|Red Sox 2015 Preview: Vazquez, Hanigan, Swihart||Vince Wilfork, Patriots Part Ways After 11 Seasons||Red Sox 2015 Preview: Ramirez, Victorino, Betts, Castillo, Nava||Patriots 2014-2015 Position Review: Running Back|
Another week, another blowout. The Patriots didn’t need much to beat the winless Bucs, but the offense had another great game in the 35-7 blowout. Tom Brady threw for another three touchdowns, giving him 15 on the season (were we actually worried about this guy?), and the defense continued to play well with Meriweather’s two interceptions (one for a touchdown). We saw the returns of Junior Seau and Tully Banta-Cain (it’s like he never left) while Sam Aiken scored his first career offensive touchdown. Overall, it was a very solid game for everyone on the Patriots, minus the running game (read below) and the Patriots showed that no matter where the NFL makes them play football, they will beat up on inferior opponents. Next stop, Mars!
Honestly, when the team is rolling like this and playing inferior competition, there isn’t much to talk about. If I had to write this column in 2007 I would be pulling my hair out trying to think of things to write (there are only so many “Wow! Brady is so awesome!” articles one man can write). Do not fear, however, because I did manage to think of four other talking points that tie-in with the Patriots. Well, one may be a stretch, but regardless here are my thoughts.
The fact that the Patriots have played two consecutive winless teams made me think about how bad the NFL is this year. The competition in the NFL has gotten relatively weak and it was on showcase this Sunday as the average margin of victory in the 12 games was 21.2 points.
By taking a quick look at the standings, you will see that there are still three teams yet to record a victory (Rams, Titans, Buccaneers). In addition to those three teams there are also three more teams that are in shambles and wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t win another game this year (Browns, Raiders, Chiefs). (Note: Of course that last sentence isn’t entirely true because these three teams will play each other, but you get the point.) Keep in mind that I haven’t even mentioned the Dolphins, Bills, Panthers, Seahawks, Lions or Redskins, all of whom just flat out suck. Do you see where I’m going with this? I just named 12 teams that would probably lose to the NCAA All-Star team. I can’t remember the last time the bottom of the NFL was this weak.
I’m sure everyone holds onto something that makes them feel safe. For some people it’s a blanket and others maybe a baseball bat. Well, for Brady it’s Wes Welker. It is clear that when Welker is on the field, this offense runs much more efficient. He has a great ability to catch the ball in traffic, make plays after the catch and run precise routes. I looked up some numbers after Sunday’s game to see how much of an impact Welker has had on our offense. The biggest difference I found was to be in red zone offense. Here are the numbers:
It is very clear that Welker makes a huge difference and Brady looks his way often in the red zone. When the field shortens, guys like Randy Moss are more limited in their options because they cannot utilize their speed as much, but players like Welker who are quicker than they are fast, are useful in all situations and it shows. It is remarkable to me that, despite missing two games, Welker ranks first in the NFL in receptions (46), fifth in targets (62) and third among wide receivers in yards after the catch (192). All we did was trade a second and seventh round pick in 2007 to get this guy, which should go down as one of the best trades in Patriots history.
It’s over. We have to just realize we missed badly on this pick and move on because Maroney just isn’t an every-down NFL running back. Against Tampa Bay (fourth-worst against the run), Maroney ran the ball just 13 times for 44 yards and a touchdown. He’s shown us time and time again that doesn’t hit the hole hard enough and he’s tentative in the backfield. His only good quality is that he has decent hands and when he gets in space he is a legitimate home run threat, but other than LenDale White, who isn’t? To think we could’ve had DeAngelo Williams with that pick…
Excuse me for being rude, but if the NFL is serious about putting a team (or division) out in Europe they are out of their minds. Yes, the London game sells out in a heartbeat, but that’s because it’s just one game. Put the pro bowl in London and call it a day. That way they get their superstars and the NFL gets the revenue.
Not only do I object to expanding the league (have you seen how many awful quarterbacks there are?), but putting teams across the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t make any sense logistically. In order to avoid racking up ridiculous frequent flier miles, the international teams would have to play road games in bunches. Also, do you think any players would want to go play football in London? Maybe Tim Tebow because he would see it as a call from God to spread the good word of the NFL to the rest of the world, but I would guess 90 percent of the players in college would rather stay in the United States. NFL Europe died for a reason. Take the hint!