|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets||Smart Era Gets Off to a Good Start with Win over T’wolves|
The Patriots silenced the critics with a very solid performance against the Falcons on Sunday. It was a good overall performance that left a lot of fans feeling good about their team again. Just think, after the loss to the Jets, many fans were questioning whether the team would start the year 2-2 or 1-3, but now all seems well again.
The defense answered a lot of questions by shutting down Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner, and Roddy White, while the offense showed a nice balance for once and drove the ball down the field with ease. Fred Taylor was solid and Tom Brady is looking better each time he throws. The only problem is what are they going to do with Joey Galloway? This brings me to my first point…
There was an overthrow in the first quarter that was the result of him not finishing his route and the failed touchdown catch in the back of the end zone because he didn’t know where he was on the field. Add that with the fact that Brady was furious at him on the sidelines right before half time and you have serious problem.
Galloway is not the typical third receiver the Patriots have had in the past. Guys like Shawn Jefferson and Jabar Gaffney could spread the field when needed, but were also nice possession receivers that could run routes over the middle. Galloway is a burner and hopefully when Welker comes back the Patriots can utilize his speed more often, but right now it looks like he is not in sync with this offense and it’s making him look really bad.
This team could have easily scored 35 points if they turn a couple FGs into TDs. There was a botched touchdown with Galloway in the end zone and several other misfires by Brady down the field. It seems that once the offense gets into the red zone they stall because they can’t perform in the short field. It is clear that Brady misses his safety blanket in Welker as he can really help a quarterback get in rhythm with those short routes. Edelman has been a nice fill-in, but let’s face it, Welker is in a league of his own. No one on the Pats does what he does and once he comes back I think you will see a dramatic increase in offensive production, especially when the field gets short in the red zone.
There are three things we can bank on every Sunday during the football season. (1) The Foxbot will make every viewer scratch their head and say, “Who the hell came up with that stupid idea?” (2) Twenty minutes later the same viewers will say, “Did I just see the Foxbot ride the cowboy?” (3) Bill Belichick will neutralize the opponent’s top offensive weapon.
One of the greatest defensive minds in our generation, Belichick will always make the other team beat them in an unconventional way. In Week 1, he almost got beat by (well, at first the Patriots themselves) Fred Jackson on a couple screen passes, but in the process the defense held Terrell Owens and Lee Evans to a combined five catches for 71 yards and no touchdowns. In Week 2, the Pats defense held the Jets’ running combo of Leon Washington and Thomas Jones to a combined 31 touches for 129 yards and no touchdowns. (Unfortunately, they were beat by the rookie Mark Sanchez.) And again, in Week 3, the Patriots were able to keep Tony Gonzalez to only one catch for sixteen yards.
He never disappoints and I’ll bet you that this weekend, when the Ravens visit Gillette Stadium, Belichick will make sure that Baltimore’s running game is a non-factor.
If I had to choose right now between Jerod Mayo being out for the year or Leigh Bodden being out for the year, I would have to choose to lose Jerod Mayo. Here is my reasoning: Bodden has been the most valuable player on this defense so far this year and he has transformed the secondary into a physical unit. He always hits hard and has been shutting down his side of the field. I know Mayo is New England’s best defensive player, but the defense has shown that even without him they can get the job done. Guys like Gary Guyton, Tully Banta-Cain, and Pierre Woods have filled in nicely and I think Adalius Thomas can continue to be a force. However, after Bodden there isn’t a guy on our bench that I would want starting full time and if he went down our pass defense would suffer greatly.
Fred Taylor finally got the chance to shine and boy, did he shine! He was given 21 carries and gained 105 yards with a touchdown. However, Laurence Maroney was banged up for the 983,438,221th time and Fred Taylor can’t do it on his own. Assuming Maroney isn’t seriously hurt, the Pats are going to need him to spell Taylor every now and then because at this pace Taylor is not going to last the season. He already has 38 carries and if he averages 20 carries a game for the rest of the year that will put him at 298 carries. That’s not a huge amount, but it would be the most he’s run the ball since 2003 and at 33 years old, that’s not a great idea going into the playoffs. That aside, Taylor is clearly the No. 1 running back on this team and is crucial in getting this offense in a rhythm and sustaining drives to keep the defense rested.
Four tackles and one sack. Looks like a nice game, but those are the numbers for him on the year. I know it’s only been three games, but for someone who was suppose to come in and help the defense get after the quarterback, he has been unusually quiet. I wish I had the number of snaps he has played (if anyone knows where to find those stats please comment below) and if that number is low I will apologize to him via blog post, but with the injuries and lack of pass rushers on this team I find it hard to believe that Burgess has been riding the pine often.