December 11, 2010
Grogan's Grade: Week 12 - New England vs Jets
BY: Steve Grogan
R.R. Marshall: Steve, what was billed as the Game of the Year turned out to be anything but, as the Patriots turned in this best effort of the season with a 45-3 pasting of the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. What happened to Rexy's boys?
Steve Grogan: There are just certain games where you come out and nothing you do is going right and it starts going downhill and you can not turn it around. The exact same thing happened in Cleveland to the Patriots earlier in the year. The Jets did not look like they knew what they wanted to do. I think they were outcoached by the Patriots coaching staff in this game, I really do. I think their game plan was not what it needed to be, and once things started going wrong it all fell apart for them.
RRM: It was surprising to see Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense operate with such efficiency while having to overcome what was rated as one of the top rated defenses in the NFL but also the extremely cold conditions, but neither factor seemed to slow them down a bit?
SG: It was cold and windy and they ran the ball effectively against the Jets but they did not run it really well. I think their passing game now is that short intermediate throw inside of 12 yards, and when it is like that it is a lot easier to complete those types of passes if you are a vertical team trying to go down the field in windy conditions.
RRM: Supposedly in the bitter cold the ball gets too hard to catch. Is that really the case?
SG: They do a better job now of getting the ball rubbed down before the game and keeping it warm while the game is going on, but it is still not easy. With the gloves the receivers wear now it makes it a lot easier to play in the cold weather, a lot better than in the good old days that's for sure [laughs]. I noticed Tom Brady wasn't wearing a glove on his passing hand and he had short sleeves on. I was impressed; he is a tough guy!
RRM: The much maligned young Patriots' defense seemed to use this opportunity to make this their statement game that have arrived as a top NFL defensive unit. You have to admit they totally shut down the Jets offense and made Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez look pretty woeful?
SG: They played much better and most importantly they played a complete game against the Jets. I kept worrying that they played such a good first half but we have seen them melt down a little in the second half so I was concerned about that. But they played a complete game from start to finish. Although when you look at the stats, they were not overwhelming in favor of the Patriots outside of the passing yardage. The Jets ran the ball fairly effectively against them, but Sanchez did not throw the ball well and had three picks. I think that was key to the Patriots' defense which came up with two big interceptions in the red zone when it appeared that the Jets were going in. When you can make big plays like that it makes it a lot easier to win.
RRM: Patriots fans at Gillette Stadium have been accused of being complacent the past few seasons but they were certainly in force for this one, roaring and making noise from start to finish. It almost seemed like it took this game to get the fans to realize that his edition of the Patriots is indeed worthy of being considered a viable Super Bowl contender?
SG: This was the kind of game a New England crowd really looks forward to. I notice things like that and usually in a blowout game like this by the fourth quarter usually half the crowd has gone home. That crowd Monday night stayed until about the last five minutes. They wanted to see the Jets get trounced and they were not going to go home until the last moment. They were going to stay and watch it. The home crowd is always a huge factor, and it makes the players feel good that the fans are into it for a big name like this one.
If Monday night was any indication I would have to say the Patriots are the best team in football right now. When you are playing a team that is tied with you for the best record in the AFC and you just totally dominate the game it tells me that this is a much better football team than people thought they would be. You can't consider them in the class of their first three championship teams yet, but are they Super Bowl contenders? Absolutely!
RRM: What do you think Bill Belichick said to his club when he gathered them together on the sideline for his impromptu speech in the fourth quarter?
SG: When it happened I thought he was saying we are not going to let off the hammer and we are going to keep hammering these guys. I do not want anybody to let down and I do not want anyone to give them any breaks. We are going to put the pedal to the metal and embarrass the heck out of them. I guess the next day a few of the players said that was essentially what Belichick was telling them, and I think that showed a side of the Patriots' head coach that we don't normally see. Bill Belichick doesn't show his emotions that often but with all the banter being thrown around all over last week leading up to the game I think he really wanted this one.
RRM: Jets head coach Rex Ryan loves to use bravado and puts forth a put up or shut up attitude with his team, but now that they have suffered this humiliating loss to their division rival will they be able to recover that swagger that has become their trademark?
SG: I think Rex Ryan will tell them it was an aberration and that they are still a good football team, and he will get them to believe that. But in the back of the players' minds when you get trounced by a team that you think you are better than there will be some doubts. They will wonder if they are as good as what the coach has been telling them. Until they go out and play somebody else that is a really good team and see where they stand those doubts are still going to be there, and that may cause a problem.
RRM: The feeling is that a colorful coach like Rex Ryan is good for the NFL from a media and public relations perspective. You played for really conservative coaches throughout your career, so would you liked to have played for a coach like Rex Ryan?
SG: I do not think so. I think most players understand you do it on the field, not in the press conferences. A coach would put a lot of pressure on a team by some of the comments he made. I think guys would rather have a coach like Bill Belichick or coaches I played for like Raymond Barry or Chuck Fairbanks. They just go about their business and get the team prepared to play as well as you can play. That's the mark of a good head coach.
RRM: Tom Brady has now set an NFL record for 26 straight home victories. With that kind of a streak and New England now in line to have home field throughout the playoffs that has to become a tremendous disadvantage for any team coming in to Foxboro to play the Patriots in the postseason?
SG: It is a huge advantage. You know the Patriots will make the playoffs and they're going to have home field advantage. You cannot dwell on Monday night's game as they have more challenges ahead of them, and even Green Bay is a pretty good team. They need to keep getting better and working harder because home field advantage can disappear in a hurry if they're not careful.
RRM: As you alluded to the Patriots can't savor this win too long as they have to travel to the frigid Midwest to take on the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon. On paper this appears to be the toughest of the four games remaining on the Patriots' schedule, would you agree?
SG: I have to admit that I have not seen that much of them. I understand the Bears' defense is pretty good but I will take the Patriots' offense against any defense right now. I think Jay Cutler is a guy that Bill Belichick can really scheme against to create some problems for him. Cutler is a quarterback who can have some really great games but he can also have some horrible games. I am not saying he is a bad quarterback but you will not win a whole lot of games with a guy like that. I would expect Bill Belichick will be in his head before the end of the game. It's another short week of preparation for the Patriots and with a young team on defense you worry about that a little bit, but I feel they are maturing quickly and they will have it figured out by Sunday.
RRM: Jay Cutler wasn't Josh McDaniels' choice for a quarterback so he shipped him out of Denver. Now Cutler has the Bears on top of their division with a 9-3 record and McDaniels is out of a job after being fired by the Broncos last week. Such is life in the NFL I guess?
SG: It is a crazy game. Josh McDaniels goes to Denver and starts out 6-0 and everyone loves him. They think he is going to be the next coming of Bill Belichick or Vince Lombardi, and within a year he is out of work. I feel badly for him. I think he is a good kid, a good coach in the league but he just did not have the right people around him.
RRM: What are Grogan's Grades for the overwhelming trouncing of the archrival New York Jets?
SG: This was an A+ effort by everyone all the way around. There were a couple of things you could knit pick about but not for a victory like this. The Patriots' offense was consistently moving the ball and putting it in the endzone and conversely the defense gave up some yards but kept the Jets out of the endzone.
The New England special teams were just great. Shayne Graham made a long field goal and he made some good kickoffs into the wind. I also believe you have to give a shout out to the offensive line. This is a Jets team that was supposed to be able to pressure any quarterback in the league and Tom Brady had all the protection he needed. There were a few times he was hurried but a lot of times he just sat back there and picked people out. The Patriots offensive line has really been solid, especially with the return of their leader Logan Mankins. Now they have to follow up this win with a good effort on the road in a hostile environment. Bill Belichick's teams usually don't lose many games in December, and we will soon find out if this team will take on that same characteristic.
Grogan's Grades for Game #12
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