October 23, 2013
Grogan's Grade: Week 7 - New England at NY Jets
BY: Steve Grogan
R.R. Marshall: Steve by now all of New England is familiar with Rule 913 in the NFL rule book that cost the Patriots a victory on Sunday. The NFL confirmed that it was the first time all season that call had been made, should the referee had kept the flag in his pocket given the circumstances?
Steve Grogan:I believe he should have. I know people will say that Patriots fans are biased, the rule's a rule, but the way the rule as I understand it was written, it said a second level player cannot push one of his own players and Chris Jones wasn't on the second level. And I could read the lips of one of the coaches on the sidelines when Belichick was talking to the officials, I saw him say, "that's not what the rule says." So I think the Patriots were stretching the edge of rule by offsetting him a little bit, but the way the rule was written, that flag should never have been thrown.
The other thing, you don't want the officials deciding what will happen unless a penalty affects the outcome of the game, at that particular time usually they will not throw the flag. For instance, if you're running a sweep to the right and the left tackle holds the right defensive end, it's away from the play, it doesn't affect the play, they don't throw the flag. At the end of the game, when they throw the Hail Mary, guys are pushing and shoving, there's pass interference all over, they don't throw the flag. In this case, the likelihood of making a 56 yard field goal field goal was slim to none, and the flag should have just stayed in his pocket in my opinion.
RRM: As a former player, is that just about the worst way to lose a football game?
SG:Yes, it really is. I'm trying to remember, we played I think it was Los Angeles back in the 80's and we had a holding call on a short field goal attempt with about five seconds left on the clock and because there was an offensive penalty, there was a clock runoff and the game went into overtime and we wound up losing. So anytime at the end of the game when a penalty affects the outcome and you lose, it's a very disappointing way to lose.
RRM: What made the loss even tougher to take was that the Patriots seemed to be in control of the game leading by 11 points at halftime. Then came what Logan Mankins himself called, "that horrible third quarter?"
SG:Yes, they played well in the first half. I thought they really had everything under control, dominated the Jets. I'm not sure if it was the Jets making adjustments at halftime, I don't think they did a whole lot differently than they did in the first half, but the Patriots just didn't seem to have their head in the game, particularly in the third quarter but most of the second half also.
RRM: The game featured the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who wasn't supposed to play the entire game but still grabbed eight balls for 114 yards. As great as it was to have him back and with the way he played, the two balls that he missed that could have gone for scores kind of stood out?
SG:And that's going to happen when a guy comes back from a long layoff. Even though you've been practicing for weeks, it's at another level, another speed when the game comes around. I thought he played well for the first time back. You expected Rob here or there, I really thought Tom Brady got a little too locked into Gronkowski Sunday. I think he threw him the ball seventeen times, he caught eight. Seventeen times to throw the ball at one player is probably a little too much, you need to be spreading it around to keep the defense honest. I know why he did it, he's very comfortable with Gronkowski and probably felt like he was the only guy on the field that he was that comfortable with, but you just can't lock in on one guy the whole game.
RRM: Tom Brady has taken a lot of heat over these first six games for some inconsistent play. But I thought what really manifested in this game was the problems experienced by the Patriots usually solid offensive line. Didn't you think that they got totally outplayed by the Jets defensive front for most of that second half?
SG:I thought the offensive line didn't play very well in the second half. They weren't able to run the ball or they didn't try to run the ball. Brady was rushed considerably in the second half. The offensive line was struggling and when your offensive line is struggling, it makes the quarterback's job much more difficult.
RRM: After what you've seen from the Jets in these two games, do you expect them to remain in contention, or have Patriots fans seen the last of Rex Ryan on the opposite sidelines?
SG:I believe they'll probably stay in contention down to the end. They have a solid defensive football team, a young quarterback that looks like he's becoming more comfortable with what he needs to do and how to get it done, and based on what I saw Sunday and what I saw when they played the Patriots the first time around, they should be in the hunt toward the end, at least for a Wild Card spot.
RRM: As frustrating as the loss was, at least Patriots fans can take some satisfaction in seeing Peyton Manning falling from the ranks of the unbeaten in his homecoming in Indianapolis Sunday night. I don't know about you, but I'm actually coming to the conclusion that there are no clear cut favorites for the AFC Title this year?
SG:No, I think that Denver was everybody's clear cut favorite until Sunday night but I think they showed that they're not invincible. Kansas City's playing really good football right now. I think they have a tremendous defense and an offense that just doesn't get in the way of the defense, but I think they're beatable. So I think you're right, the thing's wide open at this point. Nobody's really going to run away with it.
RRM: Well the revamped Miami Dolphins are in town this Sunday, coming off a loss to the lowly Buffalo Bills at home, no less. Suddenly this becomes a very important Divisional contest for the Patriots. I guess it goes without saying that being 6-2 as opposed to 5-3 is just huge for the Patriots, considering they're reaching the midway point in the season?
SG:This was the team that everybody predicted would give the Patriots a run in the Division this year, that hasn't materialized. They've got some talent on their football team, but they're just not playing real well right now. But that's the kind of team that scares you. Fortunately the Patriots are getting them at home, which should give them somewhat of an advantage. But it's a Divisional game and if you lose another Divisional game, you're letting everybody back in the picture and they just absolutely can't let that happen.
RRM: The Dolphins have cast their lot with quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who we saw a little bit of last year. From what you've seen so far, do you think he can lead Miami to a postseason birth?
SG:I haven't seen much of him, but I don't think they have all the weapons there yet for him to make a run to be in contention. He's a solid young quarterback, but he needs more help down there at this point. They went out and signed Mike Wallace, but he's not really lighting it up. I just don't see them being a contender at the end, but I think they could jump up and bite a few people along the way when they least expect it.
RRM: Hopefully not this Sunday [Laughs].
SG:Hopefully not this Sunday.
RRM: Miami loves to run the football and will undoubtedly try to attack the suddenly soft center of the New England defense. After what we saw against the Jets, can Bill Belichick scheme around this week spot in the middle of his defense?
SG:I think he's got his work cut out for him as far as stopping the running game. I don't know how long it's going to be until [Tommy] Kelly gets back, but with Vince Wilfork out and Jerod Mayo out, it became obvious Sunday that the interior of the defense is not nearly as strong as it would have been with those two guys there. So they're going to have to scheme, they're going to have to do something, but they need to shut down the running game much better than they did Sunday against the Jets.
RRM: Who do you like in the World Series? Will the Red Sox's magical ride continue?
SG:I like the Red Sox. They're a fun team to watch, they're a team with a lot of chemistry, they love to play baseball. It kind of reminds me of our ‘85 team that came out of nowhere, nobody expected us to win, but we had a great bunch of guys that loved to play football and we rode it all the way to the Super Bowl. I like the Red Sox to win the World Series.
RRM: What are Grogan's Grades for the lowly loss to the hated the Jets?
SG:I don't want to be overly critical because I think the Jets are a pretty good football team but this is a tough one to grade. Again, every week it seems to get tough to grade because they played well for one part of the game and then don't play well for another part of the game. I'd have to go with probably just a C, just average across the board. They had the big punt return with Julian Edelman early in the game, which was a great special teams play. And then they had the penalty late in the game that hurts them on special teams, so that's average. The defense played pretty well in the first half, not so well in the second half, same thing for the offense, so I think it's just an average C.
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