Oh baby that was my kinda game. A relaxing one. With this team it feels like every week I get a three hour ab workout from clenching my butt hole from kick off until the final whistle. Watching Tommy take three knees to end this one was much needed relief. If the pain persists, ask your doctor about Preparation H.
I don't know how I can start anywhere besides the DBs, specifically Johnson Bademosi. I expected the Falcons to score a lot of points in this game. I mentally prepared for it. I reached a zen like state before kickoff. I wish someone had told me all that meditation was unnecessary because we stole the second coming of Ty Law from the Lions.
OK, I'll pump the breaks a bit, but holy shit. I was terrified when I heard this dude was going to be taking real snaps last week. He went largely unnoticed, which was actually a good thing. When he was forced into action against the elite Falcons offense I thought the Bademosi bubble would surely burst. But this dude has been a beast! He's competing, he's putting hands on balls, he's even putting his helmet on balls, (which probably should have been a faceguard) fully taking advantage of his playing time. I'm at the point where I think it's a real discussion when Rowe and Gilmore get healthy. I'm not saying our wounded warriors don't have the talent edge over the Bad boy of the secondary, but clearly he gets the system. I'm sure Bill simplified it a bit these last two games, with the corners mostly staying on their side of the field, but the kid hasn't royally fucked up. Something that can't be said about Rowe or our free agent splash.
I would say that Malcolm is slowly but surely removing his head out of his own ass as well. Watching him dive across the front of receivers and get his hand on the ball is enough to make me forget he spent all off season trying to get us to pay him a year early like a psychopath. His days in New England still might be numbered, but god damn do I want him to go out playing well. I'm not even mad about the tuddy Julio caught over him. Julio Jones doesn't take your lunch money. You give it to him willingly and pray he lets you live.
The front 7 played well against the run, which I also thought was going to be a huge issue. Freeman finished with 72 yards on 12 carries, but really only got loose one time for a 21 yard scamper. Malcom Brown left the game with what looked like an ankle injury and apparently had a noticeable limp after the game. Not ideal to say the least, as he has been our most consistent lineman on that side of the ball. Hopefully he can miss the Chargers game and then enjoy the bye week to rest up. When he went out, Adam Butler was the main benefactor, with a team leading 28 snaps on the line. He had been trending down lately so I was pumped to see him out there doing his big boy dance. Somewhere John Madden's character from The Replacements smiles.
Also on the injury front, we lost the one true king in the second half for the second time this year. I had a mild panic attack when I heard High was out again, but I calmed down when it showed him sitting on the bench on the sideline. He was still in his gear, yucking it up with teammates. I might be way off base, but that made me feel a lot better than being told he was taken to the locker room for evaluation. I'm guessing Bill realized the Falcons were perfectly capable of embarrassing themselves on national television without High's services the rest of the night.
With High out, Kyle Van Noy lead the backers in snaps. I've talked so much shit about this guy it's only fair I give him some credit for his game last night. He blew up two plays behind the line, including a massive fourth down stop on the goal line. I'm still not ready to accept a world where he is the linebacker I'm relying on moving forward, but I no longer want his head on a spike outside One Patriot Place.
Deatrich Wise, aka Trey Flowers bash brother, had a big night as well. Nothing on the stat sheet really pops out at you, but he led all the defensive ends in snaps. He even outpaced Flowers. The reason that's a big deal is because he's playing in the base defense now. He started the year only coming in as a pass rusher in sub packages. This was to be expected for a rookie. But we've seen a lot of guys come through here who can do that. Sheard was great his first year when he was used that way. But when Bill asked him to be a base defense guy, and show some responsibility setting the edge and controlling your gaps, he disappeared. The fact that Wise has earned this level of trust by week 7 in his rookie year speaks volumes. Mark my words. The sack total for the Wise/Flowers mad dog duo in 2018 could buy a beer in Southie without even being carded.
Cassius Marsh had a crazy game for me. Huge play on the FG block, but if I have to watch that dude lose contain on the pass rush one more time I'm going to stab my eyes out with a fork. It's incredible really. There were two QB scrambles, one was that 4th down conversion and I can't remember that other, where he gave Matty Ice such a wide berth you'd think they were old high school classmates who awkwardly see each other in the real world years later.
As predicted, DIDI retained lead back duties and he continued to look good. His 26 snaps led all backs, and he finished with 76 yards on 13 carries. It didn't always work, but the way he's moving out there felt like old DIDI. He's hitting the initial hole hard, but then instantly looking for the big one. He'll spin, jump cut, duck a tackle, whatever. Again, it doesn't always pay off, but when he slips free he's got that burst to create big plays on the ground, which we haven't really seen yet this year. Watching him run from the SkyCam view was wild. It had me screaming "L2!" and "Circle!" every time a hole would open up.
It was delightful to have Sexy Rexy back, wasn't it?? I've been looking forward to his return more than I care to admit. Kind of like, yea I'm excited for Narcos to come back. I'm not gonna shout from the rooftops about it. It's not Stranger Things. But I think Narcos is versatile and has value in the offense. The kid ran hard, and showed exactly why we brought him in. I honestly think he will play a huge role going forward because we can change the play at the LOS with him on the field. That is so important when you have a guy like Tom playing quarterback. When he has the freedom to call an audible based on the look the D gives him everyone wins, and by everyone I mean just us. Every back on the team has a specific role and they do it well, but Burk is the only one who can truly run with power AND catch the ball.
Speaking of certain roles, I feel bad for Gilly right now. It seemed he remains in the dog house to a degree for his fumble last week, combined with DIDI's improved play, plus the return of Rexy, you knew it was going to add up to limited playing time. You also know that Gilly wanted to put the fumble behind him and run well with the chances he did get. He ended up with 8 carries and 31 yards. Not horrible. But we gave him the rock on 3rd and goal from the 1 and he got blown up. That 4 point play probably would have iced the game too. Sometimes it's on the line. If he's getting hit in the backfield there isn't much he can do. But you could have driven a truck through the cut back hole the line created on that run. I mean honestly. I probably wouldn't have noticed without SkyCam, but he bounced that outside and the seas parted. I don't know if the New England fog blurred his vision or if he was just holding the ball with two hands with his fucking eyes closed muttering "don't be a goofus" to himself over and over like Smalls, but there was no excuse not getting in there. That is your only job. I suggest you do it.
The penalties have to stop. The beginning of this game was a travesty. We couldn't go two plays without seeing laundry on the field. The Falcons took some brutal ones too, so I will hear the refs were calling it tight, but holy undisciplined. We had a little bit of everything. Couple holdings, couple false starts, a block in the back, you name it. The offensive PI on Gronk was a liiiiitle tough. His arm extended no doubt, but it didn't look like much of a shove to me. It's weird how he is racking those penalties up again after so many, including myself, made a point to showcase how hard he works to rid that from his game. I swear no one gets called for offensive PI more than the Pats though. Whenever I watch another team play and see, for example, Aaron Rodgers hit a wide open Jordy Nelson I think, damn that must have been a great route. If we complete a pass and the receiver was wide open my first thought is who pushed off/set a pick.
While we are on penalties, the Falcons took a monster roughing the passer penalty to set up our first touch down. It was the correct call per the rule book, and it was the correct call per me. But then again, I would flag everyone who even breaths on Tom. I'm like Alan in the Hangover with his dad's car when it comes to protecting Tom. Don't touch it. Don't even look it. But what I really want to talk about is that throw. That was quite literally the worst throw of Tom's career. I assume he just didn't see Alford?? I hope?? Usually when Tommy breaks the pocket, buys himself some time, and he gets to pointing I get all juiced up. I assume he is surveying the field, directing traffic, and I'm about to see Hoags running nude on a deep cross. He let that ball go and I call "tuddy" in mid air. The camera panned right and Alford was sitting there like he was catching a god damn punt. Thank god that one got wiped off the board, not only because it led directly to 7 points, but also because I can't have that throw in any record books ever. In fact, burn that tape immediately.
Let's talk Cooks real quick. Another solid outing. He had 4 catches for 65 yards (with a 27 yarder) and a tuddy. He's on pace for 64 catches, 1227 yards, and 7 tuddies. How do we feel about that?? Admittedly, the last three games he has been right about where I need him to be. But I feel like I was trading for 80, 1200, and 10. At least. Is that greedy? I don't think so. All of those would be career highs for him except for the 80 (he had 84 grabs in 2015) but in this offense it seemed doable. I think the biggest disconnect so far is third down. Tom doesn't even look at him when its 3rd and 4. I know he isn't Jules, and the chemistry isn't there yet, but that's the area I'm looking for them to improve on in the second half. If they can build up a trust I think his numbers will bump into that elite range.
Dan Quin is an idiot, plain and simple. We beat the life out him when he was in Seattle, and we told him to stay down. What does he do? He gets up, thanks us, and asks for another. So we put in him in a body bag in Super Bowl LI. Then the NFL makes him drag his corpse into Gillette for a Sunday Night Football game in front of friends and family. I feel bad for the guy. I will forgive him the play calling, I assume that is the fault of the drunk he employs on his sideline, but the 4th down decisions were mind bottling. My mind is in a bottle. 4th and 6 from midfield, down 10-0 on the road, knowing that if you don't get it you give Tom Brady 2 minutes and 3 timeouts to put a dagger in you, and you send the offense out. If Roger Goodell doesn't "randomly" drug test Quinn after this game, everything I know about the NFL drug protocol is a lie.
Finally, you knew we had to talk about it. David Fucking Harris. 19 snaps. He blitzed. He stuffed a run. He sniffed out a screen pass. All while The Walking Dead was airing it's 100th episode we had a real dead body walking around on the football field. It was a joy to see.
Hey Dwayne Allen, nice 20 snaps and no targets. Go fuck yourself.