After we lost to the Jags I looked at the rest of our schedule. I saw KC, Packers, Vikings, and Pitt. I said if we get out of those four games at 3-1 we go 14-2 and get the one seed. Then we lost to the Lions. THE LIONS. I hoped that we could still go 3-1, finish 13-3, and get the one seed but KC doesn't look like they have 2 more losses in them. At Rams maybe? Home vs Chargers is a big game. At Hawks maybe???? They STINK too but its tough to play there. We just might have to run the table. And whether that's the case or not, so far so good. Three of the four games in question are at home, and we know how hard it is to beat us at The Razor. So mostly I'm just glad we held serve. The Packers aren't even good, but A-A-Ron is in fact very good, so it's always a real test.
After that scorching hot opening drive beat down I thought I was still watching Sox v Dodgers. The Green Bay defense was running around like chickens with their dicks cut off while Tom was no huddling all over their backs. It was a majestic sight. That level of execution wasn't sustainable all night, but it did feel like we might hang 60 on them.
Then the game became a back alley knife fight until we officially hit an artery with the Flash Gordon 55 yard tuddy. Incredible play design, it might even be featured during film study on Wednesday, but like the rest of you I thought Tom overshot Jules for a second. Tom even said after the game that play usually goes to Jules, so he wasn't surprised he jumped for it, but he saw Flash open for a potentially bigger play. What I love about that hypothetical is if Jules had got a finger tip on it and the play fell incomplete everyone would have lampooned Brady for another missed throw to a wide open receiver and it would have been hard to prove otherwise. But since Tom is Tom and we, as Pats fans, live a charmed life, the pass was the perfect combination of sexy and cute and landed directly in Flash's arms as he took it to the house.
Flash has shown multiple times now that he isn't going to go down on that first contact if the DB doesn't wrap up. He's got great balance after the catch, and was able to finish the play despite the Packers trying to rip a digit off his body earlier in the game. Unfortunately for Green Bay, Flash is still more of a man than anyone they've ever met.
The tuddy bear the broke the 17 all tie was also a thing of beauty. Josh went back to his old bag of trick plays and called up a Jules double pass. Every time you see one of those screens go backwards you KNOW something is on. On actual screen passes the guys have it drilled into their brains to make sure the pass goes forward because then any drop isn't also a fumble. It makes me wonder about the depth perception for the defenders on the field. Can they tell that immediate pass to Jules is backwards? The camera angle we get on TV makes its soooo obvious, but maybe its hard for safeties in the back to realize we're a bunch of tricksy hobbits about to walk them straight into Shelob's lair.
Anyway, I saw Jules looking down field, selling the Dwayne Allen post route. And when he hesitated and looked back to his left I thought the Pack covered it up and we were gonna settle for an "aw shucks." But then when I realized James Wiggle White had approx 1,500 lbs of blockers ahead of him I jumped out of my seat. I'm actually shocked he didn't score because a) it was set up so well and b) all Wiggle does is score tuddies.
OK, hand up, last week I compared the CP RB Experiment to the Stanford Prison Experiment.
How does 11 carries for 61 yards and a tuddy sound? Should have been two tuddies btw. I don't think he was in on that last one, but I didn't think there was a good enough look to overturn that call. I also hate when they don't come out of the review and put that ball on the inch yard line. Like that's where it is if it isn't across the plane. But somehow when you don't get the call on plays like that the thing gets spotted half a foot away. Half a foot?? Don't bullshit a bullshitter. Sorry, I'm spiraling off topic. I'm still circling my calendar for the return of Sony Michele like he's Christmas morning, but CP actually looked like...a running back?? I can say one thing for sure, his running back impression is a hell of a lot better than the wide receiver one he's been trotting up on stage every weekend. Against the Bills it looked like he had no idea what he was doing, and was just some fast dude who had no clue that there were certain holes he was supposed to hit. Last night he was running hard with his pads low, following blockers, and reading cut back lanes. I don't want him to ever touch the ball again once the PlayStation is healthy, and CP can still get off my team please and thanks, but I'd be lying if I said I was mad with his effort on SNF.
I had mixed feelings about the secondary, but that comes with the territory of watching the Patriots defense. I was fully on board with our 'play the pass' every snap strategy. You saw snaps go way down for Danny Shelton and snaps go way up for Adam Butler. Good. My mother could play running back for the Packers. Stay in sub packages with speedy fronts. You can't "beat" Aaron Rodgers but you can make it as hard as possible. Big picture, its hard to argue that we didn't do that. They scored 17 points. We got a sack. We got Rodgers off his spot early and often. But it still feels like a mixed bag.
Patrick Chung spent 75% of the game not in the same area code as Jimmy Graham (from? THE U), which was slightly problematic considering that's the guy Chung was supposed to be covering. One third and long up the left sideline comes to mind when Jimmy ran an out and up that faked out absolutely no one, but only since no Patriot was even looking at him. On the other hand, Gilmore had the unenviable task of covering Davante Adams all night and he gets full marks. I think he gave up 2 completions for 15 yards, meaning Adams had about as much of an impact on the game as me and my boys did while we watched on a projection screen from the backyard hustling Sam Winters.
Davante Adams was supposed to be good, and when he was a rookie the Pack wanted him to be that #3 option behind Jordy and Randall Cobb, whose ghost you may have noticed out on the field last night. He was a hot sleeper fantasy pick, but he didn't really pan out. His only good game of the year was when he absolutely shit down our throat at Lambeau when we gave him the Mario Manningham treatment. After that disappointing campaign I thought he would just fade into the abyss like all the promising Aaron Dropson rookies before him. Then I blinked and now he's a top 5 receiver in football and Rodgers is in love with him.
The start of the second half was pathetic. I was doing my weekly call with another brother of the Night's Watch at half time, talking about the game. We both agreed it was a lower scoring affair than we expected so far, but we thought the Pack would have a hard time slowing us down after the break. We figured another 17, so 34 points total, would do the job. Needless to say I was appalled with how we came out. Fillingsworth even said it on the broadcast, the Packers were actually doing a good job of confusing Tom presnap. Which seems impossible both because the Packers defense STINKS and because no one can fool Tom presnap. But it felt like every drop back he was looking the wrong direction, had the wrong protection, and was forcing throws all over the field. At one point he missed 6 straight throws. SIX! The last time Tom was that inaccurate he was trying to kiss his son on the cheek. (JK! JK! I didn't mind the mouth kiss and TBCFHWY I was v jealous of Jack Jack)
For real though, we deserved to lose that game with the way we were playing. Mixed into this stretch was the goal line stand by the Packers. A power run with Wiggle on first down. Don't hate the call, but loathe the formation. We go full goal line power set, single back, with Matthew 'the saint' Slater in the game as the loan WR. Like, why?? Now the entire universe knows we are running. Boooooo. Btw, I call Slater 'the saint' because he's a big church guy and he only plays Special Teams (ST). One of my top nicknames IMHFO.
Then power run to CP which should have got in. Then, Slater help me, a ROLL OUT on third down. A Tom Brady roll out. Not a typo. I suppose the idea was they will never see it coming. But I don't ask my car to fly when I'm late to work just cause the cops won't see it coming. I know if I do, I will crash my car, possibly die, and possibly fire a football directly into Josh Jackson's breast plate. I actually love throwing there, esp with our inability to power run in gotta have it situations so far this year, and that includes when Sony Michele was still alive. But put Tom in shotgun with 5 options on the field and let him go to work. And lest we forget, we had to make sure we mixed in the obligatory "has never worked fade route" into the equation on fourth down before we handed the ball back to the Packers without scoring any points from the 1 in a tie game.
Our red area offense is officially a problem though. I can't even say we just need Gronk back because he has been targeted once in the red area all year, which is some kind of sick twisted joke. It makes me sad, and I know he's banged up, but he's definitely slowing down. And, gulp, so is Jules. He gets a slight pass because he's coming off knee surgery, but man I need more separation. There were a few incompletions they showed replays of where Jules is running his options routes underneath and he's invisible. I've had loose change that was less in my pocket than those DBs covering Jules. NOT IDEAL! Let's all hope he's still shaking some rust off. I'm not mad at 6 for 71 on 10 targets. It's just that, as Jules put it about Dola, "I miss that little joker."
I would be remiss in my duties to not mention the Lawrence Guy forced fumble. That is a perfect example of stepping up and making a play when one desperately had to be made. The Pack were driving to take a fourth quarter lead. We hadn't done shit all half. We already blew the goal line stand and the roughing the punter drive extender. Rodgers was closing his hand around our throat and we forgot the safe word. Turns out it was "Aaron Jones."
And for those of you crying at home, yes I can hear you my place has thin walls, and yes it was roughing the kickers so just shut up. Watch an NBA game for me one time. You can't take away a jump shooters landing spot. It's a broken ankle waiting to happen. Same thing with punters. If you can watch that replay and think it was running into and not roughing then you have lost your football watching privileges until after the bye week. Seriously. You can't watch the Titans game. Go apple picking or something. Just make other plans.
The one time the refs did make this game about them was the Whitehead ejection. That was two dudes shoving each other after the whistle and nothing more. Like every single back of the classroom scuffle, it's the guy who retaliations who gets detention, but watching live I legit didn't know if they were going to flag Andrews too. And then not only did they only penalize Green Bay, but they also tossed their starting safety. I'm all for getting head injuries out of this game, but a white glove pimp slap isn't giving anyone CTE. Just give me the 15 and lets move on.
I really hope Shaq Mason is ok, because watching Ted Karras get absolutely BLOWN BY on a 3 man rush from the right guard position leading to the first Brady sack of the night on third down was not how I plan on ever spending another Sunday evening. Granted, the Packers showed blitz with both linebackers covering up the A gaps. I assume Brady, and thus the OLine, expected one to come and one to drop. Well they both dropped into coverage and the OLine communicated it about as well a drunk guy trying to force his way past a bouncer into the club. In both cases, someone ends up flat on their ass.
I was talking with a friend about our lack of movement at the trade deadline. I said I wish we would trade all of our picks for players on the end of rookie deals because all our draft picks suck or get hurt anyway. This sent me on a Derek Rivers rant. I wont bore you with repeating it here, but I do want to lament that this former third round pick that I thought would be a massive boost to our pass rush played 4 snaps in week 9 and it felt like a positive step. Kill me.
As a man who drafted Chris Hogan in two separate fantasy leagues, I did not expect to be typing the following at any point this year, but here it goes... GIVE ME MORE FLIP DORSETT. Hoags clearly has Tommy's trust. He clearly gets the system. And he always has that random game where he gets nude deep and pops off like the AFCCG. But I don't quite follow how he has this 3rd WR spot on lock down. The offense played 71 snaps last night. Jules played 64. Flash played 57. They are automatic in 2 WR sets. Hoags played 53 snaps. That's 75%! Flip played 12 snaps, only 17%. Flip was targeted on 3 of his twelves snaps, and caught all 3 for 30 yards. Hoags had ZERO catches and was only targeted once. Get outta here with that shit buddy. If teams are going to put their entire neighborhood watch on Gronk, and then double Jules on underneath routes, and then give Flash safety help over the top, you KNEAD to do something. You're in single coverage with a bust 4th string DB on you. Tommy's favorite receiver is the open one and right now Flip is the one getting open.
Glad we handled our business at the end, couldn't have Tommy 0-2 vs Rodgers in his career. Otherwise people might forget that Rodgers has only won 2 more playoff games than times Tom Brady has gone to the Super Bowl.