Insert funny, witty, interesting introductory paragraph here.
You'll have to excuse the brevity of this week's notes; since I was at the game yesterday and spent most of that time yelling obscenities in the general direction of the field, I didn't jot down as many thoughts as I usually do. I then went back and watched the game again off my DVR, but there's just something about re-watching the Patriots lose their home opener to a team they had absolutely no business losing to that doesn't really put me in the cheeriest of moods.
Fan Notes after the jump.
- Defense came out of the box looking solid once again. Yes, they gave up some runs, but for the most part Arizona couldn't get anything going early.
- Interesting to see Ras-I Dowling out of the lineup in favor of Sterling Moore. Wonder if that is a matchup-specific decision or if Dowling is rapidly losing the favor of the coaching staff.
- What has always been Brady's biggest weakness? You rattle him early, he has a lot of trouble finding a rhythm. Well nothing will rattle a QB early like intercepting his very first pass. It wasn't really Tommy B's fault; he got a tip and a great play by Peterson, but it's not something that you want to see.
- Along those lines, the Pats really never got going on offense. It happens every so often; the team comes out flat and just can't get anything going, and that's what happened here.
- Of course, losing Aaron Hernandez right away doesn't help any.
- That said, losing Hernandez shouldn't completely short circuit an offensive gameplan. Maybe the Pats were planning on leaning heavily on him as he creates the biggest mismatches against the Arizona secondary, but whatever it is the offense simply looked sluggish and lost.
- It seems that the team will look to go deep to Brandon Lloyd once per game, which I think is good enough to keep defenses honest. Brady and Lloyd are eventually going to find the necessary timing and hit big with that, but at this point there's no real reason to force it the way Brady had to with Moss.
- Another disappointing outing from Rob Ninkovich. He kept spinning to the inside and losing the contain on the outside, allowing Kolb to extend the play and either find the open man or run it himself.
- I watched the replay of the false start that negated a Patriots 1st down and forced the Pats to kick a field goal five or six times. I didn't see a damn thing. Maybe I'm just not trained enough, but that looked like offsides all day long. Just pay the refs, for the love of God.
- The offensive line is going to take a lot of crap this week about Brady's four sacks, and they are going to deserve it. But lines work as a unit, and until there is some real consistency there, they are going to struggle.
- I remember going to the bathroom at halftime trying to figure out when the last time I'd seen a 1st half of football as boring as this one was. One crappy offense going against another crappy offense without enough big plays on defense to bring the energy up. At one point I even debated taking a nap.
- The saddest part about that last note is that I likely could have fallen asleep at Gillette Stadium and not once been woken up by crowd noise. There aren't many stadiums out there where I can say that.
- The halftime event, however, was pretty amazing. Troy Brown's speech was exactly what you'd expect Brown's speech to be: short, sweet, and giving credit to everyone but himself. He then went out and caught one more pass from Drew Bledsoe, who was in attendance. It was definitely the highlight of the day.
- For the most part, the second half was just like the first; boring. Pats just couldn't' get it going, and there was just something in the body language that let you know they weren't into it
- Stevan Ridley doesn't seem like an overly strong east/west runner. He's great going north/south, particularly in his ability to make one guy miss, but I don't think like it when he has to run very far laterally. Thus, why so many sweeps and tosses to him? Very curious.
- I rewatched the blocked punt a few times as well; that was just great special teams play by the Cardinals. Quentin Groves against Nate Ebner is a total mismatch, and there wasn't much he could do. Gotta give credit where credit is due there.
- Even with the short field, the defense still did a great job on the stand. They were backed up, on short rest coming off another Welker drop, and the almost got it done. A lot to be excited about here.
- Whatever the team's game plan was, it simply wasn't working yesterday. Like I said earlier, it might have revolved heavily around mismatches created by Hernandez. It might have been more run-based, a strategy they had to abandon when the Cardinals took the lead. Whatever it was, it just plain didn't get it done.
- How great a receiver is Brandon Lloyd? Just making sideline tiptoe grabs like a boss.
- I spend a lot of time defending Patriots fans against those who rip on us for being obnoxious, fair-weather, uneducated jerks who don't know anything about loyalty and will be quick to abandon this team at the first sign of trouble. That kind of talk drives me nuts and I don't think twice about arguing otherwise. But yesterday, I would have had a lot of trouble doing so. Really disappointed with the crowd overall. A lot of booing, a lot of disinterest, and the stadium started emptying out as early as the beginning of the 4th quarter. Just a very poor showing overall by a fan base that already does itself no favors.
- Watching them pour back in after that monster fumble recovery didn't get the taste out of my mouth either.
- I really, really don't want to join the ranks of the ref blamers here...but that wasn't a holding call on Gronkowski. It wasn't. Furthermore, the flag came in from the right side of the field, where the angle to even call the hold would have been very difficult. Maybe the ref saw that Gronk had two hands inside the defender and made an assumption, but it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I said a while ago that it was just a matter of time before a poor officiating call cost a team a game, and that may have been it.
- Regardless, though - you make that kick. Stephen Gostkowski was kicking beautifully all game, and the only reason that I can think of for him to miss that one is because the pressure got to him. I'm not going to rake him over the coals too hard for it, to be honest; he's a kicker, he's incredibly accurate, and he usually gets it done. It's just that he has some MASSIVE shoes to fill in the clutch kicker department, and I know that everyone in the stands yesterday was wondering what Adam Vinatieri was doing at that moment.
- It turns out that he was kicking the game winner over in Indy at the time. Dammit.
- I honestly think that Gostkowski would have missed that FG even if it was an extra point. The ball looked like a giant flying turn coming off his foot.
Yep. We lost. We lost to the Cardinals. And it blows. But think of it this way: how we're all feeling today? That's how Cardinals fans must feel ALL THE TIME. So be grateful. And let's all prepare ourselves for the oncoming media storm about the offensive line and Welker and Brady and overrated and blah blah whothehellcares blah. We're better off in the long run after this loss.