Happy 2017, everyone!
I know that, for a lot of folks, 2016 was more or less a dumpster fire. Be it a slew of celebrity deaths, a highly contentious political climate, or the continued and inexplicable longevity of Lena Dunham, I don't know too many people who were sorry to see last year go the way of Baltimore's playoff hopes. So hopefully this coming year brings great things to all of you.
One thing that I can take away from 2016, however, is a renewed appreciation for the New England Patriots. The Pats have been consistent amid all the volatility, a diamond in the dog crap, with yet another postseason going through Foxboro, I think it's safe to say that 2017 is already off to a much better start than its predecessor.
- Last week, I mentioned that my New Year's resolution was to hang out with old high dive guy from the Sprint commercials. I think I'm going to have to change that; my New Year's resolution is now to watch every single Patriots game at a bar on the beach with an icy cold beverage nearby. I'd say that this year's resolution has just as good a chance of coming to fruition as my decision to get in shape, read more books, learn a new language, eat less fried food, and obsess less about the NFL.
- How about that shot of the WWI-style trenches that comprised the field yesterday immediately followed by Dion Lewis back to return the opening kickoff? No thanks.
- I predicted a very Blount-heavy running attack as the best offensive strategy for the Patriots in this game. So of course their first three plays of the game were passes.
- What an opening drive, though; seven plus minutes to go 75 yards on 13 plays, six completions to five different receivers, capped off with a playaction into the end zone to a tight end.
- Apparently Mariah Carey was slated to perform on New Year's Eve in New York, and apparently it didn't go well. Perhaps way more surprising than that is, people care one way or another.
- I don't think it's a stretch to call extending Trey Flowers in the offseason something the Patriots should give serious weight to. He's under contract next year, but he has been playing better and better each and every week and if that arrow continues to go up he might price himself right out of New England.
- Interestingly, when the Patriots ran, they went straight up the middle behind center David Andrews. I figured they would utilize more stretch runs
- Michael Floyd is now the 65th Patriot to catch a touchdown pass from Tommy B. I think he's also only the 2nd Patriot to catch a TD pass while dragging six defenders into the end zone with him.
- Not surprising, I guess; Floyd knows a thing or two about driving forward no matter what or how many things you might run into along the way.
- Apparently New England's headset communications weren't working yesterday - again. Just like all around the league, all the time. I've said it a million times: these things only become an issue when you can craft a narrative that makes the Patriots look bad.
- A special thank you to Dolphins QB Matt Moore for renewing my faith in a failed sack attempt not resulting in a positive play for the opponent for once.
- I guess the Patriots simply aren't going to stop going deep to Julian Edelman. I'm going to just have to accept it. I really, really don't want to, though.
- I struck up a friendly conversation with a hydrated Irish guy at the bar as my attention slowly started to wander away from the game and towards the beach to soak up the last few ogles of bathing suit weather until June. Not only was he more knowledgeable about the NFL than a lot of Americans I speak to on a regular basis, but he told me that fantasy football is pretty massive over in Ireland. So I guess Roger Goodell's job is secure for the foreseeable future.
- It's weird how Julian Edelman, to announcers, is simultaneously Mr. Reliable and the league leader in dropped passes.
- I'd like to see the NFL figure out some new material to put on the sidelines than whatever it is that comprises the artificial ice right now. Every time a player gets pushed out of bounds and slips, slides, wobbles, and skids for an extra nine yards, I find myself amazed that he's able to get up afterwards.
- Quick outs were the name of the game in regards to the passing attack; even better, virtually every eligible receiver on the roster yesterday ran those routes and caught a pass.
- Matt Moore took a page from the book of Brady towards the end of the first half and started calling a lot of quick slants over the middle, which New England didn't have an answer for.
- Miami needs to figure out why they don't suck in the 2nd half of games, and then start doing that in the first half of games.
- I felt like I was watching a replay of the same play every time Miami had the ball for the entirety of the third quarter. Shame on the New England defense for not adjusting.
- Malcolm Floyd's block on Tony Lippett during the Julian Edelman TD is the kind of play that, even if you're OK afterwards, you simply don't show your face on the field again that day. I believe the technical term there is "stuffed into a locker."
- Drag routes over the middle has actually been a problem for the Patriots all year. They may simply be content to allow those plays as they roam the deep zones, but when you have speedy receivers on the field, you can really do some damage.
- Red Zone offense is something to monitor as well. The Patriots could have put this game away a few times yesterday, but were held to a FG attempt instead.
- A huge Shea McClellan fumble return on goal to go will work just fine, though.
- Blount's game-sealing TD was more or less when I turned my attention to a final few hours of sun and surf. Crazy to think that yet another regular season's worth of Fan Notes is in the books. Thanks for reading, everyone; we're on to the postseason!
- The crazy thing is that, despite the fact that this win locked up the #1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, my favorite part of this game was hands-down my realization that I have now heard the last of Dan Fouts for a blissful nine months. To call that guy an idiot gives idiots a bad name.