Monday Morning Hangover – Some Observations

Ian Logue
January 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm ET

It’s a disappointing day here in New England following yesterday’s 28-21 loss to the Jets, and one day later, here are some thoughts and observations on the game.

  1. The defense did their job yesterday – New England didn’t reach the endzone for the first time yesterday until nearly the fourth quarter of play, scoring on a touchdown to Alge Crumpler with just :15 left in the 3rd.  At that point the score was 14-11, and prior to that they had eight offensive possessions but came away with just 3 points.  Hate to say it, but they played as well as we could have hoped yesterday.
  2. No adjustment on offense was an issue – There are a lot of people questioning the playcalling yesterday, but I was more confused about the lack of adjustment due to what New York was doing.  New England did the right thing by calling that screen to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, it just wasn’t executed well by Tom Brady and he completely overthrew him, and that’s why it was picked off.  From that point on we didn’t really see them go to it again, and with the way the Jets were blitzing, that was an element that seemed to be missing.
    I’m also surprised that we didn’t see New England go into the no huddle sooner yesterday, because it was clear that the Jets had a tough time dealing with substitutions when the tempo of the game increased.  Watching the game again this morning along with looking at the gamebook, we saw five injuries noted during the game by New York, at least three of which seemed to come at strange points in the game that looked like the Jets were trying and slow things down.  They really needed to try and do something to keep New York off balance, and that just didn’t materialize yesterday.
  3. They drafted both tight ends, but really haven’t utilized both completely in the same game – We saw them try and get Rob Gronkowski involved early in the game, but Aaron Hernandez didn’t get much of an opportunity, and they could have used his intensity.  As we know Hernandez has been a guy that they’ve done a good job of getting him out in the open field so he could make plays.  He had just one reception yesterday, but it didn’t seem like he was really in their game plan.  They could have used him on a tight end screen and let him make a play or two to get things going…why they didn’t is somewhat puzzling.
  4. The Welker benching was a non-factor – Obviously Belichick had to do something thanks to Welker’s comments from earlier in the week where he made the repeated foot references during his press conference.  As a result he held him out of the first offensive series, but they still had success early on from Danny Woodhead and Rob Gronkowski on their opening drive.  Unfortunately after seven plays where they had gotten down to the Jets 28, Brady was obviously picked off and that drive came to an end.  Some people out there blame Welker being benched as the reason they stumbled on that drive.  I disagree, it was just a bad throw and I don’t think having Welker in the game at that point would have changed much, although I’m sure there will be people who feel otherwise.
  5. The Fake Punt – bad idea due to the field position –  We learned last night that that call is made based on the match-ups in terms of the number of players and the distance, but I think that has to be decided more based on where they were.  Normally it would have been the right call (and we learned later that Patrick Chung made the decision) – but the wrong part of the field to attempt it on.  They were at their own 38 – had they been closer to midfield I think it would have made more sense to try.  Unfortunately it didn’t work out because Chung dropped the ball, and at that point it ended up giving the Jets great field position.
  6. That 7+ minute drive in the fourth quarter decided the game – Down 21-11 at the 13:00 mark in the fourth quarter, New England was still very much in the game.  However, they burned nearly 8-minutes on a drive that they couldn’t afford to come up empty on.  They ended up turning the ball over on downs with 5:15 left in the game, and that unfortunately was the defining moment in the game.  There was little urgency on that drive and the Deion Branch false start penalty was frustrating, because it came after five straight plays where they had gained yards and were moving the ball. The wide receiver spot should be the last person who should be drawing that penalty, and they seemed to lose momentum after that.   However, to burn that much time off the clock and come away with nothing to show for it, that was obviously tough to overcome.

I think the biggest thing to note is the fact that the defense didn’t get stage fright and the new guys played pretty well, and they did about as much as we could have expected.  They’ll be even better next year with a season under their belt along with guys like Leigh Bodden and Ty Warren hopefully coming back strong next year.

In the end what was missing Sunday was they needed an MVP performance from Brady and the offense, and it just didn’t happen.  They may say defense wins championships, but with a quarterback of his caliber along with some of the new guys they added, three points in three quarters just isn’t enough to win in the playoffs.

  • Dave

    Any clue why they didn’t go no huddle? Brady addressed it but, with respect to Tom, his answer made ZERO sense and REALLY insulted me. I may leave the Brady bandwagon (lifelong member since his first game). It had to do with wanting to call running plays. It was totally stupid answer! Why not call runs from no huddle? Someone screwed the pooch till he bled, and Tom doesn’t want them under the bus. Screw that, money spending fans deserve an answer!!!! It NEVER makes sense to milk the clock down two scores. Zero intensity. Where was Bill? What is wrong with this team? Team of pro bowlers couldn’t have come back from defect milking clock like that. I’m considering ending my life long fandom for Pats if I don’t get an honest answer. Even “we messed up” would do. Just acknowledge it was a mistake. How can we trust them in the future if they say they think this was correct strategy? This is why fans dump teams.

  • To me this game was reminiscent of the Patriots loss in the Divisional Round in Denver in 2005. The blame went all the way around in that game too. Offense, defense, special teams and coaching were not up their usual stellar self. Maybe the talk got their in the head. I think BB picked the wrong time to get cute by benching Welker and even allowing Pat Chung to go outside of his job description and call for a fake punt in the first half. I want to what situation that falls into? It made no sense because the risk outweighed the reward and the Pats paid dearly.

    One thing you did not mention Ian was the absolute lack of a pass rush this team had yesterday. Sanchez does not like pressure and when he gets up from a hit he reacts like Charlie Brown after he used to pitch. Sanchez was good, he was not great on Sunday. He threw one really good pass to Holmes, but he missed on many opportunities. He was hardly pressured. The Pats need a big-time rusher, Tully Banta-Cain was terrible, and it seems like the money he got went to his head. Had the Jets qb played better I think the score ends up being 42-21.

    The future is very bright, the Pats just need a pass rusher, a deep threat, another O-lineman, and some pieces here and there. No one predicted 14-2 and home-field in the AFC. The young guys were great, just imagine what they will be like with another year under their belt and more playoff experience. It’s weird to say it, but the Jets were the more experienced playoff team and they played like it. That will change, that team is mortgaged for 2010, the Pats are ready to roll into a new decade with revenge on their mind.

  • Ganesh

    Agree with your sentiments! I feel Bill Belichick outsmarted himself once again! The game was still there to take inthe 4th quarter… the stupid 7 minute play made even my 9 year old Pats fan mad!! There was no sense of urgency…nothing. If it had been WWE …I would have thought the outcome was already fixed! Everyone was shouting for the kick-off & not a onside kick…Belichick outdid himself again just like the 4th down call against colts… clearly lost the game because of Belichick…time he needs to take the blame like a man!

  • Paula

    The question the Patriots need to ask themselves is “why” didn’t they show up for this game? It wasn’t a regular season game, but a playoff game — at home. Why did they work so hard during the season to get home field advantage and then play so poorly? After listening to the press conferences after the game, I’m surprised no one asked them well if you feel you should have done this or done that differently… then why didn’t you?? “WHY” didn’t you make the adjustments during the game? Pointing fingers at Patrick Chung doesn’t make sense and is not the reason why the Patriots lost. Lots of credit to the Jets because they took it to us and appeared to have wanted it more. Just maybe the Jets remember the 45-3 score and that gave them plenty of incentive to return the favor, not so much with the score but in a playoff game. They fought more and outplayed the Patriots. It’s now a couple consecutive seasons losing the first playoff game at home something the Patriots need to take a closer look at “what’s missing”. It would have been different IF the team played hard and lost, but they didn’t seem to have any heart or fire on the sidelines let alone on the field. They should be ashamed that they embarrassed themselves like that. Period. I had a bad feeling about this game. It’s almost as if they felt it was a formality playing at home. Playoffs? We win at home. Not a good way to think, IF that was their mindset. Perhaps going forward everyone should think – never, ever take it for granted that it’s a guaranteed win: playoff game at home, having Tom Brady and Bill Belichick because it is apparent there are other factors here more powerful than Tom and Bill. And most importantly, anyone can beat you on any given day… a very popular group of words pertaining to sports. Perhaps this team really wasn’t a 14-2 club because nothing they did during the regular season showed up in this playoff game, but the worst part are lingering words of “we should have done this differently”. Should have’s do not win games and this team showed they were not up to the task of adapting to the conditions set forth by the Jets… and for that, they should be ashamed for not giving it their all.