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  1. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    #91 Jersey

    ....talk about transitioning on the fly. If successful, it will prove that the Pats have made it an art form. Ah but "there's the rub", will it be successful.

    1. 44 pages on Deion Branch. That's has GOT to be a record. My initial reaction when I first heard of the trade was Shakespearean, "much ado about nothing". In fact I was pretty much neutral. I guess it was a logical move, but certainly not an impact one We get a veteran who knows the "system", who can be a vet presence for our young pups, and could even catch a few passes (20-30 over the rest of the season). I can let bygones be bygones.

    When I realized we gave up a 4th for him, I wasn't happy. I would have thought a 6th was high, given his situation in Seattle, especially when you look back on what it cost to pick up better WRs like Boldin, Holmes and Marshall, the price seemed quite high.

    Finally I did want I usually do when it comes to the Pats....I rationalized. After all, if any team in the league could "throw away" a 4th round pick its the Pats. So why not? Branch has some value, and though the cost was high (IMHO) we have the "currency" to spend.

    OTOH, I have reasonable expectations for Branch. Even in his Prime, he was NEVER a deep threat, nor much of one in the red zone....and he isn't in his prime any longer. He isn't a YAC threat, and is isn't going to out fight a DB for a ball. He was NEVER a physical receiver. All we should expect is that he WILL BE exactly where Brady expects him to be. Whether he can separate from defender on a regular basis is another story.

    IMHO Branch can be covered one on one. Man coverage was often effective when he was here the last time, why should it be any different now. He will be most effective vs Zone defenses

    2. Here's the real issue, IMHO. Size DOES matter. There has been a lot of talk about going back to the "pre-2007 offense" of short to medium precise routes. That the league has 'caught up' with the 2007 offense. That there needs to be a change back to Brady throwing to "whoever is open".

    Well I'm not so sure we ever left the old offense, we just added better pieces. But that's another story. What I am concerned about is that the league has evolved since the "Pre-2007 offense, and one of those evolutions has been to the use of the "big WR". He's the guy that doesn't need to "get open", or "create separation". He's the guy who catches the ball merely because he has 6-8" on the defender. He's the guy who is a bear to bring down after a catch because he's 6'4' 230'lbs being attacked by 5'10 180lb guys.

    Right now our receiver corps consists of a bunch of 5'10 guys and rookie Aaron Hernandez, and until we prove that we are willing to send Crumpler and Gronk deep in the seem, that is all we have. Until then I expect to see a lot of man coverage (or tight 4-5 under zones) daring us to prove we have a vertical threat.

    Finally the other factor in having such a small WR corp, is that it hurts the running game. All the really good running games in the league have excellent WR blockers...and our best WR blockers are Welker and Edelman :eek:

    3. Speaking of our draft situation and the loss of that 4th round pick. Here are a few things to consider.

    There comes a point in any rebuilding era when I think you CAN have too many picks. By the end of the draft next April, the Pats will have had over 35 picks over the last 3 drafts, and quite frankly you just can't keep all those players. With, at this point, 6 picks in the first 100 players, the Pats look primed to add another 7 or 8 new bodies next season, on an already, VERY young team

    Add to that the fact that next off season looks to have the best FA class in a decade, roster spots are going to be at a premium. So sure, would I have rather gotten Deion for a 6th. . But do I really think it matters in the long run. No. Only the nitpickers will sh!t nickels over this.

    4. Speaking of the Draft...again. While our hopes of a top 10 pick from the Raiders seems to be fading. Its becoming very apparent that our 2nd from Carolina is very likely to be in the top 3 of that round, and most draftniks will tell that there is very little difference in the talent difference from a pick at #20 from a pick at $35. So as Bill Murray might say. "....well at least we got that going for us" WHAT!!!! Do you expect me to quote Shakespeare EVERY TIME. ;)

    5. With the Jets winning, of course, beating the Ravens is critical to keep up. However in my mind it isn't "necessary". The Ravens are one of the top 3 teams in the league, and if we are just competitive with them and lose a close game, then I will be comfortable that we are on the right track.

    Remember this is a team that is not only transitioning on the fly with their defensive personnel. They are transitioning on the fly with their offensive philosophy. If we prove we can play physically with the best team in the league on Sunday, then IMHO, I'd be OK if the we didn't get the breaks and lost the game. I won't be wringing my hands and calling for heads to roll (as will be the case of the "hysterical what have you done lately media"...and some fans) Nor do I see this game as some kind of litmus test of the Moss trade. WAY too early for that.

    This is just one game, EARLY in the season, for a team that, if BB is correct, is built to blossom around Thanksgiving.....not against the league iron in early October. All that being said, a win on Sunday would be doubly sweet

    6. How can we as fans start to determine if the transition is going as planned. Here are a few things to look for over the next 4-6 weeks which I will call the "birthing process".

    a. Can we win a game with a final drive at the end of a game. I mean really, when was the last time THAT happened. What was a hallmark of the pre 2007 teams, has become a rarity in our so called offensive juggernaut era. Now it seems the idea is to go out to an early lead, and hold on for dear life. Lets see Brady go back to what made him a household name.

    b. Does the D continue to improve. Not all at once, but do we see more 3rd down stops than the week before. Do we see more FGs than TDs. Do we see stops after Turn overs? Again not all at once, but on a weekly basis. Patience is the operative word here, and patience is easier to give when you see some positive improvement.

    c. Does the offense still move the ball with regularity. I doubt we score as much, but do we move the ball, and keep time of possession in our favor.

    d. Are we running the ball effectively. And when I say that I mean running the ball like we did in the glory years. That means 80-120s ypg on 25+ carries and making most of the 3rd and short and GL runs. No highlights, no fantasy points, just move the chains and eat the clock running game.

    7.Right before our eyes our team is morphing back to the 2001, 2003 season. Few stars, but hopefully a team where the sum is greater than the individual parts. We do have the most important position covered, with an impact QB, but the rest is a work in progress.

    I would remind people that in 2001 the Pats were 5-5 as they entered the final third of the season....coming off a loss at home to what many thought WAS the best team in the league THAT season. When the Pats play their 11th game THIS season, any record above that 5-5 is gravy IMHO. Personally I'm thinking 7-3, but that's just me. If its less than that, and I'm seeing that defensive improvement, then I'm OK.

    8. IMHO this team is being built to win a superbowl in 2012, just like I thought 2003 was the target then. However that doesn't mean that with a little luck and good team play, there can't be a run to precede the target date, and the next 2 years will give us the opportunity to have that happen. In the meantime, baring catastrophic injuries, I'm comfortable we are still going to have double digit wins, and not suffer the severe dips that even teams like the Ravens and Steelers did.

    9. I believe Brady when he says nothing happened between him and Moss. And if you are a conspiracy buff, if anything Casserly was set up to make a fool of himself. Clearly there is little mutual respect between Casserly and BB.. I also believe him on whether he was 'consulted' on the Moss deal. I believe him in that I don't think he had anything thing to do with decision making process, however I would be shocked if the FO didn't let him know what they were planning and to take his "temperature" about it. That would make no sense.

    10. Bottom line here is that we are in the midst of a very interesting season....and I kind of like flying under the radar....for the time being.
  2. aluminum seats

    aluminum seats Rookie

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    --Yeah, the 4th for Branch doesn't bother me at all. At a certain point, gathering all the draft picks allows for this kind of move. It's fine.

    --So much for NFL teams not making trades during the season, eh? I don't know if a team has EVER made 3 notable trades during a season before.

    --I don't know about the "big WR" thing. Seems folks were saying that a few years ago. Don't think it's necessary.

    --Brady's last end-of-game drive was Buffalo opening day last year, right?
  3. reflexblue

    reflexblue PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think Branch will have a resurgance similar to TBC after he came back from SF.
  4. Bella*chick

    Bella*chick Addicted to the light

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    I hope he'll have some type of resurgence. Either way, I'm not going to write the guy off until I see a few games.
  5. Gwedd

    Gwedd PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I am not concerned with the loss of a 4th round, since we had 8 picks in the first four rounds anyway. Those picks are not worth squat unless you use them. Might as well buy a receiver and see what we can do.

    As to Baltimore, I really WANT to win that game and I think it's imperative that New England gets that win. Baltimore will likely make the playoffs, and I don't want to lose any tie breakers if possible. Beating Baltimore is another rung on the ladder to a first round bye and/or home playoff game(s). Yeah, win the division and in the playoffs. That's great. But I think the Patriots will win the division, so it's better to start planning now for every contingency.

    respects,
  6. Mainefan

    Mainefan Rookie

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    I think all the whining about giving away a 4th for Branch is really ridiculous.

    Let's say we kept the 4th and drafted a WR and he turned out to be as good as Branch. We'd all be delighted.

    And yes, I know he had major knee surgery. But so did Brady and Welker. It's like a dueling scar for NFL skill players.
  7. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    Not all drafts are created equal. The 2011 draft is shaping up to be mediocre-to-poor outside of top 70...and certainly outside of the top 100. I mean 2007 bad. The Pats 4th will be in the 120-130 range, which just isn't as valuable in 2011 as it would be in most years.

    His biggest contribution will be in the locker room. That is also the reason why Moss had to go. If the youngsters step up, Brady has plenty of weapons to win every week. Branch will help make sure the focus and attention to detail are there in practice.

    Excellent point and I'll consider that a bit of foreshadowing. Look back to the Jets game and the strip sack (probably one of the bigger plays of the season so far). Gronk ran a post route and got behind the defense. Brady locks in on him but doesn't let it go (easy jump ball that Gronk will win 99 out of 100 times). Instead, Brady looks back to the right and sees a double-covered Moss just before he gets slammed. The Pats have players to dictate mismatches on every play. Brady just has to get back to quickly identifying the mismatches and not settling on standard progressions that allows the pressure to get to him.

    Couple of points:
    - The 2-TE set mitigates some of this by getting bigger receivers in the middle of the field where they can help the most.
    - Moss was giving his best in the passing game but had completely checked out on run blocking. So in this aspect the trade is addition by subtraction.
    - Check out the big runs and successful screens and I'll bet you see Tate downfield blocking at the 2nd level. I don't know how effective he is, but dude goes all out to hit people.

    Not only that, but you start to bury talent that is ready to contribute on the field. Hoyer, BJGE, Wright, Pryor, Connolly...all guys who got a shot and made the most of it. Price, Ohrnberger, Deaderick, Love, Fletcher, Wheatley, McKenzie...any of these players could develop into important pieces and it is likely a couple of them will.

    Hold on. The #10 pick last year was Jacksonville at 7-9. Look through the Raider schedule and it is hard to find 5 wins. Consider travel (only Miami travels 3 time zones while Raiders still have to do it twice) and motivation (SF is pissed and at home, Indy won't be tanking in week #16, KC/SEA/JAX are contending, SD revenge) and I still think there is a chance for a top 5 pick...meaning 4-5 wins.

    That range looks to be the sweet spot for 2nd tier OLB/DE candidates and 1st tier interior lineman (which aren't great in this draft). That gives the Pats flexibility to get maximal value in the 1st round since they can fill in need early day two. With the 3 day setup now, early 2nd round picks are nice since you get time to shuffle the draft board and do some planning before your pick.

    Divide the season into quarters and the Pats are right on schedule for a 12-4 season. You really want to win your conference home games, especially coming off a bye, so I would place more importance on the result than you are. Two desperate teams (SD and Minn) loom on the horizon and that alone makes them dangerous.

    I have 2 focus areas:

    1) Efficiency in the passing game

    If Brady can stay around the 70% completion percentage (at least until the weather makes that difficult), the Pats will be fine. Interesting to note that the 2 players lost (Faulk and Moss) were the only major targets with a catch rate below 75%. As those attempts get spread around, the youngsters need to keep the efficiency high to compensate for a probable lower YPA.

    2) Takeaways

    Not turnovers. Safeties picking off wildly overthrown/underthrown passes is great, but not what I'm looking for. Ninkovich moving laterally in an under zone is a perfect example. QBs like to throw against man-to-man chasers and coverage moving north/south. Only the top guys can account for combination coverage moving across the field (even Manning threw an easy pick to a LB this past weekend). Why the Pats didn't do this against Sanchez is a mystery to me, particularly when he locks on Keller 99.9% of the time. Also, the Pats need to force more fumbles...especially with the 2nd guy in on a tackle. When a ball carrier is effectively wrapped up, forget the hit and dig the ball out.

    I don't see it. Belichick had the 5 year plan in 2000 but I haven't sensed any years since 2001 when the Pats didn't consider themselves a challenger for the title. People are more comfortable with the notion that if you have a chance to win, you go all in...then you take a couple of years to recover and go all in again. The Pats (and Colts and Steelers and Eagles and Chargers) never mortgage their future to win now. But they do look for opportunities to get maximum return for the assets they have. That return could be on the field, in a trade or on waivers (freeing cap space and preserving the salary structure of the team).

    The 2010 team is built to win now. So was the 2009 team. The 2011 team will be too. I know there is a temptation to think the Pats could do more every year...to make that one final move or two that wins a title regardless of the risk or cost. I mean, we promise to be patient for a couple of years to let the team "reload". Honest.
  8. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Allow me to sh!t nickels over this. :snob:

    Round four is also round one of Day Three - enhanced value after the draft board reshuffle overnight.

    While it is true this draft class is not expected to be very deep, and may even be 2007 poor, I can name one kid projected to be a 7th/UDFA whom I'd spend a 4th round pick on today (current active FBS sack leader). The Top 70-100 whom Metaphors is discussing may still wind up in the fourth round depending on underclassmen declaring, especially if enough agents sell them on a rookie cap in the 2012 draft.

    Meion Branch is averaging 4 YPC below his Seattle average through the first quarter of the 2010 season. His rec/game average is down slightly, he is in a new offense, but he's also the leading WR for Seattle and his team is winning behind a healthy QB again.

    What might have been available to NE may have made him the most attractive option, but I'm inclined to see him as injury insurance for a rehabbing Wes Welker and a rehabbing Julian Edelbinky. Insurance is one of those things you hold your nose and buy, while wishing you could invest the money otherwise. Until you need it, it's a drain on your income. I hope that's not the case, but I'd still rather have seen what Brady could do with his pool of youngsters (and hoarded that 4th for wheeling & dealing in April).

    That said, bring on the dirty birds.
  9. shirtsleeve

    shirtsleeve Rookie

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    Nice Post as always Ken.

    Metaphores, you commented about takeaways. The beauty of this defense is to take advantage of opponent mistakes by playing perfectly disiplined ball doing exactly your job and trusting everyone else on your team to do the same. So when the opponent's O makes that mistake, you are there to take advantage. That was what we saw in Miami. So to get all aggressive and to try to "force" those turnovers is contrary to how this D operates.
  10. HEY BRO! WHAT UP?

    HEY BRO! WHAT UP? Banned

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    Stupid statement. It's never okay to lose an AFC game because it could be the difference between playing at home/road or not even making the playoffs. Remember 2008?

    This game against the Ravens is huge.
  11. PATRIOTSFANINPA

    PATRIOTSFANINPA Rookie

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    Uh.....didn't make a damn difference when they met in Foxboro last January,did it?
  12. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    Couple of points:

    1) Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    2) Every team wants a disciplined, team defense. The Jets do. The Jags do too. That is really independent of scheme.

    3) You don't have to be overly aggressive to force takeaways. But you do have to position your defensive players in ways and places that the QB, blockers and ball carriers don't expect.

    In the Fins game for example, on both of his interceptions Ninkovich gave an initial look at the snap and moved laterally to get the pick...

    On the first, showed an outside zone look but then sprinted inside to undercut Marshall on a seam route. 4-man rush that didn't get any pressure at all, but Henne thought he had a safe throw on his primary receiver. Ninkovich came from outside his field of vision.

    On the second, chucked the slot receiver inside and then jumped a dumpoff outside to Cobbs. Blitz got just enough pressure to make Henne go to his check-down option quickly. Again, Ninkovich came across the field from where Henne thought he would be (following Marshall or sitting in a zone inside) to an area that should have been uncovered.

    My point is that you don't have to run an all-out blitz and play press man to force a turnover. You just have to outsmart the offense. Back to the Jets game, Sanchez completed 70% of his passes. In 23 career starts, he has only hit 60% 5 times...2 of them against the Pats. Seriously, he has a 60% completion percentage in 2 out of 3 games against the Pats...only 3 out of 20 games against the rest of the league (once with the Colts not trying).

    I think that speaks volumes about waiting for turnovers to occur.
  13. MoLewisrocks

    MoLewisrocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    There will be a rookie cap in 2011, with or without a new CBA. A lot of underclassmen came out last year for that very reason.
  14. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    Can't disagree with any of your points, Box, but my point remains just as valid. We will get 6 picks in the first 90 next April. I will assume that they will make the team. You can also assume that 1 or 2 of the lower picks or UDFAs will also make the team. That's ANOTHER 8 new faces. Add that to the fact that as weak as the over all draft class is looking (right now), that's how strong the 2011 FA class is looking. Its hard to think that BB won't be very active in that FA class. But for the sake of discussion lets assume we pick up 2 FAs that make the team. That's 10-11 new players, or about a 20% turn over rate, on a team that will also have 3 starters coming back off the IR (Warren, Boddin, and Kazcur). Maybe 4 if Faulk tries again.

    Let me ask you Box, what 14 guys on the current roster are going to be gone next season after the draft picks, FAs and IR guys come back

    So in the end, what is the LIKELY value of a mid 4th round pick going to be compared to the value that Branch can add right now, considering what our roster situation is likely to be. Not judging here, just asking
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2010
  15. HEY BRO! WHAT UP?

    HEY BRO! WHAT UP? Banned

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    I'd rather be at home than away.

    The point is that teams can't afford to drop AFC games especially when your losing the tie breaker in your own division. It's the exact reason why they missed the playoffs in 2008.

    Losing to the Ravens this week would be a major blow.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2010
  16. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Despite a dismal 2009 season, who here would have predicted another 12 draft picks + UDFAs battling for a roster slot? Who would have predicted McKenzie and Orhnberger to the Practice Squad? What 14 guys on the current roster move on?

    BB traded Seymour and Moss in their contract years; per Patscap.com the following will be entering a contract year:

    Deion Branch, WR
    Dan Connolly, C
    Alge Crumpler, TE
    Dan Koppen, C
    Gary Guyton, LB
    Mark Levoir, OT
    Brandon Meriweather, S
    Stephen Neal, G
    Rob Ninkovich, LB
    James Sanders, S
    Matt Slater, WR
    Wes Welker, WR
    Terrence Wheatley, CB
    Jonathan Wilhite, CB

    That's 14 players right there. Miguel also forecasts the following players entering Free Agency next March:

    Kevin Faulk, RB
    Matt Light, OT
    Logan Mankins, G
    Brandon McGowan, S
    Sammy Morris, RB
    Quinn Ojinnaka, OT
    Jarrod Page, S
    Fred Taylor, RB
    Tracy White, LB

    The normal attrition of the NFL and of Belichick's team management approach gives me reason to believe there could be 14 new faces on the 53 next September.

    You speculate on what Branch can do right now; many people here seem to expect a return to 2004 glory, others, and I may as well include myself in this perspective, see a declining player with a significant drop in production through the first quarter of the season. Where will Branch settle within that range? I really can't tell you and I doubt BB could either - we're both guessing. Which is why I call Branch insurance and binky:
    -- He's insurance given Welker and Edelman are both still rehabbing injuries.
    -- He's a binky because Tommy Brady just lost his Moss, and surrounded by youngsters he's trying to develop it might be nice for him to have a veteran with whom he has a high degree of trust (I just hate the idea of giving him another declining player - and I think you and I both saw Moss as slowing - to whom Tommy might feel compelled to force throws).

    When assessing likely value of a 4th round pick we both try to see it from the context of BB's perspective:
    -- insurance v. an investment in the future
    -- immediate production v. future production
    -- a veteran influence for the current youngsters v. future talent

    This trade was just BB's conservative side, and his belief he can turn one or more of those 6 earlier picks into enough Day Three picks if his draft board offers opportunity. I believe he can do it too, but expect much ranting from the trade up for quality draftniks - I'm getting my quality v. quantity complaints in early, nothing in Branch's time in Seattle precludes me to believe he's a quality draft selection at 31.
  17. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Goodall has already promised there won't be one.
  18. patsfaninpittsburgh

    patsfaninpittsburgh Banned

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    Great thread until........

    Why so much projection about Branch's role? Maybe is just going to be a component in the offense.

    If we are going back to the open receiver gets the ball concept, we don't need him to MossRice. He needs to do his job and make plays when called upon.
  19. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    I remember Mort reporting that but I don't recall Goodell actually saying it.
  20. ALP

    ALP Rookie

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    wait, so next draft when we have raiders 1st rd pick there is NO rookie cap?
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