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  1. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Yesterday afternoon, I dug through the archives looking for an "old" game to watch. I chose the December 24, 2006 game in Jacksonville and took a good look at it.

    In the game's intro, Gumbel and Dierdorf discussed how important the game was for both teams. The Jags were 8-6 and desperately needed a win to stay in playoff contention. The Patriots had yet to even clinch a playoff berth, and Gumbel mentioned how Belichick urged his players not to be overconfident and allow themselves to back into the playoffs.

    The Pats, despite giving up that boneheaded Jones-Drew miracle TD run, were able to win, 24-21 to clinch the AFC East. Though they had destroyed the Texans the week before, they had been shutout in Miami before that, and barely beat the Lions prior to that. If they had won in Miami, they would have most likely leapfrogged the Colts for the 3rd seed, and probably have played the AFC Championship at home in January.

    Yet, in Week 16, we knew none of that. In fact, that same week, Ron Dayne had thrashed through the Colts' defense to open up a 14-0 Texans lead. During halftime, Dan Marino used yet another example of the Colts' terrible run defense that year to support why "The Colts would not win the Super Bowl." Well, he was wrong.

    During the regular season, the Colts were dead last in rushing defense. In fact, the 31st team, the Rams, had 40 less yards/game than the Colts' 173. They began the season with 110 yards to Tiki Barber, and ended it with 115 to Ronnie Brown.

    In the playoffs, something changed. Some say it was Booger McFarland finally turning it on. Others credit Bob Sanders. No matter what, the Colts held Larry Johnson to 32 yards. Jamal Lewis to 53 yards. Corey Dillon to 48 yards. Thomas Jones had 112 in the Super Bowl, but even that was less than 65% of the Colts' season average (The Bears had 111 net rushing, too). The Colts went 12-4, had a horrendous rushing defense, but turned things around when it really mattered.

    Or, let's go back one more season - another year in which the Pats fell short in the playoffs. The 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. A #6 seed. Losers to the Patriots, Jaguars, Ravens, Colts, and Bengals. However, 4 of those 5 teams ended up in the playoffs. And of those teams, all (perhaps not the Jaguars) were considered to be better teams than the Steelers. The Steelers finished the season with four straight wins, including a 41-0 thumping of the Browns. Nobody here wanted to play them. The Pats threw their final game of the season in order to achieve that, too. Then, the Steelers went on to knock off the high-flying Bengals, the media darlings, the Broncos, and the Seahawks. Champions of the National Football League. There's only one.

    How about the 2007 New York Giants? Losses to Dallas and Green Bay to open the season. Another loss to the Cowboys. A 24-point loss to the Vikings in late November. A loss to the Redskins. A loss to the Patriots. In this case, you have a 10-6 team who again only lost to one non-playoff team. They go into the playoffs and shock the world, beating the Buccaneers, Cowboys, Packers, and as we know, the Patriots. The 2007 season is over. The 16-0 Patriots will never be champions. The Giants will always remember this season.

    Belichick preaches better performance down the stretch. Did anyone think the post-Thanksgiving (or post-bye) Patriots were as good as their out-the-gate version? They lost Morris and Colvin, sure. You throw in Faulk and Seau and you're in good shape. That wasn't the problem. Even Vrabel said the 2007 Patriots didn't follow the classical model of improving late in the season. They didn't improve. They were still winning football games, but just coasting to the finish. Don't believe me? Let's chart the season:

    Weeks 1-11, NYJ to BUF
    Offensive rushing yards: 131.8
    Offensive passing yards: 295.0
    Offensive 3rd down conversion rate: 50.7
    Offensive interceptions: .4
    Offensive sacks: 1.0
    Defensive rushing yards: 89.3
    Defensive passing yards: 181.3
    Defensive 3rd down conversion rate: 29.8
    Defensive interceptions: 1.3
    Defensive sacks: 2.9
    Scoring margin: 25.4

    Now, notice how all numbers are across the board (except defensive sacks) worse later on, some more than others:

    Weeks 12-17, PHI to NYG
    Offensive rushing yards: 88.5
    Offensive passing yards: 280.2
    Offensive 3rd down conversion rate: 41.2
    Offensive interceptions: .7
    Offensive sacks: 1.8
    Defensive rushing yards: 113.2
    Defensive passing yards: 204.7
    Defensive 3rd down conversion rate: 38.2
    Defensive interceptions: .8
    Defensive sacks: 3.0
    Scoring margin: 10.2

    And it's tough to make an argument for the second half schedule being harder, considering the end of season winning percentages for the 12-17 games were .400, and the 1-11 games a .510.

    Or how about the playoffs? Some of these numbers are worse too:

    Weeks 19-21, JAC to NYG
    Offensive rushing yards: 113.0
    Offensive passing yards: 228.3
    Offensive 3rd down conversion rate: 54.3
    Offensive interceptions: 1.0
    Offensive sacks: 2.7
    Defensive rushing yards: 91.7
    Defensive passing yards: 241.3
    Defensive 3rd down conversion rate: 38.3
    Defensive interceptions: 1.3
    Defensive sacks: 1.7
    Scoring margin: 5.7

    Certainly not the Belichick way. Notice how the offensive sacks increase throughout the season, and how the rushing numbers decrease. I think we all saw this. The offensive line did get worse as the year went on. Or how about the defensive passing yards? That secondary, as we remember, was making A.J. Feeley, Kyle Boller, and Eli Manning look like Hall of Famers. This is also made evident in the spike of the defensive 3rd down conversion rate. They couldn't get off the field.

    However, what's most noticeable is the scoring margin, especially in terms of the quality of opponents. Something wasn't right after the Eagles and Ravens came that close to beating the Patriots. Something wasn't right after a blocked punt was the difference against Mangini's Jets. The elements can certainly be blamed, sure. I personally think it was complacency. Arrogance. Belichick tried hard to keep that out of his team's mind. Did it work? All I know is that, even after wins down the stretch, I walked away from games with an uneasy sense that not finishing strong would come back to hurt them. The Patriots' playoff wins were unspectacular and featured such things as Dennis Northcutt dropping an easy touchdown and Tom Brady throwing two easy interceptions to the Chargers. Something didn't seem right. Perhaps fittingly, it all came crashing down two weeks later. Nothing can change what happened that night. All the Patriots can do is try to not make the same mistakes twice. Welcome to 2008.
  2. signbabybrady

    signbabybrady On the Roster

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    Thanks, I want to break the computer now :mad:
  3. ALP

    ALP Rookie

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    well written article, LOL

    and yet after all that the pats only lost the SB by 3, of 19 games, one less, and by 3, to the NFC Champion...

    we truly were the best team to ever grace a football field, and its now time to create a team better then the one that we had last year, to give us that one other, more important win
  4. SavioKid

    SavioKid Rookie

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    Exactly, what happens if we won the SB by 3 instead? Would those same feelings about the team be the same (Tom throwing 2 easy picks to SD in playoffs, etc.)? Its not the margin of vistory to me in the playoffs..it's just the W! Yes, we didn't get the W so I can see the point in analyzing the season progression & how the team was not the same... Some times football 9like any other sport really) is a game of luck / inches /etc..& that's what happened in the end (e.g. the freakin helmet catch by Tyree!) to the PATS...its that hard to go perfect....

    I would of loved that perfect season! LET's TRY AGAIN!!!!!!!
  5. Buddah50

    Buddah50 Rookie

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    Stetching the brain a little on an offseason Sunday morning never hurts...good post.
  6. Wildo7

    Wildo7 Totally Full of It

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    You certainly aren't giving any credit to other teams adjustments. I think this whole theory is tainted by the fact that:

    A) the teams we faced in the first half were all crappy. We faced Sand Diego who was in turmoil at that point and the Dallas game was closer than the score IMO.

    B) other teams didn't know what to expect with Moss and it was difficult to adjust.

    C) Our defense was never very good. I denied this all season long, waiting for that "statement game" from the D that never came. Our offense came flying out of the gate at other teams in the beginning and it caught them off guard. The Pats went up so huge on teams, so quickly, that the D just played that soft nickel. They never shut anyone down who wasn't already out of the game.
  7. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    If they had played the same game and happened to pull something off at the end, then yes. The Super Bowl was probably the best example of what I'm talking about. Does the OL of October 5 have that kind of game? I don't think so.
  8. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    What about the second half? The Dolphins were 1-13, the Jets not much better. Both the Ravens and Eagles were on the outside of the playoff picture. And what about the Colts in the first half? Besides them, there was nothing either, I guess. But that theory would mean only the Pats, Colts, and Cowboys were "good" teams.

    I think by October 28 (52-7 Redskins win) or November 18 (56-10 Buffalo win) they knew what to expect. After that, it was downhill. And I have a hard time believing the atrocious Jets, Dolphins, and Giants secondaries could adjust to stop Moss.

    It certainly didn't get any better as the year went on.
  9. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress Rookie

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    One possible reason for the Pats "fading" down the stretch, if we can call it that (the Pats surged in '05 down the stretch, surged in '06, winning 3 straight by a margin of 104-51, and entered the playoffs undefeated in '07) is that our drafts have not produced an elite rookie crop since '05. The emergence of a talented rookie crop adds energy to a team down the stretch, young energy that older teams lack. A great draft is like fuel for the whole franchise. The Pats had Seymour and Light in '01; Samuel, Wilson, B. Johnson, Koppen, in '03; the awesome '03 rookies spilled over into '04 and were joined by Wilfork; The season didn't really turn around in '05 until the defense solidified, with Hobbs taking over as a starter maybe the biggest change IMO. In '06, Maroney was injured down the stretch and IMO the Pats wrongly moved away from D.Thomas and back to Watson when the latter returned from injury for the playoffs in '06, despite Thomas' break out performances vs. Houston and Jax. Thomas' absence from the game plan hurt the receiving corps in the '06 playoffs. Last season only Meriweather was a minor contributor. The draft is the life blood of the franchise.

    As an example, the Giants had a fantastic '07 class that energized the franchise as Ross, Boss, Smith, Bradshaw etc. emerged down the stretch. In '06 the Colts became great down the stetch on the strength of Addai's fresh legs and Antoine Bethea becoming an impact starter. In '05 Heath Miller was a key cog in the Pitt passing game, catching a huge TD vs Indy. Also Bryant McFadden the cb was in man coverage on Reggie Wayne, breaking up that last second bomb to the end zone with a spectacular play. Our rookies have not contributed like that in the latter stages of the past 2 seasons, the vets have become exhausted under the pressure and scrutiny of being the world's most famous team, and IMO that is why the team has lost steam down the stretch. Another minor factor is that our offense has been consistently outcoached in big games since Charlie left. In Denver, Indy and NYG games, the offense has failed in key moments and the coaching is responsible for much of that. The awful 12 men in the huddle vs Indy, the inability to adjust a game plan vs the NYG, the susceptibility to the blitz vs Denver.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2008
  10. captain stone

    captain stone Rookie

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    Outstanding posts by Pats1 and Pony. The last complete 60-minute game executed by the NEP was at Buffalo. Various degrees of uneasiness followed every game thereafter.

    Pony, you let the '04 draft off the hook, IMHO. Big Vince has been the only member of that class to make a significant contribution. I said it almost 4 years ago, and I'll say it again: It would have made more sense for the NEP to select Karlos Dansby instead of Bennie Watson. The rest of the draft was absolute garbage.
  11. Mr.Muhozi

    Mr.Muhozi Rookie

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    this thread gave me the courage needed to watch the superbowl again, it's safe to say im past the denial stage, it just makes me wonder, with a little luck, we could have been 19-0
  12. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    This was a great read. I echo your sentiments. Everytime I think about the game and the plays and what could have been, my concluding thought is similar - the 2007 team did not deserve to be called the Greatest Team Ever. Hopefully the 2008 team can fix the flaws and again contend for the Super Bowl and again contend for the title of Best Team Ever.
  13. jeffbiologist

    jeffbiologist Rookie

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    Its not the draft picks, not the rookies responsibilities to do anything but play a role. They call it a rookie wall for just that reason. What you have been seeing is the disparity between our starters and our backups. As we have been successful for such a long time, we stay with the starters and lose depth through the middle of our lineup. The guys at the bottom, rookies or not, havent held up their end in the last few years. There just havent been new playmakers injected into the lineup.
    What happens if Woods recovers that fumble? What happens if the defense isnt tired? Lots of what ifs, too many what ifs. BB falls in love with players as we know, but it just goes to show that more attention has to be payed to the middle and lower parts of our roster to develop the depth and to either FIND or CREATE playmakers.
    Examples, if you like Colvin look at his numbers. If you like Thomas on the outside, why is he only good at the end of games? I think we can figure that some of our players havent done their role, they need to be replaced.
  14. Deus Irae

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

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    Things that are seemingly being overlooked:

    weather

    quality of the opposing teams, particularly the defenses

    "psyche" factor in the opponent (Baltimore following Taylor's death, etc.)

    the installation of 'the blueprint' which was designed to limit scoring by reducing the number of possessions per game.
  15. BradyIsaYankeeFan

    BradyIsaYankeeFan Rookie

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    I wonder if you had these thoughts when Brady broke Phil Simms' postseason pass completion % record against the Jags whom I thought had the hottest and toughest defense of all the playoff teams. And even though the Chargers game was close at the half, the Pats' D shut down the Chargers at will whenever they needed it. Brady didn't look sharp, so the Pats just destroyed them with the running game. In the SB, despite all the offensive woes, Brady gave the Pats a lead with 2:42 left. Manning threw up 3 balls that could've been INTs in the final drive. If Assante holds onto just one of them, this thread does not exist.
  16. Deus Irae

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

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    I think it's quite obvious that the Patriots losing the Super Bowl has caused a lot of the team's fans to lose all sense of rationality. It's as if they've become Jets fans.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2008
  17. BionicPatriot

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    I agree. One thing thats crap is how everyone acted like the team played terrible down the stretch. What started hurting them was their lack of a pass rush at the end of the season. However, the team beat down the Steelers, handled the Jags pretty easily, etc. I can't stand all these excuses. I'm not saying anyone is, but I don't see whats so hard to analyze here. For one game a team outplayed them, it's as simple as that.

    This is why I wonder why people even bring this topic up. sure you can say this and that, but right before kickoff everything was perfect, this team was in the middle of the greatest run ever and they ****ed it all up in one night. the mindset of this fanbase has been different ever since.
  18. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Who knows. But I can tell you I've been thinking about this since December.
  19. RayClay

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    Good points all. The starters have played all the way. Thanfully we've been healthy, but there is no reason for a Pierre Woods shaking thr rust off in the Super Bowl.

    We need to get younger on defense and to play everybody like we used to. Why worry about playing someone against a trash team in October, November, December, then playing them in the SuperBowl?

    We should treat those games like exhibitions and develop the players of the future.

    Hell, in the linebacking corps, the future was about two years ago. :(
  20. Pats726

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    I read the Original post this AM...and have not read any follow up as I have been mulling over the issues..It didn't follow the same path as in other years..THAt is quite evident..and the reaserach of the first 11 games..the next 5 and the playoffs..really gives te details and facts of what I think all Patriot fans saw..THAT data..backs up so much waht was seen and READILY seen...not just when taking a few steps back, but at the time..in NEON letters.
    The big question is the whys of it all..and I think it's not one answer at all, but more a number of things. It might be great to say X...and make it simple..but I don't think one can say that with a lot of certainty.
    The weather always has an effect on play and there were games played in the cold..wind (Baltimore) and with snow (Jets). But to say that that was teh ONLY factor is hardly true.
    They also were facing some tough DCOs..from the Eagles's Johnson who put in all kinds of blitz patterns and physical play on Moss to the Giant's Spagnuolo..as each team seemed to gain a bit of an insight into how to slow the mighty offense of the Pats.
    But they were also at this point getting pressured so much with the media hype of the "perfect season" and I really can not help but wonder what kind of an emotional toil this took on the team. Pressure to do it.to keep up the wins..from without..to teh self inflicted want of that. Not at all sure how that can be measured as it seemed to increase week to week. If they had lost a game during that stretch, would it have turned out the same? I really wonder.
    There are injuries as well..Colvin..Morris the big ones and yes, they did have 4 LBs..vets to play, but how much HARDER was that? Having 5...and then 4 puts a LOT of strain on that 4...not having any backups to use...and it wasb't REALLY until the Superbowl that backup LBs were actually playing much. Morris's inside game as well changed the needed running game; a lot different without him in the fold to have Maroney take a breather.
    But besides BIG injuries, what about the other players who played with injuries and played through the injuries. Could they have gottenn worn down over time?
    I also think one could hardly expect a high powered offense to keep that up all year...playing at that high a level..more the anomaly than not. And that was the large difference..as in other years, fans were loooking for just one please blowout..where this year, famnd expected one after the other.
    I know there are other things as well that changed as the season went on..One has to wonder about the coaching, about the approach to each game..and other factors not readily seen.
    Did they at some point feel arrogant and just thought all they needed to do was to show up? I don't think that was it. Somehow it seemed they were just holding on to win despite the mountain of pressure to lose. It's NOT at all easy to get to where they were..and I really do not think any team will approach that for a LONG time.
    Food for thought though.
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