Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Patriots 16, Chiefs 26 (11/27/2005)

For those of you with little time, let me summarize Sunday's 26-16 loss to the Chiefs. Re-read my Patriots/Broncos recap from earlier this year (10/16) and substitute the starters from both teams. In both games, the Patriots: (a) gave up tons of first-half points to fall into a huge hole; (b) turned the ball over early; (c) could stop neither the pass nor the run; (d) gave up a lot of QB pressure and created none of their own; and (e) lost by a score that was not indicative of how thoroughly they were dominated. Welcome to the land of 6-5... a mysterious place where the Patriots are a model of mediocrity and are almost certainly destined for an early playoff exit.

It was a team loss, and as such, here are suggestions for just about everyone on the team:

Tom Brady, too many high passes that landed in KC's hands (three on deflected balls); try stepping into the throw. O-Line, not enough pass protection or run blocking (three sacks and a lot more hits, and too many one- or two-yard gains); you should learn how to do at least one of them well. Ben Watson and Daniel Graham, learn how to get open in traffic -- otherwise the team will draft yet another tight end next year. Patrick Pass, after six years in this offense, you should know where to go on a screen pass. Heath Evans, blitz pick up is "Job #1" and don't ever forget it. Bethel Johnson, you're not at talented as Terry Glenn, so you can't get away with the same crap -- get off the bench and out of the dog house and contribute. And to David Givens, Kevin Faulk, Matt Light, and Corey Dillon, get well soon.

Michael Stone, if you are supposed to stay deep, then stay deep; the team is better off giving up a 10-yard run than a 52-yard touchdown. Same to you, Ellis Hobbs. Eugene Wilson, you were a cornerback in college, so covering a tight end should be right up your alley. Tedy Bruschi, a quarter-step slow is too slow against good teams; but keep trying, you're almost there. Rosevelt Colvin and Willie McGinest, no matter what you do, you guys aren't getting pressure on the QB, so stop blitzing yourself out of running plays. Vince Wilfork, work harder next off-season or you'll be on the street in two years. Ty Warren, Richard Seymour, and Mike Vrabel, nice game.

To the kickoff coverage team, you can't give up big returns in critical situations. After the team's last touchdown on Sunday, you promptly gave KC the ball near midfield, thus making any comeback next to impossible. Same thing happened against New Orleans last week, and it almost cost you the game. Wake up out there!

To the coaches, Bill Belichick is right, you have to coach better. This season, the Patriots have been out-scored 149 - 92 in the first half, but they've out-scored their opponents 151 - 130 in the second half. So clearly, the in-game adjustments are pretty good; it's the preparation during the week that's falling short. The game plan is something the coaches can impact every single week, and they have to do a better job if the Pats have any chance to make noise in the playoffs.

So where does that leave us? Well, the team is riding high in the QB-starved AFC East. 6-5 is two games better than the next best record in the division -- Miami and Buffalo are tied at 4-7, and the Patriots have already beaten each of them. They go for the trifecta this weekend with a winnable game against their other division foe, the New York Jets. The Jets have no offense at all, so the Patriots should be in good shape at home. Protect the ball and don't do anything stupid, and they should walk away with a win.

Weekly Water-cooler Wisdom: "The AFC East had two playoff teams and one that just missed the post-season last year; this year three teams are just about guaranteed non-winning seasons. Miami and Buffalo won't run the table, so the Pats can win the division with only three more wins and a 9-7 record."

Keep whatever faith you can,

- Scott

PS. 6-5!

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