This is one of the more brutal Mondays I can remember.
And it’s not even that the Patriots lost either, to be honest; New England is going to lose games, and as six time Super Bowl Champs, it’s kind of tough to get too upset about 10-2 and right in line for a first round playoff bye. I mean it isn’t helping matters any, but I don’t think I’d be feeling that much better if New England was coming off a win if I’m being completely honest. I ate way too much and I drank way too much this past weekend, even for me, and as my alarm went off this morning I awoke to sleety, rainy, snowy nonsense outside the window. Let’s all just take a mulligan on December. Agreed?
- You’ll have to forgive the brevity of this week’s Fan Notes. I watched the game, but I recently learned that the act of sitting quietly and watching football is completely impossible when you’re in the same house as your five year old nephew who JUST DOESN’T STOP RUNNING AND YELLING EVER EVEN WHEN IT’S PAST HIS BEDTIME. So I don’t have a whole lot written down other than “don’t have kids” scrawled over and over.
- Which is fine, I think, because this game was more or less over by halftime. I hate to say that, as the score was only 14-3...but does anyone here think that this iteration of the Patriots can come back down two touchdowns in any capacity?
- I don’t want to rag on the offense too much, and I don’t even want to fire up the cliche machine and say “it is what it is” either. We’ve seen this offense change on a dime multiple times over the years and transform themselves mid-game at times. But here are some cold hard facts about the 2019 Patriots:
- Brady trusts Edelman and James White. That’s it. The other receivers still aren’t on the same page as Brady. The number of times he pointed in the direction he wanted the receiver to go, only to throw it into an empty patch of grass most likely qualified Tommy B for a Farmer’s Only dating profile.
- The running game is good, but not great. And if the passing game isn’t effective, there’s not enough horsepower back there to carry the entire offense.
- I can’t remember the last time I was less confident in coming away with a touchdown when it’s goal to go inside the 10.
- The people who have been calling Brady washed up and overrated since 2010 are having a field day right now.
- There’s still time to figure it out. I believe that with 100% sincerity. The Patriots have benefited from a very soft schedule and, barring disaster, will have no lower than a two seed in the NFL playoffs and the chance to make another deep run. There’s too much talent on the coaching staff to just throw up your hands and declare this team dead.
- This isn’t a fact, but it’s an opinion I hold as strongly as I do my belief that anyone who thinks that Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” belongs in the same category as “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reinder” as legitimate holiday bangers can go kick rocks: I want absolutely no part of Antonio Brown on this team. He seems like he wants to come back, and I’m seeing a decent number of people asking for his return. If you count yourselves among them, then rock on; there’s no denying that he’ll be an upgrade at the position and help them win games. But for me, I’d rather they go winless for the rest of the year and get bounced out of the playoffs in the first round than take that guy back. Off field issues aside, it would be an absolutely horrible look for the Patriots to re-sign him, for any number of reasons, and I hope to Tebow his number has been erased from every cell phone at 1 Patriot Place that matters.
- As for the defense, it actually wasn’t terrible. They gave up a TD on a short field, and then save for three drives, held Houston more or less in check. There’s a lot of talent on that Texans roster, and they had an excellent offensive gameplan: checkdowns to the backs and utilize the tight ends with the receivers drawing so much attention. It’s almost like 80% of the Texans roster and coaching staff were former Patriots or something.
- There are few things more annoying than fans who blame the refs/injuries for a loss. Every team is dealing with the same issues, especially this late in the season, and bad calls or missing players are very rarely the actual reason a team lost (except the Saints. I still can’t believe that no call last year). But I will say that when half of your team is so sick with the flu that you have to take two separate planes in order to keep everyone quarantined on the very real chance the zombie apocalypse breaks out on one of them, you likely aren’t getting your best football out of some players.
- I think that was most evident last night in the tackling. New England has been solid this year in wrapping up and dropping guys at the point of contact, but Texans players were wriggling free and getting a few more yards at an alarming rate last night. I know when I have the flu, I just want to sit in absolute silence and feel sorry for myself. “Collide with a massive human” is very, very low on my lost of things I feel like doing. So hopefully this was just a one-off type of thing.
- Perhaps the reason everyone on the Patriots got sick is because, like me, they are now all terrified to take any kind of medicine. Based on the commercials I’m watching, if I want to cure my occasional heartburn, I need to accept the risk that I may develop dementia, suicidal tendencies, or an irregular heartbeat. I hope I never get arthritis, otherwise I’ll never get pregnant and I’ll develop a club foot. I think I’ll just sit here belching, rubbing my knees, and taking my chances.
- I’m also going to say with as much confidence as one can given the circumstances that the pistol offense doesn’t have much longer in the NFL. I just don’t think it’s sustainable at this level. These gimmicky offenses are always the rage for a while, and then one team figures out how to stop it, the rest of the league catches on, and that’s usually it.
- But until then...man is it fun to watch. Odds are the AFC Championship Game is going to be between some combination of the Patriots, Ravens, Chiefs, and Texans, and three of those offenses have all kinds of weird wrinkles. We all know who I’m rooting for...but on the chance that I actually get to relax and enjoy the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 2008 (the two years that the Pats weren’t playing in that game since then both involved the Jets, and the thought of the Jets actually being good enough to play in the Super Bowl give me hives), I’ll be looking forward to seeing what these young QBs can do.
- As expected, Stephon Gilmore drew Deandre Hopkins in single coverage, with JC Jackson on Will Fuller and Patrick Chung on Fells. Terrence Brooks saw time as the spy, which goes a long way towards illustrating the level of confidence the coaches have in him.
- You know those one or two horrible picks Tommy B is good for every year? We may have to switch that expectation to every few weeks. Absolutely no clue what he saw on a very covered N’Keal Harry, who didn’t finish the route. Stared his man down and paid the price.
- The Patriots are up there with the Bears and the Jets for most punts in the league. Yuck.
- Julian Edelman is not the guy I want going deep into double coverage.
- A few real positives to take away from last night: Isaiah Wynn seems to be as good as advertised. Athletic and instinctive, and he does help the line. I hate that I was right when I said he’s not going to step in and magically fix the offense, but left tackle is no longer a liability.
- Ted Karras is going to be OK - with an MCL sprain, he should be back out there soon.
- Even as the only real receiving threat, Edelman hauled in 106 yards. If New England just gets one more solid weapon, they’ll be good.
- And There’s talent at receiver with Sanu, Harry, and Meyers. They just aren’t clicking. Meyers isn’t a #2 receiver and he shouldn’t have to be.
- Good for the Texans - seriously. It’s tough not to like that team considering how many former players and coaches are down there, and last night was the first time in franchise history the Texans beat the Pats in a game that actually mattered. It was going to happen eventually, and the team that deserved to win won. Nothing wrong with that.
No time to rest with the Chiefs coming to town. The good news is that after KC, the schedule becomes much more manageable, and with the Ravens set to take on the Bills on Sunday, New England wins no matter what. Time to finish the season strong.