Archive for category New England Patriots

Playoffs? You Talking About the Playoffs?

A lot of people noticed that all 4 road teams won this past weekend, which might seem like an anomaly given the preference to home field advantage that most people assume exists.

I think in most cases, the better teams just came out on top, and one of the major factors in that are actually the QBs and their experience.

Compare the 2 sets, those who won vs those who lost.

In playoff starts, here is the experience of the past weekend’s losing team’s QBs in the playoffs.

Cousins 0-0
Hoyer 0-0
McCarron 0-0
Bridgewater 0-0

Not a single one has ever started a playoff game, and with the exception of Cousins who played in garbage time 4 years ago, none had ever even played in a playoff game either.

Now look at the QBs who were behind center on the winning teams.

Smith 1-2
Roethlisberger 10-5
Wilson 6-2
Rodgers 7-5

24-14 in playoff starts, and 4 super bowl wins by those QBs.

38 Starts to 0 starts in those QB matchups.

That’s what the difference really was in those games.

Also, interesting point of note, until the Redskins/Packers game on Sunday evening, not a single team had scored a 1st half touchdown on offense.

Now this weekend?

This is how the scheduled QBs stand for playoff history.

Smith 1-2 vs Brady 21-8
Roethlisberger 10-5 vs Manning 11-13
Wilson 6-2 vs Newton 1-2
Rodgers 7-5 vs Palmer 0-2

There are 9 SB wins in that group of QBs.

Based on playoff history and success of the QBs playing this weekend, would anyone be surprised if the winners are GB, NE, PIT, SEA?

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Lewis and Reed and Mason Oh My!

So the Patriots are playing the Ravens this weekend in the first round of the playoffs. This is going to be an interesting matchup, and the game is certainly going to be exciting.

To know why it is going to be exciting is to look back to the first time these two teams faced off in the regular season. It was the 4th game of the season and the Patriots were 2-1 while the Ravens were 3-0.

Neither team had a secure hold on the game at any point, and outside of Ray Rice, no one really had what could be considered a great game statistically. The Ravens were better though on the ground and through the air, while the Patriots managed to commit fewer penalties and control the time of possession better than the Ravens.

Now we come to the end of the season and the playoffs where these 2 teams meet again, a single game separating their regular season records.

Even as a diehard Patriots fan, the overwhelming majority of factors in this game favor the Ravens. The Patriots have 4 things in their favor on the field of play, their quarterback Tom Brady, their 3 man Defensive line, and their place kicker Stephen Gostowski. Wait, that is only 3, I will get to the fourth in a moment. The Ravens are better than the Patriots in pretty much every other category when it comes to running backs, offensive line, wide receivers, defensive backfield, and tight ends.

Then there is the 4th thing that I did not mention above, which probably gives the Patriots a slight edge in this entire situation. This is a desire for the young players, the stars of the future to make their mark and prove something to themselves, the press, their opponents and the rest of the league who are all calling them done, out of it, the end of an era. This is their time to step up and become what they know they can become.

Wes Welker went down with a serious injury last week, that is not good for the Patriots in general, he was their leading WR this season, near the top of the league in almost every WR category, 2nd all time in catches for a single season, and yet he also missed games 2 and 3 this year, as well as virtually all of the last game. To doubt or underestimate his importance to this team, and this team’s offense would be foolish. I do hope however that the opponents of the Patriots take this as an opportunity to overestimate how much his loss will affect the Patriots game plan and execution for the game.

I know I can be called crazy for what I am about to say, but so be it. I think that the loss of Wes Welker actually has the potential to be an advantage to the Patriots this post season and their ability to win. What? Yes, Yes I really did just type those words, and hear me out with this wild and crazy thought process.

Every team knows that Welker has been Tom Brady’s backup plan on nearly every play this year, he was the go to guy and was available on 2nd and 3rd looks all the time, and it worked. Teams didn’t try to stop him, they just tried to contain him, while also preventing the long ball to Sam Aiken or Randy Moss. Teams knew it would be him, it was always him, but who will it be now? Will it be Julian Edelman who filled in almost without a pause last week? Will it be Kevin Faulk who seems to step up and become the guy willing to do anything the coach asks him to? Will it be Ben Watson who steps it up to use his size and speed to his full potential? Will Sebastian Vollmer bouncing from the right side to the left side to mix it up against the defensive line make a difference?

I know I don’t know that, and I am guessing the Ravens, Colts, Chargers or whoever else the Patriots could be may not know that answer either. This is what gives the Patriots a slight advantage by not having Wes Welker in the game, it forces them to think of more and new options and use players in a way that the other team’s defenses don’t know how to defend.

Welker has been a mainstay in this offense for 3 years now, defenses are used to him and know what to expect and can study the film on him for the past 3 years, but what film is there from 4 or 5 years ago that would still be relevant to the Patriots now? Not a single WR was here 4 years ago, so it’s tough to really compare then to now with the passing offense.

If the Patriots want to win, they need to go back to 01, 03, 04 and do what was working for them and what made that team a winner. It wasn’t the big play, it wasn’t the long ball to Moss for 40+ yards that got them those wins. The things that will win this playoff run for the Patriots are screen passes, in routes, out routes, drag routes and curls to Edelman, Watson, Faulk, and Baker. While all those routes are going on, Moss needs to stick to it, run his come backs, go routes, and post patterns to be open in case that long shot is available.

If the Pats can do that, then I think they have the chance to go far, if not all the way in these playoffs.

Is this the only key to winning? No, definitely not. The defensive backfield needs to step up to not just the next level, but the level 1 step beyond that as well. They have been acceptable for most of the year, yes they give up yards and plays, but they have their moments when they are good at what they do, and while the WR against the Ravens this weekend hold the advantage, they also hold the disadvantage of having the ball thrown to them by Joe Flacco. Same goes for the defensive line, they need to step it up and get a better pass rush to force Flacco to make more errors than he normally would. These are definitely important, but I think the veteran leadership of Junior Seau on the field, and some motivation of the younger players like Butler, Mayo, Chung, and Meriweather to be stepping it up and being the players the patriots thing they can be.

Remember the beginning of this decade for the New England Patriots, it wasn’t the big name players who got those wins, it was the rough and tumble, hard playing almost unknown players who’s wins got them those big names.

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Bye Bye Rosie

No, this is not about a girl…

It is about Rosevelt(Rosie) Colvin who was a linebacker for the Patriots, he was cut after the Super Bowl since he had missed the last 4 or 5 games and the playoffs with an injury.

I had kind of hoped that he would be back this season, but alas, it was not to be, so he has gone and signed with the Texans.

I think he will be a pretty good pairing with Mario Williams down there, hopefully the Texans can get some offense together for what is potentially a really good defense.

I kinda want the season to start already!!

In other news, David Ortiz had his cast removed today, almost no pain and he has been cleared to start strength and range of motion exercises in his rehab. Dice-K also pitched in a PawSox game today, and will likely be starting the game on Saturday at Fenway Park.

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A Rolling Moss….. is a NASCAR Team?

Yeah, that is a pretty bad title, but it got you to read this, right?

Anyway, what the title means, is that Randy Moss, the record setting WR for the New England Patriots is in the process of putting together a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team.

This should be interesting to say the least, and I am sure there are plenty of stereotypes that can be thrown out there in jokes related to this.

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Is It Drafty In Here?

No, not in here but there is one in Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The 2008 NFL Draft is going on there this weekend.

Overall the picks have been interesting, some expected picks have happened and then some picks that just make no sense have gone on.

The worst picks so far go to the Raiders, they picked up Darren McFadden and then a Cornerback, and a WR. Now, I am no expert by any means, but offensive weapons at RB are far from the problem in Oakland, they have Jordan and Fargas who are both great RBs, they don’t need that position. They also don’t need a WR or a CB either. What they need are Defensive line and Offensive lines to put pressure on the opponents QB and to protect their own QB. Al davis is just showing what kind of nutjob he really is!

Conversely, the KC Chiefs who had the same record as Oakland last year has been drafting awesome. They have a ton of picks and are spreading them out for players to fix their weak points. OL, DL, Safety and picking up all the pieces they will need to improve themselves. I don’t think they will be a playoff contender next year, but give them 2 years, and they could be a serious force with some of the guys they have picked up.

Now for the Patriots, they have attacked the pieces they need to attack. Having the oldest average age in the linebacking core out of all NFL teams last year was clearly evident as a problem in that Super Bowl loss.

They picked up Jerod Mayo in the 10th pick of the 1st round after trading their 7th pick to new Orleans for the 10th pick and then for another 3rd round pick.

Mayo is a good pick and will help make the LB core younger and is a fast presence behind the line who will likely be playing inside in the 3-4 set that the Patriots play. They also picked up Shawn Crable who is a LB as well with that 3rd round pick from the Saints. Won’t it be interesting with Vrable and Crable out there, have fun with that Gino.

In the Second round they picked up cornerback Terrence Wheatley out of Colorado in the Second round to hopefully help fill in for the loss of Colvin and Samuel in the CB position.

Then in the 4th round the Patriots picked up another CB from Auburn, Jonathan Wilhite.

The 2nd pick in the 3rd round is really the most interesting pick from my point of view. The Patriots pick Kevin O’Connell in with the 94th overall pick. He is a QB out of San Diego State. No ladies, you do not need to worry about Tom being replaced. What I am hoping is the case will be that we get to see Matt Cassell replaced. I am sure you have all seen that Cassell just isn’t very good, and I have never thought he was very good or a reliable back up. He never even started a game in college as QB while playing for USC and former Patriots coach Pete Carroll, he did start once at Tight End though. I would rather Matt Gutierrez as our backup over Cassell, he performed much better in the few games he was in over Matty C.

But now we have O’Connell, who is 6’6″ and weighs in at 230 pounds. Same weight but 2 inches taller than Matt Cassell. According to scouting reports he has a good strong and accurate arm, and he is very good at throwing while having a lot of traffic going on around him along with the ability to throw well while on the run. We should all know how important it is to have a mobile quaterback since we all remember Drew “my feet are in buckets filled with concrete” Bledsoe, who was a great QB for the Pats and put up some great numbers over the years, was not mobile and was sacked a lot compared to his replacement, amost twice as often per season.

I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

In the 5th round, they have picked another interesting pick, Matt Slater who is officially listed as a WR from UCLA, however he has played Safety, Cornerback, as well as a punt and kick defender & returner. Wait, that sounds kind of familiar, a player who can play offense WR, defense CB, punt and kickoff returner as well as special teams on kick offs and punts. Certainly sounds like a fan favorite around these parts with Troy Brown! I think he versatility and willingness to do whatever the coach needs him to do as a role player for the team really helped make this a decision for Pioli and Belichick as a player for them to take. I think he has some potential to be exciting and an impact player on the low profile. Hopefully he will learn a lot from the veterans on the team. I THINK the person he could learn the most from would be Troy Brown. I think Troy will be back with the Pats this year, but in a coaching position instead, he is 37 and while I he probably has some fuel in the tank, I don’t think he can really have the impact that most teams need, and I would rather see him go out gracefully instead of trying to cling to something on another team as the 4th or 5th WR on the team just to be playing somewhere. He spent his entire career in NE, and it would be nice to see him end his career here as well.

As of this time, the Pats have one more pick in the 6th round. If he is still available, I suspect they will take Mike Hart out of Michigan who is a RB and might be the future replacement for Kevin Faulk, who I think is nearing the end of his RB career, and could possibly be moved to a slot receiver, or tight end position if he is kept on the roster. If the Pats pick up Hart, it would give them Morris, Maroney, Hart, Faulk, Eckle, and Evans in the RB position, where they will likely release Evans or Eckle, and more Faulk to one of those other positions and be really set for a high powered offense.

Let’s go Patriots!!

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Pats Add 2 More to the Roster

Sam Aiken and Jason Webster have been signed by the Patriots this week.

Aiken is a well respected Special teams player, as well as an occasional WR. I think he will used much more as a WR on the Pats than he was while on the Bills. For one thing, he will have a much better QB throwing at him, and second, the Pats need a good mid-range receiver, which he could become if he can take a hit while going across the middle.

Jason Webster is a big question mark in my mind, he was hurt last year in 1 game, and then he was also out for half the season before. I can’t really remember ever seeing him play, and he is not a shut down corner by any means because if he was he wouldn’t have been that cheap and he wouldn’t have been available, but we will see. I have learned to trust Pioli and Belichick when it comes to evaluating talent, so this could be a great signing, and it helps fill in the backfield some more.

Also to note, both players are coming from the Bills, so that probably helped them some and the Pats are probably hoping to get some inside info from them about the Bills and their play.

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A Slow D-back Catches No Moss

and in the games Moss will be wearing a Patriot’s jersey while they are trying to catch him, at least for the next 3 years accoridng to reports, the reports have varied though from 3 years 33 million to 3 years 24 million, and whatever it is, is worth it from my point of view.

now let’s get going on those CornerBacks, LineBackers, and Safeties to sure up that Defense so the offense doesn’t have to go nuts like they did this past year with the scoring.

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Free Agency Changes

Well, Free agency has been in full swing for a couple days now and the Patriots already have seen some major changes.

Losses:
Donte Stallworth(WR) has signed a 7 year deal with the Cleveland Browns, so he is out of town.

Asante Samuel(CB) has signed a 5 year deal with Philadelphia Eagles.

Rosevelt Colvin(LB) – Released

Kyle Brady(TE) – Released

Oscar Lua(LB) – Released

Signings:

Tedy Bruschi(LB) re-signed to a multi-year deal

Lonie Paxton(LS) re-signed to a 1 year deal

Kelley Washington(WR) re-signed

T.J. Slaughter(LB) – signed from Free Agency

No Decision yet:

Eugene Wilson(S) – Free Agent
Rashad Moore(DT) – Free Agent
Junior Seau(LB) – Free Agent
Chad Scott(CB)  – Free Agent
Jabar Gaffney(WR) – Free Agent
Mel Mitchel(S) – Free Agent
Randall Gay(CB) – Free Agent
Troy Brown(WR) – Free Agent
Randy Moss(WR) – Free Agent

Junior Seau and Troy Brown, I think will retire if they don’t re-sign with the Patriots. Junior is 39 and been int he league for 18 years, only reason he would come back is for that ring. Brown was drafted by the Pats in 1993 and has spent all 15 years with the Patriots, and this past year severely limited due to injury, so who knows?

At this point, Randy Moss has not been signed, so he is a full, unrestricted free agent out on the market right now. Reports indicate the Patriots made him an offer, but he refused it since he felt he was worth much more, which makes sense considering the stats he put up this past year while playing. There are a couple different rumors of what is going to happen with him floating around right now.

One of the rumors is Jerry Jones offering him a large contract to go play in Dallas, for some reason I am doubting this one, only because TO and Randy on the same team would probably implode the team as a whole with 2 guys who have large egos and are 2 of the top 5 recievers out in the league.

One of the other rumors is Philadelphia looking to pick up Moss as well, to add to the big names they have already signed, but I don’t see this one as very likely either, I just don’t think they have the money available in the cap to get this done.

The last and most interesting rumor of all concerning Moss is the report that he has been talking with Daunte Culpepper who is also a free agent this year, about trying to package themselves together for a reunion from their Minnesota days to market to a team who needs both a QB and a top of the line WR. This is going to be interesting and we will see how that shakes out for them.

The Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Running Backs, and of course, Quarterback positions are all going to remain the same this up coming year since all players are still under contract by the Patriots.

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So We Have What? 23 Hours?

23 hours until Free Agency in the NFL is in full swing…

2 big key things to watch for are Donte Stallworth and Randy Moss for the Pats, personally I would like to see both of them back for the team next year, and put up another stellar year like they did this year, but if I had to pick only 1, I would have to go with Moss.

My real hope lies in Randy’s ability to be consistent and happy with the team, if he can be kept happy and just enjoy the team he is on then there won’t be any problems with him, but if he somehow gets a huge salary with lots of guaranteed money, then things could potentially get ugly like they did in Oakland… but I have faith in the fact that he might want to shed his slacker reputation gained from his time on the Raiders and end his career on a high note, or several in order to seal what is already almost a certainty 5 years after he has retired from the game…

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The Verge of Perfection

Yes, the Patriots are on the verge of perfection.

It will be ever so sweet if they win, they will create a new bar to be reached, a new status for all teams to attempt to achieve.

They will also shut those damn aging 1972 Dolphins who’s only purpose for existence is to hold onto this one small speck of glory that they cling to every year.

Just to point out a few things to some people about that 1972 Dolphins team, it really isn’t as impressive as you may think.

In that season, the Dolphins played 2 teams who finished the season with a winning record. Also, they played no other teams who qualified for the playoffs that year.

This year, the Patriots played 6 teams who ended up in post season play, 4 of which were division winners versus wildcard winners.

So yeah, the competition the Dolphins were up against was basically nothing, an impressive feat, but it wasn’t quite worthy of the legend status that it has been built up to over the year.

Let’s go Pats!!

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