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Patriots vs. Chargers: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots’ 21-13 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Let the bye week begin.

Usually, when the Patriots’ bye week rolls around, I find that I need it just as much as the team does. I’m almost always stressed, exhausted, all kinds of banged up, and in dire need of a weekend off from watching the NFL. This year, though...I don’t know. There’s something different about the 2017 season as a whole, and the level of energy and excitement that usually accompanies the NFL just isn’t there anymore. At least not for me.

What hasn’t changed, however, is the New England Patriots beating the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers. Philip Rivers remains 0 for life against Tom Brady, and it seems that every time these two teams meet, you can chalk it up as a W for New England. It wasn’t the prettiest win this team has ever had, and you have to be concerned with how this offense seems to completely stall in the red zone, but 6-2 through eight weeks is alright by yours truly.

  • In the ongoing debate of whether or not it’s better to watch games live or from the comfort of home on a big TV, I am, and always will be, staunchly team Live. But yesterday’s chilly, rainy afternoon where the greatest thing in the world is a fireplace, a nice glass of B&B, and a big screen television was not one of the times where I lamented not having tickets.
  • That said...Paddy’s of Park Slope continues to be my home away from home for the 2017 NFL season. Yesterday’s massive tub of free chili is not a small contributing factor to how I’m feeling this morning, but it was worth it.
  • Today’s Fan Notes are going to be a little limited, as there was massive wind and a lot of rain in the NYC area yesterday, which means that the signal was cutting in and out for most of the game. I’d say all in all, I only got to watch about a half combined. I’ll go back and rewatch the game later on this week...but I know that this article is one of the preferred methods of slacking off on the job every Monday morning, and I take procrastination very, very seriously.
  • The worst part about having the picture cut out, hands down, is that the audio still worked, so the only way I knew what was going on was by listening to Dan Fouts. There is a limit to the number of primetimes games each team gets to play. They should have the same mercy on the number of games Fouts is allowed to call. I mean the dude can’t even read jersey numbers and names right.
  • I don’t know exactly when the offense and defense pulled their own version of Freaky Friday and switched places, but the Patriots D is trending up while the offense is trending down. They can’t seem to buy a TD in the red zone these days, and the other than one massive run and a busted coverage, the defense was as stifling as you’ll see.
  • And least the massive scoring play the Patriots gave up yesterday didn’t come through the air, right? Am I right, folks?
  • Nick Novak likely wakes up screaming in the middle of the night about field goal attempts against the Patriots. I can’t think of a singly clutch kick he has ever made against this team.
  • I’m sure red zone offense will be an area of discussion all week, but something else I’d like to point out is how they seem to need a big play to happen in order to wake up and get to work. Sometimes it comes right away, but others, they just look sluggish and unmotivated for a while. Yesterday they got going courtesy of a James White catch and run that left Jaheel Addae still looking for his boxer shorts. I don’t want this team to need that big play before they get going.
  • I’m going to go ahead and give a big fat F to whoever it was that decided that we’d rather see graphs and stats than actual plays. At least five times yesterday, there was some lame chart on the screen showing first down metrics or completion percentage, only to cut to the play already in progress.
  • Credit to the Patriots for keeping the tempo up, though. A lot of quick to the line reads and capitalizing on mismatches, particularly with the running backs. Rex Burkhead led the team in receptions yesterday with seven, and backs accounted for almost half of the 32 total receptions.
  • It’s amazing how much easier it is to watch a commercial break/one play/commercial break sandwich when that one play is a Patriots touchdown. Beautiful playaction to Gillislee to spring Gronk wide open.
  • Unfortunately, it was the only one the Patriots scored all day. This game should have been well over by halftime, the way the offense was playing and the way the defense held the Chargers. But instead they left tons of points on the board and did nothing with amazing starting field position to kick off the third quarter. That’s infuriating.
  • People are getting on Ghost for his two misses yesterday, but I’m not. I mean when you’re trotting him out there at the end of every single possession, he’s going to shank a few.
  • The Patriots are going to really miss Malcom Brown if he misses extended time. Cassius Marsh is a real liability on the edge and to compensate for that, the Patriots used their linebackers to stretch the middle of the field laterally, asking them to adopt more of a read and react style of attacking the line. That strategy only works well when you have a solid lineman in the middle of the field to close the A gaps that the Will linebacker usually fills.
  • I love how Dan Fouts praised the New England O Line literally as a slow motion replay of Nate Solder getting lit up by a spin move came across the screen. Brady was also under pressure on 62% of his dropbacks. I haven’t seen so much ducking and shuffling since the last time a comedian made any kind of joke on a college campus.
  • Is it me, or does Brandin Cooks slip a lot when he makes a catch?
  • One of the running stories of 2017 was how dangerous Travis Benjamin was as a returner, and how his ability to run one back can completely change the complexion of the game. And here I was thinking that “run one back” meant returning a kick for a touchdown. Silly me.
  • Seriously...what the hell was he thinking? If you’re looking to reverse field, fine - but when you see that you’re in the end zone and surrounded by Patriots, just hit the ground. What is it about boneheaded plays and the Patriots?
  • Speaking of...something you hear opposing fans complain about, and rightly so, is the playcalling against this Patriots team. Some of the decisions that coaches make, be they at the goal line, down and short, or what have you, definitely leave you scratching your head. And while the idiots of the world will of course attribute this as “handing the Patriots the game,” I honestly think it’s simply the power of Belichick. Coaches try to out-hoodie the Hooded One by getting creative, trying unorthodox plays, and putting wrinkles in. They rarely work.
  • But thank Tebow for that safety, too, because I feel like if San Diego Los Angeles had gotten the ball at the one, it would have been a 99 yard touchdown drive.
  • You may remember how, during the 2009 season, the Patriots ran a FB dive play to Sammy Morris on 3rd and 4th and short almost every single time. If I were to say it had a 50% success rate, I’d be extremely generous. The 2017 season seems to be in a similar situation with short yardage situations and a Mike Gillislee run up the gut.
  • As for the other backs, the Patriots ran a lot of clearout routes, which is why Rex Burkhead and James White had an absolute field day yesterday. San Diego LA never really adjusted, and the outlet routes were almost always there.
  • Special teams won the day yesterday for sure - two touchdowns worth of points and a clear win in the field position battle.
  • The Chargers had a huge TD catch negated by an Illegal touching penalty. In years past, I would have made some kind of joke about that - but not this year. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s not to piss off the internet.
  • So what does David Harris need to do to see the field? Is just the guy they bring in two or three times a game when they need a big play?
  • Same thing for Burkhead. Almost every time he touched the ball, it was a positive play
  • Oh good! Chris Hogan is injured. I’m actually amazed he lasted as long as he did, to be honest; it seems like he’s been one spark away from exploding for about a month now. Hopefully he’ll be back after the bye week.
  • I love me some angry Philip Rivers. He’s probably my favorite angry NFL player. So animated and pouty. He’s the only guy I know that throws things when he’s angry and i love him for it.

Not the prettiest or most memorable of wins...but it’s good to take some momentum into the bye week. I’m hoping that when they return in Week 10 against the Broncos, they’ll have figured out a way to score points in the end zone so they can stop winning games by one score or less, but who knows.