Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pat Disaster

There's a big difference between week one in the NFL and week two. Week one ultimately does not matter, as the history books are loaded with teams whose week one performance had no bearing on the ultimate outcome of their season. Case-in-point, the 2003 Patriots released Lawyer Milloy, went up to face Milloy and his new Bills teammates and were dismissed 31-0. The Bills finished 6-10 that season and the Patriots went on to win 23 of their next 24 games. So last week, I took the glass-is-half full tact, mostly because a week one win is simply a week one win. But Sunday's game against the Jets? It was one of those rare games where there was nothing good to take out of it. The Patriots looked old and terrible and the Jets looked young, fired up, and dominating. Obviously the season's not over, but I have have a mind to kneel down and kiss the SUper Bowl ring that Rex Ryan hasn't gotten yet. Rather than dwell on any one thing let's just look at all the bad before trying to find some positives.

1. Brady looked terrible. In fact, it was probably the worst Brady's looked since that game against the Bills 6 years ago and the numbers don't really tell the full story. Brady was inaccurate in the face of the blitz, not stepping into throws, throwing off his back foot and missing potentially open receivers. With the pressure coming all day, Brady was never able to develop any sort of rhythm in the passing game, but ultimately, the awfulness- and the loss- should be mostly at his feet.

2. The play calling for two straight weeks has been atrocious, something we maybe should have expected with the loss of Josh McDaniels. Supposedly, quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien is involved in the play calling, with Belichick also having a hand. Regardless of who's calling the shots, it needs to get better. Given the low scoring nature of the game, 47 pass attempts were not needed. That Lawrence Maroney and Fred Taylor combined for only 14 carries was a huge mistake, particularly when they actually ran rather effectively when they actually had the chance, rushing for a combined 69 yards on those 14 carries.

3. The defense continued last year's problem of being unable to get off the field on third down, particularly in the second half. To have your zone coverage picked apart by a rookie the way Sanchez did was just embarrassing.

4. Joey Galloway does not look like he belongs on the Patriots.

There's little good to be found here, but maybe there are some reasons not to over react. Most importantly, I have no doubt Tom Brady will be okay. But oddly similar to Matt Cassel last year, there is a learning curve in getting him used to facing a live pass rush again. Whether the line can protect him is another question, as we've seen two weeks of less than stellar play up front. Ultimately, there's just too much talent on this offense for the team to continue to struggle the way it has. Defensively, the team hasn't been awful, giving up only three touchdowns through the season's first two weeks, so it's hard to say much of anything. The defense doesn't look good, but it certainly doesn't look terrible either.

And hell, maybe the Jets are that good, or at least this good for the start of the season. In week one, the Jets shut down a Texans offense that had it's way with the supposedly defensively talented Titans this past weekend. And those Bills from a week earlier? They put up 33 this past weekend. I started off by pointing out that two weeks matter in a way one week doesn't, but ultimately, it's still a long season. And ultimately, there's still a learning curve for everyone in determining just who are the good and who are the bad teams in the league. 1-1 is exactly where the Patriots should be right now, as, for the most part, they've looked remarkably average. But in writing all this I think I've convinced myself ... It's a long season and we've still got 14 weeks left.


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