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  1. patfanken

    patfanken Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    Its been a while, so I may be rusty…and maybe even concise and brief…but I doubt it.

    As we head into the season opener next Sunday, the prevailing image of the 2008 edition of our New England Patriots is that… its still a mystery to ALL who follow it. The fact is that none of us have a real clue as to what kind of team we will be following this season. Will it be the heir of the juggernaut 18-1 season, or will it be son of the preseason, that saw the first team offense and defense get outscored by 60 odd points over a 0-4 pre-season . Logic tells us that reality lies somewhere in the middle, but JUST where that “middle lies is what we are about to discuss.

    The Pessimist’s overview – The Superbowl loss took the heart out of the Pats. That in combination with the wear and tear of going deep into the playoffs for so many of the lasts 5 years, along with an aging defense and the losses in the secondary of Samuel, Wilson, & Gay; all spell the end of the current Patriots dymasty and the beginning of their slide back to mediocrity

    The Optimist’s overview – BB has orchestrated a brilliant scenario and is once again leading the rest of the league and the media down the “garden path”. Acknowledging the wear and tear of what amounts to almost an extat season over this run, BB has strategically kept his key players off the field during preseason. He has purposely kept his defensive and offensive game plans very vanilla. And has concentrated this off season into getting a great rookie class a lot of work, and not caring about the what the score of the game is.

    Facts to consider:

    1. The league has now had a full off season to develop effective defenses to at least slow down what WAS the best offense in NFL history. Remember they were well on the way to doing this by the end of the season, and it culminated with the meager 14 point performance in the Superbowl. Now with an additional 6 months to work on the problem, it would be ludicrous for any Pats fan to think that the Offense will come close to matching last season’s prodigious production.

    2. That doesn’t mean though that the offense can’t be as “effective”, but it probably has to be different. We aren’t looking to keep 5 RBs for just show. I think BB is looking to create an offense that will be less explosive, but a more productive ball control unit. He/ll do it to counter the defenses that his opponents will show him, and he’ll do it to protect a defense that will take some time to develop into the playoff ready defense we will see in December.

    Team Personal Evaluation: (compared to last season)

    OFFENSE

    QB- DECLINE - Brady hasn’t thrown a pass this preseason. He is clearly hampered by a series of nagging foot injuries. It is kind of ironic that the 2 most successful QBs of this decade, guys who have NEVER missed a game once they became starters, are BOTH finally showing some signs of wear and tear. Brady hasn’t missed a game in this run, but it would be surprising if his streak continues this season, especially the way its started. Cassell isn’t as bad as the media reaction would have us believe, but he doesn’t appear to be as good as we hoped. Gutts is not the answer, despite the good game he had against Philly. O’Connor is a nice prospect, but IMHO was drafted 2 years too soon, and with the perfect 20-20 hindsight that my fandom affords me, wouldn’t a nice 3rd round Olineman look right now.

    If I’m GM I keep Brady, Cassel and O’Connor. I would fully expect Gutts to make it though waivers and onto the PS. O’Connor might not make it through waivers. A team like SD with a real good back up might think he’s too good a value not to pick up as a #3.

    RB – IMPROVEMENT - This could be the best and most versatile group of RBs we’ve ever had. The only problem is that given the fact that ALL of them have had a history of injury problems, so it is very likely that we will NEED all 5 of them before the end of the years. I’ve always liked Jordan, so that pick up was great one. I think he and Faulk give us 2 very good receivers out of the backfield and I wouldn’t hate it we threw the ball to Moroney more

    If I’m GM we keep all 5 guys. IF they decide to keep just 4 I would probably drop Morris. His skills are most easily duplicated. The Evans would seem to be the most likely to go, since Jordan can also play that position, but he also plays a big part in special teams, so he gets the edge over Morris if they only go with 4 RBs.

    TE- IMPROVEMENT - Here is where I make up the roster spot. I keep only 2 TE’s. I know this seems like heresy on a BB team, but I think this is the year to do it. First I think the plan is to run from passing formations more this year. In other words make the defense defend the Pass by formation and run at them. That means more single TE formations, and less 2 and 3 TE formations. And for those times when you want to load up with 3 TE’s for SY situations, I can assume they can find plenty of volunteers from the OL subs. Still with all the attention that Moss is going to see this year, the field SHOULD open up to Watson and Thomas. I think Thomas’ return really boosts the TE position and is why I deem it Plus. I would find the best TE available for the PS

    WR- DECLINE – Last season Moss, Welker, Stallworth, and Gaffney was powerful foursome that remained fairly healthy the entire year. This season the foursome of Moss, Welker, Gaffney, and Jackson is less formidable, especially with Welker’s injury status. This assessment would immediately change as we see more signs that Chad Jackson can begin to tap his potential. Here again is a place where we can save a roster spot by keeping only 5 WRs. That 5th spot is interesting Ray Ventrone is making a great case to take Kelly Washington’s spot given he has even MORE versitility than Washington

    OL – DECLINE – The fact that Light missed most of camp hurts the OL. Even worse, the loss of Steven Neal kills the running game on the right side, so even when Light is back to 100%, we will be a predominately left handed running attack. No RT has taken control of that RT position over the last few years, and while Kazcur was adequate, he was definitely the weak link of what was a very good OL last season. Finally the injury to Russ Hockstein hurts the depth of the OL at TWO positions. I would feel better if I knew how much Wellbourne and Flynn have left in the tank. If they can play, I’d feel better, if they can’t then we are in trouble.
     
  2. patfanken

    patfanken Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    DEFENSE

    DL – IMPROVEMENT – Clearly this SHOULD be the strength of the team. Excellent Starters made better by the fact Seymour is not only healthy, but he’s starting his move for his next contract…with some other team. I would look, for some more 4 man line looks on passing situation this season, with J Green at DE. Green, Wright, SThomas and King give us great depth at the position as well.

    ILB – DECLINE at first, but IMPROVEMENT by December – Though this make take some time in coming.. I love Mayo and think he has a chance to be the kind of player worthy of the #10 pick. IMHO He can be the best ILB the Pats have had in the BB dynasty. He has the tools and by all accounts WANT to be that kind of an impact player. Bruschi is adequate, though declining. He’s a good match up with the inexperienced Mayo. Hobson and Alexander will fight for the 3rd spot in the rotation, while Guyton and Redd make it to the PS, with Seau awaiting an injury call. NOTE: I don’t worry about ILB as much as most since it is NO LONGER a 3 down position. At least one of the ILBs will be replaced by a DB in any perceived passing situation.

    OLB – IMPROVEMENT – We didn’t see much of Thomas and Vrabel this preseasn, but these guys are 2 of the best at their positions in the league. Thomas’s performance over the last quarter of the season after he was given the OL position gave us an insight into why the Pats paid so much for him, and how much of a personal sacrifice he made by starting the season at ILB. However what really gets me excited about the OLB position has been the quantum leap Pierre Woods has made and the emergence of Sean Crable. Woods is ready to be the best "3rd OLB" we’ve had recently and Crable shows A LOT of potention. All in all that is a very nice foursome now and for the future

    Safety – IMPROVEMENT - I like what we have here. Merriweather was showing that he was a worthy of a first round pick before he was hurt. I liked what I saw in Sanders development last season though I don’t know how he’s played or even IF he’s played this preseason. Rodney is Rodney, and despite some limitations in pass coverage, he will make more plays than he won’t. I’m not exactly sure where Lynch fits in their plans, but it can’t hurt. Look for Ventrone and/or Slater to provide additional depth as both try and assume the Troy Brown postion.

    CB – DECLINE - its difficult to lose 2 of your top 3 CBs from last year and not see some initial decline. However I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised with the play of Fernando Bryant, as well as Ellis Hobbs.

    But before I go on, I have a bone to pick with a lot of Pats fandom. Every time a pass is completed a Patriots CB is excoriated, as if it were singularly HIS fault. There are 2 things to consider here. First we are playing in an age where 6 out of 10 passes are ROUTINELY completed. Even BAD teams will complete significantly MORE passes than they attempt. I am constantly amazed by fans who rave about how good Brady and his receivers are when THEY catch a pass, but when an opponent catches one; its because our *%*DB was giving too much of a cushion. They say the most important asset a good DB has is a thick skin, because VERY often he is going to get the brunt of criticism when he was doing exactly what he was supposed to do. Its almost like the reverse of baseball, where you can become a multimillionaire simply by FAILING 2 out of 3 times.

    I think we will see a BETTER overall defense this season. It even has the POTENTIAL to be a dominant defense, BUT not until the end of year .

    SPECIAL TEAMS –

    I’m running out of gas and this post is getting long enough to require a library card to finish it. All I know is that they have sucked in the preseason, The Bottom line here is that we have the talent (as does every NFL team), to field good coverage teams. We have a good FG kicker and decent enough punter. The rest is just good coaching (which we have had in the past) and “want to” by the players, and that remains to be seen. All I know is that we’ve had decent to excellent special teams for many years, it is hard to think we won’t get the same this year, as the season progresses

    SUMMARY –

    Bottom line – You have to put me among those who feel that this is a 12-4 to 14-2 team. It’s a team, baring catastrophic injury, that should get a bye and go deep into the playoffs

    As usual I look forward to any comments and/or critiques. I'm done
     
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    Last edited: Aug 30, 2008
  3. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    WB Ken. I've got minor quibbles, but nothing earth shaking, so I'll just point out a likely typo in your CB evaluation. I think you meant 2 of 3, not 2 of 2. Also, the BAD teams sentence in the following paragraph needs to be reviewed. They will not complete more passes than they attempt.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2008
  4. MrBigglesWorth

    MrBigglesWorth Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Out of the AFC:

    Jason Taylor
    Jared Allen

    Injured or coming back:

    Dwight Freeney
    Shawn Merriman

    I think all of the other teams are dinged up and sure some have improved(Steelers, Bills, Jets at least on paper), but the other top competition has critical positions with question marks.

    If BB hasn't come up with a way to counter multiple blitzes then they deserve total criticism, but I don't see them not addressing that gameplanning.
     
  5. patfanken

    patfanken Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    WOW! if those are your only critiques, DI, then my head is going to swell to epic proportions. :D However I have the feeling that before this thread ends, I will have BOTH feet planted firmly back on the ground and my head....humbled ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2008
  6. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Nah.... I think your general read is pretty good. I think you're off a bit on the Brady/injury thing, saying that it would be surprising if the streak continued, for example, but it's a minor quibble. Realistically, I think you're dead on when you say that we don't know what this team is yet.
     
  7. borg

    borg In the Starting Line-Up

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    Only two TEs is a problem. Both have had injuries and the TE position is a skill position that locks up with 300 pounders. No way will both stay healthy.
     
  8. Brady to Brown

    Brady to Brown 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Great post Ken.

    The only problem I have is with your spelling of our 3rd round rookie QB :D
     
  9. italia44

    italia44 In the Starting Line-Up

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    RB's and TE's are related skill positions.You don't keep 5 running backs and 3 tight ends.

    It's out of balance and means you carry 1 less WR or O lineman.

    Maybe,if you're the Chiefs you would do this,but this is a passing team.

    What you do in lieu of a 2 TE set is go to 2 RB's or put Evans or Jordan in motion or on a wing.This is how the W Coast offenses do it and they almost never use a 2 TE set.

    You have to remember that only 45 are active on game day and that keeping a 3rd TE active will keep a pass catching RB or a WR on the shelf for the day.
     
  10. patsox23

    patsox23 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    good stuff, PFK. Just one fairly major quibble. The idea that Guyton will clear waivers is, I think, wishful thinking. I believe that to be true of Vince Redd, as well. Both have played pretty well in the pre-season, and I think it would be a shame to lose talented, if raw, LBs, especially with our aging LB corps. Seau waits in the wings for an injury at that position.
     
  11. D-cleater

    D-cleater Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Good critique. I think between 12-4 and 14-2 is a safe prediction, I would lean more towards 12-4 and would be leaning more towards 10-6 / 11-5 had we a more difficult schedule this year. I think the early bye will impact some of the older players on the team ( Moss, Bruschi, Harrison, Lynch, Vrabel) come January.

    Re: Pessimism vs Optimism - I'm sure plenty of us are somewhere in the middle. It's silly to predict a slide back to mediocrity with the BB, Brady, and the young - middle age talent on this team. However, The optimists in the community constantly make excuses for younger players who don't jump into a starting role due to the complexity of the sytem. With that school of thought in mind, consider how the starters looked in preseason. In order to be an optimist, you have to either believe that

    a) The starters weren't trying that hard, saving themselves for reg season ( e.g interior lineman getting dominated on both sides, poor tackling, blown assigments on D)

    or

    b) If the starting lineups have holes, we have rookies (besides Mayo) who could step in and be productive in the system. I think they can.... I think Crable could be an upgrade over Woods, Guyton over Alexander, and maybe even Wheatley over someone.

    I'm not 100% sold on either though. I'm pessimistically optimistic. Or cautiously optimistic

    I also think the declines will be outweight the improvements, again, not exactly going out on a limb here given last year's performance.

    I've been saying this a lot lately but I can't see us going in with two TE's. Niether Watson or Thomas have shown they can stay on the field for 16 games, and a weaker Oline that clearly has had its confidence shaken will need help from the TE's , at least in the running game, like it always has.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2008
  12. D-cleater

    D-cleater Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Exactly. 5 WR , 5 RB, 3TE. Putting Evans or Jordan on the wing helps on passing downs, but you will still see plenty of two TE sets this year, especially if you like a productive running game or the screen plays that we love to run. I assume you're keeping a 6th WR and I give that spot to the 3rd TE.
     
  13. NYCPatsFan

    NYCPatsFan In the Starting Line-Up

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    Liked your summary a lot.

    Hope the new members on this forum read this before posting another gloomy thread on the preseason. That said, I was a bit stunned to see our lacklustre performance in the last two games. I hoped that the players would be a bit irritated after the first two and irrespective of the plain vanila schemes, show a better execution in at least one q for the last two games. Didn't see that at all.

    I am actually glad that the ST gave an atrocious performance during the pre season because they are bound to get chewed by everyone and hopefully will play mistake free during the regular season.

    I am not sure about the two TE format, especially considering the history of injury problems with both of them. Pray that everything works out fine this year.
     
  14. eternal

    eternal Practice Squad Player

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    Great analysis as always, PFK!! You have a very level headed, logical, and realistic view of things. The O-line will determine if this team just swims, or looks Phelpsian. They will be in many more close games than last year, of which they will lose 3 or 4.
     
  15. TBonePatsFan

    TBonePatsFan Practice Squad Player

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    Welcome back Ken! While there are some great and knowledgeable posters that contribute to this site .... you are by far my favorite!

    I look forward to your posts this season.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2008
  16. DocE

    DocE Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Facts to consider:

    1. The league has now had a full off season to develop effective defenses to at least slow down what WAS the best offense in NFL history. Remember they were well on the way to doing this by the end of the season, and it culminated with the meager 14 point performance in the Superbowl. Now with an additional 6 months to work on the problem, it would be ludicrous for any Pats fan to think that the Offense will come close to matching last season’s prodigious production.

    2. That doesn’t mean though that the offense can’t be as “effective”, but it probably has to be different. We aren’t looking to keep 5 RBs for just show. I think BB is looking to create an offense that will be less explosive, but a more productive ball control unit. He/ll do it to counter the defenses that his opponents will show him, and he’ll do it to protect a defense that will take some time to develop into the playoff ready defense we will see in December.

    I disagree that teams were well on there way to slowing down the offense by the end of last season. I think the late season weather slowed down the Patriots offense. I also think that Ben Watson's injury slowed down the offense as he wasn't much of a threat down the field later in the season. The last game of the season was a combination of horrid oline play and Brady being injured in addition to a great game plan defensively.

    I do agree that the offense won't be as dynamic and I also agree that the Patriots will attempt to run the ball more. I have a hard time believing this line will be very effective running the ball, as they weren't very effective most of last year, despite teams rarely putting more than 7 in the box. The line just isn't that physical and is more suited (IMHO) to block for a short controlled passing game.
     
  17. DaBruinz

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

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    This previous message was brought to you by Sarcasm, INC.
     
  18. N0vice33

    N0vice33 On the Roster

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    Injured or coming back:

    Dwight Freeney
    Shawn Merriman




    You can add Bob Sanders to that list.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
  19. DaBruinz

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

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    When did Bob Sanders become an OLB or DE who rushes the passer most downs?
     
  20. captain stone

    captain stone Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Re: the Offense -

    QB - agree; the 3 that should've been kept were kept.

    RB - agree; all 4/5 were kept.

    TE - agree, though I still prefer to have a 3rd TE as a blocking specialist.

    WR - agree; the depth behind the big 3 is esp. troubling.

    OL - agree; the right side & its backups is absolute shyte.

    Conclusion: They may want to run more often, but they will soon discover that they can't do jack squat, esp. behind the right side. The shoddy pass protection will prevent long pass routes from developing before The Franchise gets sacked/killed. Therefore, the only offense that can be sustained will be the ol' fashioned Dink & Dunk. It's time to introduce Skippy & Moss to the slant pattern.

    Re: the Defense -

    DL - agree vs. the run, disagree vs. the pass. These guys, exc. for Jarvis, can produce absolutely no pass rush w/o help from the back 8. There is no adequate backup for Wilfork, either. I would love to have a 3-down stud DE who can line up in both 3-4 and 4-3 formations.

    ILB - agree, but less strongly now that Hobson has been waived. He was bound to improve as the season progressed; it's terribly short-sighted of the FO/HC to not understand this. Hobson gone while Izzo stays is an effin disgrace.

    OLB - agree, IF Woods improves as much as his supporters (of which I have not been one since the SB) believe he will. Vrabel, for whom the end will appear as early as next season, will become less effective as the season progresses - just like last year.

    Safety - disagree. Stomper's hands are atrocious. If I had to choose a Safety in the 1st round last year, I would've chosen Eric Weddle. Jimmy Sanders is too small for SS and too slow for FS, and is not a playmaker. Rodney's slower than ever. Lynch is gone. Slater as FS is a work in progress, and Ventrone may play more WR than FS.

    CB - agree, exc. about Bryant...and Hobbs. Lew Sanders is just a younger, healthier Chad Scott, and Wilhite wasn't considered a 4th-round talent by anyone else.

    Conclusion: If the defense cannot produce consistent pressure by rushing only 5, then these DBs will allow long, multiple 1st-down-generating drives, just like the first & last drives of the SB. Longer drives = a less effective defense later in the year, and also means less time on the field for the Offense, which means fewer chances to score, which means closer games - and more of them.

    Overall conclusion: I am very disturbed by the roster moves this weekend. I strongly feel that this is a worse team than it was one week ago. If some of the vested vets (Lynch, Flynn, Welbourn, Bryant) are re-signed after the KC game - and if the Pats struggle against Sperm Edwards' bums, then we are in some serious trouble - then my opinion will change accordingly. And I haven't even mentioned the embarassment of the Chad Jackson experiment.
     
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