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patfanken

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I think I have mentioned that Bill Belichick has often told us that winning in the NFL is HARD, very hard; so no matter the warts on this one, it is still a beautiful thing. Besides as when the season winds down in December, no one will care about style points from the first week in October. BUT on the other hand, this isn't December and as longtime Pats fans, warts are ALL we want to talk about. So let us get started. I'm in my room at Foxwoods (a poker tournament) and I have to be up early.

I had a bad feeling about this game. On one hand, NO one gets his team more ready to play on a short week than Bill Belichick. On the other hand, there is no more built-in disadvantage in the NFL than being the road team on a Thursday night game. This is especially challenging when you have a defense in complete disarray due to communication issues. Hard to think that that would be resolved on such a short week. Also not only were they on the road they were playing ANOTHER team who seemed to have the "blueprint" to punish this defense, big WR's, speed on the outside, a mobile QB and a decent run game. Going into the game if you wanted to look at a worse case scenario for the Pats, THIS was it. And THEN we find out Gronk wouldn't be playing. :eek:

OFFENSE-

1. QB - With all the issues the defense looked like it was coming into, the last thing you would have expected was a very mediocre game (relatively speaking) from Brady. 2 Turnovers and a few missed open receivers really wrecked havoc on the offense. It also didn't help that the offense had HORRIBLE field position for most of the night, so drives of 50 yds ended in punts, and one drive of 89 yd ended in a FG. Not to mention the 12 penalties, didn't help either (but more on that later)

The bottom line - Brady had a decent game with a number of superb throws and decisions. But he also had his share of clunkers too, and 2 consecutive 3 and outs when you are trying to hold on to a 9 point lead was NOT impressive, to say the least. Add that to the things to do list for the next 10 days.

BTW- interesting note when I looked over the stats, IIRC last week by the end of the first quarter, Brady had hit 8 different receivers. In this game only 5 guys caught balls. I don't know if this was the game plan or what, but it could be an interesting discussion point.

2. RB- Best game yet for Lewis and Gillislee. Tampa has a decent run D and Dion and Mike combined to average a healthy 5.7 ypc on 19 carries. I thought in the 4th quarter Gillislee was grabbing the back of his leg after a run, so I was happy to see him on that last drive. BTW - When Mike was with the Bills he proved he was a very capable receiver. I wish the Pats used him more in that capacity if only to avoid repeating the LGB syndrome of if Gillislee is in there, it will be a run

Note to Josh - Even though he is having his best year as a RB, when given the option, please use Lewis instead.

Next note to Josh - Please don't run short yardage offense runs with your OL in a 2 point stance. It is a recipe for failure.

Last note to Josh: And for god sakes, NEVER run a 3rd and short down without at least SOME kind of run threat. Why make it easy on the defense.

3. OL - Best game of run blocking. Pass protection..... not so much. But I'm thinking it was NOT as bad as it seemed. I know the sack stats and the QB hit stats. But a lot of things go into a successful pass play than just the 5 guys on the OL.

A few times the pressure came from the guy the Pats had Duane Allen blocking one on one. Whatever matchup they were hoping to get....they didn't get it. Allen was overpowered a few times.

Shaq Mason will be credited with giving up a sack when Brady ran right into McCoy, who had been stoned by Mason near the LOS. There was another when Brady had plenty of time and time ran out. The 3rd sack (and most painful to watch) was the Blitzer who came in untouched, while Allen was being blown back by the guy on the other side. And some of the QB hits were more than a bit late, IMHO, yet they all still count on someone's "nextgen stats" blog and look bad.

Also remember that probably because Gronk wasn't there, the game plan often had the RB going out on a route immediately, leaving Brady with one less guy in protection.

Finally, it was mentioned again that they thought Solder isn't healthy. The guy is taking a beating in the media (as well as here). If he is gutting it out with some health issue, it would be a good time to let people know, so it will take the pressure off him.

4. Receivers - I think we call can say it now. Danny Amendola is a bargain. He's getting all the JE11 targets and has produced in spades. In a sense, he's shown that BB wasn't crazy to give him that money when he signed. Who knows what Edelman's career would have ended up being had DA been healthy his first year here. He had beaten out Julian to be the starting slot man out of TC, and had a 100 yd game in his first outing despite being hurt. This might still end up being his last season with the Pats, if it is, he's going out in style. The guy is not only clutch but fearless as well.

Cooks made the most of his limited targets, although he had one bad drop early. Hogan now has 4 TD passes in his first 4 games. The last one to do that was Randy Moss in 2007. And while Hogan should never be mentioned in the same breath as Randy Moss, he STILL has shown significant improvement in his 2nd year. Makes me look forward to what Cooks will bring to the table next season in HIS 2nd year.

Zero Catches by any TE, and a 1-3 record converting in the red zone. Coincidence? I don't think so. Add this to the other notes to Josh. ;)

5. Overall, it is heartening to see that the Bucs had only a 30% success rate in converting on 3rd down (4/13), its more than a little disturbing that the Pats were only slightly better at 4/12 (33%) That is NOT what you'd expect from the league's best offense. Add that to the growing list of things to get better at this week+

6 DEFENSE -

Front Seven - outside of that one series where Martin ran for 48 of his 74 yds, the run defense really wasn't that bad. Most of 48 yds came on great runs (along with missed tackles) from a 2-time pro bowler with two 1400 yd seasons. The rest of the game the Pats controlled the Tampa run game including one big 3rd and short stop.

As far as the rush goes, it wasn't as good as we'd like but showed continued improvement. Winston was corralled most of the time (11 yds rushing) and pressured and hit quite a bit (I'd be interested in seeing the final stats on that. All I know at this point is that they managed just one less sack on Winston than the Bucs had on Brady (2-3).

BTW- Wise had another sack and a man-sized hand to the face penalty. ;)

On a negative note - Hightower has yet to make a significant play this season in the 2 games he's played. He also got big bucks this offseason too. Last night he had just 2 tackles. I did like that Patricia had him playing in the middle on some passing down to mirror Winston. But we are paying Hightower to make some big plays and have an impact on the defense that goes beyond aiding in the communication on the field and having a green dot on his helmet. In comparison, Van Noy was in on 7 tackles with a half sack. Any QB hits at least?

Secondary -

McCourty heard the criticism and responded with a great night. Not only did he defend the pass well, he had 11 unassisted tackles, and pretty much played like his hair was on fire. Chung was equally impressive. Even Steven Gilmore had 5 unassisted tackles, although he had one miss, a hard hit, but didn't wrap.

Butler had his best game of the year overall, although he too had one play where a bad angle allowed Jackson to turn a 15 yd completion into a 41 yd gain he was beaten badly by Jackson on an overthrown pass deep. Both he and Gilmore had multiple pass defenses, and best of all, there was only one pass that I can recall that didn't at least have a defender in the vicinity, unlike last week.

I'm guessing that when we watched the replay, we will find that Patricia simplified his defense, and played mostly zone coverages, which eliminated a lot of potential confusion that can arise in man vs certain formations and motions.

I know the Winston threw for over 240 yds in the 4th quarter, but I'd like to think that a lot of that yardage was the result of the Pats softening their zones in typical Belichickian style to lead the clock. It almost didn't work out. I would think that when you hold an NFL offense to under 70 yds in the first 3 quarters, you wouldn't back off that strategy just because you have a 9 point lead. Consider that a note to Matty P. ;)

It was a solid performance, and the point total is fine. But the last quarter also showed us that there is still a lot of work to be done and this long week should HOPEFULLY contribute to a continued improvement on tonight. This is the NFL so you get better or eventually you die.

7. Special teams - were in a word GREAT - From Gotskowski's 4 clutch FG's (especially the last 2) to Allen's precision punting, the great coverage on punts and KO's, and Ebner's fearless play on the onside kick. Special teams were pretty much flawless. Not much more I can add, especially this late at night.

8. Miscellaneous

a. I bet Koetter is going to get a lot of heat for not going for it on 4th and short and sending Folk out there to try and make a 49 yarder into the wind while he was having a bad night. On the surface, it is a defendable call, but given the all the circumstances, I would have gone for it.

b. The Pats once again lost the penalty war amassing 12 penalties for over 100 yds, including FOUR that gave the Bucs first downs, often on a 3rd down play. Now it should be notted the refs also called a fair amount on the Bucs (unlike last week) 9 for 70 yds. This will never be a championship caliber team unless THIS area of the game improves. The call on Boldin was a perfect example of this year's lack of mental discipline. There was no earthly reason for him to cross the LOS. I was surprised Bill's head didn't explode on national television.

That being said, I have a question. Wasn't there a time when a player could cross the neutral zone, and if he got back without making contact, or causing the offense to move before the ball was snapped there wouldn't be a flag. Has this rule change and merely crossing the LOS automatically triggers a flag?

c. Is it only me or have any of you ever heard of a "pealback block" penalty before tonight. Seems strange that almost every week see the Pats get tagged with some obscure rule. Solder is having a tough enough season as it is. BTW- I would like to compare what he did to get a 15 yd penalty to what the Bucs got with that so-called block in the back, which looked like a blatant clip to me and should have been 15. Just sayin'

d. After listing to Romo and Nance tonight the thought of knowing I will have to listen to Fouts and Eagle 3 more times this season fills me with despair. ;) Romo once again proved he's an A+ right out the box. Ideally, we'd like to think he'd only improve as he gets more experience, but it might do the opposite.

e. ON to the surprising Jets on the road followed by the Chargers and Falcons at home. They REALLY Need to be 6-2 at the bye because they will take on a horrendous road trip from hell over 5 of the next 6 games including road games against the Raiders, Broncos, and Steelers. The Jets are always tough at home, and the Falcons are off to pretty good start and will be on a mission to prove that the best team didn't win the Superbowl.

f. I really wanted to piss on Cam Newton's so-called apology. At the time he might have meant it as a joke, but it still doesn't make it right. I think it is another example of an althete not understanding the power of his words. I like that he didn't read from some PR flack's script. Instead, he winged it, and when he told kids NOT to be like him, but rather be better than him; he got me to believe it was a sincere attempt to make amends. Just my personal interpretation.

Summary - A win is a win is a win. The team is improving and will need to keep on improving as the schedule only gets harder as the year goes on.

Well I hope you are happy. It's past 3AM and if I get knocked out tomorrow I will have a ready excuse. Regardless of what happens now, it WON'T be my fault. (just like the president). Fortunately, I'm in the money so I will at least win something. I got that much going for me...at least. Good night ;)
 

archstanton543

In the Starting Line-Up
6 DEFENSE -

On a negative note - Hightower has yet to make a significant play this season in the 2 games he's played. He also got big bucks this offseason too. Last night he had just 2 tackles. I did like that Patricia had him playing in the middle on some passing down to mirror Winston. But we are paying Hightower to make some big plays and have an impact on the defense that goes beyond aiding in the communication on the field and having a green dot on his helmet. In comparison, Van Noy was in on 7 tackles with a half sack. Any QB hits at least?

But....Hightower made some impact plays last week. He even had a sack (if memory serves). Let the guy get healthy and then we'll see what he is this year.
 

luuked

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Even Steven Gilmore had 5 unassisted tackles, although he had one miss, a hard hit, but didn't wrap.

What do you mean even ? You should rewatch some of his Panthers snaps and see that he has been pretty physical, excellent in support and consistently tries to punch the ball free on runs.

I would think that when you hold an NFL offense to under 70 yds in the first 3 quarters, you wouldn't back off that strategy just because you have a 9 point lead. Consider that a note to Matty P.

That thinking is what loses you superbowls. With 10 minutes left in the final quarter and 9 points up your opponent is the game clock and not the Bucs. As long as they dont gain yardage fast (i.e. the Jackson play) and you are milking the clock properly everything the other team gains in that period of time is less valuable.

Now, if the Bucs hit one of the FGs and it becomes a one score game things change again on offense and defense. I get that for some people situational football and playing the odds is frustrating and not particularly intuitive but it is all about risk management.
 
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everlong

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
I think for me it was the frustrating edition.

1. This team has taken more stupid penalties than any I can remember. The back to back roughing the kicker and now the back to back roughing the passer. The Bolden ST offsides for NO reason. The Gilmore second hands to the face in a key spot when you've already been nailed with one that was borderline.

2. I'm not a big blame the refs guy but call it both ways. Brady was getting hit hard and late all night and they didn't flag any of them. Secondly they ruined the flow of this game with the amount of flags. There were so many ones they should have let go on both teams. The offensive PI on DA was a joke. The crack back on Solder he didn't go low. This is the second week in a row I felt like the refs kept the other team in the game. Usually it's a game per year like Carolina 4 years ago, Denver regular season 2015....Andrews has his helmet ripped off and after all the ticky tack hands to the face penalties the last two weeks they let that go. At least Wise earned his.

3. The red zone offense was awful. I know you're down Gronk but that game shouldn't have been close.

4. Brady isn't going to make it through the season if they don't fix the OL. I hope Romo is right and Solder is playing through an injury.

5. The OL still can't block when they have to run and the other team knows it. Overall they did well by the stats but when they could have killed the clock not so much. Just like all the 3rd and 4th and 1's this year.

6. The DL had its moments but again there were some holes you could drive a truck through. If Branch doesn't respond to getting left home they might need to make a trade.

7. Brady had some blunker moments like the int but my god some of those touch passes were brilliant dropping it over the defenders to DA, White and Cooks.

8. Gostkowski is a heart attack at times but then you see a guy like Folk and you feel blessed to have him.

9. With Gronk out Allen zero targets. I figured he would be Daniel Graham but not so much.

10. It will be interesting to see what this team looks like in ten days. I don't think it's a bold prediction that there's going to be a couple of roster moves before they next take the field.
 
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DarrylS

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Great take on a short week... IMO Thursday nite games suck, particularly for the travelling team.

Thought Hightower was obvious in lining up the defense and even though he was not credited in the Box Score, he was noticeable on the field... where was David Harris??...

Wonder if the NFL has built an escalator clause for how many penalties a ref will call against the Patriots??.. some were obvious, but a lot were ticky tacky.. consider the two roughing the passer calls against the Pats, they were no more egregious than some of the the hits on Brady that were not called..

I am learning the subtleties of the NFL rule book as it applies to penalties, "peelback block"?? WTF they dug deep for that one.

It seems that Brady has some difficulty switching gears, he seemed uncomfortable all night, Gronkowski out?? Even though he played well overall, he looked "off" and distracted... hard to understand why Allen and Phillip (70 plays between them) were not targeted..

The O line befuddles me, essentially the same group, but they are playing like crap.. injuries??

As much as Gostowski is maligned on the board for his occasional faux pas, cannot imagine a team with inconsistent kicking as was evidenced last night..

I think there will be some changes in the next ten days.. Branch?? Harris?? and maybe a few more might be bidding adieu to the NEP.. BB looked really pissed off as some of the BS stuff that occurred last night..
 

ChessToCheckers

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
Jesus, Ken. If you play poker as well as you write your "Editions" I never want to face you in a game! ;)

Tough, ugly win on the road! We'll take it and move on!
 

PP2

Pro Bowl Player
Frankly we didn't win this game. Tampa Bay lost it for us. I have no idea what the hell is wrong with the OL. It's not just Solder, it's also Cannon and the IOL just giving up pressure after pressure, sack after sack. This makes it just about impossible for Brady to have time to connect on the longer routes.

There needs to be a Nick Folk appreciation thread. The last thing he ever did in the NFL was to gift this game to us with a big fat bowtie on top.
 

mosi

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
You either win or you lose. Does not matter how the W or L is obtained.

Could the Pats have played better? Sure but I will take that defensive performance. But yes, Winston is terrible. And Folk quickly remembered that once a Jet, always a Jet.

And Brady is a stud. Numbers are just number. He took a beating and made some amazing throws. Not perfect but his toughness is soooo under-apreciated.
 

skinnydog

Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job
What do you mean even ? You should rewatch some of his Panthers snaps and see that he has been pretty physical, excellent in support and consistently tries to punch the ball free on runs.



That thinking is what loses you superbowls. With 10 minutes left in the final quarter and 9 points up your opponent is the game clock and not the Bucs. As long as they dont gain yardage fast (i.e. the Jackson play) and you are milking the clock properly everything the other team gains in that period of time is less valuable.

Now, if the Bucs hit one of the FGs and it becomes a one score game things change again on offense and defense. I get that for some people situational football and playing the odds is frustrating and not particularly intuitive but it is all about risk management.
I don't think so. See Seahawks and Broncos. Both teams won Superbowls because of their defense and I don't see a lot of prevent from either team. They seem to take pride in playing hard to the end and never letting up.
 

Sicilian

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
I actually thought most of the penalties were fine calls, just with a couple exceptions:

1) The Amendola PI was ticky tack to me, but I guess it is the letter of the law. I just wish they would allow both the offense AND defense to be physical and let the best competitor win. I feel like unless it's an egregious attempt to take down a guy who has clearly beaten you, it should be let go. But that's not the league right now, whatever I may like.

2) The first roughing the passer (on Flowers I think) was WEAK. He was engaged with the O-Lineman, pulling up, and in that engagement bumped Winston (who then went flying like a wrestler on the ropes). The RtP after that one was blatant and stupid, but it never should have gotten to that point.
 

mgteich

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1) We have a clip for the ages, Andrews taking of his helmet in the middle of a play and him watching on the jumbotron.

2) As Romo said, we would have allowed Gronk to kick the 52 years field goal instead of of punting. A 12 point lead is much, much more than a 10 point lead. Needing two TD's is a big deal.
 

KontradictioN

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The most concerning thing to me, by far, is how badly the team is getting dominated on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Solder is clearly not where he needs to be, Thuney is not where he was last season, Andrews has struggled early, and Cannon has regressed thus far. Cannon and Solder are likely dealing with injury issues. The only one that has played better this season vs. last season is Mason. The hits are very clearly beginning to take a toll on Brady, too. The INT came on a throw that sailed on him because the pocket was beginning to break down. The throws he missed on last night usually seemed to come when pressure off the edge was getting to him because the pocket was breaking down and he had nowhere to go. And this was a team that couldn't even do much as sniff the quarterback in the first 3 weeks of their season. One sack coming in. They were, and have been, piss poor. TB12 Method or not, you cannot, CANNOT, have your 40 year old QB getting hit like that. The body simply doesn't recover like it used to. And we're seeing evidence of Brady being beat up in some of these throws. Meanwhile, the coaching staff is stressing longer-developing routes in the passing game which, as of right now, is basically just trying to force a square peg in a round hole since the OL hasn't shown the ability to hold up in pass pro for that long.

On the defensive side of the ball, Flowers is getting doubled and nobody else is able to consistently stack and shed. Wise has been a pleasant surprise as a rusher, but he's getting moved against the run. Hopefully that's just a rookie issue that will get corrected. Butler is also a rookie and is nowhere near the toilet clogger that Branch was last season. On multiple occasions where Martin busted through the line of scrimmage on 6-8 yard runs, Guy was either freelancing or he was getting blown off the ball and moved in whatever direction they wanted to take him. Hard to tell without seeing the All-22. But the 3-techs, from what I've seen, have been a source of their trouble on that side of the ball. When you couple that with the communication issues, tackling issues, and overall questionable game plans re: coverage concepts that we've seen in the secondary, you get the **** sandwich we saw in the first four weeks. Two of those were corrected last night (game plan and communication) and two were still an issue.

But if you want to look at the reasons why this team has struggled thus far in 2017, start by looking at the trenches.
 

patriot1136

2nd Team Getting Their First Start
All of the penalties are killing me, gotta fix that.
Did D. Harris play at all? At least he was active.
Without Gronk, I was hoping to see Hollister do something.
 

luuked

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I don't think so. See Seahawks and Broncos. Both teams won Superbowls because of their defense and I don't see a lot of prevent from either team. They seem to take pride in playing hard to the end and never letting up.

Not sure if the Seahawks and how their inability to drain the clock and their failure to properly play situational football in the SB against us are a good example for anything.
 

borg

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I can't decide if NE was lucky to win ....3 missed FGs / chance to lose on final play...or if NE was just letting the score/lead dictate their level of aggressiveness. As Ken stated, a win is a win.....and style points only count in figure skating, gymnastics, and the NBA

With regards to NE's defense, I'm giving them partial credit for keeping the score down / succeeding on 3rd down / limiting Tampa to FG opportunities instead of TDs.
That being said...Thursday games have to be the easiest games of the year to figure out the opposition's offensive strategy given the lack of mid week practices and the tape of the previous Sunday's game.

What is more clear to me as this season unfolds is....NE is deploying a fleet of JAGs in their front 7 and OL. The lack of talent in the trenches is alarming. Where are the foundation pieces? I count Hightower as one, though he's a continuing health saga.

Think about this teams foundation pieces...Brady great but old, Gronk great but brittle, Edelmam great but aging and dinged, McCourty solid, Gilmore (lets hope) and Hightower...none in the trenches IMO. I worry about NE's future and can't see how BB sufficiently upgrades a roster that is so unspectacular in the trenches this coming offseason. LT is a problem that will need to be solved, maybe in the draft...but that's just for starters. And lets be honest, FA signings are hit or miss and expensive and BB has been whiffing on too many...at least from my vantage in the nose bleed section.

2017 is all on Brady. Please stay upright ....stay pliable.....hydrate.
 

Nunchucks

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But....Hightower made some impact plays last week. He even had a sack (if memory serves). Let the guy get healthy and then we'll see what he is this year.

Hightower had the game winning sack on 3rd down last week. Turning a 4th and 4 or 5 into something like a 4th and 15. Wiped out by a hands to the face penalty on Gilmore.
 

borg

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continued...
Others may have mentioned this...but....anyone else think NE was roughing up Winston (2 roughing penalties) late in the 2nd in retaliation for all the shots Brady was taking....late hits , shots at his knees, twisting tackles?
 

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