It’s the holiday season. Usually, I’m a fan of being able to do as little work as humanly possible while still taking maximum credit for it. If I can do nothing, or recycle work I’ve already done, I’ll take it and be happy. Skating by without doing much work is as American as apple pie.
But when it comes to covering the 2019 Patriots, I find myself wishing I had to work a little harder.
Every week I end up saying the exact same thing. As New England takes its second consecutive loss and its first home loss since 2017, you kind of have to wonder what else there is to say at this point. This offense STINKS. The defense is susceptible to big plays and checkdowns. All I need to do each and every week is make some comment about a commercial or two, and these Fan Notes more or less write themselves.
- My thoughts at halftime of this game and my thoughts at the end of this game are so different that, reading over what I jotted down as I was watching, I don’t even really know where to start with this week’s Fan Notes. Maybe I should just leave everything right as it is, unedited, and in the order in which it came to me in order to give you all a terrifying glimpse into my incurable mania. See if you can guess where in the game each note was taken.
- Once again, this was a game that was more or less over once the Chiefs went up by 10. I didn’t think I’d ever see a day where a two possession lead early in the second quarter was more than enough for a New England opponent to hold on for the win, but that’s where we are in 2019 and that’s more than likely the way it’s going to stay.
- Even New England’s opening scoring drive, which was encouraging, was aided by two DPI calls on third downs and they needed a flea flicker to get into the end zone. They couldn’t run the ball and receivers couldn’t get any separation. The strategy from here on out might be to just Joe Flacco it; huck a pass deep down the sideline and go for the interference call.
- There was once a time when an announcer referring to Lawrence Guy as “Lawrence Gay” as aggressively as I have ever heard an announcer call anybody’s name would have had me in stitches. But I’ve grown up since then...I think.
- I’d like to see what Damien Harris can do. I’m not calling for Sony Michel’s head the way that a lot of people are, but there’s no denying that he isn’t getting it done on the ground and at this point I just don’t see why they wouldn’t see what they have in the rookie.
- It isn’t even all Michel’s fault either; this offensive line is atrocious. There was once a time where I thought that Dante Scarnecchia could cobble together a line out of gin boxes and heavy bags, but this year’s injuries seems to be too much to overcome.
- I’m well on record as a lover of fast food. My diet is absolutely terrible and I only eat salad when it comes with my main course. I haven’t eaten KFC since March of 2009. This ad campaign that has Colonel Sanders rotating like they’re kickers on the New England Patriots clearly isn’t working.
- I can’t believe I haven’t talked about Chase Winovich’s dye job yet. As of yet, I haven’t heard any reason as to why he did it, but until I hear otherwise, I’m going to assume he’ll be shaving the top of his head for the playoffs and rocking the Hulk Hogan for all of January.
- The New England pass rush just couldn’t get home yesterday. The secondary was, as usual, fantastic, but there were multiple plays where Mahomes has six and seven seconds to throw. They were able to get a decent amount of pressure on him, but couldn’t get there. One sack for seven yards isn’t going to cut it against an offense that is capable of stringing together multiple one play, 80 yard drives.
- New England tried everything from double covering Travis Kelce to passing him off between the the safeties to bumping him at the line with the linebackers. Dude is just a monster. Must be nice to have a tight end like that.
- What’s encouraging, in a way, is that no one player torched the Patriots with a big day. Kelce led the team with 66 yards receiving, and McCoy was the leading rusher with 39 yards. But nine different Chiefs caught a pass yesterday, and four of them had 50 or more yards. Just a lot of weapons on that offense.
- Hey you guys remember N’Keal Harry? I wonder what he’s doing these days...
- If you’re not going to play Harry or give him any real meaningful looks, why not at least try him as a kick returner? He’s the kind of big, one-cut player that might be a solid option back there, and Brandon Bolden isn’t going to set this team up with good field position.
- When I was a kid and played John Madden Football (we’re talking Madden ‘92 and ‘93 here, folks - the sophistication of that game passed me by a long time ago), I never once punted or kicked a field goal, and thought it would be so cool if a real NFL team decided to just go for it on every fourth down. My 11 year-old-self is getting what he wanted with the 2019 Patriots, and I don’t think he likes it very much.
- Speaking of not being a kid anymore;I turned 38 this year, which didn’t particularly have me feeling all that old. I know I’m not young; nobody looks at a guy my age and thinks I’m still young. But 38 is still on the right side of 40 and I only creak a little bit when I get out of bed every morning, so I’ll take it. But every time I see a commercial for pretty much anything that’s either in theaters or on TV these days. None of these shows look remotely interesting, I have no desire to watch any of these movies, and the last movie I saw in theaters was Inception. I guess I should start working out my fist so I can start shaking it.
- I’m also a big big proponent of the “if you don’t like it, just ignore it” philosophy - one that has served people well since pretty much forever. But with the new caveat of “if you don’t like it, you can try to ignore it while the rest of the world shoves it down your throat at every single turn,” it’s just getting harder to do. I know this isn’t the first time I’ve griped about this on my Fan Notes, and I can guarantee you it won’t be the last. I’m too poor to be able to afford a therapist, so writing these posts every week is the closest thing I get to venting my mania.
- The good news about what has become a weekly tradition of Tommy B throwing a really ugly pick was that KC immediately marched right down the field and scored a touchdown like it was nothing. So that’s nice.
- What’s really concerning about the offensive struggles is that, when it’s off, there’s simply nothing working at any level. The protection is bad. Receivers aren’t getting separation. Brady is inaccurate. Receivers are dropping the ball when he manages to get it to them. Backs can’t find the gaps. There’s no one fix here and to expect it all to just magically come together somehow for an entire game is a pipe dream.
- This offense couldn’t consistently do anything, at home, against one of the worst defenses in the league in a game with big playoff implications. I don’t think you really need to say any more than that.
- Why KC kept throwing checkdowns for 11 yards at a clip and the Patriots couldn’t figure out how to adjust may be the most concerning thing. The problem is that with Mahomes a threat to run, defenders either had to choose to stay with the back and give up the easy scramble or commit to the QB and leave their guy wide open. The latter is the smarter thing to do, but you’d figure they’d shift the linebackers over to account for that at some point.
- I also now know exactly how KGB felt when Mike McDermott flopped the nut straight.
- What’s really frustrating is that, given the defense and special teams play, the offense doesn’t even really need to be good for this team to win a championship. 24 points would be enough to win the game most weeks.
- I guess I should go ahead and talk about the reffing, more specifically two blown calls in the span of four minutes that took two separate touchdowns off the board for the Patriots. You have to wonder what would have happened if the refs hadn’t blown that fumble call that would have been a gimme Patriots touchdown. If that play is allowed to go on, it’s 23-20 with the whole fourth quarter to go. You also have to wonder how this game would have gone if New England didn’t have to waste a challenge on said bad call and were able to overturn another bad call that would have pulled the game to within 3 when N’Keal Harry, who was clearly in bounds, dove into the end zone. I have absolutely no clue how the refs miss how clearly Harry was in bounds there. It just doesn’t make sense. There was also a blatant DPI call that they missed, and more than a few flags on the Chiefs that I thought were egregious.
- But you know who blames the refs for a loss? You know who makes statements like “you’re playing two opponents every week - so and so team, and the zebras”? You know who believes that one team gets favored by the officials over another? Losers. Losers do that. It’s the lowest form of fan whinery and I won’t stand for it on my watch. The Harry non-call aside, New England had goal to go from the 3 yard line and still couldn’t punch it in. Meyers should have caught that pass. They could have plowed ahead for the score. If you don’t get a TD from the three yard line after a momentum-changing fumble, that’s on the offense and the inability to execute, not the refs. The Patriots lost this game elsewhere.
- I don’t think I’ve ever seen the blitz so effective as I did yesterday. Usually Tommy B eats continued blitzes for lunch, but the constant pressure was an absolutely brilliant strategy against receivers who don’t have the chemistry with Brady yet. Double Edelman to take away the hot route, keep an athletic linebacker on James White, and pin back your ears. Neither Harry, Meyers, nor Dorsett can read the same defense that Brady can.
- I’d like to think that the notion of the fans at Gillette Stadium booed the Patriots yesterday is completely unfathomable - but that’s kind of how Pats fans roll. When the pundits who have been declaring the Patriots finished since 2011 are finally able to pretend that the last decade never happened and they are right, fans are going to abandon this team in droves. Those of us who are left are going to be able to root for our crappy team with fond memories of the remarkable run that was and no wait for the men’s room in the 300 levels. I’m kind of looking forward to it, in a weird way.
- And in another weird way, I’m kind of energized by this loss. Another back-to-back loss December in which EVERYBODY is declaring this team dead and without enough talent to make a deep postseason run is exactly what happened last season, and the offense started putting it together too little, too late. The defense held the Chiefs to a single FG in the second half, and if just a few plays had gone differently, we’re all singing a different tune this morning. Those plays didn’t go differently, because that’s not how the world works, but this wasn’t a blowout. The Patriots just need to figure out how to put together a complete game against a good team, which they have failed to do at every opportunity this year. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.
- I also doesn’t mean that it will happen, though.
- For the record...if you go to the doctor every year for your annual physical, and every time you’re there said doctor tells you that you only have a year to live, and you go back to that same doctor every year until you eventually die of old age at 97, that doesn’t mean that the doctor was right. It just means you had a crappy doctor.
The good news is that, with the Ravens win earlier in the day, this game became kind of meaningless anyway. The Patriots should win their final three games, finish 13-3, and secure a bye as the two seed. They’d have been in line for the two seed even with a victory, so nothing much to do but put it behind us and move on.
Even BETTER NEWS???
We’re on to Cincinnatti.