Tuesday, December 29, 2009

So...Now What?

Ok, so finally we have a nice dominating victory over a 'quality opponent' in December. For all you who are booking tickets to Miami, with banner #4 dreams, I say this to you:

Settle. Down.

Yes, a nice win. Yes, The Chosen One looked like the chosen one this past Sunday. Yes, Randy Moss returned from Bizzarro World. Yes, Sammy Morris looked real good, and yes, Fred Taylor is back and healthy. Those are all good things, especially heading into the tournament. Without any one of those, The Flying Elvii are surely a one and done team. So, let's break down a couple key things:

Brady's day, 23/26, 267 yards, and 4 TD's. I'm not going to pretend that this is not a perfect day. It is. However, the Jags are 27th in the league against the pass, and they are last in the NFL in sacks. This is what Brady should have done against these guys. If he didn't, we'd have trouble. This is just what was needed to help get Randy Moss back in stride.

The Running Back Situation: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." What is going on with Maroney? He went from not being able to run the ball and not fumbling, to...well...you get the point. His fumbles are at critical times, and that is a huge problem. Did Belichick's benching signify a 'I am done with you."? Can we expect Morris and Taylor to carry the load? It's a pretty big question mark.

The Defense: Necessity is the mother of invention. While the 6-7 linebackers and no down linemen has The Mad Scientist's fingerprints all over it, he's doing this because this gives them the best opportunity. Wilfork and Warren are hurt, and Ron Brace is awful. He's getting blown off the ball. So, Dr. Hoodie runs out his best personnel, and that does not include the seldom activated Brace. It leaves him with a bunch of undersized down linemen and a handful of LB's. He's simply 'giving the team it's best chance to win' in coach speak.

Now, that's the negative. Some positives:

Jags 4th and 2: Ok, it wasn't exactly 4th and 2, but it was a complete disrespect of the Pats D, sending Jones-Drew off tackle in the 1st quarter deep in Jags territory. Sanders stepped up and made a good tackle. It was very early on, but the game was over from there. The Jags gave everything they had in Indy the week before, and expected the Pats to lay down and give them the 1st down. Don't look now, but someone made a play on D.

Key turnovers: After the missed 4th down conversion, the Jags come back, moving the ball into the Pats side of the field. Meriweather picks an errant Garrard throw, and killing any thought of a momentum shift back to Jacksonville. In the opening drive of the second half, The Jags move the ball into the red zone, and look to be headed for a score. Springs makes a nice play and picks off Garrard. This kills the Jags thoughts of climbing back into the game. Those are the kind of plays that championship type teams make. (1st time I wrote that all year, I'll have you know)

Play calling: Brady rolls to his right and hits Watson???!!??? 7 different guys have receptions? TE Chris Baker catches a 26 yard TD down the seam? First game all year where I felt they weren't trying to go Maroney-Welker-Moss-punt. Good time of the year to move the ball around. Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris each had 11 and 13 touches. I liked the offensive game plan.

Here's the bottom line: It's a great time to have a game like this. We've seen other teams put it together late in the season and win. The reality is, The Pats haven't proven they can beat the NFL's elite, and they won't get that chance until next week. In reality, whoever comes into The Razor next weekend has a tough game on their hands, and won't be considered an elite team. So, the real question is, can The Disciples of Dr. Hoodie go to San Diego or Indy and and win? You can bet your ass that neither of those teams want to face New England.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Moss-Fan Interaction from Patriots-Jaguars

Moss-Fan Interaction from Patriots-Jaguars

Click the link to see Randy and The Fan.

Colts give up on immortality

I cannot imagine how the Colts did not go for the win. Now Cryin' Ryan has a Win and In scenario this weekend with his J-E-T-S. The Colts made a travesty of the NFL. Fans of the Broncos, Steelers, Texans, Dolphins, Ravens and Jags all can thank Coach Dungy err ummm Caldwell for breathing life into Gang Green.

...not Dead Yet

Well, one victory does not a season make, unless it's the Super Bowl. However, I may have been a little premature on the whole obituary thing. I'll have some analysis on the Jags game Tuesday. In the mean time...

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Top 10 Foxboro Moments of The Decade

Quite a 10 years, really. The Disciples of Dr. Hoodie have been the dominant team of the 2000's, and it's has been a lot of fun calling myself a fan and a 15 year season ticket holder. There have been some great moments at The Razor, and at The Old Dump as well. Here's my top 10 Foxboro Moments from the last 10 years:

10. The Hit on Bledsoe. It had been an emotional day, that first Sunday of football after 9/11. The Andruzzi's, Roland Tinan, and the NY Jets all came to town. In a lackluster game, Mo Lewis changed the direction of the franchise with his hit on Drew Bledsoe. We had no idea, obviously, at that point, what was to come. I do, however, clearly remember saying to my father "Let's see what this guy can do". Imagine what would have happened if Bledsoe hadn't got drilled.

9. AFC Championship vs San Diego. My main memory is of Junior Seau holding the Lamar Hunt trophy. I'm thinking "Dude, this is why you're here." They were this close to immortality.

8. Home Opener 2007 vs San Diego. This was the week Spygate came out. Dr. Hoodie got a huge ovation pre-game. Say what you will, if he was your coach, you'd love him, too. The Flying Elvii were up 24-0 at the half. I turned to my friend next to me and I said "they are going to run the table." He looked at me like I had three heads. I reiterated "This (the Chargers) is the second best team in the AFC, and they are not even in the game. They are going 19-0" Almost.

7. Titans playoff game. It was cold, like -17 wind chill. We wrapped the bed of our truck in a tarp, and sat in back with a propane heater, watching the early game on a mini TV. Guys around us laughed until they stuck their heads in the back, and we're in there with sweatshirts, at about 50 degrees. At the game, the beer froze before we could get to our seats. Didn't really matter, as the game was fun, and close, coming down to the wire.

6. Ozzy, Opening Night, 2005. One of the nice things about winning the Super Bowl is that Thursday night party the NFL throws for you. We noticed the inflatable helmet the guys normally ran out was a much larger, solid replacement. Wouldn't you know it, it opens up, clam shell style, and there's Ozzy and the boys, right there in front of us, ripping through "Crazy Train" Way cool.

5. 3 picks by Ty Law vs Manning. Cut that meat, indeed. Law had as many receptions from Manning as Marvin Harrison. I sat there in the stands, wringing my hands, lamenting a Colt comeback. One of the guys around us slapped my back and said " You've got all the Red Sox blood in you. Get rid of it. These guys win." Shortly after that, Law had pick #3.

4. Pats 20-Colts 3, divisional round, 2004. In the wild card round, the Colts hung 49 on the Broncos. All the talking heads were going on and on "The Colts can't be stopped.". Well, it snowed, and the rest is history.

3. Raising the Third Banner. Back in 1991, the Pats were a joke. Quite literally, thanks to Mowatt and his lousy behavior. You could never think of raising one of those bad boys, never mind three. I remember sharing a 'bro-hug' with my friend Rich, who I split the season tickets with. We both shook our heads in amazement as they unfurled another banner.

2. The Snow Bowl. The Thursday before the game, I'm laying in bed with a temperature of 102 degrees. The Bride comes home from work, and I'm watching the news in a fetal position. She says "How do you feel, honey?" I reply "2 to 4 inches at kickoff...I'm gonna rally." What a way to close The Old Dump. Funny thing was, we were never cold. Two weeks later, I'm standing in a bar on Bourbon st., and some dude slurs to me "I'm gonna miss Foxboro Stadium." My reply : "Your ass you will!!"

1. Opening The Razor. Talk about everything working out for the Krafts'. They build a new football palace with private money, put everything on the line, and the team wins the Super Bowl mere months before the new building opens. I take my family to the 1st pre-season game, and there a bunch of us Dad types, dazed, walking about, wearing Super Bowl beads from New Orleans, bumping into each other, amazed how nice the new place is. I sit in my seats, first game with my whole family, and I think "I've died and gone to Patriot Heaven". A few weeks later we're back for a real game, and it's a big time party. At some point in the 1st half, they play "We are the Champions" during a TV timeout. Well, they didn't time it real well, and the song got through I've had my share of sand kicked in my face/and I've come through and then play resumed. Not so fast, said the Foxboro faithful. A smattering of people kept singing We are the Champions, and 60,000 plus picked it up from there, We Are the Champions/ no time for losers/ cause we are the Champions/ of the World. A big ovation ensued as we cheered our good fortune, oblivious to the play on the field.

That's my moment.

Carolina Wrap Up

I don't have a lot on this game. It was ugly, especially in the first half. The offense seemed to come alive when Welker got drilled at the beginning of the 94 yard drive. Overall, they were lucky they had a bad team lined up across from them in the Panthers.

In regards to this Moss thing, I don't think he quit on the team. Obviously, sitting here, 24 rows up, I don't know what's in his head. Something clearly is bothering him, either physically or mentally. I was right there yelling at the the TV like the rest of you, when he got alligator arms going across the middle. I don't know what to make of his actions, really. I know this is modis operandi for him, but he has been a model team mate since his arrival in Foxboro. Dr. Hoodie came out in Moss' corner today , and that says a lot. You didn't hear the Mad Scientist raving about A.D., did you? My gut is he's hurt, or has some off field problem he's dealing with.

Some guys still aren't clued in to the Patriot Way. Shawn Springs made a comment yesterday that the Pats were in 'cover 3' on the Steve Smith TD. That means Meriweather had deep center responsiblity. While I appreciate some (refreshing) real answers out of the locker room on Route 1, Springs still isn't drinking the Kool Aid. Otherwise, he would not have driven Meriweather under the bus and said to the media 'not my fault'.

Oh, one other thing...Welker is The Man.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kindergarten is in session

I wanted to sit here in row 24, seat 5, and reflect on this Adailus Thomas thing before writing about it. Here's where I see things:

  • Thomas is due $4.4m the next two seasons, according to boston.com. That means if Dr. Hoodie fired him now (that's what being cut in mid season is, after all), the team would take the full $8.8m cap hit this year. That reason alone keeps him from boarding the Lawyer Milloy bus to Buffalo.

  • Guys who talk to the media and have their own message do not last long in New England. Milloy, Law, and Seymour all ended up being shown the door after taking gripes to the media, usually about money. This is about coaching/management style, which is a big no-no. Either Adailus does a 180 from his current train of thought, or he'll be down the road before 2010. If you're going to talk to the media, you'd better be spewing the company line.

  • He just doesn't get it. And, he hasn't played that well. Seymour would carefully navigate the media, through holdouts and the like, instead of challenging the Jedi In Charge. If he had 8-10 sacks and 50-60 tackles, he might get a little leeway. Ok, maybe not. Milloy was a captain, and he was sent packing.

  • This is not about about Belichick getting soft or losing it or anything else. This is one guy flapping his gums. Prior to now, you had GWTR who would police this. Now those guys are gone. That's why you have Tom Brady saying 'pay attention' to the media.

  • He'll be inactive today, and for the rest of the year, unless he changes his tune.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Upcoming Stuff

I'll be doing some "all decade" type stuff has the rest of the month rolls on. I'll try and make it a little off beat. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Odds-n- (tight) Ends

  • O'Brien needs to get more creative. Welker and Moss have combined for 163 receptions. That's 14 more than the rest of the team combined. You mean to tell me that Ben Watson and Chris Baker have suddenly forgot how to be pass catching tight ends? 33 receptions between the two of them? Now, I'm no offensive coordinator, nor did I say at a Holiday Inn last night. It would seem to me if you could get Watson and Baker involved, then opposing defenses would have to worry about them, which would free up Faulk for more dump offs in the flat. Also, Baker and Watson would be more viable options in the 'red area'.
  • Can we forget about going for it on 4th and short? Take the points, Dr. Hoodie. This is not the 2007 Juggernaut, bitch.
  • Albert Breer pointed out today in Extra Points, the Pats are 28th in 'sacks per play'. Whatever. Here's the fact: the best pass rusher for the Flying Elvii wasn't good enough, and was too one dimensional, to be signed by this team 2 years ago. Richard Seymour's not walking through that door, fans.
  • Speaking of which, remember, Richard wasn't going to sign for the Pats, and by trading him, The Mad Scientist got to pick where he sent him. The Raiders most certainly will have a high 1st round pick. Remember that next year, when they don't sign Big Vince, and we get compensated a low first round pick because he signed with a contender.
  • I like the fact Laurence stepped up and said "this is not the 'o7 Pats." Maybe he's one of the guys to step up and fill the void left by the GWTR. His play is better of late, when they call his number at least. Time will tell.

Tom Brady calls out _________ (fill in the blank)

Tom Brady said “I don’t think we fight very hard" after Sunday's loss. Members of the media debated whether he was calling out a certain wide out (cough cough 81 cough), or the defense, or perhaps some other aspect of the team (cough Pees, O'Brien cough cough). Here's what is really surprising about his comments:

That he had to do it to begin with.

Before this year, you never would have heard this comment in the media. Even if this was said, it would have been said by one of the GWTR, and no one would have ever heard about it. Bruschi/Harrison/Vrabel would have made this comment behind closed doors, and that would be it. You'd hear more of "__________ played us well, but now were worried about this week's opponent _________".

It's a bit concerning to me that this message has to be delivered in the media for a couple reasons. 1) that not the Patriot Way. The Pats don't talk to the media, at least they don't say anything important. More Coach speak : "just trying to blah blah blah.". Never anything of substance. 2) Someone isn't listening in the locker room when it's said the first time. For Brady to take it public, even without identifying the culprit(s), shows he recognizes there is a problem.

...Willie McGinest isn't walking through that door...

...and Ty Law isn't walking through that door, fans.

None other than Laurence Maroney said as much Sunday after the game. We could all take a lesson from him. These are not your older brothers Patriots. They, players and coaches alike, could all stop thinking that the 2009 Pats are the '04 or '07 Pats. They need to focus on winning the next series, quarter, half, and game, and never mind blowing people out.

Blowing people out is not the 'Patriot Way'.

Are You a True Fan or Bandwagoner?

As I have recovered from yet another loss, I have two dreaded words for you:
  1. Transition
  2. Rebuilding

Both of these words will send the Pink Hats running for cover. Front running, bandwagon fans will bail on the Patriots so fast it will make your head spin. I would say that these people are not Patriot fans, as much as they are fans of winning. These will be the same people wearing a Drew Brees jersey at the local Super Bowl party, assuming that your not partying in the Mississippi delta. When a team goes through a transition or rebuilding process, it's not just the team that goes through this process. It's the fan base as well. A separating of the wheat from the chaff, if you will.

I won't insult you by saying 'you have to have been here and suffered through 1-15 in order to be a true fan.' As teams become champions, the fan base grows nationally has the team and the players become more well known. It's a natural process. So will be the contraction of the fan base as Dr. Hoodie and the Flying Elvii (sounds like a band name) rebuild this team.

Not thinking they are rebuilding? Please. Never mind the loss of the GWTR. Brady, Faulk, Green, Koppen, Light, Neal, Warren, and Wilfork are all that is left from '04 champs. This is not even close to the same team as the Super Bowl winners. This 2009 Patriots, with the exodus of the GWTR, has to learn to win on their own terms.

Here's another tidbit: it's going to take a while. The core of the championship defenses, Bruschi, Ted Johnson, Willie McGinest, and Ty Law were all drafted in 1996 or earlier. Key free agent signings, such as Vrabel and Phifer, and the drafting of Seymour, completed the key players on defense in 2001. The 2009 core of players would consist of Wilfork, Meriweather, and Mayo. Figure Wilfork leaving after this season. The Patrick Chungs and Darius Butlers may develop into championship type players over time. A long time. Think the back half of The Chosen One's career. It won't happen overnight.

So, ask yourself. Are you a true fan, and will root for the team no matter what? Or, are you a Pink Hat wearing bandwagoner who will root for the new trendy team?

Because, in my opinion, it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2009 New England Patriots Obituary

The 2009 New England Patriots football team passed away (no pun intended) today, after a lengthy illness. The Patriots suffered from various maladies and infirments, all of which came to a head in the last two weeks.

Among the Patriots afflictions, none were more obvious than the extremely rare Exaggerated Glorious Offensitis, or EGO. This fast moving disease first showed symptoms in Indianapolis, when Dr. Hoodie went for it on the well documented 4th and 2. EGO is usually brought on as a result of other illnesses, many of which the Flying Elvii suffered. Clearly, the good doctor was well aware of his patient's condition, and allowed the onset of EGO in the hopes of overcoming some of these other sicknesses. That was apparent today as The Chosen One threw two interceptions, one a forced throw to Moss, the other, a poor choice late in the game, being sacked with no timeouts left. EGO can, and often does, infect the coaching staff, as it appears that this team's staff was. One need look no further than the poor choice of going for it on 4th and 1 from the Miami six yard line. A chip shot for the Pats pro bowl kicker, the staff opted for the touchdown, where they were denied by the Miami D. Three points at that time in the game and the Patriots escape with a win, allowing Dr. Hoodie and his staff to further treat the patient.

Another ailment the Disciples of Dr. Hoodie suffered from this season was LPR, or Lack of Pass Rush, also known as Max Lane Syndrome. The New Englanders trail such juggernauts as Cleveland and Tampa in team sacks for 2009. The inability to rush the passer played a key role in defeats at Indy, New Orleans, and Miami. Without the ability to stop the pass, the secondary was exposed yet again.

This 2009 team also suffered from the same ailment as last years team, Porous Secondaritis, or Deltha O'neal's Disease.(DOD) While last season's squad had a fatal case of this disorder, this year's squad showed glimpses of recovery, only to succumb to all the sicknesses infecting the team. Clearly, improvement is needed, especially with Jonathan Wilhite, who appears to be riddled with DOD.

Yet another of the infections, and probably the most likely cause of death, pending autopsy, is the slow incubating but often fatal Playmaker Influenza, or Bruschi Flu. (L7MP*). The Bruschi Flu develops as players get older, and is often mistaken for Lost Steps Condition. While LSC can lead to L7MP, more often than not, L7Mp breaks out as teams go through the dreaded 'transition period' between championship runs. Simply put, teams run out of guys capable of making a play when the pressure is greatest.

While it appears that these symptoms all onset this this season, the contagion can be traced all the way back to September 7, 2008. That was the day The Chosen One went down, tearing his ACL/MCL vs. the Chiefs. That team, full of GWTR**, was coming off the humiliating loss in Super Bowl XLII. They were geared up to make one last stand, one final run at glory. When Brady went down, the various viruses were contracted. That team fought valiantly, but in the end, could not get it done. This team will fight on, but the symptoms make it impossible for the 2009 Patriots to compete for a championship.

Next of kin in Kansas City, Oakland, and Philadelphia will be notified. Calling hours will be in Buffalo, Dec. 20. Final burial will be announced for sometime in January.

*Lose 7, Miss Playoffs
** Guys With The Rings

R.I.P. 2009 New England Patriots

The 2009 New England Patriots died today in Miami. Time of death, 4:12 pm EST. Obituary to follow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Around the 'net

Steve Wyche over at NFL.com says the Disciples of Dr. Hoodie are in trouble. His column is here.

Chris Gasper takes on the Patriot Mystique. He actually quotes Morpheus from the Matrix. Pretty soon he'll be espousing the teachings of Yoda. ( ok, my reaction was 'wow, I coulda wrote that' ) There's a Borg reference, too. Even The Bride says 'wow, honey, he sounds like you.'

Tedy Bruschi says the D needs work. Really?

Michael Felger is his usual cranky self. Check him out here. He's right, at least this week. Johnny8, you'll love that link.

Bob George says The Mad Scientist was right to go for it on 4th and 2. He knew what the rest of the nation knows after last night. Read him here.

Enough for tonight. Have a good week, squish the fish.

Defensive Playmakers Wanted

The defense on the 2009 Pats has no big time play makers. The GWTR Patriots were loaded with play makers...and I covered those names many times. Think about the last handful of championship teams:
2008 Steelers : Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, James Farrior
2007 Giants : Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck
2006 Colts : Bob Sanders, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis
2005 Steelers : Polamalu, Joey Porter, Casey Hampton
2002 Buccaneers: Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Simeon Rice

Who are the 2009 Pats play makers? Burgess? Meriweather? Thomas? None of these guys, or any other have stepped up and been 'THE guy' when the game is on the line. There's been flashes from Meriweather and Bodden, but not when the game is in doubt. Think back to some of the key plays in Pats history.

Tedy Bruschi: steals the ball from Rhodes in the playoffs. Pick-6 Jay Fiedler to clinch division. Interception in Super Bowl XXXIX, 2 sacks way back in Super Bowl XXXI.

Willie McGinest: Takes St. Louis out of field goal range almost single handed with two sacks of Kurt Warner late in Super Bowl XXXVI, after he was called for holding Marshall Faulk on a 98 yard fumble return by Tebuckey Jones. Key goal line tackle of Edgerrin James vs. Colts. 4.5 sacks vs Jags in '05 playoffs. Holds post season record for sacks with 16.

Ty Law: 3 picks vs Colts in AFC Championship game. Pick-6 vs Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI
Rodney Harrison: INT vs Titans and Colts in playoffs, forces Marvin Harrison fumble in end zone vs Colts, same game. Pick 6 vs Pittsburgh the following season, INT in Super Bowl XXXIX.
There's a pattern here, and it's getting it done when the stakes are the highest. Well, the stakes are pretty high in December in the NFL. We'll see if Big Vince, Meriweather, and Mayo are indeed big time Patriot play makers, or if they are just keeping the seat warm until the next group of winners shows up.

Still a lot of football left...with a major 'but'

Lets go to history class.

After week 11 in 2001, the Patriots were 6-5, coming off a 34-17 win at home vs. the Saints. (hmmmm). They would finish a two seed at 11-5. They would beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

After week 11, the 2005 Steelers were 8-3, and would drop to 8-5 before finishing 11-5, a six seed. They would beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.

The 2007 NY Giants would be 7-3 and would drop three of the last six to finish 10-6, good enough for a five seed. They ended up beating some undefeated team in Super Bowl XLII.

My point? There's a lot of football left. While I'm very concerned, as stated, about the Pats ability to beat a quality opponent on the road, everything changes once you reach the tournament. I do not expect the Disciples of Dr. Hoodie to be able to sneak a two seed with a 11-5 record, considering the Colts are unbeaten. If, however, they can run the table, 12-4 may be good enough to get that 1st round bye.

Look, I'm not going to delude myself into thinking the Pats are the class of the NFL. They are not, as last night's ass-kicking clearly showed. They have a great deal of work to do, 'in all facets of the game' to get to the point where they are a legitimate Super Bowl threat. All I am saying is...plenty of football left. Plenty of work to do.

Now We Know...

With apologies to Dennis Green, the Patriots are who we thought they were. After a thorough dismantling by the Saints, it is time to face the music.
  • The Patriots, defensively, cannot keep pace with the elite offenses of the league. This defense has no pass rush, and without any pressure, the great QB's like Brees and Manning will eat any defense alive.
  • Richard Seymour is missed. Maybe not week in and week out, but certainly in these 'big games', where you are waiting for someone to make a play. The lack of pass rush puts too much pressure on the secondary.
  • I keep waiting for someone on defense to step up and make a play. Unfortunately, there is no Harrison, Bruschi, Seymour, Law, or Vrable in this bunch. I don't see anyone on this team being the go to guy. They are still searching for their identity. Well, guess what. That is their identity. They beat up on bad teams, and get beat by the NFL elite.
  • The elite teams, as of December 1, are The Saints, Colts, and Vikings. The Patriots belong to that second group of 'also made the playoffs' teams; Chargers, Pats, Bengals and Cowboys.
  • The offensive line did not give The Chosen One enough time. Too often, he was hurried or flushed from the pocket. The two picks where the ugliest throws of the year, and part of that is on the line.
  • Maroney looked very good in the first series. However, the defense has to make plays if the offense is going try and play ball control against a team that can score at will.
  • Adam Kilgore dug up this tidbit: The Pats gave up 484 yards, the 3rd most a Belichick coached Pats team has ever given up.

If the playoffs started today, the Pats would open at home with the Broncos. A victory in that game sends them back to Indy. While I like them at home vs. Denver, if they went back to Indy today, the answer would be the same as before. They are simply not ready to be a deep playoff team.

More to come shortly.