Sunday, February 03, 2008

Congratulations to the NY Giants....

...the best team in the NFL.
They played harder. They wanted it more. They hit harder. They played with more heart. The Defense let ELI throw for 125 yds and 2TD's in the 4th quarter alone. The Giants absolutely deserved this win. The Pats didn't, plain and simple.

This game has to be enough evidence that Joshy needs to be fired. 14 points. The highest scoring Offense in the league got 14 points. Great job Joshy. As long as Joshy is on the staff of the New England Patriots I can't be a fan. You are only as strong as your weakest link and today Joshy finally cost them a game. THE game.

That's it for now....if Joshy's back then I'm not. It's been real!

Friday, February 01, 2008

SUPER BOWL XLII.....FINALLY!

And so you finally hear from me. I figured you'd probably
been getting sick of the hype and didn't need to hear it from
yet another source (me). I really hate this two week break,
though it probably favors the Pats. Sunday just can't get
here fast enough!

First let me say that the Patriots are not playing well right now.
If you're comfortable with the offense putting up only 21 points
while Brady throws 3 picks in the AFC Championship, then you're
quite the optomist. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that if San Diego
was healthy they would have won that game. Three red zone trips
would not have resulted in three field goals if San Diego had a
healthy Tomlinson and a healthy Gates. Sorry Pats fans, that's
truth. No one finds the end zone more than Tomlinson. I just
hope that the Pats defense doesn't get cocky after holding a
battered Chargers team to 12 points. Rivers had Knee surgery 5
days before the game!!!!



Other Notes...

If you're the praying type, give one up for Joe Andruzzi. The
former Patriots O- lineman, winner of 3 super bowls with the
Pats is fighting for his life. He's got an extremely aggressive
form of Cancer and he may not make it.

On a lighter note, I'm starting to believe the latest Patriots
conspiracy theory. Tom Brady's boot was a hoax. Did anyone
see Tom limp at all during the SD game? Not during nor after
did he limp. The media would have see it when he came out for
his post game press conference or while he was on the stage at
midfield accepting the AFC Championship Trophy. Still there was
not one mention of it. Then all of the sudden he shows up in
NYC with a boot and a severe limp. That same night he's out at
a night club in cowboy boots not limping. Then he's missing the
media portions of practice last week. On Monday he practices
with the ankle very heavily taped and moves gingerly. Tuesday
he shows up to media day without the limp. He pracitces with
no tape on the ankle, no sign of a limp or injury on Wed. The
injury report comes out and he's Probable for a shoulder for the
100th time in a row or however many years he's been probable for
a shoulder injury. What better way to draw attention from Randy
Moss and any other spygate story than to create the biggest
diversion of all? I'm just saying.

I love Brady's response to the Buress prediction. "We're only
going to score 17 points?! Is Plax going to play defense too?"
While I was watching Brady's response the bottom line is scrolling
that the Pats have scored more tha 17 points for 24 straight
games. Good one Plax.

Not everyone is picking the Pats. More 'experts' are starting to
pick the Giants to win. But they've got the lamest excuses for
their picks.
Noted Pats hater Chadiha (Giants 24-23) says,"If the Giants can
shut down Moss and harass Brady, the game won't even be close."
My favorite is ESPN.Com NFL Editor Sheldon Spencer (Giants 27-23)
who says,"A Patriots' rally falls short inside the Giants'
10-yard-line in the final minute." That sounds just like Brady.




Now on to the Super Bowl.

Based on the play of the Pats lately, I'm not feeling overly
confident about SB XLII. Eli knows he can pass against the Pats
secondary. The D line knows it can get to Brady. The Giants
have nothing to lose. The Pats have everything to lose. Face
it, the Pats go down in history as the greatest team ever or the
biggest choke team ever. It's not fair, but it's the perception.
Even Brady feels that pressure. Did you hear him say it's the
biggest game of all of their lives? One that they will never
forget for better or worse. THAT is pressure.

All that being said, there are some things that make you feel
pretty good about this game as a Patriots fan.

-Yes the first meeting was pretty close BUT the Pats played
wihtout the right side of their starting O-line, they literally
dressed no tight ends, more than likely they're not going to give
up another kick return TD and more than likely Manning isn't
going to throw 4 TDs and only 1 Int.
-Belichick is a rediculous 17-2 when facing a QB for the second
time in the same season.
-Brady always bounces back from a crappy performance with a monster
game.
-Eli is WAY over due to start throwing picks. He's only gone two
games in a row with out a pick ONCE IN HIS CAREER. Now he's gone
three without a pick and you can't expect him to make it FOUR.
He'll be good for at least 2 interceptions.
-Weather will be a positive factor. When was the last time the Pats
played a meaningful game in decent weather? Looking back at the
schedule, it has to be @ Indy's dome. Bad weather against the Bills,
Eagles, Ravens, Steelers, Jets, maybe Miami at home was decent,
Giants, Jags and San Diego. All lousy weather. Now your putting them
in an environment where they scored 38,38,34,34,48,49 and 52 points.
-Maroney should be able to run on the Giants. First of all, the Pats
ran for a meager 1.7 yds per carry in the first meeting. Do you
think the Giants players are concerned about the Pats running game?
I already touched on the fact that nearly half the Oline was out and
they had no TE's to block. If the Giants are forced to play with an
extra defensive back (nickel) to double Moss, the Pats will be able
to run all day against 6 defenders in the box.




HOW I SEE IT....

I think the Giants have to throw everything they've got at the Pats
early and often. That means going for it on 4th down, taking shots
at deep balls, and using every play in their playbook - reverses,
halfback passes, flea flicker, you name it. That means blizing
anyone and everyone from anywhere and hitting Brady a lot - even
if they have to take a late hit penalty. They may even get an
early lead, but eventually they just won't be able to keep up.
The Pats will have long, sustained drives. They'll mix in power
running with screens, draws and the occassional attempt deep. But
I think the meat and potatoes of the O will be Brady getting rid of
the ball underneath to Welker, Faulk, Stallworth, Watson before a
pass rush can get to him. On defense, the Pats will be weary of the
deep ball, and will probably sit in their soft zone and try to stop
the run. Eli will drive them up and down the field like every team
does. The Pats will find a way to stop more drives than the Giants
D will stop.

The Pats score on 7 of 9 or 8 of 10 possesions. The Giants just
can't score that much. Still, the Pats always find a way to make
their games too close for comfort.

Patriots 41
Giants 35

*please see my new prediction in the comment field.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Championship Sunday

The Pats are still a 14 point favorite to beat the already banged up Chargers on Sunday afternoon. It's going to be very cold and windy. The Foxborough crowd will be sitting on it's collective hands. My dad scored himself a ticket to the game. Thanks for not grabbing one for me too, Pop.


When the Chargers have the ball.
I think the Chargers know that they can't run up the middle on the Pats D. Look for the running game to try to use it's speed to get to the outside on sweeps and runs off-tackle. It will be imperative for the Patriots outside "contain" guys to get up field so the running backs have to cut back to the middle where the older, slower LB's can make plays. On pass plays, I think you'll see two things from the Chargers. First, swing passes and screens to the fast running backs, making the linebackers have to run them down and tackle them in space. The key for the Pats there is for the cornerbacks to come up and make tackles. Second, I think you'll see the Chargers take a few shots deep. They'll use play action and throw to their tall WR's downfield at the very least hoping to get some sort of pass interference penalty, and to keep the Pats Safeties back so they can't creep up to the line in run support. The smarts and experience of Rodney should help the Pats limit the big plays, but once the ball is in the air, anything can happen.

Look for Volek at QB, Rivers isjust too banged up. But the Pats should not let down just because it's Volek. In my opinion, Rivers is just slightly better than Volek, who put up back to back 400 yd games as a starter in Tennessee. You'll probably also see the Chargers going outside left then outside right then back left again via run or pass, utilizing the likes of Sproles and Turner to tire down the old slow Patriot linebackers by making them run sideline to sideline repeatedly.

When the Patriots have the ball.
Supposedly, the safeties are the weakest link in San Diego's defense. The Patriots typically exploit under qualified safeties with good play action deep passes. See the Pittsburgh game and how they picked on what's his mouth. Other than the "fear" of Cromartie and the pass rush, I don't think the Pats offense has much to worry about from the charger's. They live and die by the takeaway. They have forced 48 takeaways (30 INT's 18 fumbles). If the Pats don't turn it over, they win no matter what else happens. That's where Cromartie and the pass rush enter the equation. The Pats have only turned it over 15 times. Most of those are on Brady. He's been strip sacked 6 times and intercepted 8 times. Phillips and Merriman are quite capable of getting to Brady, so he may have to eat the ball once or twice and take a sack rather than try to make a play and fumble. Brady also can't try to force it. San Diego picked off the league's second best QB EIGHT times in two games this year. Cromartie leads the bunch with 10 picks, but Brady will need to be accurate on all his throws.



On special teams, the Bolts have a big advantage with a Punter who can really boom the ball and a small advantage with Sproles and Turner returning kicks and punts. The big advantage for the pats lies with Gostkowski. He's 9-10 in his layoff career, while Kaeding is at just about 50% in his playoff career.



The way I see it.
I see this one being a lot closer than people think. Yes, the Chargers are banged up, but they still managed a win in Indy when no one gave them a chance in hell. I see them blitzing furiously, trying to disrupt the Pats offense and cause mistakes. The Pats are going to score if they sit in a soft zone, just ask Jacksonville. So you'll see the Chargers blitz the kitchen sink on Sunday. The Pats defense is going to give up points and it's going to be more frustrating than ever because they're going to allow back-ups to drive up and down the field on them all afternoon.

When it comes down to it, Tom Brady is too good to be denied and the defense will make a play in the 4th quarter to seal the victory (again) after showing no signs of being able to slow the Chargers all day.


Patriots 37
Chargers 31

Get ready to bite your nails.





As far as the NFC goes.....flip a coin. The Pack looked good against a crappy Seattle team that gave up. The G-men are what, 9-0 on the road? Something's got to give. Personally I'd like to see Favre in the superbowl, then the Pats can say they beat EVERY good team in the league on the way to 19-0. And there's the little revenge factor on Favre for the Pats superbowl loss in '96.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Patriots Win, However.....



I've been carrying his banner all year long, telling you to pay close atention because he is the best of all time. And Tom Brady didn't let us down. Brady had the best game any quarterback has ever had in the playoffs, completing 92.9% of his passes, 26 completeions on 28 attempts. Two drops. Brady should have, could have been perfect on the night. I can see Watson's drop being called for a penalty since the defender grabbed him at the line of scrimmage and never let him go. Welker's drop was inexplicable. Brady was poised, accurate, smart and he improvised well. He showed the world once again why he is the best to ever play.


I know you never thought you'd hear this from me, but Joshy actually had a solid game. The much maligned with good reason offensive coordinator had only one pathetic play call. A 3rd and two shotgun draw to Faulk for a loss of 3 yards. Other than that, he mixed the run and pass well and called screens at appropriate times, mostly. Of course it's got to be hard to screw up when you've got Brady executing (and fixing) your play calls. For instance, in the 4th quarter, when the Pats were only up by 8, (one possession) they faced a second and nine after Maroney gained only one yard on first down. Joshy's play call was a screen pass to the left. The Jags were all over it and blew it up before it could evolve. Bad call, best of all time executing. Without any panic and with unblocked defenders coming at him (as is necessar for a screen pass to work), Brady rolled to the backside of the play wher he knew he would have Stallworth in single coverage. The threat of the screen had drawn the cornerback slightly away from Stallworth. Brady made a great throw under pressure and on the run to Stallworth, who for his part made a very good catch. The drive eventually stalled when Welker dropped a Brady pass that would have hit him in the face and the Pats settled for their final points of the night on Gostkowski's field goal.


Offensively, the entire team gets a big A+ for this game, but I'd like to single out a few players:


Have I sung Brady's praise enough, or do I need to go on?


Stephen Neal is the main reason why Maroney had room to run. Losing him for 8 games this season hurt more than anyone realized. Here's Michael Felger's summary in the Herald: "As usual, Neal’s best work came pulling to his left, such as on the 5-yard gain by Maroney on the first drive of the second half in which Neal found linebacker Daryl Smith and carved out some space for the runner. Three plays later, Neal had an even better one, pulling around the left edge, hooking linebacker Justin Durant and clearing the way for a 22-yard Maroney run. The next series, Neal pulled left, found Smith and corralled him on a Maroney run that went for 29 yards. The next play, he sealed tackle Rob Meier to his own side, allowing Maroney to find the edge on an 11-yard gain. Great stuff all around by Neal, who reasserted himself as the team’s best run blocker."


Randy Moss was the ultimate team player. Many thought he might be outraged to have only one catch. Instead, he kept working, he kept running and more importantly he kept BLOCKING. How many times did you see Maroney run by him while he was blocking his guy? I saw at least 5 or 6 good blocks by Moss. After the game, he was spouting the company line about 11 guys on offense and a win.


Donte Stallworth. He's lost a lot of playing time to Gaffney during the last half of the season. He probably knows he's going to be cut this off-season or at the very least asked to re-negotiate to a lower salary. He wasn't thrown to all night. Yet on a play that he wasn't even supposed to be an afterthought, he went all out. And as it turned out, Brady hit him on the busted screen play. Had he quit or put his head down the Pats don't gain 53 yds. And don't forget, with time running out in the fourth and facing a 3rd and 7 it was his outstanding, individual effort that gained 8 yds diving for a first down on a simple wide receiver screen. I hope he'll be back next year, he is truly unique in his explosiveness.


Laurence Maroney, or the guy they're dressing in his uniform. Where the hell has this guy been all year? He's running hard, he's decisive in his cuts and he's exploding through the hole. He only danced in the hole one time that I saw. Great performance. Must have had something to do with the diapers his teammates left in his locker in about week ten that woke him up.



And now the other side of the coin, the swiss cheese er... I mean, the defense. Just bad. As a football player you are taught the proper technique for tackling every day of practice from 1st grade right through high school and even at some college programs. I am shocked that Bill Belichick's team is the least technically sound tackler's in the NFL. Bill always prides himself as first things first, before we scheme, we're going to make sure you know the fundamentals. It just baffles me that no one on the defense ever wraps up or hits a ball carrier around the legs. Instead they just run into ball carriers and hope they fall down. What the hell is that? I hope you noticed how the Jags tackled on Saturday night. They were text book. The Pats caught a ball underneath and were hit, wrapped and driven back for little to no gain after the catch. The Packer's do it, the Giants do it, the Charger's do it, Indy did it, the Steeler's did it. You get the point.


In addition to poor tackling, they are the most frustrating defense in the league to watch when they try to defend the pass. You'll notice that there are two schools to pass defense around the NFL. You blitz, or you cover. That is, the coverage can and should be loose and conservative if you go after the quarterback. Conversely, if you send only 3 or 4 after the QB, giving him time to throw, they you have to cover well or you'll get burned. You'd think that, with 7 or 8 defenders in coverage you could cover the 3 to 4 or even 5 receivers sent out on a given play. Why then, can the Patriots Defense do neither? There's never a pass rush, and my god did you see how wide open Jacksonville's receivers were? No wonder why Garrard had the best game of his career staistically, as did Eli, as did Feeley, as did Boller. It just blows my mind that the Patriots keep getting away with it. You just can't help but feel that, sooner or later the defense is just flat out going to lose a game for them. Yet somehow, they seem to make a play to win it in the end. Jacksonville put up only 6 second half points. Of course they were helped by a couple of drops by Jags receivers but drops happen, just ask Wes Welker and Ben Watson. If David Garrard and Eli and Feeley and Boller can put up those kind of numbers, what's Peyton Manning... nevermind.


HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA, I LOVE IT!!!!! I LOVE THE LOOK ON PEYTON"S FACE WHEN HE WALKS OFF A LOSER!!!








The Patriots are already installed as 15 point favorites over the Chargers.

Friday, January 11, 2008

This Weekend's Winners

I can't imagine that there's ever been a divisional playoff round in which all the Home teams were favored by at least 7 points. So much for parity in the NFL. Historically, teams coming off the bye week in this round have gone 53-15 since the current playoff format started. Still, it seems like every year a #1 and or a #2 seed loses. Only once since 1998 have all #1's and #2's advanced. So, regardless of how much the favorites are favored by this year, it's a definite that one of them is going to lose this weekend. The question then becomes, which one?

The ESPN polls have the Patriots winning (68% of votes) the Cowboys winning (61%), the Packers winning (65%) and of course the Colts winning (65%). All the favorites, all the Home teams coming off a bye week.

The Jaguars are no longer the experts pick for an upset, their performance against Pittsburgh was just weak. So the hot game to pick for an upset has become the Giants over the Cowboys. As Lee Corso likes to say, "Not so fast my friend!"






Giants 20
Cowboys 24


The Cowboys defense, especially a home and healthy will be too much for Eli to handle. The Giants played well against the Pats AT HOME and beat an average TB team that hadn't played in a game in 3 weeks (resting their starters the final 2 weeks of the season).







Seahawks 31
Packers 27

This is your upset special. The magic runs out for the Pack. Seattle is hungry and playing well, especially defensively. The weather looks to be good enough to throw in, and that's what Seattle does best. Holmgren will have a great gameplan and Favre will throw a couple of interceptions.







Colts 38
Chargers 27

Yes, the Chargers have beaten the Colts this year and last year AT INDY. However, Indy is getting healthy, Manning will have his weapons and Rivers won't. Without his weapons, Manning threw SIX interceptions against the Chargers this year and still only lost by 2 points because Vinatieri missed a FG in the closing seconds. Indy's fast D will limit LT and force Rivers to throw to win. Without a healthy Gates, Rivers has no chance.






And now for the low down on the Patriots over the Jaguars. I've given my 7 keys to a Pats victory in the last post, here's how they'll accomplish them.

1) the weather is going to be in the high 30's just a little win and no rain or snow. Bradys physically going to be able to throw accurately in those conditions.

2) Getting an early lead for the Pats will be a matter of scoring TD's on the first couple of possessions, even if it means going for it on 4th down. Watch for the Pats to come out in 4 or 5 wide, spread the field and Brady to start 11-12 or 15-16 with 2 TD's or something close to those numbers. He's the best quarterback to ever play the game and the Jaguars will know that too after Saturday night.

3) Defensively the Pats will put at least 8 in the box and stop the run. Look for Rodney to be hanging out around the line of scrimmage with the linebackers early in this game. They are going to dare the jags to throw.

4) Containing Jones-Drew. Easier said than done. I think the Pats special teams are up to the task, they have always done very well against teams with a good returner. When he carries the ball they Pats know they have to gang tackle him. It's when he's catching it out of the backfield that he presents the most problems. The Pats have no linebacker that can run with him. Rodney's probably too slow also. If the Pats get the Jags in passing situations, you may see Merriweather or Gay covering him. On early downs, with the base defense in, you will see the linebackers looking to hit Drew as he goes out for his route. Smother him at the line of scrimmage before he can get into the open field and out run you.

5) There's nothing they can do about the size of the Jags WR's. But the WR's dont run great patterns and aren't the fastest group in the league. If the secondary just covers, they should be fine. The Jags were also near the top of the league in dropped passes this year.

6) Don't let Garrard run. In passing situations the Pats will control their pass rush, staying in their zones and not creating large lanes for Garrard to run through. Keeping him in the pocket and making him throw will be the plan.

7) We all know that if the game is tied halfway through the 4th quarter the Pats won't be the team to fold under the pressure. Does anyone know how Jacksonville will respond?


Patriots 42
Jaguars 24




Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Bye Week is OVER, Bring on Jacksonville!

The Patriots will host the Jacksonville Jaguars this Saturday in the AFC Divisional Round of the Playoffs. Finally! It was so hard to watch football all last weekend without a Patriots game, but it was great that they had the bye. I watched the Jaguars play the Steelers last week and I just couldn't help but be under whelmed. The Jags tried to give the game away. They had a big second half lead and through bad play calling and bad play the Jags allowed the Steelers back in the game. Which leads me to believe that if it's a remotely close game this weekend, the Pats will have a tremendous upper hand. The Pats know how to win ball games and the Jags are still trying to figure that out.

That being said, a lot of people are comparing this years Jaguars to the Patriots of 01-02. The easy comparison is that there are no superstars, no pro-bowlers, a tough defense and an offense that just manages the game. They are also similar in that they are so unimpressive when they win that you wonder if they should have won or how the heck they win games. You need to look no further than the Pittsburgh game to wonder how the Jags win. Garrard was only 9-21 for 140 with 1TD and 2 Int's. Jones Drew and Taylor COMBINED for 77 yds rushing. They're leading receiver had 2 catches for 39 yds. How the hell did they win. I watched the game and I can't tell you. Remember how eery team the Pats beat in 01-02 said the same thing? They had no idea how the Pats beat them and the better team didn't win that day. It's the same thing with the Jags. That's where the similarities end though. Don't tell me that Garrard is anything like Brady was/is. And don't tell me that Del Rio is in the same class as Belichick, Weis and Crennel were that season.


Here are the Jaguars regular season stats:

7th in total Offense
2nd in rushing
17th passing
6th in points scored

12th in total D
11th vs. the run
15th vs. the pass
10th in points allowed

Besides running the football, it doesn't appear that the Jaguars do anything well. But they also don't have a glaring weakness. So how do the Pats emerge victorious?


Seven Keys to a Patriots Victory:

1- The weather. If it's terrible weather and the Pats are physically unable to pass they could be in trouble. Matching their running game against the Jags running game is a formula for disaster. Fortunately, the forecast for Saturday night is partly cloudy and about 40 degrees at game time.

2- Get a Lead Early. The Jags have won 12 games so far this season. Only once did they win when trailing after one quarter. ONCE! Not only will the Jags lose confidence if the Pats take a lead, but it will also take the Jags out of their running game.

3- Stop the Jags' Running Game. If the Offense gets a lead early this will be taken care of. If not, the D will have to be stout on first and second down so the Jags will be in 3rd and 5, 6 or 7. Obvious passing situations bode well for the Pats. However, if the Jags are in 3rd and 2, 3rd and 3 all game, it will be a long night for the Pats. It also goes without saying that the D cannot allow a long run.

4- Contain MoJO. The Patriots must try to limit Maurice Jones-Drew. The guy does everything and he's VERY fast. Not only is he a great short yardage runner, he can break a run for a TD on any play. He's also their version of Faulk, with 40 catches for 10 yds a catch. The Pats can't cover him with a linebacker, he's too fast. They must also limit what he does in the return game. The return he had against Pittsburgh in the first quarter changed the entire game.

5- WR Size advantage. The Pats should be aware of the Jaguars trying to exploit the huge size difference between their WR's and the Pats CB's. Don't be surprised if the Jags start the game the way the Giants did, with a play action pass deep to a big WR on Hobbs. Most of their WR's are at least 6'4, Hobbs is 5'9 in his cleats. It has the potential to be a mismatch.

6- Don't let Garrard Run. The Pats have to be disciplined on their pass rush and not allow running lanes. He could keep some drives alive by running for 5 or 6 yds here or there on 3rd downs. Garrad's 4th and 2 run last week won the game. Don't think the Pats will be fooled by that play this week.

7- Patriot's Poise. No one has been better when the game is on the line over the last 5 seasons than the Patriots. Not only Tom Brady, but everyone. The coaches make the right moves, the players know when to get out of bounds and the D tends to come up with a play when they need it. They never panic. I know that cannot be said about Jacksonville.


A note about emotions here. When the Pats have been in tight games it was because they didn't bring the same emotion to the game that the opposition did. It must have been hard for them to be excited about playing on the road against a 4 win Baltimore team. For Baltimore, it was their super bowl and their emotion almost carried them to victory. But don't think for a minute that the Pats aren't going to be all fired up for this game. It's the playoffs, it's a home game, 16-0 is on the line and the Jag's are the experts sexy pick for the playoffs.

If that's not enough to motivate them, there's always the asterisk that appears next to the Pats 16-0 record on the Jaguars official web site. The asterisk that says the Patriots cheated.

I'll have more on Friday including my pick's for this weekend's games.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Giants Wrap Up, etc

It is true in my humble opinion that the 16-0 record doesn't mean that much unless they go 19-0. As good as the regular season record was, would you be happy if they finished the year 16-1? The thing that bothers me most abut this years team is that they are the complete opposite of what previous versions were. The Pats superbowl runs in 2003 and 2004 were marked by a great defense and a ball control, run first offense that was built to win in Foxborough in January. Remember when they beat the Colts 17-3 in the playoffs? Do you think that will be the score in this years playoff rematch with Peyton? It'll be more like 38-35 and that's pretty scary. The other calling card of past teams is that they got better as the year went on, often playing their best football in December. It's very safe to say that the Pats played way better in September and October than they did in both November and December this season. I'm supposed to be recapping the Giants game, right?

The Giants game proved two things that we already knew. First, Tom Brady is the best Qb that ever lived. All night long he was under constant pressure, often getting hit right after he threw. Yet despite the barrage, he completed 32 of 42,(76%) for 356 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to the bomb that Moss dropped, Ben Watson had 2 drops, that would have put Brady well over 80% passing. The second thing the Giants game proved is that the Pats defense is an area of great concern heading into the playoffs. Part of the reason why the Pats D looks great statistically is that the offense is so good. When the O has taken a big lead, the D knows their going to see a lot of passing. The O also holds the ball forever and (when they do have to punt) usually leave the other team in bad field position. In the games that were close this year, the defense did come up big when they needed to. But don't you just wonder, if Eli can throw for 4 TD's, how many will Peyton throw for? Maybe it was playing down to the opponent, maybe it was hard to "get up" for all the games. Maybe it was how they were uncharacteristically run on all season. But the Defense hasn't given us reason to believe that they can win a playoff game if the game is put in their hands.



Other Giant's Game Notes:

- I already touched on the porous defense.
- Joshy actually did OK.
- Ben Watson can't catch and when he does, he's got to be the easiest TE in the NFL to tackle.
- Maroney is starting to look better.
- Brady is the best QB that ever lived.
- Faulk was BIG in that game, 8 catches for 64 yds.
- Welker quietly broke the Pats single season reception record (112 catches).
- What the hell happened to the Pats kick off coverage? It seemed like Eli started every drive on the 40!



2008 Patriots Opponents:

Home games
Bills
Broncos
Cardinals
Chiefs
Dolphins
Jets
Rams
Steelers
Road games
Bills
Chargers
Colts
Dolphins
49ers
Jets
Raiders
Seahawks

YUP, the Pats get to play on the west coast FOUR times.
YUP, the Pats get to play AT Indy - AGAIN




I was wrong, the Patriots will actually pick 7th in the NFL Draft..

Monday, December 31, 2007

TEST

Hello Patriots Report readers! The Patriots have gone 16-0 with another nail-biter that came down to the last minute. I'm going to give in depth analysis of the game as usual on Wednesday. Since this is a slow day for me and I was playing legos with my kids, I decided to diagram out the key play of the game. The record breaking, lead-taking 65 yard TD, Brady's 50th of the year and Moss' 23rd. Yeah, you guessed it, with legos. I've labeled the title of this post TEST, and I may just decide to delete this post altogether depending on your feedback. If you guys can get past the legos and you like the feature, I'll try to do it more. SO LET ME KNOW!!!!

Giants Defense in BLUE
Pats Offense is WHITE
Key Players hi-lighted YELLOW
Down and distance chains ORANGE






The Giants Defense waits for the Pats to break the huddle.





Brady comes to the line and identifies the Giants Defense as a Nickel because they have 5 defensive backs.




The other clue that the Giants are playing Nickel is they only have 2 linebackers on the field.






You always see Brady point to one of the linebackers before he goes into his snap count. He is pointing out the "Mike" or middle linebacker because once the O line knows who the "Mike" is they can identify their blocking assignments. The "other" linebacker on this particular play blitzed and Faulk picked him up. (not pictured in this sequence)




The Patriots line up with 4 wide, with Faulk in the backfield to Brady's right.





Moss is the wide receiver split to the right.












Welker is in the "slot" to the right.






As both Brady and Moss referenced after the game, the play was designed for Moss to run a "go" route, drawing both the CB assigned to him and the safety up the field.....






...so Welker would be left in single coverage to run a 10 or 11 yd out, enough to get the first down.






The Giants were on to the play and the cornerback assigned to Moss was to fake that he was going to follow Moss deep, then jump the Welker route.






That left the Safety in single coverage against Moss.




When the ball was snapped you see the cornerback assigned to Moss start to run downfield with Moss.....



...which gives the appearance that Welker is indeed single covered and will have no problem picking up a first down. Moss and Brady both called this play a "Trap", where the defense baits Brady to throw to Welker, then jumps the route, trying for an interception.
Brady read the cornerback as he jumped the Welker route and then hit Moss for the touchdown as he easliy streaked by the Safety.
That's the really simple version of it.
I haven't gone back to review the film, so I'm not positive the Giants were in nickel nor that the Pats were in 4 wide. But I think you get the idea of how Moss got so wide open and how unbelievable Tom Brady is.
Let me know what you think of the breakdown. If you enjoy it, I'll try it again. If it's stupid looking, let me know that too!
(I'm trying to fix the spacing, it got all messed up somehow!)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Giants Game, Notes

It is difficult to assume that both the Patriots and Giants will play their starters for the entire game Saturday night.

If I'm Giants coach Tom Coughlin, I sit my major players. The Giants are playing a wild card game at Tampa Bay next weekend regardless of what happens this week. With guys like Jacobs and Buress banged up and Shockey already lost for the season, I would rest them. Use this week as the bye week in preparation for the more important playoff game. Playing a QB like Manning without his weapons may only ruin his confidence going into the playoffs. However, Coughlin is making it appear as if he's going to play his starters and try to win.

If I'm Belichick, I play Brady and Co long enough to secure the 16-0 regardless of records. I don't doubt though, that Belichick would love to see Brady break Manning's TD record.

That being said, it might not be a bad idea to at least get Brady out of the game early. He's the one player the Pats cannot win without. The Giants just happen to lead the league in sacks with 52 and they possess the 8th best Defense against the pass. Getting Brady out of the game healthy is MORE important than going 16-0. Could you imagine if Brady wins the game, breaks the TD record and gets hurt in the 4th quarter? Two weeks to prepare Matt Cassell and the running game for a playoff game....yikes. Let's get Brady safely to the bench Bill!

I think Brady and the starters play through the 3rd quarter (unless they've got a huge halftime lead) and break the scoring record (4 points to break), the TD pass record (2 to break) and the TD catch record (2 to break). I don't think the Giants starters will play more than the 1st quarter if at all, but Coughlin can't come out and say that he's going to roll over and let the Pats win.

Patriots 42
Giants 10


Must-See TV

In an unprecidented move, the NFL agreed to simulcasts of this weeks Pats game. For those of us in the Pats local market without NFL network, we can see the game on WCVB channel 5. In addition, the NFL announced that the game will also be simulaneously broadcast on CBS and NBC. Why? Because the Patriots have been the biggest draw in all of television this season. The top 5 shows in 2007 according to Nielson ratings were Patriots, Patriots, Patriots, Patriots and CSI season premiere took the 5th spot. In addition, the Pats Ravens game on ESPN was the most watched cable show in the history of cable TV.


San Fran's Pick

It's pretty much a given that San Francisco and therefore the Patriots will have the 8th overall pick in the 2008 draft. SF has 5 wins and is playing a depserate Browns team fighting for its playoff life. The 3 teams with 4 losses are in the same boat: Oakland plays SD, Baltimore plays Pitt. Pitt and SD are vying for the 3rd seed in the playoffs. KC is playing at the Jets, with both teams having nothing to play for and Larry Johnson shut down for the year. It's safe to assume that we'll have the 8th pick.

Which brings us to James Laurinaitis, Inside Linebacker from Ohio State. NFL Draft Countdown has him slated to go to the Pats with the 8th overall pick. He's a smart player with great intangables. He's 6'3" 244lbs and runs a 4.6 in the 40. As a sophomore he won the Nagusrski award as the nations best defensive player. He's finishing his Junior year and it is assumed that he's turning pro. In 25 starts for OSU he's got 218 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, 9 sacks and 7 Int's. For those of you that follow Pro Wrestling, his dad is Joe Laurinaitis, aka "the Animal" from the legion of doom. Personally, I like the OSU students that wear T-shirts that read, "I've got a case of Laurinaitis". If you're curious, you can watch OSU v LSU in the national championship game on Monday Jan 7th at 8pm. My two cents is that it just makes too much sense to bring him to New England, I'd love to see him here!


Parcells Follow Up

It looks like Sott Pioli may not be on the Tuna's radar for player personnel director or GM or whatever title you want to give him. Parcells will most likely go after Jeff Ireland of the Cowboys. Ireland's contract is up at the end of the season and he and Parcells worked side by side to build the current Cowboys roster. Now if we could only get him to hire Joshy....



Here's to 16-0 and a Great 2008 for all of us!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Miami Game; Top Ten

I'd like to start by thanking Johnathon Birs of Capital City Financial for hosting me in his luxury box for the Miami game. Johnathon's generosity is second only to his skill in the Financial World.


What are we to make of our star quarterback being in love with his favorite receiver? We've gone over it before that Brady has become Moss happy and it's ugly when he forces the issue. I guess we can take some solace in the fact that, when the games have been close, Brady has played like Brady is supposed to. It is only when the outcome has been determined that Brady starts to force the issue. Still, this team preached 60 minutes of football all year and that shouldn't change just because they are nearing some records.

The Patriots put on a show in the first half on offense, defense and special teams. They were completely dominant. Brady was 14 0f 18 for 163 yds and 3 TD's. Maroney made the most of the 4 carries he got by turning in long runs of 51 and 59 yds and one TD. The Defense held Miami to only 103 yds to go along with 3 three and outs. So what the heck happened in the second half?

As for the offense in the second half it was the Brady Moss love fest. Brady was just 4 of 15 for 52 yds, got picked twice trying to force it to Moss and fumble once while waiting for Moss to clear a deep route. There were guys open on just about every force to Moss. The advantage of being at the game is you don't have to watch what the networks show you. I repeatedly watched Gaffney and Welker get open and to a lesser extent Stallworth. But the ball went to Moss. I think it's hard to get on the rest of the team for letting up a little against Miami. I mean, there was no way in the world Miami was going to put up 28 points in that game. The Pats new that too and they let up a little. The Defense gave up long drives, but as usual, for the most part didn't give up the score.


Game observations:

It seems like Gaffney has become Brady's go to guy on 3rd downs. He had three catches on 3rd down in the first half, all of which went for first downs.

It was nice to see the Pats making big hits, both in the secondary and on special teams.

I felt badly for Troy Brown when he muffed that punt. The place was electric when they introduced him pre game and he got a standing O every time he took the field. We were all hoping he'd get a TD catch to break the "most players on one team to score a TD in one season" record. The Pats have 21 players that have scored a TD.

Granted Miami stinks against the run but Maroney had 156 yds on 14 carries, 5 of which came with 3 minutes left in the game to kill the clock. Most importantly, Maroney found holes and ran hard.

Which gets me to Joshy. I had the whole luxury box screaming at him by the middle of the 3rd quarter. (Great fun for me!)
It started on the Pats second posession of the game. Incomplete pass, run Faulk around the right side for 7 yds then sprint to the line and run Faulk on the exact same play on 3rd and 3. The result was a loss of 2 and a punt. Good job Joshy. Then there was the 3rd quarter possession that started on their own 6 inch line. Joshy comes out with 5 wide empty backfield. Do you think Miami knew what the Pats were going to do? I'm happy with a pass from your own end zone, especially with Brady throwing it. But you've got to do it off play action. There HAS to be some THREAT of a run. Go 4 wide with one back, play action and throw or just throw, but at least there's a chance you MIGHT run if there's a RB in the backfield. Not Joshy. 5 wide incomplete, 5 wide incomplete and 5 wide incomplete - Punt. Maroney had 5 meaningful 2nd half carries with the Pats up by 28 points. Is it the passing game that needs work going into the playoffs or the running game? It's not like they weren't able to run the ball against Miami. It's not like they couldn't run it all the way down field and then throw it to Moss for his TD. Please Mr. Parcells, PLEASE hire Josh McDaniels and take him away from us!


TOP TEN

1 Pats

2 Colts

3 Cowboys

4 Chargers

5 Jaguars

6 Packers

7 Steelers

8 Seahawks

9 Titans

10 Browns