Alright, here we go! Two straight wins for the Patriots to bump them up to 2-1 on the season with the arrow trending up! Great to be back above .500 and right there with all the other top teams in the AFC! How about that stingy defense and their ability to protect a lead! That's what I'm talking about!
What's that? You aren't happy with this win? How come? Because you're a...you're a what? A Patriots fan? Wait a minute, I'm confused...you're a Patriots fan, but this win doesn't make you happy?
Of course it doesn't. Why should we be happy with a win? That's not how it works for us, because we're just the worst. We are only satisfied with wins in New England if it's a certain kind of win, one in which the offense scores a lot of points and there is a marked improvement from the week before. No up-and-down learning curve for us, no thanks. When the offensive line doesn't play well and the receivers don't get open and the Patriots only manage one touchdown, you better not be celebrating too hard in the New England area, because that's not how this team generates victories.
Well, at least not recently.
The Patriots haven't won ugly like this since around 2003. And we all know what a disaster that season was.
- Why the Patriots opened the game with three straight passes against the NFL's worst run defense is one of those questions that will forever be lost to time, like "is there still a headshot Russian mobster on the loose somewherew in the Jersey woods?" or "why does Roger Goodell still have a job?" After the defense did its job, the offense came out and did exactly nothing with the ball, much the way they have been doing on their first possession all season.
- It seems that the Patriots are good for about one long touchdown drive per game. Other than that, it's a bunch of field goals and TDs off of short fields created by turnovers.
- You know what's going to be sweet? That wonderful day when the Patriots score a touchdown in the 2nd half.
- Still don't quite understand the decision to feature Brandon Bolden in anything but a special teams capacity. He doesn't have the strength and between the tackles running ability of Ridley or the pass catching of Vereen; he's like some cheap TV mashup that is designed to get ratings but only really succeeds in forcing everyone to take to the internet to express their displeasure.
- I'm starting to wonder if Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson get together about an hour before kickoff and play a game of One Potato, Two Potato to see who gets the start that week.
- Another stinky day for the offensive line. Jordan Devey exchanged his cleats for a pair of those kids' sneakers with wheels on the bottom. Nate Solder got slapped around all day. Marcus Cannon continues to underwhelm. Vollmer was a bright spot, but when a team can consistently generate substantial pressure only rushing four and drop seven into coverage, it's going to be a long day throwing the ball.
- Let's couple that with only having one receiver on the field right now that has Tommy B's complete trust, and you get a fairly one-dimensional offense that is far more PS1 Lara Croft than the much more sultry PS4 version.
- Let's also make sure we put a fair amount of blame on Tommy B here. He isn't accurate right now, even when he has time. He missed a wide open Gronk on a crossing route. He threw a few low and into the ground. He overled Amendola on 3rd and goal, forcing him to dive for it. You can make the case that he has never been given enough time to get comfortable back there, but if this line is going to be a work in progress, Brady is going to need to learn the quick release and put a little more faith in his guys.
- Got a pretty solid day out of Brandon LaFell yesterday. He got flagged on a blatant OPI call, but other than that he made some nice strides forward and remains a very solid blocking receiver. I'd like to see him get more red zone targets, as I think that's where he would be most dangerous.
- While I'm talking about the red zone...oy. A combination of poor running, lousy clock management, and questionable playcalling turned what should have been surefire touchdowns into field goals. The good news is that this is quite similar to the problem New England had last year, and they were able to rectify the situation. But settling for three points when you're inside the five is like settling for Dunkin Donuts at that super service center on Route 1 in Foxboro that boasts both a D&D and a Papa Gino's because the teenager who is supposed to be manning the pizza booth cuts out early for the day to go see his girlfriend, who was able to get the family Camaro for a full hour before her dad has to go to work at the cannery; gets the job done, but when you want something cheesy and delicious, there's just no substitute.
- Yesterday may have also been a new low for the already apathetic Gillette crowd. Not only was the stadium not full - I guess that 35% chance of rain was enough to scare some people off - but those fans that were there were apparently more concerned with taking advantage of the several new concession stands available in the concourse as opposed to, you know, actually cheering for the team.
- They were certainly around to boo, though; when Tommy B was able to field a low snap and throw the ball out of bounds just before half to save some time on the clock and allow for a field goal, the chorus of boos that spewed forth from the stands was almost as loud as whatever cheering that had been going on yesterday. That was actually a great play by Brady, given the circumstances, but nobody wanted to hear that.
- Speaking of crap nobody wants to hear, the first smattering of fans wondering if it's time to bench Brady in favor of Jimmy Garoppolo have started to whisper behind closed doors. They are currently crouching down low behind the "Tom Brady isn't the same quarterback he used to be" proclaimers and right next to the "I don't have much hope for this team" overreacters. But we see you. And we don't need you. You know you're going to jump ship on this team the second they stop being relevant, so do us all a favor and get a head start out the door. If you need a swift kick in the pants to speed your departure, New England currently has a kicker that's crushing it, so just let me know and I'll put a call in.
- OK, that's enough negativity for one post. Someone has to act like the Pats won, and that may as well be me.
- The defense didn't allow a single touchdown.
- Gronkowski was getting more open and creating more separation.
- Chandler Jones continues to build momentum. Had some great pressures and a few balls batted at the line. Guy is going to be a force all season long.
- Solid day, once again, from the secondary. Kyle Arrington was asked to play that dreaded non-slot sideline spot, and he did fairly well. Logan Ryan played well also, despite getting exposed just a bit, and New England didn't give up any big plays. Granted, part of that was due to an Oakland game plan that involved a simplified offense that relied on a lot of underneath routes so as not to overwhelm a rookie quarterback, but big plays have been an Achilles heel of New England's for several seasons, so it's good to see that getting taken away.
- I wonder if this was the first game in NFL history where all points were scored by somebody with a "ski" in their last name. Good day for Polish football players.
- It seems to me that the most effective O-line combo is Solder, Connoly, Stork, Cannon, Vollmer. Too much shifting does nobody any favors. As a man who has shifted on more than his share of vinyl seats and resultantly had some explaining to do, I know what I'm talking about.
- Usually during these notes I'll highlight a handful of plays and make some commentary on what went well or what went wrong and all that good stuff, but to be honest this was such a snoozer of a game I found myself struggling to find meaningful things to say. Yesterday's game was the football equivalent of Survivor - unless you're hardcore about it, you probably tuned out a while ago.
- Will Julian Edelman ever attempt an NFL pass? He's doing pretty much everything else for this team, why not let him toss a few?
- Along those lines...I wonder if, amid all of the "Peyton Manning makes all-star receivers out of nobodies" talk, anyone will bother to notice that there is a certain college quarterback who is currently on pace for almost 120 catches for almost 1400 yards playing for the Patriots.
- I truly believe that, if New England had stuck to their guns and committed to the run, Stevan Ridley could have had a monster day. But they are still standing at the buffet table, picking up everything and giving it the ol' sniff test. They just need to start slopping food on that plate so they can get to the best part of the whole process.
- Well...maybe the 2nd best part. Few things beat a post-food binge nap.
- Big Vince is to the Oakland Raiders as Ty Law was to Peyton Manning - just an interception machine.
- I wonder what the Vegas odds were on "Vince Wilfork interception seals a one score Patriots win over the Oakland Raiders."
- I'll tell anyone who is still grumbling over this win: you better get the idea of dominant wins out of your head right now if you don't want to spend the entire season pulling your hair out. This isn't going to be one of those 45 points a game offenses - at least not based on what we've seen so far. This isn't going to be a team that slings it at will and lights defenses up all over the field. It's going to be an efficient offense that scores points when it needs to coupled with a defense that knows how to protect a lead and generates turnovers. It may not be what you're used to, but them's the breaks.
- I'll also say this: the New England Patriots routinely go 7-1 or 8-0 in the 2nd half of the season, and much of those wins are decisive ones. September is not the month to toss your team in the garbage can, especially when they are currently tied for the lead in the division. So chill the hell out.
Let's enjoy this win, let the haters bitch about how awful the Patriots are, and get ready for a Kansas City team playing in the first home game on Monday night in a long time, and are for sure going to want to keep rolling over the AFC East. Going to need our wits about us for that one.