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Week Four Thoughts and Notes

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  1. jays52

    jays52 Rookie

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    Overall, good win. I thought that the team played exceptionally well, and generally controlled the game until the Suggs play. I also thought that Baltimore deserves all the credit in the world. That is the best team NE has faced all year, and they are truly the real deal. Ray Rice is an exceptional back. I had no idea just how explosive he is. He's going to be a player for some time in this league. I was impressed that NE was able to run the ball with even mild effectiveness against that defense. I thought that the NE defense is continuing to improve, and the more I watch them the more I like them. Being a defense guy, let's take a look at that first.

    How good does it feel to have some safeties again?! I think that safety is the most undervalued position in football, and when a team has guys who can make plays back there, it opens up a lot for the defense. Meriweather has really developed. I thought that he was going to be good, but never this good. He is improving game to game and is on the cusp of becoming an elite safety. He looks like a player who gets the scheme and feels comfortable enough to enable his talent to shine. His closing speed is exceptional, and his ball skills are really emerging nicely. He is going to be a key component of this defense moving forward. McGowan continues to impress me as well. He has been a real gem of a find. For the second consecutive week, they have shut down a top tier tight end.

    Darius Butler is emerging. He probably has the best raw coverage skills of any corner on the team as it stands right now. His footwork and speed was no question coming out in the draft, but it is his ability to combine these into the ability to stay glued to the receiver that is what impresses me. He's going to be a player. Bodden was looked good today. Not a lights out performance, but solid. An interesting note about his interception. This was a heady play. He read the drop of the quarterback to make his positioning decision. It was a quick drop with quick routes, he understood that with the pressure coming on Flacco, he wouldn't have the time to hit the deep release the receiver broke into. Recognizing this, he made the decision to stay on the hitch and came away with the football. Heady, heady play.

    Gary Guyton remains a work in progress. While I think that he is adjusting well to being the Mike, he needs to improve on the most important attribute of a Mike; getting off of blocks. It is a subtlety that is not often recognized, but it is a tremendous component of the position. Mike backers need to realize that they are going to get blocked on nearly every play in this scheme, and accordingly their production against the run is largely a function of getting off of these blocks. While Guyton has improved this year, he still has a long way to go. When Mayo comes back, the two of them will be fantastic when Guyton shifts back to his more natural fit at Will. Burgess finally came to play today. It seems like he is starting to grasp the scheme, and is beginning to play with greater confidence. Today, I saw a player who looked comfortable in his assignments. Let's hope that he continues to improve. TBC was again productive. I have found this year that I need to keep reminding myself that Tully is indeed Tully Banta-Cain. He is playing at a very high level.

    Mike Wright, Jarvis Green, Tiny, and Wilfork all played exceptionally well today. Turdell Sands is also a large human being. I love watching this defense line not only generate push but get in the backfield and become disruptive. These guys are all good players, and it is nice to see them be able to penetrate.

    As a whole, the defense remains the strong unit on the team. I was encouraged by not only the creative pass blitzes, but by the well executed run blitzes. It seems like the team is allowing it's players to take the leash off and get after it. Pressure came in every shape, and it was productive pressure at that. Wonderful to see. I would like to see the unit become a little better on third down, however. Too frequently, the until will create 3rd and 7 to 3rd and 10 yet loose on 3rd down. Great defenses are ultimately great because they can win on third down. The unit is elite on 1st and 2nd, but will need to shore up 3rd down in order to get to that next level. That being said, the next level is one of an elite unit. They're not there yet, but eventually they will be.

    Offensively, the trends continue. Brady looked the best he has looked all year today. Moss was tremendous in his blocking. Morris had a great game. Logan Mankins was incredible today. He did a tremendous job in blocking Ngata. Ngata is as good a lineman as there is in the NFL, and for the most part Mankins won the matchup today. It was clear that he was assigned to block Ngata, and he executed effectively. While I like Matt Light, and think that he is still a good tackle, I think that when he is beaten, he is beaten badly. I think that it is only going to be a matter of time until Vollmer cracks the lineup.

    I also think that I am finally going to give up on Maroney. I tried to defend him, I tried to stay patient, I just think that the time has come to recognize that he just doesn't know how to play runningback in the NFL. While there is no doubting his ability, he just doesn't know how to play the position. I think that he can be a productive player when placed in open field situations, but it's time to give up on him as an actual runner. I'm also still patiently waiting for the team to get away from the zone. They just can't execute that inside zone, and it nearly always results in a negative play. They have great pulling linemen, and it's time to go with that as the bread and butter. Nevermind how effective it is against penetration.

    All in all, the team continues to develop into what it will be at the end of the year. Each week, my excitement is building. I can see both units improving, can see the creativity in the schemes increasing, and can feel the units gelling. While the team is currently one of the better teams in the NFL, there is no question in my mind that they are on their way to becoming a juggernaut. They're still a few weeks away, but when it all comes together, this is going to be the best Patriots team since '04. Great win and the team continues to emerge into what I thought they can become.
  2. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    Great assessment and analysis.

    I think it's only a matter of time before Butler starts.

    I agree with the assessment on Guyton. He has to start shedding blocks and play like a true two-gapper. On that key run by Rice, Guyton was unable to shed the block, mostly because he didn't keep the blocker in front of him as a two-gapper does.

    I think you mean Terdell Sands; he was far from being a Turd.. :D

    On the few plays I saw him in, he was really driving the line backwards. Someone called him a King Tiger Tank (which was an absolutely unstoppable tank the Germans build during WWII) and I think that assessment is spot on.
  3. sieglo

    sieglo Rookie

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    Great opening post. I agree that the defense came to play today, and that the offense continues to look sharper. The thing that blows me away is that Flacco and the Sh1tbirds' offense moved the ball pretty well, and the game was almost lost in the final seconds, on an unforced error by a Ravens receiver. Pass defense still seems soft.

    On the flip side, credit where credit is due.... I think the Ravens offense is very, very good.... Funny that it's the Pats D and the Ravens O which seem to be the better units so far this year. Hell of a matchup today.
  4. Mack Herron

    Mack Herron Rookie

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    #24 Jersey

    Thanks to Pees for getting after it to day and letting us see the strength and speed this defense has. Pressure on the QB was relentless and Meriweather and the DBs were in receivers jerseys like we have not seen in years. Wright adn the line were impressive all day. Sanders had a tough day, letting Mason get by him for a would be deep pass that Meriweather came over and saved his ass, then he whiffed on Rice and let up a huge run. How long before Brandon McGowan (and Chung?) gets all his minutes? Springs Bodden and Butler were very strong on coverage.

    On offense, I thought the coaching was great, as they managed to mix it up and get some tough run yards against a monster defense. Brady showed better mobility but far from perfect. Sammy Morris was the man in the backfield and Watson contues to have a strong showing. Light got beat on the defensive TD, but you gotta wonder why the coaches aren't giving him some help with a chip in that position. The negatives are Maroney unable to find or create aany daylight on returns or out of the backfield (<1ypc). Faulk had a good game but coughed it up on the return, leaving them pretty thin in the return game.

    Moving forward, I'd like to see Darius Butler get some returns as I've seen enough of Maroney. Morris and Taylor should get more carries out of hte backfield. While I applaud BB for acknowledging the Gallloway experiment has crashed and burned, they need a little help at WR and they get nothing from Lewis and Galloway and Edleman only caught one ball, and Moss only two. The need at WR and returns does point towards Tate, but a rookie WR with no training camp coming off an ACL is not likely to make it to the roster. I think Nunn could find his way onto the field (why else is he on the PS?).

    All in all, a great game today and next week they look to knock off another undefeated team and start to establish a little early confidence.
  5. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Baltimore is a complete and balanced team. They have solid defense, Flacco looks like the real deal, and Ray Rice is terrific. To run for 85 tough yards and 2 TDs and maintain a balanced offense (32 passes, 30 rushes) while dominating the TOP (34:56 to 25:04) was huge. Makes me feel much better for being able to slug it out in the cold and playoffs.

    I've been high on our secondary since OTAs. Butler shined in the 4th quarter - he blanketed Clayton in the end zone, and really popped him right as he was about to make another catch. Everyone is blaming Clayton for dropping that last catchable pass, but I think a big reason is that he was looking for #28 to be all over him. I just hope the FO is working on an extension with Bodden.

    Our safeties are really evolving, even without Chung. Meriweather is becoming elite - he outplayed Ed Reed today. McGowan is a stud. I'm amazed that so many people think that Louis Delmas and Meriweather wouldn't have been a good fit together, when McGowan and Meriweather are such a nice fit. Though if we had known what McGowan would be, I would have used #34 on a pass rushing OLB.

    Terdell Sands is one big guy. There was one shot of him next to Wilfork, and he absolutely dwarfed Vince.

    Guyton has improved a lot. The whole Mayo injury thing has been a crash course for him, and he has risen to the challenge. This will end up paying dividends for us once Mayo returns. Overall, our front 7 did a good job collapsing the pocket, getting pressure on Flacco, and handling the run.

    I saw much more aggressiveness and creativity on defense. The dual safety blitz where McGowan and Sanders sandwiched Flacco was a thing of beauty. The defense is getting some confidence and an attitude, and is starting to make some big plays. The coaching staff seems to finally realize that they have a different kind of defense, and are beginning to play with their new toys. Once Mayo comes back it should improve signficantly.

    However, I agree that our 3rd down and red zone defense was not what I would have liked. The coverage on 3rd and goal form the 20 on the first touchdown was terrible, and we let the Ravens convert way too many big 3rd down plays. We're good, but definitely a long way from "elite".

    Mankins did a fabulous job against Ngata. The RB corps did well overall against a tough Ravens rushing defense. I would have liked to see more TE activity, including Chris Baker, who didn't have a catch, and more of Edelman and Welker at the same time. I think we'll see more experimentation with this in the next 3 weeks. Did Matthews even play?

    I haven't given up on LoMo yet. He is an outstanding weapon in the open field. Kevin Faulk wasn't a particular success here his first 3+ years. I wouldn't judge LoMo based on how he did against the Ravens.

    We're 3-1 at the quarter point of the season and tied for the AFC East lead. Less than 8 days ago the media was suggesting that the Patriots' glory days were over. Now we'll have trouble flying under the radar.

    Offensively, we rank in the top 10 in total yards and passing. Our running game is over 100 YPG. Defensively, we rank in the top 10 in points allowed, total yardage, passing yardage, and rushing yardage.

    Next week we face the undefeated donkeys. They held Dallas to 10 points, and are averaging under 7 PPG. They will be a good test of our offense, particularly in the red zone and with our running game. No one should take Denver lightly.

    We're still a work in progress. But the signs of an elite team are there. Let's work on avoiding a letdown next week.
  6. italia44

    italia44 Rookie

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    Watch the close-up replay of the fade pass in the EZ.......the pass was perfect and Darius Butler stripped the receiver..............a game changer.
  7. PATSYLICIOUS

    PATSYLICIOUS Rookie

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    Good post.

    To me the defense was better this week than they were last week. They gave up 14 points to what looks like a top offense despite a few very short series's by our offense. Room for improvement and they did get a bit lucky at the end with Clayton's drop but I really liked what I saw. My only major complaint is the 3rd and goal from the 20 giving up a TD - that is unacceptable. Last week they were not on the field much so they looked alot better than they really were IMO.

    Burgess had some nice hurries but just some brilliant throws by Flacco early on. Flacco is the real deal, at least before January.

    Offense looked great as well aside from the Brady fumble and the last series.

    3-1 is very good for a team trying to find itself on both sides of the ball and without one of it's best players. I'm excited.

    Hope the Baltimore lineman is okay.
  8. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    I said this in the post-game discussion and got toasted. Thanks for confirming what I thought I saw. McGowan was also in his field of vision.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2009
  9. SidelineSid

    SidelineSid Rookie

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    Speaking of Sanders, were there any notable plays that he made in this game? Other than the run where he flat out whiffed bally, were there any positive things that we can take from his performance? I'm just curious if someone saw anything that I haven't.
  10. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The way I saw the last 4 Baltimore plays of the game was as follows:

    1. On 1st and 10 from the NE 20 with 1:32 left Flacco lofted a perfect pass to the right side of the NE end zone. Clayton ran a nice route and did a good job of adjusting to the ball, but Butler had him perfectly blanketed and blocked his view of the ball, so that he did not handle it cleanly. Incomplete pass instead of what would otherwise have likely been a game-winning touchdown.

    2. On 2nd and 10 Flacco made a 6 yard completion to Kelly Washington.

    3. With less than a minute and one timeout left and the NE defense having played the run well all game, Flacco was forced to pass on 3rd and 4. He threw a perfect pass to Derick Mason which hit him right in the numbers but Butler timed his hit perfectly and crushed Mason right as the ball arrived. Incompletion instead of a 1st down.

    4. With 35 seconds left and 4th and 4, the same issues applied as on third down. This time Clayton had a little space, but tried to run before he caught the ball. Bad mistake. But after being blanketed by Butler and the blanket coverage and hit Butler had made on Mason the play before, I think he was trying to make a move to avoid the hit before making sure that he caught the ball. He may also have been trying to make something happen before making sure he caught the ball. And, as you note, Wilhite partially blocked his view.

    That's the way I say it. Sure, it's a makeable catch and Clayton deserves to be criticized, but I think the defensive coverage had something to do with it, too.
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