh, I remember, but was when he was a top 3 OG and had never missed a practice let alone a game. In the 3 seasons since that time, including this one, he has been constantly hurt, and has not played to the same level of excellence that got him that big contract. I would feel safe to say, that he's gone from a dominant elite player to "merely" a very good one. From a guy due to make around $8MM to a guy who is probably worth more like 4-5MM. Just my opinion.

    The same goes for Vince. Its not like he's become a bad player, just not one who is playing at the same level as he did in his prime. Some slippage was apparent to most early this season. To expect him to get to get back to the same dominant level as in his prime, after coming off one of the worst injuries for a big man, AND being another year older, isn't realistic of either him or the team.

    The key to cap success is paying for current and future value, and not paying for PAST successes. Both those guys will be great assets to the team even at a reduced level of productivity, but they will be even better assets if they are being paid at rate that best represents the level of their play.

    Its not like I'm asking either to play for the vet minimum, but it would really help the team they could save the team about $8MM of cap space between them. If we release Connolly and redo Vince and Logan fairly, we could add an additional $10MM in cap space (subject to review by Miguel, of course). That would go a long way in signing our own future key FA's as well as adding a moderately priced one.

    Remember this team is VERY young and there will be a LOT of important pieces that will be coming up for a new contract in the next few years. ie Solder, McCourty, Jones, etc, and we aren't going to be able to pay all of them.
  13. letekro

    letekro Rookie

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    I share your Dobson angst. Without him, I fear that we will suffer the same fate as in recent playoffs--death by short route suffocation. It would be wonderful to be able to use the power run game to set up deep shots to Dobson.
  14. shmessy

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    I FULLY agree with what you wrote about Mankins worth. No one was more vocal about letting him walk two years ago than me. I don't think any LG is worth that kind of money in the cap era.

    However, you are not taking into acoount Mankins' business practices.

    Ken, he's not Vince Wilfork - - he doesn't care. In fact, he is the anti-Vince when it comes to wanting to be a New Englander and BFF of Bob.

    He wants his money and he was willing to bail on the team two years ago in the middle of a season (and go nuclear against the Kraft family in public) in order to get it. If you expect him to now say "Oh, yeah, I don't deserve what I'm getting - I'll give you a discount", then I'm not joining you on that expectation.

    I WISH that would happen, and I think it would be fair and just - - but there is NOTHING about Logan Mankins that even hints at that being a 1% possibility. You have a better chance at seeing Mahmoud Ahmedinejad doing the hora at a bar mitzvah.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  15. BradfordPatsFan

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    Can I add two more plays I'd like to see to the list? Both have been run by TB12 before.

    1. From a two back set, faking the inside hand off to the fb, then a quick pivot and flip to the tailback.

    2. From the gun, with a rb next to Brady, fake the bubble screen and hand off to the running back. They ran this with Faulk and, I believe, JR Redmond.
  16. shmessy

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    Yeah, that used to be a favorite with Woodhead also.

    I can definitely see that with Verreen next week.
  17. DaBruinz

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    Bring back the direct snap to the RB with Brady faking that the ball went over his head.. That play ROCKS..
  18. supafly

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    I think he has the potential to be this guy--possibly next year for sure, but I don't even see a ton of chemistry between he/Brady on much of any level, let alone pinning our postseason hopes on Dobson suddenly being a downfield threat/RZ threat.

    Is it just because there's no one else available? I don't remember too many examples this year where Aaron Dobson acted as either a deep downfield threat, nor a good red zone threat with much success in either category, to be totally honest.

    Is it just because this is what we're all hoping for? Judging by reading some of the comments about Aaron Dobson (18 catches in the past 10 Patriot games since mid-October), you'd think he's suddenly Anquan Boldin, TY Hilton, Dez Bryant or something. I'm not even convinced that Brady would target him all that much myself, although obviously I hope you're right of course. I suppose there's no one else to hope for, so that's what I'm guessing the Dobson talk is stemming from. It just seems more like a wish than a reality.
  19. Gwedd

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    And, IIRC, it always went for positive yards, and almost always made the 1st down when they needed to.

    It's surprising how well that play works.
  20. patfanken

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    Sup, I have to say I'm surprised you would stoop to the level of some here, to fortify your position. You know very well that over the last 10 games that Dobson hasn't been fully healthy for over half of them. That might just have been a slight factor in Dobson's lack of production :rolleyes: And as for you contention that Brady targeted on 2 of his first 4 throws in the Bills game, including the one he pulled up lame on, sort of refute that opinion.

    I know Dobson hasn't had the great season that some of the rookie WRs have had, but he IS a physical presence that team have to respect and a skill set that no other WR has. With him being out, it not only makes Brady's job in the red zone more difficult, it makes everyone else's job tougher because teams don't have to defend that skill set.

    As to how BB evaluated Dobson, Thompkins and Boyce's first season, and how he see's their potential will be easily seen by how BB builds next year's receiver corps. If he gives Julian a market contract and/or goes after a prominent FA WR, and or drafts a WR in the first 2 rounds, then your point will be made, and BB didn't like what he saw from his rookie trio. However if he stay relatively Pat with what he has now on the Roster and PS, and just adds developmental or camp competition types, then my point will be made, and Bill liked what he saw better than you have. Until this all plays out, we could go at this, for the next 4 months and not come to a definitive conclusion. But when we look at the WR corps BB takes to TC next July, one of us should be able to make an excellent case of "I told you so".

    See you then. ;)

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