Sunday, February 6, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: A Moderately Offensive Proposal

It is a melancholy object to those who watch the Patriots, when they see these other teams in black, gold, and green fighting for the Lombardi Trophy. Instead of seeing the Patriots at their rightful place at the top of the league, the NFL is forced to put the second tier teams in the spotlight; two teams the Red, Blue and Silver had defeated during the regular season. I think it is agreed by all parties that the recent struggle by the Patriots present a very great grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of bringing the Patriots back to the top of the league would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the league and franchise.

As to my own part, having thought of this subject for a couple hours, and maturely weighed the several schemes of other projectors, I have found them to have overlooked an important variable. It is true that the Patriots could do well with an improved pass rush and it is also true that the team could benefit from an improved defensive line. However, one fact has been swept under the rug. With this fact, I propose that the Patriots use the majority of the early draft picks to select offensive players.

What is this fact? We all know that the Patriots have been regular season warriors. Their flaws have only become apparent in the post season. As a result, let's review the Patriots' most recent playoff games. Here are the scores from the past five playoff games:
Patriots 31 - Jaguars 20
Patriots 21 - Chargers 12
Giants 17 - Patriots 14
Ravens 33 - Patriots 14
Jets 28 - Patriots 21
What do we notice? The Patriots offense has not broken 21 points in their previous four games. The Patriots defense has done a pretty good job.

Wait a minute- the defense has done a good job? Yes.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

State of the Patriots: Defensive Line

Players on the Roster:
Ron Brace (DE)
Landon Cohen (DL)
Brandon Deaderick (DE)
Marlon Favorite (NT)
Kyle Love (DL)
Myron Pryor (DL)
Darryl Richard (DL)
Ty Warren (DE)
Kade Weston (DL)
Vince Wilfork (DL)
Mike Wright (DL)
Free Agents:
Gerard Warren (DE)
The Patriots appeared stacked on the defensive line at first look. However, most realized that the Patriots' depth was almost nonexistent as the unit limped into the post-season. Players like Ty Warren, Wright, Weston, Richard, Pryor, and Brace were all unavailable for the playoffs, while Favorite was signed during the playoffs. That means that only Gerard Warren, Wilfork, Love, Deaderick and Cohen were available- and Wilfork was the only player with over a season with the Patriots. Basically, this unit was ravaged with injuries.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

State of the Patriots: Safety

Players on the Roster:
SS Sergio Brown
SS Pat Chung
FS Bret Lockett
FS Brandon Meriweather
FS James Sanders
FS Ross Ventrone
Free Agents:
SS Brandon McGowan
SS Jarrad Page
SS Josh Barrett (RFA)
At first glance, it appears that the Patriots are set in terms of depth in the safety position. All three of the usual starters, Chung, Meriweather and Sanders, remain on the roster and while the next player up is a free agent (Page), Sergio Brown showed a lot of promise early in the season. McGowan doesn't really have a spot on the roster since Chung has effectively replaced him on the roster- and linebacker Gary Guyton has taken over the coverage duty of tight ends and has done an excellent job.

After further examination, however, the Patriots may look at investing in a free safety in the draft.

Friday, January 14, 2011

ESPN Radio: Reggie Jackson, Joe Namath Discuss the Jets and Smack Talk

Baseball great Reggie Jackson and former Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Namath go on ESPN Radio to talk about the Jets and Patriots. It's quite an interesting listen, if you have a half hour of time, to hear some former athletes talk about this match-up. Here are some notes:

Reggie Jackson doesn't know much about football players, but he seems like a football fan and it's interesting to hear him speak so passionately. He thinks Antonio Cromartie needs to stop talking until he wins something and that he should follow Darrelle Revis' lead and do the talking on the field.

Jackson thinks the Jets are spending too much time talking about the Patriots and wasting precious preparation time. "Only the wannabes try and make predictions."

Jackson appreciates Ray Lewis, of the Ravens, and how he talks about his own team and how well his own team is going to do, instead of talking about the other team.

Jackson doesn't think Tom Brady will focus on attacking Cromartie, but will instead attack the holes on the Jets defense. He loves the Patriots attitude of "coming to play."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Power of Swagger and Doubt

During the off-season, and the pre-season, the New York Jets had been crowned Super Bowl favorites. They had added key pieces to their squad, such as safety Brodney Pool, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, wide receiver Santonio Holmes and running back LaDainian Tomlinson. They had managed to extend contracts with franchise left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and All Pro center Nick Mangold, and they came to terms a little later with All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. This was a team that made it to the AFC Championship game the season before as young quarterback Mark Sanchez played not like a liability, but more like an asset. On paper, this was a great looking team.

Coach Rex Ryan brought plenty of swagger to this team- and why shouldn't this team shoot for the sky? They were the front runners in the AFC before the first game of the season as the coach boasted about the skill level of his squad. He made clear that the Jets were the team to beat and the players bought into that mind set. Throughout the HBO show Hard Knocks, the Jets trumpeted their skill and told the world that the league was theirs to lose.

Teams Looking for Head Coaches: Good Luck!

It's the time of the year when all of the hapless teams start looking for new head coaching candidates. The question at hand is: what coach will best lead my team to a Super Bowl victory? Well, let's try and figure out if a pattern exists amongst successful coaches.

Here's a list of coaches that have made multiple playoff trips in the past 5 seasons:
Bill Belichick
Jim Caldwell
Brad Childress
Tom Coughlin
Jeff Fisher
John Harbaugh
Mike Holmgren
Mike McCarthy
Sean Payton
Wade Phillips
Andy Reid
Rex Ryan
Lovie Smith
Mike Smith
Mike Tomlin
Norv Turner
Ken Whisenhunt
What can we learn from looking at these coaches? A fair amount.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Playoffs Jets vs Patriots: How to Stop the Jets Run Game?

We've looked at how the Patriots can beat the Jets by stopping their run game, but how can the Patriots accomplish that goal? Let's look at what the Patriots did in the Week 13 match-up.

The Patriots opened the game in a non-traditional heavy 4-2-5 sub-defense. Here's the line-up:
ROLB: Jermaine Cunningham
DT: Gerard Warren
NT: Vince Wilfork
LOLB: Tully Banta-Cain
RLB: Jerod Mayo
LLB - Gary Guyton
RCB - Kyle Arrington
NCB - Darius Butler
S - James Sanders
S - Brandon Meriweather
LCB - Devin McCourty
Looking at this line-up, it's clear that the Patriots had two focuses: 1) Stop the run with the front four and Mayo, and 2) Take away the pass with the five players in the secondary and Guyton. Of course, this time around the Patriots will most likely feature different personnel- so let's take a look at what happened the first time around and what should happen on Sunday.