Random Patriots musings as we count down to camp
Here are some things I’ve been thinking about in recent days as we get ready for another run at the Lombardi trophy…
- I finally rewatched the Super Bowl earlier this week. Yes, I really have to wait until football is right upon us before I can come to terms with yet another horrible finish on a grand stage.
- Players I was most impressed with in the game upon watching it again: Patrick Chung, Sterling Moore, Brandon Spikes and Danny Woodhead.
- Moore is almost a lock to me to make the team now. Including his performance in the playoffs he was neck and neck for the best defensive back on the Patriots in 2011 with Arrington. He gets his hands on a lot of balls and clearly is not intimidated in big games. He’s versatile as well, and I’m excited to see what he can do with a full off-season.
- The media is spinning the Bills and Jets should challenge the Patriots this year but if the Patriots had “the worst defense in the NFL” last year and neither team could overtake them, so what makes anyone think they’ll do it this year? Because I certainly don’t expect the Pats D to be that bad again in 2012.
- The offensive line is more concerning to me than the secondary right now.
- The issue that became apparent to me for the Patriots in 2011 could be summed up in execution. On the offensive side it was the “death by a thousand cuts” way of moving the ball. At times they’d be unstoppable, but when they weren’t clicking they could go cold as they did in crunch time of the Super Bowl. More explosive plays could really help them not be so dependent on continually executing so many plays to move the ball down the field. Brandon Lloyd should help this.
- Conversely on the defensive side they were the most egregious example of “bend don’t break” in NFL history (per Football Outsiders Almanac). They forced teams to do the same thing they were doing offensively themselves: consistent execution to sustain long drives.
- Defensively they relied on lesser QBs not being able to put together enough perfectly executed plays to keep up with Brady. It’s almost as if the defensively philosophy came down to “your QB can’t keep up with our QB, so we’re not going to be overly aggressive, we’re going to force you to beat us”.
- Eli Manning was able to beat us. He executed in crunch time. The Patriots did not. It was there for the taking and we couldn’t take it. It’s just that simple.
- For all the yards the Patriots gave up in 2011 this philosophy was largely successful. They lost four total games, none by more than eight points.
- The question is whether or not this philosophy is sustainable as Brady gets older?
- Ultimately the point is that it doesn’t need to always be this hard. If the Pats offense is able to challenge the outside and deep portions of the field better, along with some more explosiveness from the young running backs it should help them move the ball quicker and require less dependence on consistent execution.
- This will also help the defense, but I don’t know if we can ever expect a Belichick defense to be overly aggressive and attacking. The Pats were 5th in the NFL rushing just 3 defenders, 15th rushing 4, 27th rushing 5.
- Still, if you have better players you can rush fewer of them and still get pressure and force mistakes. That’s the key for them as I see it.