So ends the Patriots' season. It was a good year with plenty of room for improvement. Despite this year being the first of a couple rebuilding, we still made the playoffs. In a year where we saw 12 players drafted, we had 8 (Pat Chung, Ron Brace, Darius Butler, Sebastian Vollmer, Brandon Tate, Jake Ingram, Myron Pryor and Julian Edelman) contribute at some point in time during the season. We had unfortunate injuries (Our O-Line all season, our RBs all season and Welker in Week 17) that prevented us from seeing and reaching our true potential. Our offense is getting old and is sure to be revamped in the off season. Our defense is learning and gaining experience.
Unfortunately, with everything combined, we were unable to beat the Ravens and reach the 2nd round of the Playoffs.
See why after the jump...
Here's a summary:
1. Stop Ray Rice
2. Produce in the 2nd Half
3. Find a Welker Substitute
4. Discover a Running Game
Bonus: Win the Turnover Game
Players to Watch:
1. Julian Edelman
2. Our O-Line
3. Our Secondary
So here's what's happened.
1. Ray Rice. 22 carries, 159 yards, 7.2 average, 2 TDs. No, we did not stop him. No, we did not contain him. No, we did not slow him. After ripping off an 83 yard run to open the game, the tone was set. We never really had a chance. I did say if we slowed Rice, it would force the Ravens to have Flacco make plays. Flacco threw 10 times, 1 of them for a pick. Flacco wasn't needed. Complementing Rice was McGahee who had 20 additional carries for 62 yards a TD. We couldn't stop the run and that's what ended the game for us.
2. 2nd Half Production? One Touchdown. We didn't get it done the entire season and this game was no different. We couldn't get anything going and our vanilla offense had no chance to produce. We need better offensive coaching, plain and simple. Nothing else on this topic.
3. Welker 2.0. Edelman was 6/8 for 44 yards and 2 TDs. 28 Yards returning. That's all we could expect from him. However, no one surrounding him stepped up enough to do anything. mmmmmmm made a good point before the game that Kevin Faulk would be a huge part in this offense. Faulk had 89 total yards. Honestly, Faulk and Edelman were our entire offense. While combined they equaled Welker, no one else was stepping up and that's what Welker does: He makes players around him better.
4. Running Game. 18 carries for 64 yards and 0 TDs. 52 of those yards were from Faulk. Morris, Maroney and Taylor had 4 carries COMBINED for 12 yards. That's inexcusable. Faulk spent a lot of the game trying to fire people up on the sidelines to blank stares and non-reactions. That's tough. Our Running Game needs a makeover in the off season. Badly. Say good-bye to Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor. Who knows about Laurence Maroney. This was tough. They couldn't do anything to take pressure off of Brady. Terrible.
5. Stay Healthy. Springs got knocked out. Edelman was playing with a sore Hamstring. Aiken got taken out. Brady's finger appeared to be affecting him with lame duck passes. Moss was a non-factor. A thing about the health was in order to keep our O-Line standing and keep the Ravens away from Brady. I was hoping a healthy O-Line would give Brady time. Scratch that. A health O-Line did NOTHING against the Ravens.
Bonus: Win the Turnover Game. Ravens won 4-2. Outscored us 20-7 on turnovers. That's just the face value. The Ravens killed 2-3 drives with the turnovers, drives on which the Patriots were doing pretty well. No. Just...no.
I said that if the Ravens won match-ups 1-5, they'd win by a TD. I didn't expect them to win all 5 AND the TO battle. This was just embarrassing.
Players to watch:
1. Julian Edelman: He has a future. He is a fighter, he is a gamer, he is a winner. We NEED to get him more involved in our offense next season as he can be a game changer. Unfortunately, only Kevin Faulk wanted to win as well. Therefore, EdelFaulk couldn't win the game on their own. I give Edelman an A- on the day (2 big drops). Other than those, he did all he was asked for. He was awesome.
2. Our O-Line. 3 Sacks. 6 tackles for Loss. 3 Interceptions. 3 QB Hits. 1 QB Fumble. Brady had no time in the pocket and our RBs were running into walls. There was constant penetration, even if they didn't get to Brady. Terrible job all around. Our O-Line is getting too old and we need to get them younger.
3. Our Secondary. On pass defense, they were stellar. Flacco was 4/10 for 34 yards and an INT. That's right, they only passed the ball 10 times. However, they were TERRIBLE on run defense. They were missing tackles left and right and were unable to impact the running game. While they did their job against the pass, they were needed to step up and help against the run game. They couldn't.
- We had 146 Return Yards. That's over twice as many rushing yards. That's almost as many passing yards. That's the stats of a losing team. I'm not saying it's bad that we had so many return yards, but the fact that we couldn't capitalize shows how poorly our team executed today.
- Tom Brady averaged as many yards per throwing attempt as Kevin did rushing attempt- 3.7 yards/attempt.
- Ray Rice ran for more yards (159) than Tom Brady threw (154)
- The Ravens were 10/16 on 3rd down, or 62.5%. The Patriots were 3/12, or 25%.
- We actually had 1 more offensive play than the Ravens (We had 63, they had 62)
- We had no sacks. Oh, wait. That's not a surprise.
- Both Quarterbacks finished with QB ratings under 50 (10.0 for Flacco, 49.1 for Brady). In comparison, JaMarcus Russel has a 50.0 QB Rating on the season. Jake Delhomme has a 59.4 QB Rating. Bad company.
- The Ravens got 95 yards worth on Interception Returns.
- Ravens Safety Dawan Landry returned a pick 67 yards. Apart from Tom Brady, only 3 Patriots had over 67 TOTAL yards on the day. Darius Butler had 72 yards on kickoff returns. Julian Edelman had 72 total yards (28 on punt return, 44 receiving). Kevin Faulk had 89 total yards (52 rushing, 37 receiving).
- We had more penalties than the Ravens. We had 5 penalties for 41 yards. They had 3 penalties for 15 yards.
- We were 100% in the red zone. The Ravens were 60% in the red zone.
- We gave the Ravens the ball 30 yards away from the end zone four times. That's basically giving them a 50 yard head start FOUR times.
Well thanks for sticking around this season! Hope you stay around during draft season and the off season.