October 26, 2004
Grogan's Grade: Week 6
BY: With Steve Grogan & R.R. Marshall
R.R. Marshall: Steve, a 13-7 win by the Patriots over the Jets on Sunday served to cap off a perfect weekend for Boston sports fans. With the Red Sox up two games to none in the World Series and the Patriots still undefeated after six games could things possibly be any better than they are right now?
Steve Grogan: Things have certainly been going in favor of the Boston sports teams lately. The fact that the success of the past few weeks have come at the expense of the dreaded New York teams have made it that much more special. I think some teams are meant to win and I think the Patriots have a team like that, and I believe the Red Sox have one this year. People talk about chemistry in sports and I think both of these teams have the right kind of chemistry. It’s hard to explain but they have it. We may be up late a lot this week but it sure is fun to be a Boston sports fan right now. It could be a lot of fun to have two reigning World Champions in Boston this fall.
RRM: You grew up in Cardinals territory in the Midwest so just where do your loyalties lie for this World Series?
SG: I remember listening to the St. Louis Cardinals on a transistor radio when I was in grade school because there was no major league team in Kansas City at the time. Those loyalties faded a long time ago and I’m pulling for the Sox just as hard as anyone right now. They’re in pretty good shape right now up 2-0 in the series, and if they can grab at least one of the three games in St. Louis they should be in good shape.
RRM: The fact that this was a low-scoring game was surprising considering the history of this series. Did the 13-7 score surprise you as well?
SG: I thought both teams played it pretty close to the vest in this game. It looked like both teams were committed to trying to run the football early and the game plan for both defenses was to try and take away the run, so there wasn’t much going on for awhile. Like everyone else I expected there to be more points on the board but instead we were treated to some pretty good defensive efforts by both teams. This was the first time this season I have seen the Jets defense and I thought they had a pretty good one, and when you face a tough defense you are going to struggle a little at times. They have a couple of pretty good pass rushers and a pretty good secondary. Winning a game against an undefeated team as good as the Jets team is a pretty good accomplishment by the Patriots regardless of the final score.
RRM: As it turned out the game-winning score came right at the end of the first half with the Patriots answering a Jets touchdown with a 62-yard touchdown drive of their own. It appeared Tom Brady could have run that score in himself but instead hit David Patten in the endzone for the touchdown?
SG: If you’ve seen Tom Brady try to run before you know he has to have a lot of room to get very far. He’s just not going to beat anybody in a foot race and he absolutely made the right decision. He has great feet in the pocket and is able to avoid the pass rush like he did on that play, which gave David Patten time to work his way free at the back of the endzone. Keep in mind the Patriots had no timeouts left and if Brady had been brought down short of the goalline time would have expired, so that was a smart play by Brady.
He actually made a heck of a throw, rolling to his right and firing the ball back across his body and sticking it between two defenders. It still amazes me what Tom Brady has been able to do with two of his receivers on the injured list. He’s been in the same offensive system for four years now and he knows it inside and out. As a former quarterback I can tell you when you understand your offensive system that well it helps you perform so much better on the field, and he has certainly played at a high level this season.
RRM: The Patriots ran the ball with Corey Dillon three times to pick up the first down that clinched the game with two minutes to play. If this was last year I don’t think they would have run the ball three straight times in that situation?
SG: You’re right, they probably don’t. They have a lot of confidence in their running game right now with Corey Dillon and with the Patriots offensive line doing a terrific job. The more I watch Dillon play the more I like him. He’s a very patient runner. He had a lot of runs for no gain against the Jets but when he gets the chance to break the big one like he did with the 44-yarder he takes it, and that’s something we haven’t seen around here for a long time.
RRM: Unfortunately it appears the Patriots are down to their third-string fullback after the all-purpose Dan Klecko left the game with an injury. Will Richard Seymour turn the clock back to the 1950’s and become a two-way player next week?
SG: We’ll definitely see him in short yardage situations like he was at the end of the game this week. Hopefully Klecko isn’t too badly hurt. It didn’t look like he really got crunched on the hit that dropped him; it looked like more of a tweak. They may choose to activate the rookie Cedric Cobbs or else they will have to bring someone in here off the street to at least fill a backup role, and you have to hope fullback doesn’t become a problem for them. But things like this don’t seem to bother this team. Over the last year and half they just seem to find someone to plug into any hole that pops up and they get the job done. We’ll see how they handle this one.
RRM: The Patriots defense held the Jets to only 268 yards of total offense while making sure Patriot-killers Curtis Martin and Wayne Chrebet were kept in check. All in all not a bad afternoon’s work?
SG: It looked like the defensive game plan from the very start was to shut down Curtis Martin and make Chad Pennington beat them with his arm. The Jets had that good first drive but coughed up the ball, and then for the rest of the game they weren’t able to move the ball consistently. If Pennington is going to beat you he has to get the ball to Chrebet, and the rookie Randall Gay did a heck of a job in coverage on him (1 catch for 18 yards).
On that fourth down play at the end of the game you would think Pennington being a pretty smart quarterback wouldn’t try to thread it into Chrebet with two men on him. It was easy to see that they had him a little confused and frustrated with the coverages on Chrebet. The Jets had experienced good success finding Justin McCareins matched up against Asante Samuel, so that call didn’t make any sense to me. But I’m not calling plays for the Jets now, am I?
RRM: Here we are six weeks into the season and we’ve barely mentioned Adam Vinatieri’s name. It seems we always take him for granted, but once again he came through with two three-pointers that ended up providing the winning margin in the game?
SG: Vinatieri is Mr. Steady, but the funny thing is the less we see of him the better off we are because that means the ball is going in the endzone, although extra points are just fine by me! It is good to know he’s ready whenever they need him to bail them out when they need three-points.
RRM: This Sunday the Patriots take their show on the road for a game with the 5-1 Pittsburgh Steelers. They have a young quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger who is undefeated as a starter but should have his hands full facing a Bill Belichick-coached defense for the first time?
SG: I guarantee you that young Mr. Roethlisberger will see many things that he’s never dreamed of seeing. The Patriots will be throwing the kitchen sink at him to see how he handles it. The Steelers are playing extremely well and they have some weapons like running back Duce Staley and the leading receiver in the conference in Hines Ward. So far their young quarterback seems to be handling everything, but Bill Belichick and Romeo Crennel should make life interesting for him next week. The Steelers will be coming off a bye week which means they will have two weeks to prepare for the Patriots, and I suspect they can do some things in practice with an extra week that they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.
Even though the Steelers have moved to Heinz Field and left Three Rivers Stadium behind their fans can still get pretty whipped up. They have a great tradition down there, but it’s always a great place for a visiting team to play because you know the Steelers usually have a good team and it’s a great atmosphere to play in. Their fans will be loud and excited, and it’s always important to take the crowd out of the game as quickly as possible
RRM: What are Grogan’s Grades for the win over the Jets in Week #6 that brings the winning streak to 21?
SG: I know some people are going to be a little harder on them than I am, but I am going to give them a solid A for this game. I’m going to grade the offense out at a B+. They had pretty decent total yardage numbers but they were far from outstanding. It might not have been an A-type of game on offense but the defense deserves an A+ for their effort against a very good Jets offense. The Jets kept running through Ted Johnson’s area and it was good to see him rack up 10 tackles. He plays solidly every week, and there haven’t been many games where he is involved in a lot of the action but just because you don’t hear his name doesn’t mean he isn’t getting the job done. It was good to see him get some recognition because he remains an integral part of this defense. The Patriots deserve some plaudits for beating an undefeated team in their division, but now it’s time to focus on the task at hand and get ready for the Steelers.
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