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Some mid-week thoughts

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Poker, Dec 5, 2007.

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  1. Poker

    Poker Practice Squad Player

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    Some mid-week thoughts and questions after this weekend...

    1. How and when exactly did the national anti-Pats consciousness change from "The Pats are cheaters...the NFL should take them down" to "There is a conspiracy in which the NFL now wants the Pats to win"?

    2. I am more heartnened than concerned about the team after the last 4 weeks. Why? The team showed toughness, will to win close games, all those qualities which were unknowns prior to the Colts game, and then the Eagles/Ravens. As much as we hated to see the D gashed and dominated, how could you not love seeing them get those tough 3-and-outs when they needed them? Phil Simms was one of the first to observe it early in the season, when on a pregame show even in the middle of a string of blowouts he said something like: "These Pats love to compete, they lactually ove to fight for a full 60 minutes, and anyone that beats them is going to have to mathc their will to fight for a long time." How nice to see this show up, and this quality is indispensable, because of the next point...

    3. In the NFL, I rarely think blowouts are as "big" as they look on the scoreboard. Teams are all closer than they look, and small differences in plays in the early/middle of games often compound into huge scoring differences late. Take the Ravens game. If Watson holds onto the first TD, and Boller doesn't make the remarkable scramble/long pass in Q1 leading to a TD, that game could easily have turned into another Pats blowout. A few inches or small difference, and the Pats might have been up 14-0 like other games. Then their defense, as we all know, is in a different position. I'm not reinventing this game--i'm just saying I don't think the Pats are really 30 points better than most of the teams on their schedule.

    4. I really don't understand what the offensive philosophy is of late. Midway through the season, Belichick talked at length about how the best strategy is to have a balanced attack so the other team has to defend everything and can't overload or easily guess pass v. run. Being so pass-centric seems to hurt both the passing and the running game. I'm sure their is some larger logic to it, I guess we will need to see it all unfold in the next 4 games and the playoffs. One big positive for me in the game were the two long passing gains by Maroney after short dumpoffs, in addition to his improved blocking on pass plays. This relates to the above point: Maroney in the set has been way too predictable IMO--if he has gotten the ball so far, it must have been overwhelmingly a run. Having to defend LM as a viable pass threat in this offense makes us extremely hard to stop, and I'd like to see a lot more of that the rest of the way. He's great in space and more importantly a few more nice passes to Maroney on tape should help his running game a lot.

    5. Kevin Faulk is a great example of this balance and strategy. He gets a lot of nice gains when he runs. I have never thought this was because he was such a great runner (though he is very shifty and quick) as much as it was the dual threat due to it being a passing situation. The combo threats are the most devastating for the defense to manage.

    6. I am impressed that Belichick gave the team some much needed physical and, for this team especially, psychological rest. I think this was pretty obvious from watching them the last month, and I suspect it was another instance of BB going to the team leaders, asking their opinions, and actually listening. Moss said as much at the post game.

    7. For me, one of the best athletic comparisons for the Pats is Tiger Woods. I have seen this analogy on occasion, but not much. Both are physically gifted, but even more so just so mentally tough. Tiger has had his share of blowouts, such as double digit major victories, but he has had a lot more 1 and 2-stroke, gut it out victories like the Pats just experienced. Both Tiger and the Pats are publically dull and maniacally driven and focused to win, and even more importantly to always improve and be as perfect as possible. They are their own worst critics, and practice harder than all other competitors. Also, Tiger doesn't win every time and the Pats don't win the super bowl every year, just to put it in perspective. There is just some natural performance variation: When Tiger brings his A game, no one else is beating him that weekend. Ditto for the Pats. If the opponent(s) bring their A game also, it will be a close, tough win. If the competition is off, it's a blowout. If Tiger or the Pats bring their B game or worse, they're probably not going to win, except they still have a fighter's chance because they rarely beat themself and they give the opponent a few chances to let their B game show up.

    8. A final thought on the Ravens game, one that has been somewhat lost amidst all the stories about Refs, conspiracy, cheating, Ravens players whining and losing composure, Pats weaknesses, and of course their march to 16-0: That was one hell of an exciting game. It wasn't pretty, just incredible exciting, one of the most riveting I can ever remember. Naturally, it was all amped up 10x because of the Pats undefeated record on the line, but even taking that into consideration it was a great game. It has a last minute come from behind TD, and the hail Mary falling just short as a final dramatic ending. Their was a thread last week about the "top 5 regular season games of all time for the Pats"--how does this one not make it, perhaps even 1 or 2?
     
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  2. patsox23

    patsox23 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    post of the week, if not post of the year. Excellent stuff.
     
  3. patsox23

    patsox23 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    We need Poker posting WAY more often. Fresh, newbie blood is vital for any site, but especially this one when so many of the newbies don't bring this kind of analysis, which used to be commonplace at patsfans.com, even two years ago.
     
  4. Poker

    Poker Practice Squad Player

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    PatSox 23

    Thanks so much for your encouraging feedback--I will definitely try to post more often!!

    One further thought on the Pats/Tiger Woods comparison: Golf media and experts were really amazed when, after Tiger's fantastic 2000/2001 seasons, he basically went back to the drawing board on his swing! He hired a new coach, rebuilt his swing from scratch, and emerged more dominant than ever. The inner drive to get better, to get more consistent, to get a better distance/accuracy combo was what made Tiger take this risk. How many athletes would have just rested on their accomplishment?

    I can think of a couple of analogies to the Pats:

    1. After Polian got the refs refocused on calling PI/Holding, BB has really transformed the Pats pretty dramatically on offense this year most notably with the receivers investment. It's a different team than recent vintages, and may prove to be even better soon than 2003-4.

    2. Even more important: let's say the Pats do run the table to 19-0 and win the SB this year. Does anyone doubt for a second that Belichick and Pioli would not hesitate for a second to do the equivalent of what Tiger did--and make a bunch of tranformative changes in the interest of making the Pats even stronger for 2008-2009-2010? That would take a lot of courage when all the media would be trumpeting all the "greatest team ever" stuff, and "How can they keep this talent together" when BB is ignoring that completely and starts overhauling major parts of the D or O or whatever he assesses can somehow be even better.
     
  5. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

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    This is an excellent point. Many games change complexion completely on a sequence of two or three plays. The two you pointed out above definitely changed the complexion of Monday's game.

    You have two points here intertwined and both are good. The first one, regarding the abandonment of the running game starting to give defenses a leg up needs to be fixed. Teams don't respect the running game. Teams aren't caught off guard. The Pats need to get back to what they did vs. Washington...run it when they aren't expecting it, then kill them with play-action. The second point, that Maroney in the huddle likely tells the D a run is coming, is Tendencies 101 that the Pats need to break. Hopefully those Maroney long gainers on passes will be a sign of more to come as the Pats continue to break that trend.

    I think in the Eagles game the Pats weren't so much tired, but rather made an effort to contain Westbrook and dare Feeley to beat them...and he almost did. I give Feeley the bulk of the credit for that performance. In the Ravens game, the D did look tired as the only weapon worth stopping was McGahee and the Pats failed miserably for 3 quarters in doing so. Resting up during this short week before Pittsburgh comes to town is wise to say the least.

    The bold says it all and the Tiger comparison is apt.

    I missed that thread and would have loved to throw in my two cents. Indeed Monday's game was one of the most entertaining and exciting. It's up there with the 2003 back-to-back games @Houston and @Indy, but it might come up short against 2002 @Champaign (Bears).

    Regards,
    Chris
     
  6. patsox23

    patsox23 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    It's a shame this thread is, so far, just a love-fest, but I did want to say that the Tiger Woods comparison is apt. I also think that, whether BB makes a concerted effort in that direction or not, this team is in for a pretty significant overhaul once the season ends.
     
  7. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

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    Hey, when he's right...he's right.

    Regards,
    Chris
     
  8. patsox23

    patsox23 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    LOL, I know. I meant to say that so far (I hadn't seen your post yet) it was a two-person love-fest, but that sounded odd.
     
  9. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

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    Once the media (and thus the casual fan) made it clear that the Giants game on NFL Network (owned by the NFL) could go one of two ways:

    1) Pats are undefeated. History could be made on NFL Network. Call your cable operators now.

    2) Pats have a loss but still clinch HFA, Giants are locked into 5th seed. Starters will make cameo appearance. Only the players' Moms are interested in watching this game (and they are doing other things at the same time). Phonelines at the cable companies are silent.

    I keep saying this and firmly believe it is true...this is on purpose. The Pats are trying to win but they are not showing everything they have. The Pats have plays that should be effective (TE screen, Maroney dumpoffs, middle screen, stretch run, etc.) that are infrequently or never used...meaning not on tape for playoff opponents to see.

    If you are an opponent coming to Foxboro in January, what are you going to be prepared to defend? I'm going to put together a gameplan with lots of folks in coverage, being physical with the receivers, different variations of players off the edge, etc. You know this, I know this, Belichick knows this. Thanks to the Eagles, Ravens and likely Steelers, Belichick is getting a good look at what the Pats will need to beat in January. So I expect 2 things to happen:

    1) The Pats to continue playing a pass-heavy spread offense through the rest of the regular season, with occasional peeks at some different wrinkles.
    2) The Pats to unleash new looks in the playoffs that defenses are completely unprepared to defend.
     
  10. hartleeyikes

    hartleeyikes Rookie

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    This has been making me wonder whether or not it's Maroney's non-running (i.e. pass protection) that's been keeping him off the field rather than his running? Could this be a place where his shoulder injury has still been holding him back?
     
  11. Metaphors

    Metaphors In the Starting Line-Up

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    I could be wrong since I don't have a tape where I can go back and check...but I seem to remember Maroney doing a fine job in pass protection against the Ravens. Anyone see anything different?
     
  12. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

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    I believe Maroney lacks in pass-blocking skills. He whiffed on Merriman in week 2, allowing a sack. In the rare moments he's on the field for passing plays, he's either taking the fake handoff on play-action or is actually running a pattern.

    Regards,
    Chris
     
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