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Content Post Idle thoughts - the "growth" edition

2021 Patriots Season:
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patfanken

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WOW! What an impressive win. Certainly a league wide perception altering victory. I thought we had a chance to win in a slugfest, but this beating was completely one sided.. The Pats are now just a nose ahead of average, but will be on everyone's "this is a team no one wants to play right now" list. You never know how your team will do, For most teams each year's group has to absorb 20-30% turnover rates each season. This year's Pats team, with its massive influx of FA's and rookies, had to absorb adding around 40%. It was literally a new team.

Sometimes we take for granted just how HARD it is for teams to gel and develop trust in the man next to you. We forget just how narrow the margins for error are between victory and defeat in a league where the 53rd best player on the team is an AMAZING football player. So a receiver running a route just a yard short, or 2 guys running their routes without the correct timing can result in disaster. Just like having a DLman or LB hitting the LOS just a half gap to wide can create holes that make for big plays. We saw a LOT of that over the first 6 weeks of the season and it led to the 2-4 record we justly deserved.

What you HOPE for is that eventually your team starts to "get it". Instead of thinking about how many steps a WR needs to take before making their cut, they just instinctively do it. The QB starts to develop a comfort level of knowing where their OLmen are going to be on any given drop and we see the results in he looks like he is moving in the pocket better. A DL/LB become comfortable knowing that he doesn't have to worry about the guy next to him and his job, which makes it easier for him to do HIS job. All across the board guys start thinking less and reacting more. This results in everyone playing just incrementally faster, but that is the difference in more consistent good play and wins instead of close losses. THIS is what we are STARTING to see happening before our eyes. Hopefully this is just the BEGINNING of this gelling and it continues. Whether this GROWTH continues or not will determine the direction the team trends

OK, the soliloquy is over. Now lets get to my general observations in no particular order.

1. Cleveland is a good team. Much like us they entered the game 5-4 coming off a great win on the road vs a division team. A top 10 overall defense who was 2nd against the run. They had plus pass rushers all along their front 7 including 2 elite ones. But here's the thing. Not only was this group held to just 2 sacks (both in the first half) The Browns added only 2 other QB hits for the entire game. This was an amazing stat for the Pats OL, when you consider that the Pats front7 managed to rack up 10 QB hits to go along with 5 sacks.

2. The Browns were missing their RT, but they are supposed to have one of the better OL's in the league and were bested in their pass rush stats 4-1 And while the Browns RB had 99 yds, 66 of those yards came in the first quarter, and they added only 2 more in the second, before the game became a rout.

3. D Wise gets a lot of crap here. Sometimes its even deserved, but it wasn't Garret (2 pressures) or Clowney (1 pressure) who terrorized the QB, but our very own Detrick Wise who according to PFF had SEVEN pressures to go along with his 1.5 sacks on the day. Lets give the man a hand.

4. I will be interested to see how many snaps Christian Barmore got in this game. Before the season I was expecting around 30% of the DL snaps, most of those coming on passing downs. By last week it he was taking over 60% of the defense plays, and in this game I can rarely remember seeing him on the sidelines, so I will be looking for that stat tomorrow. the kid has been a rock against the run and he is overpowering some of the best OLmen in the league on a weekly basis. He has far exceeded my (or anyone's) expectations thus far. The Richard Seymour comparisons can't be far behind. IIRC after that first drive, HE was the guy they moved to the nose to stem the flood....and it worked.

5. Hunter Henry is a perfect example of a new guy slowly growing into his role on the offense, and not just as a red zone target. He doesn't have the same yards after the catch potential as Gronk had, but as a pass catching target who can get open, he's close to the big guy. Jonnu Smith on the other hand is an example of a guy who hasn't meshed yet. Injuries has something to do with it, but hopefully as the season goes on, we will see him to add to the offense.

And speaking of guys who seem to be getting into the flow, Kendrick Bourne "come on down". Over the last few games Bourne has SLOWLY started to make an impact to the offense. Today he had close to 150 yds of total offense to go along with his remarkable TD catch. What we saw today was what we hoped we got when we signed him. It JUST takes time.

6. These are just initial impressions and just one game, BUTTTTTTTT. I think RStevenson is special, He has the power of LGB, but with extreme short area quickness and elusiveness. His first 2 runs off our own GL on that 99 yd drive were what I mean about "special". He made 5 key yards on a play that just as easily been a safety. He showed power, escapability and balance to make that run happen. The old saying was "he can make you miss in a phone booth". I think Stevenson has that rare skill. When Harris gets back, the Pats will have an OUTSTANDING RB duo that will be around here for a long time.

7. When I saw a tweet on the game day thread that Trent Brown was on the sidelines with a wrap on his calf, I choked on my water. WTF?????!!!!!! I wrote. Thankfully he was there by design given that he's missed almost 9 weeks so his wind must still be lacking, so spelling him with Owenu made a lot of sense. I'll guess he's still a month away from being his best self.

8. When Mac made that pass to Bourne for the TD, I had a smile a mile wide, because I knew that he'd have never even tried that pass, let alone complete it, prior to this game. Just another step in his growth. It was also clear that on a number of occasions he got the team out of bad plays during the course of this game. Good but not great. 200 yds in 3.5 quarters is OK. But his 8.2 ypa is very good as well as his 142 QBR. He moved in the pocket better and was just a half second slow in escaping his 2nd sack by stepping up. That will get better too.

9. Tennessee is winning a lot of games playing good defense and NOT turning the ball over on offense. When WE don't turn the ball over we also win. Mac is now doing a much better job of hanging on to the ball. IIRC in Tom's second year as a starter, he had a fumbling problem. I think it was around 12 that year and he mentioned that it would be an emphasis in the off season to work on that issue. As Mac's understanding of where everyone is grows, he will also get better at protecting the ball in tight places.

10. The OL in this game proved that they can stand up to one of the best pass rushers in the game, as well as the 2nd best run defense, and excel in BOTH areas. Close to 200 rushing yds against a team that averaged 80 ypg in the previous 9 is a great accomplishment, especially when your best RB (at least he was before this game) miss the game. PLUS they allowed what we were told was the best pass rushing team in the league only 2 sacks and 2 QB hits all game.

11. It should be noted that the coaching staff has also caught a massive amount of crap this season, especially Josh from all the arm chair OC's here (which is pretty much all of us) Well this game was a beauty. The defense fixed whatever was broken on that first drive and kept the offense completely off balance the rest of the way. And Josh designed a masterful game plan that neutralized that heavy rush and gave his players a chance to make plays all game.

I'll give you an example. Clearly this was a game where the run game was going to be featured. So obviously, to balance that run game, play action passes would be needed, yet not ONCE in this entire game did Mac go from under center, fake to a back and go back to pass. I was just about to comment on that on the game thread, when it occurred to be WHY that wasn't happening.

When you fake the handoff from under C, the QB has his back turned way from the rush. Well with the fierceness of the Brown rush and the inexperience of his own QB, Josh didn't want to put that risk on his QB. He's been sacked more than a few times on play action passes already this year because his QB didn't "feel" that rush, and when he looked up from the fake to look downfield it was too late. So instead, Josh added a bunch of misdirection plays and runs to further keep the Brown rush at bay and allow his young QB to always see what was coming from the the first snap of the ball. It was brilliant.

Steve Bellichick has also taken heat this year, but today he too called a brilliant game. I thought early on the Pats were consistently putting pressure on Mayfield against what I thought was one of the better OL's and mostly with 4 man rushes. Not only that, the coverage was consistently good, as was pointed out over an over again on TV.

Looking ahead

a. The good news is that we are playing an Atlanta team that just go WAXED by the Cowboys by 40. The bad news is that the game is on Thursday and IN Atlanta. The biggest competitive advantage in the league today is being the home team on a Thursday night game. So far the home team holds just a 6-4 advantage but 2 of those road wins were against the woebegone Texans and the Jags when they were just as woebegone and a third was the Rams going into a Russell Wilsonless Seattle when Seattle was playing badly WITH Wilson. So what I'm saying is it is HARD, very HARD to win on the road against a home team on Thursday night

Atlanta is 4-5 and still has something to play for. Matt Ryan is having a resurgent season while Kyle Pitts is looking every bit the generational player many thought him to be. Usually on weeks like this injuries play a big role and I have no idea who got dinged on either team. So on that note we shall see.

On the plus side, I know Bill does a really good job having his team ready for these games. . Outside of a few low lights or teaching points that they'll see in individual team meetings, I doubt they will even see the entire game in review and move right on to Atlanta tomorrow. I'm sure that by tomorrow when the players get back from their treatments, Bill's little worker bees will have all 9 Atlanta games broken down and segmented to each position coach. I'm sure in the lockerroom he congratulated them on today's win. Told them to have a great time tonight, and be ready to go full bore on Atlanta tomorrow.

The main takeaway from the post game pressers was staying in the moment, don't dwell on yesterday and don't worry about tomorrow. The other takeaway was how every player mentioned that they DO well, when they PRACTICED hard and well. In other words, they have all bought into what Bill is selling and they LIKE it. And that they are HAVING fun.....winning.

b. Looking at the future schedule they have 7 games left. 4 wins will give them a decent shot at a playoff bid, 5 wins will ensure one. To my mind they have 3 so-called weak teams over that stretch ( Atlanta, Jags, and Phins) and 4 strong ones (Titans, [email protected], and Bills twice. If the team continues to grow as a unit, I think they SHOULD win 4 at a minimum, but given the margin of error is so thin anything COULD happen.

c. I am really looking forward to when Winovich returns. Uche has been my biggest disappointment so far. I'm wondering if I was right the first time when I thought he might evolve into that speed ILB we currently don't have. He's made no impact on the outside thus far. However, while he IS limited, Winovich is a solid and consistent pass rusher who should thrive opposite Judon. and be a big upgrade down the stretch.

d. So far since he returned from his shoulder injury, the MUCH Maligned N'Keal Harry has put his nose to the grindstone hasn't complained once about his lack of targets and simply become a key element in the run game, one of the better blocking WR's in the league, and every time his number HAS been called caught everything thrown at him.

So far Henry has had a year where Brady did not want to deal with Rookies. A year with the flawed Cam Newton as his QB, Now half way through his 3rd year he has carved out a role in a Mac Jones led offense. An offense that still has training wheels on it. Maybe no one else has noticed it, but on the last 3 targets Harry has had thrown to him, he has managed to beat his man deep AND caught the ball. I wouldn't be shocked at all (though I might be the only one) if HIS growth gets him more targets as the year goes on. Just sayin'
 
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DropKickFlutie

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Wonderful game. Best called game of the year out of the first 10 weeks.

1. Mac is the real deal as I've said since pre-draft. #1 priority all year should be keep him healthy and protect him from bad hits or any bad mental scars/habits from poor protection.
2. Dugger is emerging as a force, as leading tackler on the team and making the leap as a pass defender. Barmore, JC, and Judon continue to play well.
3. Was great to see Jacobi Meyers' first TD catch but even more so how the whole team and bench went to cheer him on. Shows how much he's liked on the team.
4. Love the 34 runs and only 26 passes. Going run-heavy and heavy-personnel is their best strength. And had the discipline to prioritize protecting Max and no need to air it out for cheap shotgun passing yards. Should have been playing this style since Week1.
5. OLine has been rolling for 4 weeks now. 3 weeks of my lineup of Onwenu at RT and Karras at LG. This week kept Karras at LG. The whole thing with Onwenu might work itself out the next time Wynn inevitably gets hurt.
6. Feel absolutely vindicated over the fixed OLine leading to success and also the heavy-personnel play calling being so effective. 4 straight wins now. This team might have been 7-3 or better now if it didn't start 2-4 and mess the first 6 weeks up.
7. Huge Kudos to Steve Belichick who is proving to be a great Defensive Coordinator, and in the past every position group he ever coached was elite. Steve is a good coach.
8. My 1 nitpick is look at the Patriot ILB who gave up multiple huge runs on the Browns opening drive. If the Pats have any chance of contending, weak links continue to be Bentley, Mills, and Godchaux on defense. Pats don't have enough good man-corners right now, wish they had kept Gilmore.
 
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n6249c

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Relevant to your early comment that this is a team nobody wants to play right now, I just found this on Bleacher Report and came over to post it, but reading your observations took priority. Thanks for sharing them. Interested what you think of this:
 

DropKickFlutie

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Relevant to your early comment that this is a team nobody wants to play right now, I just found this on Bleacher Report and came over to post it, but reading your observations took priority. Thanks for sharing them. Interested what you think of this:

Steve Belichick is doing a great job.

Also defense is scoring points off pick6's or getting turnovers to give the offense a 1st and goal.

All with JJones hurt, Gilmore gone, Godchaux not good, and Bentley a weak link.

Steve Belichick is doing a great job.
 

DropKickFlutie

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
This is relevant to Ken’s point #10:

It was the key to the game. Clowney and Garrett were the top2 in the entire league in pass rush win rate. Very pleased the offense didn't over-pass, and intentionally screened behind Garrett or had outside runs. Went run heavy and used our BEEF formations to dominate the line of scrimmage all game. 30 first downs and chewed up a ton of clock. Like I said this was the best called game of the season of the 10 games so far, and not just because it aligns with my preference of how the offense should normally be run.
 

mikey m

Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job
Wise consistently stood out to me this game. I was really surprised, nice to see the stats back it up. Hell of a game from Bourne. Loved the sweeps to him, execution was great across the board on those.
I saw a few execution mistakes from Cleveland, making their offense a bit sloppy at times which is also a testament to the awesome job BB, Josh, and really the whole staff did this week.
 

patfanken

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Wonderful game. Best called game of the year out of the first 10 weeks.
7. Huge Kudos to Steve Belichick who is proving to be a great Defensive Coordinator, and in the past every position group he ever coached was elite. Steve is a good coach.
8. My 1 nitpick is look at the Patriot ILB who gave up multiple huge runs on the Browns opening drive. If the Pats have any chance of contending, weak links continue to be Bentley, Mills, and Godchaux on defense. Pats don't have enough good man-corners right now, wish they had kept Gilmore.
Good comment on Steve B. You are right, every group he's coached has done well. This fact should be repeated more;.

the Bently Mills and Godchaux comment cause me to comment. Bentley is what he is, which is a feast or famine ILB who has improved a lot this season. He is what he is. Mills was great today, as was your other whipping boy Williams. Both were often in those replays that showed great back end overage.

Now is Mills as good as Gilmore would have been, (though Gilmore still wasn't taking major snaps yet), no. There is no question Gilmore would make this even a better defense. But the fact remains the Pats were NEVER going to pay Gilmore UNTIL he proved he could play, and at the time he was traded, he was a few weeks away from even limited snaps. Gilmore took the same deal he wouldn't take from the Pats because he knew the Pats wouldn't play him anything more than a team friendly deal past 2021. The only reason he played for the $7MM was he was going home and there was a much better chance Carolina would pay him next year what he wants.

BOTTOM LINE - Gilmore was always going to be gone, we just didn't know it. (at least I didn't) Now people might say we should have traded him earlier, but he was HURT with a significant injury and no one would trade for him before he was fully healthy and showed he could play.
 

DropKickFlutie

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Good comment on Steve B. You are right, every group he's coached has done well. This fact should be repeated more;.

the Bently Mills and Godchaux comment cause me to comment. Bentley is what he is, which is a feast or famine ILB who has improved a lot this season. He is what he is. Mills was great today, as was you other whipping boy Williams. Both were often in those replays that showed great back end overage.

Now is Mills as good as Gilmore would have been, though Gilmore still wasn't taking major snaps yet), no. There is no question Gilmore would make this even a better defense. But the fact remains the Pats were NEVER going to pay Gilmore UNTIL he proved he could play, and at the time he was traded, he was a few weeks away from even limited snaps. Gilmore took the same deal he wouldn't take from the Pats because he knew the Pats wouldn't play him anything more than a team friendly deal past 2021. The only reason he played for the $7MM was he was going home and there was a much better chance Carolina would play him next year what he wants.

BOTTOM LINE - Gilmore was always going to be gone, we just didn't know it. (at least I didn't) Now people might say we should have traded him earlier, but he was HURT with a significant injury and no one would trade for him before he was fully healthy and showed he could play.

Yeah good thoughts.

Bentley, agree with the feast or famine. When he makes a play it looks great, like his tackle for loss...and he's phenomenal at celebrating which helps him too. When he misses, it's real bad like 4 different runD whiffs on the Browns opening drive. It may be less of an issue as Barmore plays more and Wise/Guy solidify the front. I'm just not a fan. Really wish Collins gets healthy and can also play more downs.

Mills, I don't even blame him. He's actually good contract value at $5m. It's just not ideal that he's the #2 corner. And with JJones out hurt, the secondary is just real thin on man-cover corners. The last 2 weeks they really scaled back their snaps in man-defense which is not ideal.

Godchaux, not great, I wouldn't count on him if I really needed a stop, but again this might sort itself out naturally over time.

I know I'm nitpicking but it's because I always thought there was an outside chance this team could really contend. These are the pieces I would call out to become a potentially championship-level and clutch defense.
 

slam

In the Starting Line-Up
Very interesting observation on the lack of traditional play action plays and other misdirection plays used to mitigate that. Screens, end arounds, and then the fake end around into a screen that I usually hate but which they ran TWICE, successfully.
 

PScottman

In the Starting Line-Up
He's made no impact on the outside thus far. However, while he IS limited, Winovich is a solid and consistent pass rusher who should thrive opposite Judon.
It was a surprise that Wise filled that role yesterday, but ultimately with both Judon and Barmore demonstrating some serious skills...if the other rusher(s) has even a modicum of pass rush talent, like Winovich showed last year, he SHOULD feast.
 

DarrylS

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Spot on as usual PFK...

O turnovers for the Pats
Patriots 1 Punt in 9 possessions
7 for 9 on 3rd downs, Cleveland was 1 for 11
Pats scored every time in the "red zone", remember those "red zone" woes
Time of Possession Pats 36 minutes, Cleveland 24 minutes
Total yards Patriots 452, Cleveland 217
Mac Jones 82.6 completion rate 142 QB Rating
Pats 120+ Rushing yards in 6 straight games, 184 yesterday
Josh McDaniel's stock went through the roof yesterday...

Very impressive to see this turnaround.. then there are the 3 TD drives of 90+ yards, that blew my mind..
 

RelocatedPatFan

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
I thought I noticed this about Mac and hard to confirm...but maybe you guys can

He seemed to be making adjustments and calling out protection or assignments that lead to some of those good runs. This is something I wouldn't have expected from a first year QB, but he seems to also be having a positive impact on how the offense flows (outside the obvious).
 

50-yard-line

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
WOW! What an impressive win. Certainly a league wide perception altering victory. I thought we had a chance to win in a slugfest, but this beating was completely one sided.. The Pats are now just a nose ahead of average, but will be on everyone's "this is a team no one wants to play right now" list. You never know how your team will do, For most teams each year's group has to absorb 20-30% turnover rates each season. This year's Pats team, with its massive influx of FA's and rookies, had to absorb adding around 40%. It was literally a new team.

Sometimes we take for granted just how HARD it is for teams to gel and develop trust in the man next to you. We forget just how narrow the margins for error are between victory and defeat in a league where the 53rd best player on the team is an AMAZING football player. So a receiver running a route just a yard short, or 2 guys running their routes without the correct timing can result in disaster. Just like having a DLman or LB hitting the LOS just a half gap to wide can create holes that make for big plays. We saw a LOT of that over the first 6 weeks of the season and it led to the 2-4 record we justly deserved.

What you HOPE for is that eventually your team starts to "get it". Instead of thinking about how many steps a WR needs to take before making their cut, they just instinctively do it. The QB starts to develop a comfort level of knowing where their OLmen are going to be on any given drop and we see the results in he looks like he is moving in the pocket better. A DL/LB become comfortable knowing that he doesn't have to worry about the guy next to him and his job, which makes it easier for him to do HIS job. All across the board guys start thinking less and reacting more. This results in everyone playing just incrementally faster, but that is the difference in more consistent good play and wins instead of close losses. THIS is what we are STARTING to see happening before our eyes. Hopefully this is just the BEGINNING of this gelling and it continues. Whether this GROWTH continues or not will determine the direction the team trends

OK, the soliloquy is over. Now lets get to my general observations in no particular order.

1. Cleveland is a good team. Much like us they entered the game 5-4 coming off a great win on the road vs a division team. A top 10 overall defense who was 2nd against the run. They had plus pass rushers all along their front 7 including 2 elite ones. But here's the thing. Not only was this group held to just 2 sacks (both in the first half) The Browns added only 2 other QB hits for the entire game. This was an amazing stat for the Pats OL, when you consider that the Pats front7 managed to rack up 10 QB hits to go along with 5 sacks.

2. The Browns were missing their RT, but they are supposed to have one of the better OL's in the league and were bested in their pass rush stats 4-1 And while the Browns RB had 99 yds, 66 of those yards came in the first quarter, and they added only 2 more in the second, before the game became a rout.

3. D Wise gets a lot of crap here. Sometimes its even deserved, but it wasn't Garret (2 pressures) or Clowney (1 pressure) who terrorized the QB, but our very own Detrick Wise who according to PFF had SEVEN pressures to go along with his 1.5 sacks on the day. Lets give the man a hand.

4. I will be interested to see how many snaps Christian Barmore got in this game. Before the season I was expecting around 30% of the DL snaps, most of those coming on passing downs. By last week it he was taking over 60% of the defense plays, and in this game I can rarely remember seeing him on the sidelines, so I will be looking for that stat tomorrow. the kid has been a rock against the run and he is overpowering some of the best OLmen in the league on a weekly basis. He has far exceeded my (or anyone's) expectations thus far. The Richard Seymour comparisons can't be far behind. IIRC after that first drive, HE was the guy they moved to the nose to stem the flood....and it worked.

5. Hunter Henry is a perfect example of a new guy slowly growing into his role on the offense, and not just as a red zone target. He doesn't have the same yards after the catch potential as Gronk had, but as a pass catching target who can get open, he's close to the big guy. Jonnu Smith on the other hand is an example of a guy who hasn't meshed yet. Injuries has something to do with it, but hopefully as the season goes on, we will see him to add to the offense.

And speaking of guys who seem to be getting into the flow, Kendrick Bourne "come on down". Over the last few games Bourne has SLOWLY started to make an impact to the offense. Today he had close to 150 yds of total offense to go along with his remarkable TD catch. What we saw today was what we hoped we got when we signed him. It JUST takes time.

6. These are just initial impressions and just one game, BUTTTTTTTT. I think RStevenson is special, He has the power of LGB, but with extreme short area quickness and elusiveness. His first 2 runs off our own GL on that 99 yd drive were what I mean about "special". He made 5 key yards on a play that just as easily been a safety. He showed power, escapability and balance to make that run happen. The old saying was "he can make you miss in a phone booth". I think Stevenson has that rare skill. When Harris gets back, the Pats will have an OUTSTANDING RB duo that will be around here for a long time.

7. When I saw a tweet on the game day thread that Trent Brown was on the sidelines with a wrap on his calf, I choked on my water. WTF?????!!!!!! I wrote. Thankfully he was there by design given that he's missed almost 9 weeks so his wind must still be lacking, so spelling him with Owenu made a lot of sense. I'll guess he's still a month away from being his best self.

8. When Mac made that pass to Bourne for the TD, I had a smile a mile wide, because I knew that he'd have never even tried that pass, let alone complete it, prior to this game. Just another step in his growth. It was also clear that on a number of occasions he got the team out of bad plays during the course of this game. Good but not great. 200 yds in 3.5 quarters is OK. But his 8.2 ypa is very good as well as his 142 QBR. He moved in the pocket better and was just a half second slow in escaping his 2nd sack by stepping up. That will get better too.

9. Tennessee is winning a lot of games playing good defense and NOT turning the ball over on offense. When WE don't turn the ball over we also win. Mac is now doing a much better job of hanging on to the ball. IIRC in Tom's second year as a starter, he had a fumbling problem. I think it was around 12 that year and he mentioned that it would be an emphasis in the off season to work on that issue. As Mac's understanding of where everyone is grows, he will also get better at protecting the ball in tight places.

10. The OL in this game proved that they can stand up to one of the best pass rushers in the game, as well as the 2nd best run defense, and excel in BOTH areas. Close to 200 rushing yds against a team that averaged 80 ypg in the previous 9 is a great accomplishment, especially when your best RB (at least he was before this game) miss the game. PLUS they allowed what we were told was the best pass rushing team in the league only 2 sacks and 2 QB hits all game.

11. It should be noted that the coaching staff has also caught a massive amount of crap this season, especially Josh from all the arm chair OC's here (which is pretty much all of us) Well this game was a beauty. The defense fixed whatever was broken on that first drive and kept the offense completely off balance the rest of the way. And Josh designed a masterful game plan that neutralized that heavy rush and gave his players a chance to make plays all game.

I'll give you an example. Clearly this was a game where the run game was going to be featured. So obviously, to balance that run game, play action passes would be needed, yet not ONCE in this entire game did Mac go from under center, fake to a back and go back to pass. I was just about to comment on that on the game thread, when it occurred to be WHY that wasn't happening.

When you fake the handoff from under C, the QB has his back turned way from the rush. Well with the fierceness of the Brown rush and the inexperience of his own QB, Josh didn't want to put that risk on his QB. He's been sacked more than a few times on play action passes already this year because his QB didn't "feel" that rush, and when he looked up from the fake to look downfield it was too late. So instead, Josh added a bunch of misdirection plays and runs to further keep the Brown rush at bay and allow his young QB to always see what was coming from the the first snap of the ball. It was brilliant.

Steve Bellichick has also taken heat this year, but today he too called a brilliant game. I thought early on the Pats were consistently putting pressure on Mayfield against what I thought was one of the better OL's and mostly with 4 man rushes. Not only that, the coverage was consistently good, as was pointed out over an over again on TV.

Looking ahead

a. The good news is that we are playing an Atlanta team that just go WAXED by the Cowboys by 40. The bad news is that the game is on Thursday and IN Atlanta. The biggest competitive advantage in the league today is being the home team on a Thursday night game. So far the home team holds just a 6-4 advantage but 2 of those road wins were against the woebegone Texans and the Jags when they were just as woebegone and a third was the Rams going into a Russell Wilsonless Seattle when Seattle was playing badly WITH Wilson. So what I'm saying is it is HARD, very HARD to win on the road against a home team on Thursday night

Atlanta is 4-5 and still has something to play for. Matt Ryan is having a resurgent season while Kyle Pitts is looking every bit the generational player many thought him to be. Usually on weeks like this injuries play a big role and I have no idea who got dinged on either team. So on that note we shall see.

On the plus side, I know Bill does a really good job having his team ready for these games. . Outside of a few low lights or teaching points that they'll see in individual team meetings, I doubt they will even see the entire game in review and move right on to Atlanta tomorrow. I'm sure that by tomorrow when the players get back from their treatments, Bill's little worker bees will have all 9 Atlanta games broken down and segmented to each position coach. I'm sure in the lockerroom he congratulated them on today's win. Told them to have a great time tonight, and be ready to go full bore on Atlanta tomorrow.

The main takeaway from the post game pressers was staying in the moment, don't dwell on yesterday and don't worry about tomorrow. The other takeaway was how every player mentioned that they DO well, when they PRACTICED hard and well. In other words, they have all bought into what Bill is selling and they LIKE it. And that they are HAVING fun.....winning.

b. Looking at the future schedule they have 7 games left. 4 wins will give them a decent shot at a playoff bid, 5 wins will ensure one. To my mind they have 3 so-called weak teams over that stretch ( Atlanta, Jags, and Phins) and 4 strong ones (Titans, [email protected], and Bills twice. If the team continues to grow as a unit, I think they SHOULD win 4 at a minimum, but given the margin of error is so thin anything COULD happen.

c. I am really looking forward to when Winovich returns. Uche has been my biggest disappointment so far. I'm wondering if I was right the first time when I thought he might evolve into that speed ILB we currently don't have. He's made no impact on the outside thus far. However, while he IS limited, Winovich is a solid and consistent pass rusher who should thrive opposite Judon. and be a big upgrade down the stretch.

d. So far since he returned from his shoulder injury, the MUCH Maligned N'Keal Harry has put his nose to the grindstone hasn't complained once about his lack of targets and simply become a key element in the run game, one of the better blocking WR's in the league, and every time his number HAS been called caught everything thrown at him.

So far Henry has had a year where Brady did not want to deal with Rookies. A year with the flawed Cam Newton as his QB, Now half way through his 3rd year he has carved out a role in a Mac Jones led offense. An offense that still has training wheels on it. Maybe no one else has noticed it, but on the last 3 targets Harry has had thrown to him, he has managed to beat his man deep AND caught the ball. I wouldn't be shocked at all (though I might be the only one) if HIS growth gets him more targets as the year goes on. Just sayin'

Uche hasn't had the big plays, but several ties, he's walked the tackle blocking him right into the QBs face. He's almost there and doing a lot of little things very well, I think. He should have had that fumble yesterday!

As for Harry, he was clearly deep in the doghouse for good reason. I noticed a play yesterday where on of the WRs - Bourne? - was yelling to him to get back over there and line up correctly. But still, I agree with your assessment. The Pats should never have drafted him. given their situation, their offense, the things they demand of every player on the field. I think he'll have a good career - somewhere else, unfortunately. The talent is certainly there and he beat up on more than a few Browns yesterday.

I will say, though, that if Mac starts being comfortable throwing those contested balls, like with Bourne yesterday, Harry is a good guy to go and get them.
 

Sicilian

Pro Bowl Player
2021 Weekly NFL Picks Winner
Great stuff, as always Ken. The good news about this Thursday's game, is that since instituting TNF as a regular part of the schedule for every team, the Patriots are 7-1 in those games (not including the season openers they play after Super Bowl wins, so only the Thursday games on short rest). The one loss was last year at the Rams, which is about as tough a road game to play on short rest as you can have (west coast against a really good team), especially given the limitations of the 2020 roster. Other than that game, 7-0, which I think makes sense given that Belichick's skillset as a coach (and overwhelming experience advantage) makes him really good at preparing a team efficiently. The shorter the time you give both teams, the more it favors Bill.

Conversely, I often wonder if this is why all of our Super Bowls have been really close games either way. I mean, the SB is a blender of chaos anyway, so it could just be all of that, but giving Belichick an extra week is a small boon for him, but the extra week is a much bigger help to the opposing coaches. It gives them time to focus on the details that Bill is able to work on in the normal amount of time.

Long answer short, I feel good about the coaching advantage on a short week. The big test will be seeing how Mac responds to it, as this is his first TNF game. This year is all about first tests for the kid, so I'm excited to see how he does with this one.
 

borg

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Tremendous effort PFK....as always!

A few of my own totally disconnected thoughts....

-After the 2020 season of no consequence and the team's struggles early this year, I had little faith this organization possessed any young players besides JC Jackson who could become the team's core future.
What a difference a few games can make on my narrow-minded perceptions.
The '21 draft alone has delivered 3 bonafides.......Mac, Barmore, and Stevenson
Not to forget Harris and Dugger who are each flourishing now that the team is leaning on them.
And of course JC Jackson whose ascension has been no secret.
For a few years now I had viewed the personnel of other teams and almost always concluded those teams had more athletic players.
With our new young core coming into their own, those negative thoughts have vanished.
Factor in several of our pricey new free agents whose integration within the scheme becomes clearer and clearer every game....
All arrows point up

-I can't remember when I was more excited over a TD.
Well done Jacobi!
Bobby Orr will be envious over your high flying dive across the goal line.
Loved the team reaction to Meyers TD #1....a good bunch of guys
PS.....Hoyer's arm during that last series was pretty impressive...decisive with zip

Lastly.......COACHING
BB & Co have shined the past few weeks as this roster has sorted itself out and the integration of players to scheme takes root.
Anyone who has pounded their keyboard insisting Bill has lost his fast ball might want to reconsider or at least remain dormant until a stumble presents itself.
Defensively, the Pats have dismantled recent opposition, minimized their run game, neutered their passing attack.
Offensively, yesterday's clinic may have been Josh's finest work. The timing and execution of the misdirection plays, creations designed to neutralize the Brown's pass rush, were BRILLIANT.
Taking advantage of Myles Garrett's over aggressiveness is simply great coaching.
I'm still giddy about that 3rd & 1 misdirection pitch to Stevenson that gained 18 yds.

And lets not ignore how expansive the offensive playbook has become.....IN JUST WEEK 10 of ROOKIE MAC JONES' NFL career.
As I'm watching yesterday, I'm saying .."Haven't seen this play before, haven't seen that play before, etc etc etc."


The INTEGRATION of personnel with scheme has taken hold and we are seeing impressive results.
-----------------------------------
Thursday PM vs ATL
My view on Thursday night games continues to be: Too little time for teams to install drastic new game plans so what ATL brought against Dallas yesterday is more or less what NE will see vs ATL 3 days from now.
And I certainly have more faith in the NE coaching staff to adjust scheme in such a short window.
The "checkers vs chess" analogy has been real the past few weeks vs overmatched/ underwitted coaches and their one dimensional teams....and I fully expect that analogy to hold true Thursday.
 
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203Pat

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
Definitely an impressive win. I thought we would win but not in that fashion. It was nice to see a well rounded offense and see Mac bounce back and have a solid performance. A few times during the year I worried a little about the velocity on a few of his throws but yesterday he had a few lasers mixed in with some really nice touch passes. That pass to Henry in the corner of the end zone was beautiful.
 

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