You may think this picture of Malcolm McDowell, from Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, is us fans watching the Miami Dolphins trounce our Patriots 38-13. That is certainly a plausible theory. However, I'd like to suggest another, if I may. This is film study time with the New England Patriots players and coaches. In particular, the absolute fileting of the defense for 461 yards. There's no need to go over that again; we've harped on it ad nauseum. Let's just thank someone we're in a bye week and don't play San Francisco until October 5th.
At first, I thought this was a crappy place to put a bye. I felt it was way to early in the season and should be placed more in the middle. Now I think it's a fine spot and thank the NFL gods for placing it here. It is certainly needed. Without getting too down on the team, I'd like to pose a few items in need of work, all in the spirit of constructive criticism:
- Matt Cassel looked very "pre-season'ish". From a passing perspective, I have two theories: a) either Matt or the receivers were messing up the routes or b) Matt and the receivers haven't established that elusive "raport" that Brady has with them. Some routes are planned and run just as scripted and some are reads on both quarterback and receiver's part. Brady is masterful at this; Cassel needs to pick that skill up.
- Stop turning Moss inside. That scares the living daylights out of me. He's tall, lanky, and awkward on Welker-style inside and underneath routes. Plus, Cassel is going to stretch him out and get him smacked by some linebacker. You could see a few Cassel-to-Moss misses where Randy would've gotten leveled. Keep him on the seams and develop a long ball.
- Get LaMont Jordan healthy. I'm not saying he would've been a difference maker, but the team clearly could have used his presence. With 79 yards on the ground and a 26% (4/15) third down conversion efficiency, anything would've helped and this is LaMont's speciality.
- The Offense is stale and predictable. I don't want this to turn into Q's lab in James Bond, but a little trickery never hurts. This may sound like a direct response to the now infamous Dolphins' Wildcat, but I beg to differ. I've been saying for awhile that gone are the Charlie Weis days of creativity and trickery. These plays throw a rival off balance and keep them guessing.
- Don't leave a gaping lane in the defensive middle. Somehow, Miami was able to spread our 4 linebackers to the sides, exposing a lane in the middle which they exploited continuously. Where was the nickelback to cover these situations? Why were they spread apart? Keep that lane closed. Tight.
- Anemic pass rushing. I know, blitz and you run the risk of leaving the field exposed. Don't blitz and you give the quarterback too much time. I say get after the QB. Create some pressure and force the QB into decisions he doesn't want to make. I've been saying this since the Jets game and I'll say it again: GET IN THE BACKFIELD! Where's Vrabel? He should've been planting Pennington.
- Defense not sharp. Overall, the defense just wasn't sharp. They looked like they did in the preseason: doing a lot of bending and many times, breaking. I can't really put my finger on it, but I think they were just giving the 'Fins too much room.
Those are my not-so-expert opinions on what needs to be fixed. Bill? You have my number. Or, better yet, cruise over to Pats Pulpit and read away. We're always here to lend a hand.