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Patriots vs. Eagles: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots' 35-28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Well that was no fun.

I don't think anybody, the Philadelphia Eagles included, saw that one coming. I don't think I've ever seen a situation quite like yesterday's, when the entire world thought the game was in the bag and the Patriots came out and just flat out stunk. Sure, it has happened in the past, but never at home, and never when New England lost the week before. But you know what? That's why you play, and that's why we watch; at the end of the day, absolutely anything can happen in this disaster of whatever used to resemble professional football called the NFL, and so all we can do is keep tuning in and hope for the best.

  • What made me most nervous about this game was how not nervous I was before the start of this game. When all signs point to even the team you're playing already conceding defeat...something about that just doesn't sit right with me. What makes it even worse is that I was 100% correct in feeling that way, because New England was bad yesterday. And when I say bad, I mean BAD - Tommy B was off, the playcalling was questionable at best, the team shied away from what was working early, players were dropping passes...just nothing went right all across the board.
  • The Eagles first drive of the game kind of summed up how this one ended up going: 1st down stretch run for seven yards, quick post for a 1st down. I don't think that Philly ran more than three or four plays the entire game, but since the Patriots couldn't really stop it, there wasn't really any incentive to change.
  • I'm trying to think if a single player so singlehandedly beat the Patriots more than Darren Sproles did yesterday. I really like Sproles, but it seemed that he touched the ball on almost every play, and every time he did something positive happened.
  • Unless, of course, your name is Jonathan Freeny, you're 6'2" and weigh 255 lbs, and a 5'6", 185 lb running back pancakes you consistently as he falls forward for three extra yards.
  • I'm still playing "who the hell is that guy" and it's December and I hate that. That game should end in late August. Today's contestant? Damaris Johnson, wearing Chris Harper's number to add to the confusion, and not muffing a punt to even further add to the confusion.
  • This now marks the second week in a row where special teams ended up costing the Patriots the game. It all started with the absolutely inexplicable decision to drop kick the ball after going up by two scores and kind of spiraled out of control from there. The blocked punt at the end of the half followed some more bad clock management to put the Pats in a bad spot from the start, and then that punt return for the TD more or less sealed it. Special teams has always been a strength of New England's.
  • This also now marks the second week in a row where the defense got absolutely gashed by the stretch run. I'd be willing to give it a pass against Denver, as that was a relatively new wrinkle to their offense with Brock Osweiler in there But that shotgun stretch run is one of staple plays in Philly's playbook. They had to know it was coming.
  • How many flags were thrown during the first five minutes of this game? five? Six?
  • And how many times can Matthew Slater be writhing around on the ground following a punt?
  • Were the refs trying to make up for last week's reffing debacle by giving New England so many calls? Were they trying to prove to the league that they are a competent crew? Are the Eagles just that undisciplined? Is the goal all across the league this year to make this sport totally and utterly unwatchable? All of the above?
  • So let me see if I can do a little recap of the game: Patriots run it well on first down, can't get anything going otherwise, and punt. Eagles run it well on first down, shoot themselves in the foot with penalties, and punt. Anything I missed?
  • Sebastian Vollmer's go-to block seems to be, as the faster defender gets a jump on him and blows right by, to just push the guy into the backfield and behind Tommy B in order to give him the chance to step up. And that's actually a pretty effective move when the interior pressure is kept in check. But with the interior of the line on ice skates, stepping up becomes rolling out, and that isn't where Brady is strong.
  • I will say, though, Brady did a fantastic job yesterday extending the play with his legs. Unfortunately, all he really did was give the Eagles safeties more time to break up the deep ball to LaFell into double coverage.
  • Seriously, I think New England has gone deep more in the last two games than they have all season up to this point. And this is a team with no legitimate deep threat. I'm not entirely unconvinced that the strategy isn't along the vein of "well...our defense is pretty good, so I'm just going to huck it deep. My guy will come down with it, or he'll draw a PI call, or they'll intercept it and have bad field position for a stop. So why not?"
  • And before you start bashing that strategy, keep in mind that it won Joe Flacco a Super Bowl and got him a nice fat contract.
  • And once again James White making positive contributions in limited touches. Maybe it's time to get him involved more? Just a thought.
  • White's TD was more or less the exact same play that he scored on against Buffalo; a quick slant into the open flat as the tight end drew double coverage.
  • James white was one of a few bright spots in yesterday's game. Danny Amendola was another. His seven catches for 62 yards and a TD don't really reflect how well he played yesterday. The only black mark is his huge drop that probably would have gone for a TD - but there were so many drops yesterday, it's understandable if you didn't remember.
  • How great must it feel to get a Tommy B headbutt after a good play? I know a lot of people want to say that they caught a pass from their favorite quarterback, but all I really want is to be wearing a helmet and have Tom Brady be wearing a helment and have him smile and headbutt me and tell me I did good.
  • That Amendola TD was a simple coverage breakdown. He motioned in, then ran a quick slant post to get wide open. I was terrified when Brady threw it, as it was one of those throws he tends to make when the pressure is right in his face and he's going off his back foot, but Amendola was so open that it didn't matter.
  • I'm now officially off the J.J. Watt hype train. Based on the latest Papa John's commercial, it would appear that Peyton Manning will be passing the torch there as well, and the last thing I need is Papa John and J.J. Watt talking pizza.
  • It's very rare that the Patriots are playing football and I can't for the life of me figure out what they are doing out there, but yesterday was absolutely one of those days. No clue what the offense was calling. Couldn't figure out the playcalls. Totally lost on clock management. Bizarre dropkicks for seemingly no reason. No rhyme or reason to anything.
  • Even the pass rush was lousy. Bradford, who is a pretty accurate quarterback, had a long time to throw it.
  • In different years, I think that Scott Chandler would be in the doghouse. But since the hospital is so jam packed, the dog house can't afford to stay open.
  • Anybody have any idea why the Patriots kind of abandoned the run in the 2nd half?
  • When the Eagles ran that pick back for a TD, I just kind of sat there for a while trying to figure out what the hell was going on. All of a sudden I was 13 again and watching the 90s Patriots play. Plays like that was kind of New England's MO in the 90s.I know we're going to be bad again soon...but I'm just not ready. Not yet.
  • While that pick was on Tommy B at the end of the day - Amendola was covered, so he should have just taken the sack and settled for the FG - it also does speak to a larger problem regarding this offense in general right now. The bottom line is that none of the current receiving weapons warrant double coverage and the offensive line isn't strong enough to allow second cut. The result is that there is just nobody open, ever.
  • As cool as that Amendola to Brady play was, that they had to resort to that against the Eagles kind of puts a stink on it. That's the kind of play you want to bust out in the playoffs to break a team's back. You know...kind of like this one.
  • Philly started milking the clock from about six minutes left in the third quarter, and I can't say I blame them one bit. The game was more or less over by that point (I never once thought New England would be able to pull out a W). And I forgot how much it sucks when the game is more or less in the bag before the 4th quarter even starts and the Pats aren't on the winning side of it.
  • That said - that Pats were fans leaving the stadium with 11 minutes in the fourth quarter is pathetic and inexcusable. We're the absolute worst sometimes and actions like that make it so, so hard to defend my fellow fanbase from anyone so says that Patriots fans are bandwagon a-holes.
  • The only thing I hate more than conceding touchdowns in garbage time is scoring touchdowns in garbage time.
  • Recovering that onside kick was just cruel.  Nothing worse than talking yourself into thinking that the Pats had a chance to come back.
  • And then they scored to make it even worse!
  • Yet another questionable call and odd special teams play: the decision to kick the onside kick again there. Two timeouts plus the two minute warning, and you give the Eagles great field position? You really have to question that. Even though a huge Jamie Collins strip gave New England another shot, maybe that strip could have come from the Eagle 30 instead of New England's? Whole new ballgame.
  • Really, really frustrating day overall, and a primo opportunity to distance themselves from the pack just pissed away. I will say this, though: man I love this team. They just keep grinding it out, no matter what. Tough loss today, but whatever. You have to be happy with the late effort. I just wish they hadn't waited until there was less than 10 minutes left in the game to wake up.
  • One last note: yesterday was Pearl Harbor Day, everyone. Perspective.

The narrative this week? I'm guessing there will be a few: injuries catching up to the Patriots, offensive line woes, Tom Brady is upset... that should do it. On the plus side, I'm likely going to get way more work done than usual. So that's good.

I think.