FROM OZ TO NEVERLAND:
In just a matter of a few hours last Sunday against Cincinnati, Tom Brady went from being a character lost in a strange land, to one who may truly never grow old. The reality is, of course, that the New England Patriots finally took stock of their strengths and played to them, pounding the Bengals, 43-17 in Foxboro. For what seemed to be the first time this season, the Pats stopped trying to out think everyone, and turned their sights to out hitting them. Funny how that works…
A STANDING “O” FOR THE LINE:
I suppose the irony here is that because Bill Belichick and coordinator Josh McDaniels finally decided to get back to working the run more, the offensive line was actually doing less standing around, and considerably more hitting. That, combined with the return of the “hurry up” offense, really afforded them the opportunity to display a level of aggressiveness that had been lacking. Helped by the fact that the Pats came up with a new line combination that included veterans Nate Solder (4yrs) LT, Dan Connolly (9yrs) LG, Ryan Wendell (6yrs) RG, and Sebastian Vollmer (4yrs) RT,surrounding rookie center Bryan Stork, backs Stevan Ridley (27 carries/113 yards/ 1TD) and Shane Vereen (9/90 yards) were definitely more effective. That, plus the fact that Brady was unloading the ball quickly, also helped to keep him upright and in general, more efficient, going 23/35 for 292 yards, and 2TDs.
WRIGHT ABOUT “GRONK”:
The Patriots were also definitely helped by the play of Rob Gronkowski, whose 6 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown, closely resembled the play of the old “Gronk”. He may not be 100%, but he certainly was a key factor, catching everything that was thrown over the middle. It was also good to see the other TE Timothy Wright make contributions, as he had 5 catches for 85 yards, and a touchdown. When the 6-4, 235 pound Wright came over from Tampa Bay in the Logan Mankins trade, it was felt that he could present the same match up problem that made Aaron Hernandez effective, and apparently he is feeling comfortable enough now so that could become true. Seeing that no wide receivers beyond Julian Edelman have been very helpful, Wright will have to continue to perform at a high level if they have any chance at post season success.
RIDDLE ME THIS…
Why would you spend in the neighborhood of $12-14 million to sign one of the league’s best cover corners, then not take advantage of his talents? Apparently Belichick finally came to his senses this past weekend, stopped using Darrelle Revis in zone coverage, and just put him on the Bengals best receiver, A.J Green, with very positive results. Revis held Green to just 4 catches and 64 yards, and we finally saw what we were hoping for when he was brought to New England–a defender who can neutralize the opponents’ best weapon. Let’s just hope that the hamstring tweak he suffered is not serious, and that he will be at full strength against Buffalo next Sunday, followed by the Jets on Thursday.
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE…
Despite the encouraging performance last Sunday night by New England, I do not plan, at this point at least, on getting back on the Patriots’ Super Bowl bandwagon. Granted, a great deal of my initial optimism was based on what I believed would be a very strong defense, and they did look good, especially for not having Dont’a Hightower; but I cannot go there. At this point in the season, I would have to rank both San Diego and Denver ahead of them, with the Colts following closely behind. Now all we can do is wait and watch, to see if the good ship Belichick has truly been righted, or was Week 5 just a last gasp. Stay tuned…
Featured image courtesy of: Getty Images
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