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Idle thoughts - the final edition

2021 Patriots Season:
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Sep 12th

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patfanken

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Lots of interesting things happening around the league today. Unfortunately, nothing really interesting about the game today. The Jets would be undermanned with a full roster. They didn't even seem to have that today. So while the run game was adequate (13o odd yards) and the passing game certainly looked sharper than it has recently, you can hardly measure this team against what they were contending with today. On the plus side they did EXACTLY what they had to do, and the score reflected that. On the down side, its been 16 games and many of the same questions about the offense and defense remain the same. While some have been answered, others have popped up.

What can we expect from Gronk? Is Brady teetering on the "cliff"? Can the front seven stop a competent rushing attack or get enough pressure to at least control a good passing attack? Will our receivers be able to get open against a good secondary? etc ,etc.

These are just some of the questions we will be discussing over the next two weeks as we see who the Pats will match up with. I'm sure I don't know the answers to any of these question. I just know they exist and are legitimate concerns which over the next month (we hope) will be either resolved or not. You just don't know in the playoffs where every team can beat anyone on a given day. But it's midnight and time to break it down.

1. General offensive observations. - The offense looked decent. Brady completed over 70% of his passes. The run game was competent, if not dominant, and they were relatively successful in the red zone. What's to hate about a 35 point win that included 4 offensive TD's and FG. I still question Josh's use of James White for TWO short yardage running plays inside the 10, but maybe I should just get used to it, since he's clearly going to keep on doing it, despite my entreaties. It clearly drives me nuts, but the vast majority of what he does has been really, really good over the years. So maybe I should just chill over the "small stuff". ;) Finally, the jet sweep seems to continue to be very successful regardless of who is running it, be it Jules or Dorsett, with 40 gained on 4 attempts

2. QB - a vast improvement. Brady moved much better in the pocket today. More importantly he moved much more CONFIDENTLY and decisively today. Much less of the reacting to "ghosts" and pressure. More stepping up and finding those 2nd and 3rd options. Fewer times he threw off his back foot. Maybe there WAS no injury. Maybe its starting to heal. I'd like to think it was the latter, and having an extra week off will make it even better going forward.

Like I said he completed 72% of his passes for 250 yds on only 33 attempts. A sold performance that will silence at least some of the critics. IIRC he had over 160 yds in the first half, so clearly his attempts were going to drop in a second half where the Pats were in total control all game.

Here's the main question we will eventually find out. In the past, to blitz Tom Brady was to invite disaster. Over the years his rating when blitzed were significantly higher than when he was not. I don't think this has been the case over the last half of this season. Will Brady either create the time to throw to the open man, or will beat the blitz with the correct quick throw like he's done so often in the past. Recently teams that have blitzed, especially up the middle have had some success because either Brady was unable to make the first man miss (like he had done so often) or throw accurately to the correct target. Much more often we have seen him give up on the play against the blitz by either going down, or quickly throwing it away and not even trying to hit anyone.

Again it could have been because of the injury. I'd like to think it was, but we will never know. At least for the next couple of months...if ever. BTW- did you ever see two more disparate throws than the one he missed a WIDE open Hogan on, followed by the dime he threw to Dorsett....ON the run! What a great throw THAT one was.

3. OL - Great job by then in pass protection. Only one sack, and the only hit Brady took during the game outside of the sack was the extraordinarily dumb late hit he took. On the other hand the run game was more feast or famine, where a number of 7-12 yd gashes were mixed up with too many (imo) 0-2 yd gains.

Bottom line - the OL is clearly one of the two obvious strengths of this team. Not exactly dominating, but definitely efficient and more importantly consistent.

4. RB's - Sony Michel had a very good rookie year. He rushed for 931 yds for a 4.5ypc average in just over 200 carries while missing 3 games. Nothing at all to complain about there. But his play is not above some criticism, and not all of it his fault. Clearly he is NOT a consistent short yardage runner. Way too often this season we failed to make as many 3rd and shorts and GL conversions as we have become used to when we had guys like LGB, and ASmiith on the roster. I'd like to think that he'll get a little stronger over the years, but I don't think SY is a good role for him. But getting stronger will likely allow him to have more 20+ yd runs in the future. Sony only had 4 this season. Many of the top runners had twice that many and more, including his bigger Georgia buddy Nick Chubb, who had 11 Losing Hill so early in the season was a very underrated injury for us.

What I love about him is that he has a great instinct to finding the right hole to attack. He also runs hard, but isn't likely to run through anyone. Another important positive is that he's shown great ball security fumbling only ONCE in 209 carries. IIRC that was a problem in his college days. Next year he will likely see some more looks in the passing game as he only caught 7 balls this season. He had a reputation of being an excellent receiver in college.

I have to say it though. I can't help but wonder if we wouldn't have been better off with the OTHER Georgia RB, who was bigger and had a slightly better year behind a weaker Browns OL. (996 yds, on 195 carries for a 5.4 ypc average with 8 TD's and 20 receptions)

Burkhead and White both did their usual efficient jobs as receivers scoring 2 of the Pats TD's James also had a few very nice runs in the middle of the field and did nothing in short yardage.

5. Receivers - Tom Brady said he's sorry to Chris Hogan today with 11 targets. ;). He unfortunately missed him on the easy one, when Hogan broke so open no Jet player was even in the picture, but at least when Hogan got open, Brady threw him the ball.

Dorsett and Jules were also very effective. Dorsett matched Jules with his 5 catches on 5 targets, including that very nifty one in the end zone where Brady was doing his best DWatson impression. I sometimes think that Dorsett is a very unrated receiver.

Even Gronk got in the picture with 3 receptions. Unfortunately only 2 counted due to a real penalty which so rarely gets called these days it looked like a bad call.

The biggest question for the offense this playoff run will be if Gronk can even approach being the weapon he has been for the first 8 years of his career. If he can, then it will open up the entire passing offense and make the rest of the receivers more effective. If he can't then teams will freeze up Edelman and White and effectively shut down the passing offense. Here's hoping.

6. General Defensive observations. I like what I'm seeing from the defense. We know the pass coverage is going to be pretty good, since it has been all year. But the front 7 vs the run has been very shaky until recently. We stopped the Bills run game, but was it because it was Buffalo? Well the Bills put up over 160 rushing yds today vs Miami, while doing little vs the Pats. Today the Pats allowed the Jets' RB's about 70 yds on 22 carries, and despite allowing a 28 yd run to Darnald, it was the only one. Question for the rewatch guys, has DShelton made a positive difference these last 2 games? Whatever it is, it has been much better recently. Will it carry over?

The role of the front seven is to stop the run and provide pressure on the passer. So far so good.....for the last 2 games.

7. Front Seven - Lots of pressure that resulted in 4 sacks and double that many hits and even more pressures. Lots of impressive plays including High's tackle for a loss on the first series, to TWO 4th and 1 stops, to Derrick Rivers first sack, to DFlowers FF, and KVN's scoop and score. I should note that over this season the LB's have show a lot of improvement in their coverage.

This certainly wasn't a great offense they were facing. It was even a good one. But they HAD put up 38 points last week, and today only managed 3. Not something you should dismiss by calling the Jets a "tomato can".

8. Special Teams - Did a nice job overall. Add more comments if you choose

9. Officiating. This was Walt Coleman's last regular season game after 30 years in the league. As we all know he played a part in Patriots' history for simply making the right and obvious call one snowy night in January 2002. He might be infamous in Oakland, but it's an unjust appellation. He was simply doing his job.

Well he did his job well again. His crew threw few flags and kept the game moving well. For the most part they were invisible, which is what we'd all like the officials to be in every game.

10. General League comments -

a. Did you guys have as hard a time as I did trying to figure out WHICH team you wanted to see lose their chance to be in the playoffs between the Steelers and Ravens. Could there be 2 more hateful fan bases and teams than those 2? How can you choose. To me the Ravens are the worst. I think I hate them more than any other team in the league. Far more than the Jets. Finally while I was watching the final 2 minutes of the Cleveland game, with Cleveland driving for the winning FG, needing only about 8 more yards to be in range, that I decided I wanted the Ravens to win. '

Why? Well because, while they might seem to be a more "dangerous team". I don't think so. Plus I don't fear them like many do. 2009 was a LONG time ago, and they aren't nearly as good now. In the end I decided I would gain more satisfaction beating the Ravens than the Steelers. Plus the picture of the Steelers and a nearly full stadium become completely DEFLATED when their last gasp pass was picked off was simply PRICELESS. I look forward to seeing it over and over again this week. :D

b. I once thought Adam Gase was going to be a good HC in this league. He clearly had the best record against the Pats in the division recently. But to have his team simply give up in Buffalo and get embarrassed makes me wonder whether he will be back next season.

c I was going to root for the Saints to get to the Superbowl. I respect Drew Brees. However I would have been 5-0 in my pool this week if the Saints had bothered to show up this week against the pathetic and overrated Panthers. They cost me up to $300 and I hope they go one and done now. ;)

d. Got to be hard for the Chargers to be 12-4 and have to play this playoff season on the road. I know I'd be pissed. Good thing they don't have many fans....though they should have.

e. Boy, Minnesota has to be the NFC's most disappointing team. Especially losing a must win game in such an uninspiring a manner AT HOME. Of course that disappointment can be tripled compared to what the Jags did this season. Has there been a team in recent years that did less with MORE than the Jags?

f. Finally, I called this the "last edition" because it is. I feel like newspapers today with dwindling interest and readership. Besides I have found that there have been too many nights when I'd rather just go to sleep than spend 2 or 3 hours pumping this out. So while I'm not going anywhere and look forward to reading threads and participating in them, I simply don't want to feel the obligation to do this anymore.....even though I really do know that I have no obligation to do this. ;)
 

NormZauchin

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I will miss your weekly assessment, Ken, as I am sure most of the other posters on this site will. I hope you can still find time to write up a couple of paragraphs on what you thought were the most salient aspects of each Pats playoff game.
 

Nikolai

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Damn...

I've looked forward to this write up more than any other write up across the media following game day. Thanks for doing it. While I'd ask you to reconsider, that'd be selfish. Enjoy retirement :cool:
 

goheels22002

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Lots of interesting things happening around the league today. Unfortunately, nothing really interesting about the game today. The Jets would be undermanned with a full roster. They didn't even seem to have that today. So while the run game was adequate (13o odd yards) and the passing game certainly looked sharper than it has recently, you can hardly measure this team against what they were contending with today. On the plus side they did EXACTLY what they had to do, and the score reflected that. On the down side, its been 16 games and many of the same questions about the offense and defense remain the same. While some have been answered, others have popped up.

What can we expect from Gronk? Is Brady teetering on the "cliff"? Can the front seven stop a competent rushing attack or get enough pressure to at least control a good passing attack? Will our receivers be able to get open against a good secondary? etc ,etc.

These are just some of the questions we will be discussing over the next two weeks as we see who the Pats will match up with. I'm sure I don't know the answers to any of these question. I just know they exist and are legitimate concerns which over the next month (we hope) will be either resolved or not. You just don't know in the playoffs where every team can beat anyone on a given day. But it's midnight and time to break it down.

1. General offensive observations. - The offense looked decent. Brady completed over 70% of his passes. The run game was competent, if not dominant, and they were relatively successful in the red zone. What's to hate about a 35 point win that included 4 offensive TD's and FG. I still question Josh's use of James White for TWO short yardage running plays inside the 10, but maybe I should just get used to it, since he's clearly going to keep on doing it, despite my entreaties. It clearly drives me nuts, but the vast majority of what he does has been really, really good over the years. So maybe I should just chill over the "small stuff". ;) Finally, the jet sweep seems to continue to be very successful regardless of who is running it, be it Jules or Dorsett, with 40 gained on 4 attempts

2. QB - a vast improvement. Brady moved much better in the pocket today. More importantly he moved much more CONFIDENTLY and decisively today. Much less of the reacting to "ghosts" and pressure. More stepping up and finding those 2nd and 3rd options. Fewer times he threw off his back foot. Maybe there WAS no injury. Maybe its starting to heal. I'd like to think it was the latter, and having an extra week off will make it even better going forward.

Like I said he completed 72% of his passes for 250 yds on only 33 attempts. A sold performance that will silence at least some of the critics. IIRC he had over 160 yds in the first half, so clearly his attempts were going to drop in a second half where the Pats were in total control all game.

Here's the main question we will eventually find out. In the past, to blitz Tom Brady was to invite disaster. Over the years his rating when blitzed were significantly higher than when he was not. I don't think this has been the case over the last half of this season. Will Brady either create the time to throw to the open man, or will beat the blitz with the correct quick throw like he's done so often in the past. Recently teams that have blitzed, especially up the middle have had some success because either Brady was unable to make the first man miss (like he had done so often) or throw accurately to the correct target. Much more often we have seen him give up on the play against the blitz by either going down, or quickly throwing it away and not even trying to hit anyone.

Again it could have been because of the injury. I'd like to think it was, but we will never know. At least for the next couple of months...if ever. BTW- did you ever see two more disparate throws than the one he missed a WIDE open Hogan on, followed by the dime he threw to Dorsett....ON the run! What a great throw THAT one was.

3. OL - Great job by then in pass protection. Only one sack, and the only hit Brady took during the game outside of the sack was the extraordinarily dumb late hit he took. On the other hand the run game was more feast or famine, where a number of 7-12 yd gashes were mixed up with too many (imo) 0-2 yd gains.

Bottom line - the OL is clearly one of the two obvious strengths of this team. Not exactly dominating, but definitely efficient and more importantly consistent.

4. RB's - Sony Michel had a very good rookie year. He rushed for 931 yds for a 4.5ypc average in just over 200 carries while missing 3 games. Nothing at all to complain about there. But his play is not above some criticism, and not all of it his fault. Clearly he is NOT a consistent short yardage runner. Way too often this season we failed to make as many 3rd and shorts and GL conversions as we have become used to when we had guys like LGB, and ASmiith on the roster. I'd like to think that he'll get a little stronger over the years, but I don't think SY is a good role for him. But getting stronger will likely allow him to have more 20+ yd runs in the future. Sony only had 4 this season. Many of the top runners had twice that many and more, including his bigger Georgia buddy Nick Chubb, who had 11 Losing Hill so early in the season was a very underrated injury for us.

What I love about him is that he has a great instinct to finding the right hole to attack. He also runs hard, but isn't likely to run through anyone. Another important positive is that he's shown great ball security fumbling only ONCE in 209 carries. IIRC that was a problem in his college days. Next year he will likely see some more looks in the passing game as he only caught 7 balls this season. He had a reputation of being an excellent receiver in college.

I have to say it though. I can't help but wonder if we wouldn't have been better off with the OTHER Georgia RB, who was bigger and had a slightly better year behind a weaker Browns OL. (996 yds, on 195 carries for a 5.4 ypc average with 8 TD's and 20 receptions)

Burkhead and White both did their usual efficient jobs as receivers scoring 2 of the Pats TD's James also had a few very nice runs in the middle of the field and did nothing in short yardage.

5. Receivers - Tom Brady said he's sorry to Chris Hogan today with 11 targets. ;). He unfortunately missed him on the easy one, when Hogan broke so open no Jet player was even in the picture, but at least when Hogan got open, Brady threw him the ball.

Dorsett and Jules were also very effective. Dorsett matched Jules with his 5 catches on 5 targets, including that very nifty one in the end zone where Brady was doing his best DWatson impression. I sometimes think that Dorsett is a very unrated receiver.

Even Gronk got in the picture with 3 receptions. Unfortunately only 2 counted due to a real penalty which so rarely gets called these days it looked like a bad call.

The biggest question for the offense this playoff run will be if Gronk can even approach being the weapon he has been for the first 8 years of his career. If he can, then it will open up the entire passing offense and make the rest of the receivers more effective. If he can't then teams will freeze up Edelman and White and effectively shut down the passing offense. Here's hoping.

6. General Defensive observations. I like what I'm seeing from the defense. We know the pass coverage is going to be pretty good, since it has been all year. But the front 7 vs the run has been very shaky until recently. We stopped the Bills run game, but was it because it was Buffalo? Well the Bills put up over 160 rushing yds today vs Miami, while doing little vs the Pats. Today the Pats allowed the Jets' RB's about 70 yds on 22 carries, and despite allowing a 28 yd run to Darnald, it was the only one. Question for the rewatch guys, has DShelton made a positive difference these last 2 games? Whatever it is, it has been much better recently. Will it carry over?

The role of the front seven is to stop the run and provide pressure on the passer. So far so good.....for the last 2 games.

7. Front Seven - Lots of pressure that resulted in 4 sacks and double that many hits and even more pressures. Lots of impressive plays including High's tackle for a loss on the first series, to TWO 4th and 1 stops, to Derrick Rivers first sack, to DFlowers FF, and KVN's scoop and score. I should note that over this season the LB's have show a lot of improvement in their coverage.

This certainly wasn't a great offense they were facing. It was even a good one. But they HAD put up 38 points last week, and today only managed 3. Not something you should dismiss by calling the Jets a "tomato can".

8. Special Teams - Did a nice job overall. Add more comments if you choose

9. Officiating. This was Walt Coleman's last regular season game after 30 years in the league. As we all know he played a part in Patriots' history for simply making the right and obvious call one snowy night in January 2002. He might be infamous in Oakland, but it's an unjust appellation. He was simply doing his job.

Well he did his job well again. His crew threw few flags and kept the game moving well. For the most part they were invisible, which is what we'd all like the officials to be in every game.

10. General League comments -

a. Did you guys have as hard a time as I did trying to figure out WHICH team you wanted to see lose their chance to be in the playoffs between the Steelers and Ravens. Could there be 2 more hateful fan bases and teams than those 2? How can you choose. To me the Ravens are the worst. I think I hate them more than any other team in the league. Far more than the Jets. Finally while I was watching the final 2 minutes of the Cleveland game, with Cleveland driving for the winning FG, needing only about 8 more yards to be in range, that I decided I wanted the Ravens to win. '

Why? Well because, while they might seem to be a more "dangerous team". I don't think so. Plus I don't fear them like many do. 2009 was a LONG time ago, and they aren't nearly as good now. In the end I decided I would gain more satisfaction beating the Ravens than the Steelers. Plus the picture of the Steelers and a nearly full stadium become completely DEFLATED when their last gasp pass was picked off was simply PRICELESS. I look forward to seeing it over and over again this week. :D

b. I once thought Adam Gase was going to be a good HC in this league. He clearly had the best record against the Pats in the division recently. But to have his team simply give up in Buffalo and get embarrassed makes me wonder whether he will be back next season.

c I was going to root for the Saints to get to the Superbowl. I respect Drew Brees. However I would have been 5-0 in my pool this week if the Saints had bothered to show up this week against the pathetic and overrated Panthers. They cost me up to $300 and I hope they go one and done now. ;)

d. Got to be hard for the Chargers to be 12-4 and have to play this playoff season on the road. I know I'd be pissed. Good thing they don't have many fans....though they should have.

e. Boy, Minnesota has to be the NFC's most disappointing team. Especially losing a must win game in such an uninspiring a manner AT HOME. Of course that disappointment can be tripled compared to what the Jags did this season. Has there been a team in recent years that did less with MORE than the Jags?

f. Finally, I called this the "last edition" because it is. I feel like newspapers today with dwindling interest and readership. Besides I have found that there have been too many nights when I'd rather just go to sleep than spend 2 or 3 hours pumping this out. So while I'm not going anywhere and look forward to reading threads and participating in them, I simply don't want to feel the obligation to do this anymore.....even though I really do know that I have no obligation to do this. ;)

Don't throw in the towel entirely, please. If not weekly, an occasional longform review of your insights is most welcome and necessary, really.

It's like @alamo putting in the work every week on the Predict The Score contest. Both are time consuming and take real effort, and I think everybody understands and is grateful. Similarly, I miss the deep dives that @Miguel did here frequently and his clarifications of all things salary cap-related. Your wrap up, like their work (and others) is part of the fabric and rhythm of the board, and something that makes patsfans.com the best fan forum of all in the NFL communities, IMHO.

Thanks.
 

DarrylS

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2019 Weekly Picks Winner
First thing I look for the day after a Pats Game is your analysis, as it is spot on and hits all the salient points.. I will miss the quality of your weekly posting, no hysteria, just the facts as you see them...

Yesterday blew a huge hole in my theory about how the Pats play to the level of competition as they annihilated the Jets.. from my big comfy couch thought for the first game in a while the Offense seemed more in sync than it has been, the run game was a little off, but overall with the Pats if the run game is off the passing game is there.. so they changed.

I enjoyed the game more than usual, not because it was exciting, but because the Pats were playing as a team and not shooting themselves in the foot..

I agree about the Saints as they are a very good and experienced team, if things go as the "seeds" predict, the AFC championship will take place in LA... weather will not be an issue for Drew Brees, not like the dome, but similar.

Nice touch to see Brady reach out to Walt Coleman and understood that BB did the same in the tunnel after the game..
 

sturmrider

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Your "Idle Thoughts" will be sorely missed. It is one of the reasons I kept coming back now I have to figure out which other threads will give me such clear insights, in one post. Take care and I wish you nothing but the best. I know this must have taken a lot of your free time. Thank you for all of your effort over the years.

Good Luck!!
 

maineman209

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Thanks, Ken!

Your insights - never "hot" or arrogant - have always been educational, if not inspirational, and made great starting points for many rational (and, therefore, useful) discussions.

I'll definitely miss your contributions, and I'm hoping that you'll at least throw a comment or two our way through the playoffs.
 

AQPE

Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job
2019 Weekly Picks Winner
PFK,

Many thanks sir for your years of tremendous insight, dedication, and fun writing style. As many here have already said, your synopses were often a highlight after wins and salve after losses. I know it helped me to enjoy the seasons more when you as a former coach presented an analysis of the fine points that I, even after about 45 years watching and reading about this team and sport would not notice.

I’m glad you were sort of wrong about James White but you seldom got it wrong I think in pointing out nuances of what specific players were doing, giving us the story behind the numbers so to say.

So, sit back, enjoy many more years of Pats games, catch up on reruns of Madame Secretary, post like an Emeritus star of the board, and let the young guns here try to live up to your legacy.

Kol Hakovod and L’Chaim!
 

scout

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Thanks Ken, your post will be missed. I enjoyed reading your thoughts after the game. The failure of White on short and two was a confirmation of your thoughts during the game. Your game analysis has put emphasis on a regular post as I am more receptive to your thoughts. Thus, don't go away! Will miss your analysis, but appreciate your posts.
 
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