Alright, I've been trying to hold it in and ignore it as best I can all day, but I have to vent. Last night's game has been bothering the shit out of me all day, as I'm sure it has for all true, die-hard Patriots fan, and I need to talk about what pissed me off and confused me most about last night's because I haven't been able to express emotion since screaming at the TV throughout the game.
* Brady lackluster again: I discussed this in my earlier post about Flacco outplaying Brady yet again, but to me, this is one of the biggest take-aways from the game. Brady just didn't play good enough to win. You know when Brady gets in the mode where he looks frazzeled and erratic in the pocket? He looked like that all night. The Ravens D got to him and he couldn't get it done plain and simple. I also can't believe how fucking slow he is, still. Seriously, he has to be up there in the discussion for worst running quarterbacks in the history of the league. This is also coming from the biggest Brady fan you will ever find. He's my favorite athlete of all time which makes it even more painful to talk about. After last night, The "Brady Greatest of All Time" discussion goes back on the shelf for now. And it is beyond me why he nor Belichick called a time out after Brady's scrambled and went Ty Cobb style on Ed Reed.
* Terrible clock management cost the Patriots points: After the aforementioned scramble and slide by Brady with around 25 seconds left in the first half, the clear and logical decision would have been an immediate time out. This would have given the Patriots around 19 seconds to take one or two shots into the end zone and build their lead before the half. Instead, Brady, for some reason, tried to rush everyone to the line in order to clock the ball. Ultimately the clock was stopped with 4 seconds left and Gostowski kicked a field goal.
This was a baffling case of clock mismanagement that falls on Brady and Belichick. This was an uncharactersitic mistake from the two of them that allowed the Ravens to stay within striking distance. It was also remeniscent of a very similar sequence of events at the end of the first half earlier in the year vs. the Seahawks where the Patriots left potential points on the board. Belechick, I love you dude, but WTF.
* Conservative approach: Belechick has always been known to make risky decisions and take a very non-conservative approach on the offensive side of the ball. Sometimes it has worked well, other times it has not (the infamous "4th and 2" call vs. the Colts). This is why I was so shocked that Belichick chose not once, but TWICE to punt the ball from around the Colts 35 yard line. With a high powered offense that out scored everyone in the league by over 100 points, it didn't seem too make sense that Belichick didn't put the ball in Brady's hands and try to put some points on the board. This, along with the clock management episode at the end of the half, makes it clear this was not Belichick's finest moment as a coach. Plus I thought it was pretty weak he bailed on the post-game interview. While it's more than obvious Bill does not give a single fuck about the media, this kind of screamed "poor sport" to me.
|Ridley taking a dirt nap|
*Where the fuck was Vereen? Last week Vereen stole the show, with three touchdowns, 2 through the air, including a spectacular reception down the sideline. It would seem to make sense that he would factor into the game plan this week to his explosive playmaking abilities. But he was largely absent from the game. I don't have an exact snap count but I only remember him coming in after Ridley got knocked the fuck out. And he was making plays when he was in there (aside from one dropped pass). Woodhead seemed to get the majority of the reps, and while I love Woody, I feel like Vereen clearly has more big play potential. This was another head-scratcher from Bill.
*Injuries hurt, especially Talib: Not to make injury excuses, but they killed the Patriots in this game. Not having Gronk in the game changes everything, but Talib going down early killed us. Before he got hurt, he was breaking up passes and looking like the game changing corner we know he can be. But he went down, and Arrington, Dennard, and Marquis Cole (by the way, who is Marquis Cole) were forced to try and contain the Raven's aerial assualt, and it's pretty safe to say that was a failure. Anquan Bolden was snatching the ball out of the air at will and there was nothing our porous secondary could do about it. Talib was missed, and while he does appear to be injury prone, I think some thought should be given to keeping him around.
*Another dropped ball by Welker: Welker played a great game. He had over 100 yards receiving and made some nice plays in the punt return game. His ability to consistently get up after taking huge hits still amazes me. But I have to say, when you look back at the game, not one good thing happened for the Patriots after Welker's drop. That would have put us into Ravens territory with a chance to go up two scores. Instead we punted, Baltimore drove down the field and scored, and they never looked back. For what a fantastic, Hall of Fame worthy player he is, I have a bad feeling Welker might begin to be defined for the big drops he has had.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest storylines this off-season is whether or not they bring Welker back. I really hope they do. He is the best slot receiver in the league and still Brady's go to guy. He had a terrific season this year and if the Pats don't want to give him a long term deal I think he is more than worth the money for another franchise tag. He just needs to catch the goddamn ball in big spots.In an unrelated observation, I would have to guess his hair restoration project with Dr. Leonard isn't going so hot because he's now in permanent skull cap mode. Must be a disaster zone under there.
*Hope for the future: The Patriot's shit the bed this year, plain and simple. But there is no reason not to be optomistic for next season. Brady is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and Bill is the best coach. Furthermore, Belichick is working with a team filled with young talent on both sides of the ball, and is set to improve on that in the upcoming draft (tough pill to swallow knowing that we will have less pick's as a result of the Haynseworth and Ochocinco failed experiments). Last night sucked, in many, many ways. But now it's time to move on and hope for the best going forward, and for me, this venting session was the first step towards that.