The dust has settled in the Meadowlands. The Jets escaped with the win, Slater made the call the coach wanted in OT and looks like the Steelers are not heading for the postseason. There was the question before the game if the Pats were going to go all out and play to lock up home-field advantage, or just play it as a game to “get through” to stay healthy for the playoffs. I don’t think they threw the game, but there were playing very reserved (except for the OT coin flip): not doing a 2 minute drill at the end of the first half or getting the ball back at the end of the 4th quarter and taking a knee instead of trying to get in field goal range. They played to win, but not with reckless abandon to get the W.
Now with no further ado here are three points of concern & three lights of hope after the Patriots 26-20 OT loss against the Jets on Sunday (12/27).
Three points of concern
1. Offensive Line Injuries –
When Vollmer went down on Sunday I heard a collective “Oh Shit” across the bar and probably the rest of New England. The O-line has been been a patchwork this season with all of the injuries. Vollmer’s replacement LaAdrian Waddle was just recently signed off waivers on Dec 16. When he went down I wasn’t even sure who we had to replace him (Cameron Fleming came in at left tackle).
This is important for the playoffs because the proven way to beat the Pats is to pressure Brady and knock him down. We need a solid O-line to run the table that can give Tom the time he needs to scan the field & release his attack.
2. No Urgency –
The Pats played the game Sunday with one foot on the breaks. Hopefully, and I believe it to be, this was just a one-week product of the circumstances – injuries and not absolutely needing the win.
First, at the end of the first half, they had roughly two minutes and two time outs and decided to just run the clock out. I know we love making our adjustments at half, but come on! We have freaking Tom Brady the king of the 2 minute drill and you don’t give him a chance to even try and put points up before the half? We were getting the ball back in the second half, but it would of been nice to try and take a strike before.
Speaking of not trying to put up points. How about when they got the ball back with 40 seconds left in the 4th with two time outs. They decided to play it safe and got into OT. I would have liked them to take at least two shots and get in field goal range to win it.
3. Bill outsmarting everyone-
We’ve gone pretty long into this recap without mentioning the Slater coin-toss in overtime. When he elected to kick and then looked confused, I thought there had been a mistake. I checked Twitter quickly and everyone was saying the same thing “What the hell just happened.” We later learned it was part of the plan and he was just concerned about what side they would be kicking from.
The call maaaaakes sensssseeee – offensive injuries & the d was playing well -, butttttt cmmmmmmmon. You have freaking Tom Brady & a healthy Gronk. I would have been happier putting the ball in our future HOF quarterback and giving him a chance to win the game then kicking off and hoping to hold. It reminded me in black jack of getting a 12, the dealer has 10, and not hitting, hoping the dealer breaks ( Hit you bitch!).
Bill likes to outsmart everyone. When it works (2003 intentional safety vs the Broncos), it’s awesome, but like every high-risk taker the losses are a punch in the gut (rugby kick earlier this year) and I feel like yelling “sometimes its alright to be conventional”. Ham sandwiches still taste good! No other area is it more on display then the draft. Try being a Pats fan in the draft you will wait for our pick and we will trade it away for 3 4th round picks in 2019 and the rights to a janitor who can do a drop kick. But if you look at how many homegrown Pats made the Pro Bowl this year, it still shows In Bill We Trust
Three Glimmers of Hope Moving Forward
1. Brady is Getting Back his Super Friends –
If Brady had a security blanket its name would Julian Edelman. With number 11 on the field, a first down is just a quick route away. I may be imagining this, but I feel like Brady plays more relaxed when Julian is on the game. He has someone he trusts and it just opens up his game. With Edelman & Amendola coming back, I predict we will see a lot less of those stupid long toss ups into double coverage on 3rd downs and lot more Paaatriots Firssst Down.
2. Gronk at Full Strength –
The Gronk 4th down grab at the end of the 4th quarter was vintage Gronk. Clutch catch at the must-need time and he dragged three defenders with him. It didn’t look like his leg was bothering him and he should be ready to Gronk smash in the playoffs. As we all know healthy Gronk + Brady = Superbowl.
3. Collins is a beast –
Collins played another beastly game of football, showing his incredible athleticism and game making skills. If he continues to play this well and we have a healthy Chandler Jones return, I like the Pats chances on D in the playoffs.
Alright well that’s that, it’s onto Miami where I will be for next Sunday’s game where the Pats will look to lock up home field for the playoffs.