September 21, 2009
Patriots Will Only Get Better From Here
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
Yesterday's loss to the Jets was like the time when you were younger and you played against that guy that talked a lot of you-know-what before the game. Unfortunately even though you were better than he was and would normally beat him, you found yourself so irritated that you just couldn't bring you're A-Game at that very moment and ended up walking away having lost both the game, and your dignity.
That's more or less what I think happened yesterday in New York against a Jets team whose head coach seems to be so fixated on Bill Belichick, I think he may have spent the entire offseason game planning for that matchup.
Let's be honest, the Patriots definitely looked like a team we haven't seen in quite some time. The fact that they kept Brady and company out of the endzone for the first time in almost three years is pretty staggering. Granted the offense struggled last week until late in the game until Brady finally settled in and marched them into the endzone twice to steal a win over the Bills, but yesterday was definitely quite a letdown. Typically a win like the one they managed last week would be enough to give them some momentum and confidence heading into yesterday's game. Yet that didn't happen, and unfortunately Brady looked about as out of sync as we've ever seen him.
Count me as one who grew tired quickly last week of hearing the ESPN announcers talk about how stiff and mechanically unsound Brady looked throwing the football, but I have to say that yesterday that's exactly how he looked. Granted he was without Wes Welker, but Brady wasn't setting his feet or bending his knees, and was diving out of the way each time the Jets sent the blitz. When he did have time to throw, he was rigid and threw quite a few balls off the mark.
We all know that Brady is typically one of the most accurate passers in football. However Sunday he just couldn't connect and on quite a few occasions looked like he wasn't on the same page with the guys he was throwing to. The most egregious number (and most noticeable) was the fact that he and Galloway aren't quite where they need to be just yet. He attempted 12 passes to him Sunday afternoon, connecting just five times. With the lack of depth at that position over the years, Galloway was supposed to give them an extra veteran guy that he could go to in the event that Moss and Welker weren't available. While Edelman (8 receptions for 98 yards) ended the game as their leading receiver, late in the game when he was covered they were in dire need of making several plays on key third downs and needed Galloway to step up, including a 4th down play they desperately needed at the end of the game that he simply couldn't hold on to.
So between his mechanics and getting on the same page with some of these new receivers, Brady obviously isn't in midseason form yet. The good news is (should you be able to maintain some perspective after listening to 60,000+ chanting, "Brady Sucks" yesterday at the Meadowlands), it's week two and we all know that he'll only get better from here.
There are those who want to criticize the defense, but they did about everything they could have done yesterday. Giving up 16 points and holding the opposing quarterback to a mere 163 yards passing in my mind is a successful outing. When you have a team like New England that has the offensive weapons that they do, that should be enough to win most games under those circumstances, but unfortunately yesterday they just simply didn't execute.
The good news is that when Welker is healthy and we have the chance to see both he and Edelman on the field at the same time as Moss and Galloway, should Brady finally settle down and start throwing the football the way we're accustomed to, they're going to be a pretty good football team. So I certainly wouldn't judge a game that was only Brady's second full football game in over a year as a litmus test for the rest of the season. Last year Matt Cassel was a different quarterback by week 16 than he was in week two, and call me crazy but I think Brady has the capability of getting back to playing at a high level, and will also get better as the season gets going.
So game one goes to the Jets, and Rex Ryan can gloat for a week. The bad news is by the time these two teams meet again, it will be much later in the season and the game will be at Gillette Stadium. Belichick has a terrific history against playing teams twice in a season, and I'm sure no one in that locker room was happy about yesterday's loss and they're already looking forward to the rematch.
Pencil November 22nd in on your calendars -- but spend the next few weeks focusing on watching this football team improve. One game, especially just the second one, is not an indication of the season. And mark my words, you can bet that you'll see quite a change in this team in the coming weeks.
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