The Patriots will have their hands full when the head down to Miami last week. In an attempt to get all cerebral like Belichick, I've decided to do a film session and break down some key moves that New England will face on Monday Night.
Pats fans, I bear bad news today. The story circulating the rounds is true that Tom Brady is not allowed to trim his doo without the express written consent of Mrs. Tom Brady, better known as Gisele Bundchen. And so the hair grows.
Despite Brandon Tate's spot on analysis of the situation ("That's a grown man over there, he can do what he wants. That's on him.") it occurs to your humble correspondent that Jules, our man in Inglewood may have the skinny on what's shaking, besides Brady's locks as he runs.
Now if we can agree that Jules is a Bad MotherFather, and you bet your aspirin he is, and he didn't get himself a tasty burger as often as he may have liked, due to some pressures at home, we can conclude our man Tom Terrific has reason enough to defer to the wisdom of Mrs. Brady.
See what I'm saying? We can also safely conclude that Brandon Tate has not yet been married. More than that we can also assume there are other decisions that Tom leaves up to Gisele.
- Remote Control - Think Tom gets to watch PTI? Think again. Gisele's thoughts on sports in general is that is what her husband does and not who he is. And work is best left at work and not brought home.
- Gadgets and cars - Tom's got a man cave and with 22,000 feet of house to squeeze it into, you better believe it is the awesome. But Gisele has cramped of of Tom's style. Remember the jetpack that Michael Bluth accidentally gave his son George Michael on Arrested Development? Yeah, Gisele said no. Lunar Exploratory Module from the Apollo program, which was a great deal at just over a million dollars, no sale. Infrared laser netting only merited a why do you need it? Unfortunately, "Because it's cool" did not fly.
- Internet Porn - So yeah, Tom said it, he knows why Al Gore invented the Internet, to check out the nekkid chicks, but Gisele put an end to it, telling Tommy Boy she would not have her man downloading anyone but her. Frankly, I gotta tell ya, she makes a good point.
- Wes Welker - Tom and Wes used to hang out, were best buds. But Gisele sized up Wes pretty quick, and at two inches taller than him, without heels, it wasn't all that tricky. Then when she found out he was in the I Felta Thi fraternity (he's not it's actually in I Felta Thi. There is no I Felta Thi Fraternity. Welker's in Phi Delta Theta) and he was persona non grata.
- Vacation - This past spring Tom wanted to vacation down in Florida. A quick getaway, maybe bring Ben to Disney World. Like regular New Englanders do. But Gisele was thinking more of a quick jaunt to Europe. Paris, then England. Holiday Road, baby. Holiday road.
- Burgers - Yeah. Gisele isn't a vegetarian, but she wasn't going to let Tom sneak a tasty Big Kahuna burger, no matter how good they are. Mmmmm mmmm. More for me, then. Who's got my sprite?
After a tough 28-14 loss last week to the New York Jets, the Patriots take on a team they are used to defeating in the Buffalo Bills. Remember the last time the Bills actually beat the Patriots? The year was 2003 and former Patriots’ Lawyer Milloy and Drew Bledsoe were on the opposite side in a 31-0 blowout. Since then, New England has won 13 straight in the series and with the way both teams look after two games, there Is no reason why the Patriots should not make it 14 straight this Sunday.
The Buffalo Bills have been proclaimed jokingly by most experts as being already “on the clock” for the 2011 NFL Draft. After their first two games, they look to be heading down that path. They are 0-2 with losses to the Dolphins and Packers. Yes, they have three capable running backs in Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, and dynamic rookie C.J Spiller, but they lack a consistent quarterback that can get the ball downfield to their wide receivers such as Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish.
With the offense lacking a quarterback, new head coach Chan Gailey has made a change at the position that he hopes will spark his team. He has benched third year quarterback Trent Edwards and replaced him with a journeyman out of Harvard University in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has played with the Rams and Bengals and even started for Buffalo last year when Edwards was out due to injury, But, long term, the Bills might be looking at an Andrew Luck or a Ryan Mallett come April.
Here are my keys to the game:
Pressure, Pressure, and more pressure: New England needs to get after quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick early and often in order to win this game. Last year, in a 17-10 loss to the Pats in December, Fitzpatrick had a decent game (17 for 25, 180 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). But, the Harvard grad isn’t a quarterback who likes to throw down the field as often. Last week, the Pats faced a similar quarterback in Mark Sanchez and were able to get four sacks. But, they lacked the consistent pressure in the second half when they needed it the most. If that continues again, look for Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish to make some big plays downfield.
Darius Butler – Last week, the second year cornerback from UCONN struggled at opportune times against Braylon Edwards, which included two critical pass interference penalties. In week one against the Bengals, Chad Ochocinco had a solid game against Butler as well. This is a game where Darius needs to improve against a Buffalo offense that is averaging just nine points per game. He will most likely be matched up with Lee Evans this week.
Get the offense back on track – We saw the quote Tom Brady gave last week, saying that “we just sucked”. Part of that problem was the inconsistency from Brady in the 2nd half. He threw two interceptions, had one fumble, and had a stretch of six straight incomplete passes. He needs to go back to what worked in the first half in terms of working the ball to the slot. Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez had good first halves last week and surprisingly were not used in the 2nd half as often. Buffalo might not have a great pass defense, but they only have given up 209 yards per game through the air in two games. Leodis McKelvin and Terrence McGee are two of the key corners in that Bills secondary, but they really miss safety Jairus Byrd, linebacker Paul Posluszny and retired defensive end Aaron Schobel, who was a nightmare to Brady last year. Moss will get his touches, but Welker needs the ball early and often.
Kevin Faulk – How will the loss of a key veteran like Kevin Faulk hurt this offense? Faulk was the player New England looked to get the ball to in third down situations. But last week, he suffered a torn ACL and is now out for the season. New England is prepared for this with the acquisition of Danny Woodhead from the Jets last week. Being from New York, I have seen Woodhead through training camp and Hard Knocks. He is a capable third down back who you could line up in the slot or use on a screen pass. However, I would expect to see more of BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Sammy Morris in those situations to get Woodhead used to the offense. Faulk will be missed, but I doubt it makes a huge difference pertaining to if New England can make a Super Bowl run or not.
Prediction; In these type of divisional matchups, you can throw stats and inefficiencies out the window. Remember, last year on opening night, if Leodis McKelvin did not take the kickoff out of the endzone in the two minutes, the Bills would have pulled off a huge upset. However, with the way I saw Tom Brady last week in regards to his anger after the game, I would not want to face a motivated Tom Brady. Expect a big game from Welker as well as the Pats defense as they prepare to play a tough Miami team next Monday night.
Patriots 31 Bills 14
For the 7th straight week, I did a Q&A session with a blogger who covers the Patriots next opponent. Up this week is Buffalo Wins, a great blog covering the Bills and Sabres that joined the Bloguin just before the start of the NFL Season. I asked the site's lead writer, Joe Pinzone, a series of questions about the Billss, and he, in turn, asked me a few about the Pats. His responses are below, followed by a link to Foxboro Blog's Q&A session on Buffalo Wins.
1. The Bills played a tight game against Miami and then got blown out by Green Bay. What do you think was the biggest difference between the two games?
I'd love to tell you that the Bills just had a bad week against Green Bay, but the team is really bad. Like, it could give the Patriots 1992 season a run for the money. Even though the Miami game was close on the scoreboard, it wasn't even close on the field. Miami shot themselves in the foot so many times with drops and missed field goals that they could have easily won by 2 touchdowns.
2. How concerned are you about the Bills moving to Toronto or another city?
Very concerned. It's been kind of a death knell for most Bills fans since 2006. There are so many rumors going around the campfire about Jim Kelly (Bills former QB) having his own ownership group lined up to buy the team. The bottom line for everyone involved is that when Ralph Wilson passes away, the Bills will go up for auction to the highest bidder. We are talking fat cats in LA and Toronto lining up to buy the team and possibly move it. The biggest problem for the franchise is that they are in a football market that lacks corporations to buy a ton of luxury boxes, like you guys have in New England. Without luxury box sales, the Bills franchise will become smaller and have a harder time in competing.
3. What about the Bills had you the most excited heading into the 2010 season?
Um, is that a trick question? Look, I knew coming into the season the team was going to be terrible. I guess having the possible 1st pick in the draft next year has me excited. All kidding aside, CJ Spiller was someone I was looking forward to seeing play. He looked great in the preseason and has game breaker written all over him. I'm not sure what happened last week, but the Bills decided to bench Spiller and play Marshawn Lynch. No clue why, because Spiller is your first round pick and a high draft slot like that shouldn't be sitting on the bench.
4. What do you think the Bills' weak point is?
Another trick question? Everything is weak on this team! You have two terrible tackles in Demetrius Bell and Cornell Green. If you put Wes Welker opposite Lee Evans at the moment that Welker blew out his knee, he'd be better than Stevie Johnson. The linebackers can't cover or rush the passer. Lastly, there quarterback is Ryan Fitzpatrick. So, to answer your question, everything is weak about this team....except the secondary isn't too bad.
5. What is your prediction for the Patriots this season?
The Pats are the Pats. As long as Tom Brady is manning the quarterback position, you guys are going to be just fine. Now, are you going to runaway with the division like it seems like you guys do every year? No. The Jets may talk a good game, but they can kind of back it up. Miami is 2-0 and they are well coached team. I go back and forth about who I think will win the division, but I'm going with the Patriots. Brady and Moss are the best players in the division and that's why I'm picking them
6. How do you see Sunday's game playing out and what's the final score?
Even though the Bills have kept it closer over the past two years against the Patriots, I still see this match-up as your typical Bills vs Patriots game. The Hoodie will out-coach Gailey. Brady and Moss will outplay Fitzpatrick and Lee Evans. The Bills defense won't stop Brady on 3rd down. Also, look for your rookie tight end, Rob Gronkowski, to have a big game. The Bills are terrible against defending the tight end. Oh, BTW, the Patriots are pissed off, which doesn't bold well for the Bills.
On of my favorite articles to write every year is my Week 2 "over-reactions" post. Almost without fail, the media and masses begin to freak out after Week 2 of the NFL season as some "super power" team is stuck at 0-2, while some other teams that were supposed to be bad are sitting pretty at 2-0. I've always found the over-reactions to be pretty entertaining and taken pride in my ability to keep a level head. I guess that's what happens when your own team gets shut out 31-0 on opening day and then goes on to win the Super Bowl. I've seen the Patriots start 0-2 and raise the Lombardi. On the flip side, I've seen them start 18-0 and, unfortunately, fail to. The bottom line is that while Weeks 1 and 2 certainly count towards the standings, they mean absolutely nothing in regards to which teams are going to catch fire and go on nice post-season runs.
Oddly enough, for the first time since I started running this annual piece in 2003, I can't say that much over-reaction is going on in the media. Perhaps everyone has finally learned their lesson, but my personal thought is that things have fallen in line perfectly to keep everyone calm. For example, nobody is getting too worked up about 2-0 Chicago, because everybody was already hyped up about 2-0 Green Bay and they just assume the Pack will overtake them. 0-2 Dallas is a mere one game out of first place thanks to Washington losing in OT to Houston. Speaking of the Texans, they also happen to only be a game ahead of the Colts, who everyone naturally expects to overtake them. Kansas City and Tampa Bay are also both 2-0, but were expected to be in the bottom 20% of the league, and nobody is taking them too seriously. Everyone is so sick of Brett Favre that nobody cares his Vikings are 0-2.
Now, had Indy lost to the Giants, had the Patriots layed the smack down on the Jets, had Washington beaten Houston, or had Green Bay stumbled in Philadelphia, then I think we'd see plenty of people starting to get worked up. However, none of those things did happen, and thus level-headedness has prevailed.
That doesn't mean we can't make some predictions though...
Click "Read More" below to continue reading...
Trying to predict the NFL season before it kicks off is nearly impossible. To be quite honest, making any assessment after Week 1 is nearly equally as futile. It should come as no surprise, then, that there is some major moving and shaking going on in the Foxboro Blog Top 12 this week. Teams will be flying up and down the board like it's nobody's business, and there will likely be some newcomers as well. Click "Read More" below to view the rankings!
I felt really, really good about this game all week. The Patriots had looked stellar in their Week 1 win, while the Jets looked putrid. I was certainly aware of the fact that Week 1 games can be utterly deceiving, but it just seemed like the Patriots had finally shed the ghosts that haunted them last season. For nearly a decade, the Patriots were a team that would have relished the opportunity to slam the door shut on the Jets two games into the season. If that hunger was back, there would be no hangover from their touted victory over Cincinnati. It wouldn't matter that the Jets would play like wild animals backed into a corner. The Patriots would simply get the job done, end the Jets, and move on to the next game.
That's what I expected all week. Then I sat down on the couch Sunday afternoon, and got a sinking feeling in my stomach. The game hadn't even kicked off, but somewhere inside of me, my Patriots' 6th sense was flashing warning signs. For the first quarter, I tried to reason with myself and ignore it. After all, the Jets ran a total of three plays during that period, while New England dominated the ball. However, Phil Simms summed it up best as Jim Nance tried to echo my thoughts. "What's the score?"
0-0. Despite the Patriots' dominating performance, they failed to capitalize on the situation. For starters, I would have gone for the throat and tried to continue for a TD on the opening drive where the Pats had 4th and 1 in the red zone. They instead opted for a 32 yard field goal which was disallowed after a delay of game penalty. Gostkowski proceeded to shank the subsequent 37 yard attempt. Just awful.
Things seemed to turn around a bit in the 2nd quarter, with the Patriots putting up their only two scoring drives of the game. From there, the game was a total flashback to the Week 2 game in 2009. In last year's rendition, the Patriots dominated the first half, but didn't light up the score board. They then followed that up by getting shut out in the second half and losing the game. If there was one thing I didn't expect heading into yesterday's game, it was another blown halftime lead with a second half shut-out.
Some quick thoughts...
Darius Butler got owned in the second half. The Patriots secondary killed them in road games last season with similar poor play. The fact that this trend is again becoming a concern, doesn't bode well. Devin McCourty looked fairly solid, but did get burned on two TD's as well. This was definitely a game where New England missed Leigh Bodden.
I won't crucify Brady for his two INT's. The first one was essentially a good punt, pinning the Jets on the 6-yard line. The other was batted around before ultimately being caught by a Jets' defender. Overall though, it seemed like he was fairly innacurate when it came to the long ball, failing to connect on some big throws deep. Had one or two of those connected, the game may have played out entirely differently.
Gostkowski has got to be able to nail a 37 yarder. I won't get too bent out of shape about his 1 for 4 performance this year. The two he missed last week were long ones. You have to be able to hit from 37.
Tully Banta-Cain bailed out the Jets with a dumb late hit, leading to their first scoring drive. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Perhaps he was shaken up by the hard hit he received in the first quarter, but Wes Welker was non-existent in the 2nd half. I don't know if it was his being hurt, his not playing well, or bad coaching, so I won't start throwing around blame. Still, if he was 100% ready to go, it's unacceptable how poorly he was utilized.
Aaron Hernandez was phenomenal, racking up some serious yards and making defenders miss, left and right. The dude definitely has a bright future.
The Pats' pass rush was fairly effective, knocking Sanchez for sacks three times. Gerard Warren was particularly a beast, notching two of those three.
The Patriots lost the war. That's the most important thing and I'm defintely not losing sight of that fact. However, if there is any silver lining to the storm cloud, it's that they won this battle...
That, my friends, is what's left of Revis Island.
Just a spectacular grab by Moss, and an even better non-chalant celebration afterwards. That's called doing your work and showing respect. Major, major props to Moss for the professionalism there.
New England Patriots at New York Jets
The more the Jets yapped in the offseason and through the Pre-Season on Hard Knocks, the more the week 2 matchup meant to fans of both teams. For New England, a sense of redemption after their week 2 loss to the Jets last season is on the line. For the Jets this is a chance to prove last year's victory over the Patriots was no fluke.
But hampering the hype machine is the lack of luster on the marquee matchup of the lads helming both teams. Tom Brady remains football's golden boy, appearing again on the cover of Sports Illustrated and posting a positively scintillating opening week. But then there's Mark Sanchez. The Sanchise. Yeah. About that.
The performance on Monday night in front of the world could best be described as dirty, dirty Sanchez FAIL. He hit on just 10 of 21 passes for a mere 74 years and didn't convert a third down until the fourth quarter. He wasn't picked in the game, but he was dropped twice for a total of 14 yards lost as the Ravens defense swarmed and smothered the Jets.
Clearly Sanchez is a top quarterback, because the Jets are such a great team and Rex Ryan says that Sanchez is the best thing since sliced bread and stuff. Something must have been on his mind. And before anyone suggests it was the lovely and talented Ines Sainz, we all know that Sanchez admires Ms. Sainz for the class professional that she is and her tireless work as a broadcast professional.
Ummmm, yeah, okay, then, so what was it?
Reggie Bush - Empathizing for his fellow Trojan alum, Sanchez contemplated how he might broker a deal that would allow Reggie to retain his hard earned Heisman. He knew people who vote for the Heisman, surely the Downtown Athletic Club would listen to him when he appealed to their decency, to their sense of justice. I mean, Reggie made so much coin for USC and all he wanted was a little scratch to take care of his family. It's not like he killed anyone.
Giselle - Yeah, Sanchez has it bad for Brady's wife. There's just something filthy about bagging the big guy's babe. Ever since high school when he taped a poster of her to his ceiling. Everynight he'd tell himself he'd have her. But he would not keep her long. And now with Brady the nemesis to be dethroned. That. Much. Hotter.
Big Daddy Drew - For Sanchez, nothing tops the Kissing Suzy Kolber author's column's detailing his latest and greatest nickname from Coach Ryan. As the game progressed, he wondered what it would be Tuesday morning. The strange preciseness of Drew's columns had left the Jets pondering where the camera was hidden. Since the Bills game in week 6 he had tried to keep the thoughts out of his head. But back they came on Monday night.
His Fantasy Team - Sanchez started Arian Foster. Boo-Frakkin-Yaa. Regrettably he forgot that the points Foster racked up for his team did not translate to the game on Monday night. He regretted benching the Ravens defense by the third quarter.
American Idol - Long the favorite show of Sanchez, he wondered how it would remake itself without half its judges from the previous year. No Simon, no Sanchez.
LOST - Still unable to shake off the series finale, Sanchez found himself wondering if the time travel plot line was really necessary.
Ray Lewis - Dude. Is. Scary. Did you see what he did to Keller?
So with those thoughts no longer plaguing Sanchez' waking moments, he's certain to connect on passes to Cotchery, Keller and Edwards all day long, right?
Don't bet on it, kid
Joe Tetreault, a contritbutor to Foxboro Blog, wears many hats in his work with the Bloguin Network. Most notably, Joe is the lead blogger at Tetreaultvision, where you can read the majority of his daily content.