I've putting off writing this for two days. I take these notes all game, and then try to decipher them on Monday through all the smudged ink from spilled Bud Light. Yesterday, I couldn't bring myself to re-read them. I got up a think piece first for crying out loud because I refused to go through my thoughts again. Who wants to relive that nightmare? I'm going allow my outrage to fly for the first half of this post, and then I will try to come back down to earth for you.
WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK HAPPENED WITH MALCOLM BUTLER? I am outrageously mad about this. There's always a few plays in games people want to point to that decided the game. "If Welker catches that ball we win the bowl!" "If the Falcons just run the ball and kick the field goal they win the bowl!" Maybe. Probably. But not definitely. With that in mind, allow me to say with absolute certainty that if Malcolm Butler plays in this game we definitely win the bowl. No ifs ands or buts. Fact.
So someone please explain to me why he spent the entire night crying on the bench. And by someone, I mean Bill. And by explain to me, I mean I know I will never ever know what happened. The truth of the matter is, I don't even care what happened. Malcolm Butler could have shot David Harris in the face on the team plane and be wanted for third degree murder and I would still want him on the field. He obviously pissed Bill off one way or another. And he isn't out of my cross hairs here. Fuck you you selfish fuck for whatever you decided to do on the eve of the Super Bowl because you thought that was more important than being there for your teammates. We'll always have 49, but don't let the door hit you on the way out. But I'm sooooo much more mad at Bill.
All he had to do was bench Malcolm for the first series of the game. We hold Philly to a FG, then Malcolm comes back and we win the game. After all the red and blue confetti falls, you can go to the media and air out everything that this asshole did. You say he is not welcome back in New England because he is a petulant child. Thanks for memories, good riddance. This way you still get to be petty, you still embarrass him, but you don't cost a group of men who bled for this chance, myself included, a Super Bowl ring.
I didn't believe any Bill rumors. I still don't. But I am so livid with him right now I honestly don't care what happens. Now that Josh has taken the Colts job there is a 0.0% chance Bill goes anywhere. I'm certainly not unhappy that Bill is our coach, but I'm not sure you would have seen me shed a tear if he left. I have always been on the "it's Tom not Bill" side of that debate and I've never felt on more solid ground. He's a hard ass and he's secretive and blah blah blah. The reason I/we put up with it is because at the end of the day only one thing matters to him. Winning football games. And that's all that matters to us in New England. Bring home the Championship or don't come home at all. And to willingly cost your team a Championship just to prove a point to one player is such a slap in the face to the other 52 players on the roster it's unforgivable to me.
Brandin Cooks can also die. RIP in peace if he is actually already dead after that hit. As everyone reading this knows I've been hard on him all year. He showed up when I didn't expect it in the AFCCG, and we might not even be in the bowl without him, so don't let it be said that I think he has no value. But be a bigger moron in the biggest game of the year. You can't. On the play where he got his head ripped off, just go down! What the hell was he doing? You want to run around in circles go join the track team. Catch the pass, move toward their endzone, and go down. It's so simple. No one on the Eagles secondary could run with him, so he was going to be huge all night. It's hard to get mad considering we scored plenty of points to win and other WRs stepped up, but losing Cooks so early doesn't exactly help your game plan.
The bigger complaint is on the end around on 3rd and 1 on our second drive. That was a perfect play call that was executed to perfection. That was completely on Cooks and borderline cost us the game. Look at this!!!!
He should score here! Let alone get the first down. You have your fastest wide out against a flat footed DB and two blockers ahead of you. This is a minimum of 5 yards if you run left or right. The only, and I repeat ONLY, way you don't gain any yards is if you run directly at the defender and try to hurdle him even though you are 5 foot nothing. This of course led to our missed FG, meaning a drive with that above screen shot, ended with zero points. What a joke. God forbid you're ever walking in the other direction down the same sidewalk as Bradin Cooks. Some people might get into an awkward "i'll go left, no you go left, no I'll go left" standoff but not Brandin. He's going to put the soul of his foot into the bridge of your nose before you can say first down.
While we're here, lets talk third downs in general. We all knew they had the potential to be a problem and boy were they ever. Our offense did fine, finishing 5-10. I'll take 50% and we picked up some big ones. But in the first half the dreaded "4 point plays" were killing us. On the first three drives we go Brady forced throw to Gronk, FG. Cooks MELTDOWN on an end around, missed FG. Brady trick play, and then incomplete on fourth down. We came out of that with 3 points!!!!!! I want rip my brain out just thinking about that. We should have had at least 17 points, AT LEAST, based on the way were moving the ball. Should have been 21. And we had fucking 3.
Then you look at the other side of the ball. As soon as Philly converted that 3rd and 12 in the opening series I knew it was going to be one of those days. They finished 10-16, but two of those they converted on fourth down, and another one was the run which was their last offensive play of the game, when they weren't even trying to convert. I'm pretty sure at least two tuddy throws were third downs, and then the absolute killer was the Bademosi missed tackle on a 3rd and 7 where Agholor was stopped easily three yards short. Can't imagine Malcolm Butler misses that tackle...
We couldn't tackle all night really. Running backs blowing through arm tackles, receivers turning check downs into 20 yard gains in the secondary. That was supposed to be the strength of our unit! No gash plays. Make them earn the yards. For the love of all things holy, we were hitting with storm trooper accuracy all day. This defense has spent all year bending and not breaking, but getting off the field became the festering wound in our torso toward the last quarter of the season. On Sunday, it finally killed us.
The person with the biggest Dunce Cap on is probably Jordan Richards. The fact that this dude is still on the team is the most confusing thing in my life. I'm not going to shit on the draft pick. People miss on picks all the time. Am I happy we use second rounders on special teams guys? No. But it is what it is. The thing I don't understand is we are in year three of this experiment. He STINKS! If he was going to take a leap he would have taken it. If there was a role we could give him that he could thrive in a la Patrick Chung he would have it. So why does he have a roster spot?? You have to be watching him at practice going, "wow, can you imagine if this dude actually had to play meaningful snaps in the super bowl?? We would be fucked." For a team that is built on next man up, you can't have your next man be a fucking imbecile who couldn't cover a wheel route if his life depended on it and takes worse angles than Pythagoras himself, Brandon Merriweather. So congrats on your increased playing time Jordan. It's not like that 55 yarder you gave up at the end of the half didn't decide the game. And in case you were wondering, YOU WEREN'T GOOD.
I'm not going to talk about the refs again, because I laid it out for you in my think piece yesterday, but the wheel route to Clement popped this back in my head. Forget what you think about any of the catch rules in the NFL right now. I've said my piece on Dez, Calvin, Jesse James, and the rest already. But if you think Clement had control of that ball before he landed out of bounds then I would really appreciate it if you hook me up with your weed guy because you are HIGH AS FUCK.
I love Stevie G. He was a seamless baton pass from Vinatieri, and he has been close to automatic during his career. I don't want any changes here. But HOW does our kicking operation always choke when it matters most?? A missed extra point cost me a Super Bowl ring two years ago against Denver. A missed extra point last year in the Super Bowl almost cost me another ring if not for some 2pt magic. A missed FG and an extra point this year. What gives??? The snap was low on the missed field goal. Needs to be better. But it could have been caught. Needs to be better. And Stevie, I know that throws off your timing, but it was a 26 yarder. You don't need a run up. Calm down! Just kick the ball through. No one was there. He deserves the least of the blame on that one, but he still gets his slice of the pie IMHFO.
Special Teams is always that forgotten phase of the game by everyone except the Pats. We crush people with field position. I don't have the stats in front of me but it seemed like every kick we attempted our patented 'land it at the one in the corner and make them run it and tackle them at the 15' ended with them at the 25 at least. And then our piece de resistance, the final kick off of the game. We go for a fucking reverse???? I didn't see an overhead shot. Maybe it was there. And that's the kind of special play I talked about last week that sometimes you have to attempt. If Burk breaks that up the left sideline to the 50 or better we look like geniuses. But we had PLENTY of time. 2:16 and a timeout I think. And Tom FUCKING Brady. Do you think he isn't marching down the field and scoring if we start at the 25??? Of course he is. I don't think starting on the 9 is the reason we got strip sacked, but why take the ball out of his hands like that? We almost fumbled the exchange. It was just insanity. How do you not trust Tom at this point. STOP being idiots and let him do his thing.
The other thing that has been driving me nuts is the trick play pass to Brady. I didn't love the play call. They sold it perfectly, and it was there, but it was 3rd and 5 early in the game. That seemed like a bail us out play call. I think Tom can pick up 5 yards and you keep that in the holster for a time when we really really need it. But whatever, the play call comes in. It works perfectly. Tom is NUDE. I believe he could have caught that ball, but people out there saying that Tom Brady dropped that pass are Order of Merlin First Class MORONS. All Danny had to do was throw it to his chest. It's playing catch in the back yard. Just like the throw to Foles later in the game. Why are you trying to drop one in the bucket over Brady's shoulder when there is no one in the same zip code as him. Tom could have stopped, caught the ball, and turned out of bounds. Points. We win. He threw it like he looked like he needed it up high to get over a lineman or a rusher, but I've watched the replay over and over. There was nobody in the way. How hard is this? Hit him in the chest!!!
OK. I'm done. I'm sorry but I had to get a lot of that off my chest. I know this is long already so here is the quick hit rational thoughts.
Tom Brady is a golden god. I was begging for 300, 3 and 0 going into this game. I knew we'd win if I could get that. I ended up getting 500, 3, and 0. No one has ever lost a game putting up the numbers Tom just put up. It makes me want to vomit what the defense and Bill just did to him. He should be able to file a police report for theft of his sixth ring. It's such a testament to this guy that when we got the ball back with 2 minutes my literal first thought was I hope we don't score too fast and give them a chance to get a FG to win or tie. That's how certain I was we were scoring.
Gronk ATE as well. I predicted in my guesses (I'll get into those tomorrow) that Gronk just might take the mvp away from Tom. I still think Tommy would have taken it due to his insane numbers, but you can't argue with 9 for 116 and 2 from the big guy. I wanted to get him going early because he was coming off his concussion. I thought it would be good to give him the ball, let him catch it, get hit, and really get into the flow. We certainly didn't do that as he had one grab in the first half. Considering we expected Malcolm Jenkins on him and they decided to use their all pro safety to stop a running back this makes little sense to me. Clearly at half time everyone said hey, uhhh, no one is, in fact, covering Gronk so maybe we should throw it to him.
How about Dola and Hoags too? When Cookie went out I legit thought we were in trouble. But those two stepped up like they have done for their entire Patriot careers. Dola goes 8 for 152 and Hoags goes 6 for 128 and 1. WOW. It almost makes me mad to think about the numbers Cooks might have put up had he not died. Hoags will be back for sure, but I really hope Dola decides to stay. He can sit out the whole regular season if he wants. Just go to Montana to hang with Tom and Jules and then ball out in the playoffs. Tale as old as time.
It makes me LOL that people thought this Eagles D was going to slow us down. I told everyone who would listen that Tommy was going to light them up. All I needed was our D to play poorly. That's not a typo. If we play poorly we win. If we play horribly we lose. You know what happened.
I thought Dev was nowhere. That was a bummer. Chung was banged up a couple of times, and I think we were really counting on him to slow down Ertz, but Dev was not up to the task. Again, this is all a ripple effect of the Malcolm benching, but Dev got torched on the game winning tuddy on third down AGAIN. He missed a few tackles that he doesn't usually miss. This is not a guy that shouldn't be able to handle this moment. This is like his 4th super bowl appearance. I didn't see him make a single play.
And as much as this kills me, MY BOY Trey Flowers was invisible. It wasn't just him, and PFF actually graded his game pretty high, so I'm sure there are advanced metrics of stuff he was doing that I don't notice, but come ON. The entire D Line didn't sack Foles ONCE, which is not something I'm prepared to tolerate. But I'm coming at Trey because he is the best of the bunch, and he's shown he can step up in big moments. He was a beast in the playoffs so far, and of course he made a game winning sack against the Falcons last year. I thought we might get something from him on Sunday. I don't know, I'm not asking for a lot. Maybe put a single hand on Foles all night. Let him know you're there. Instead Foles put a lawn chair in the pocket, took the snap, did a little RPO, sipped an arnold Palmer, and then threw dimes all over the field, yawning as it left his hand.
Gilmore was pretty much the lone bright spot for me on the defense. He was great for the entire second half of the year and I think it's fair to say he is owned an apology from me and many other Pats fans. If he keeps this play up I'm happy with his contract and more than happy to let Malcolm go. The only thing I don't understand is why he wasn't on Jeffery from the opening kick off. That seemed like a no brainer, esp since Jeffery did NOTHING once we made the switch. Interesting strat to let Eric Rowe get bodied in the fucking super bowl, but hey that's the Lions problem now, not mine.
Hey Dwayne Allen, thanks for nothing and go fuck yourself. Dwayne, David Harris, and Alan Branch can go ahead and start packing up their shit immediately thank you very much. They are all under contract but will be instantly cut. So will Martellus Bennett but I'm sure they are willing to explore a new deal for him if he even plays football again. (I'm verrrrry into kicking some tires on Jimmy Graham to pair with Gronk) Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt are interesting. I think both should be cut but they might want to wait and see how they look this summer.
The off season begins, and it's going to be a painful one. We've already lost coaches, we are going to lose some free agents soon enough. Hopefully we bring in some fresh blood on the defense, our guys heal up, and we draft well. It sucks because we fucking had it. Even with Malcolm out, and the D turning into a pumpkin, we had it. Fuck that strip sack. Brutal play. The crazy part is it took SUCH a lucky bounce after Tom got stripped. Bounced right into the Eagles hands. If we land on that fumble we STILL win. Think about that. It wasn't even the strip. We still would have won.
I woke up Monday and today thinking about the game. I was dreaming about the game. This will happen for a few weeks before I'm able to get over this bullshit. But guess what? I'm a Pats fan, and there is no better gift on earth. Because I'm going to the Super Bowl next year and I bet we win it. The price of our fandom is no one puts up with more heart ache than us. The Pats have more Super Bowl losses than any team in NFL history? Did you know that?? People see our Lombardi Trophy collection and think it's easy being us. If they only knew how dead wrong they are. But if it was easy, everyone would do it. Can't wait to bring home number 6 next February.
A huge thanks to everyone who read these every week. They were a lot of fun to write 15 times and really shitty to write 4 times. I know they're long but if you're anything like me the more I can read about the games the better. It's not exactly healthy but it's how I cope. Win or lose. There was a lot of rambling and there was lot of drinking, but hopefully you enjoyed yourself as much as I did, because at the end of the day I do it for you. I'm ready for whats next. To quote Tom Brady, LETS FUCKING GO.