Yes, even the New England Patriot cheerleaders are getting into it. I thought it appropriate because my daughter is at a cheerleading competition today and it's my way of sending a little mojo her way. While getting ready this morning, there were far too many estrogen moments for me to be in the same room. "Mom!!! This bow is, like, way to big. O.M.G.!! I look like Minnie Mouse!! Like, O.M.G." Time for me to leave.
As our Patriots prepare for a matchup against Tampa Bay, this romp in jolly old London has an odd vibe to me. It's almost as if our boys can't wait to get to the bye week, relax a bit, and re-tool for a second-half-of-the-season sprint that includes Miami, New York, and Indy. An 0-6 Buccaneers in a game that Belichick and the players are less than happy about playing (not their public persona, though) just doesn't seem like the way to go into the bye.
At any rate, here we are. The biggest news is our struggles to find a third wideout. With the loss of rising star Julian Edelman and the Joey Galloway experiment over, we're faced with the possibility of a less than 100% receiver corp. In Hoodie we trust, but I have to wonder if dropping Galloway was the right thing to do given Edelman's situation. Yes, Brandon Tate is coming off the PUP, but is he ready to be Brady's third look? Let's remember that Brandon is a rookie and has been, in essence, sitting through training camp and the first half of the season. Maybe he's getting a few practice reps, but nothing significant would be my guess. Not only is he a rookie with no NFL experience, but even and experienced wideout might have a tough time. Maybe Hoodie will restrict him to return duties only?
This puts a lot of pressure on guys like Randy Moss and Wes Welker to get open and stay open. That being said, Tampa Bay would be insane not to blanket these 2 with coverage. They see the same injury reports we do and know that if you shut down Moss and Welker, you take away 2 of Tom Brady's favorite weapons. What's a quarterback to do?
Well, in most situations, I'd say let's go to the backfield as a checkdown option. Sammy Morris is out. Fred Taylor is out. That leaves Kevin Faulk when you need to put the ball in the air close to the line of scrimmage. That works. That's where Kevin's most dangerous. The Bucs know that, too. When Faulk lines up, they'll know Brady will air it out to him. What to do...what to do... BenJarvus Green-Ellis has shown that he has some hands. Throw it to the young guy. But we need more than that.
I think we need to do 3 things: a) establish a ground game early and force Tampa Bay to respect the run, b) utilize tight ends Benjamin Watson and Chris Baker to make the Bucs respect a short aerial assault as well as pull defensive backs off of Welker and Moss, and c) once those defensive backs "disrespect" Welker and Moss, air it out.
All of that could change. The field conditions at Wembley turn horrific when the rain starts, but we've proven we can throw in just about anything. What's your plan? Where do you think Hoodie's going with this?