NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed
With a night to register last night’s home victory, one thought resonates with me, has a team ever scored 34 points and looked less impressive on offense?
Trust me, I’m not being negative, if anything it’s impressive that his team can win 34-3 without a top notch offensive effort and especially without a prototypical Wes Welker game. Coming into the year, everyone talked about how many weapons Brady had on this offense. That’s come true to a certain extent, but he tends to key in on the targets he knows best: Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch.
Everyone would like to see another wide receiver break out, but frankly, if this team can run as well as they did last night, they won’t need breakout roles from Chad Ochocinco or Taylor Price.
Without further ado, here are my six keys to victory over the Chiefs:
TYLER PALKO IS REALLY BAD
There’s really no point in praising the defense and praising the team effort in general without pointing out this simple fact: Tyler Palko is not an NFL quarterback. He barely proved he was a UFL quarterback. Palko was underthrowing, overthrowing and missing receivers in general all game and only chalked up as many yards as he did because of the sheer amount of passes he threw (38).
Don’t get me wrong, it was a fine defensive performance by the Patriots (their fifth in the last six games), but you have to consider the opposition. One thing that did disappoint me about the Patriots defense last night was their run defense. I chalk a lot of that up to the fact that Gary Guyton was playing for Brandon Spikes. Also, 45 of the Chiefs 119 yards came on two big plays from Thomas Jones and Jackie Battle.
WINNING THE TURNOVER BATTLE
When the Patriots win the turnover battle, especially 3-1, they’re going to win 99 times out of a 100. Kyle Arrington’s interception luck is pretty much out of hand at this point. He is the king of the tipped ball drill. My theory is that he invented leather magnet gloves, but what do I know? At the same time though, he finds himself near the ball and is constantly in position even if a ball is not specifically thrown his way. You don’t find seven interceptions based only on luck. One of my favorite things about Arrington is when he DOESN’T make the interception, he looks mad at himself. He continues to be the most improved player on this Patriots defense. He and Devin McCourty should make a stout pair for the rest of the season.
We’ve been seeing the Brady strip sack a lot more than we’re used to lately. I believe a lot of that is due to his offensive line. We saw some horrendous pass blocking from Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer in this game. Ryan Wendell came in and played a great game actually, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing him starting against the Eagles. I have no doubt that Logan Mankins is the Patriots best offensive lineman, but Brian Waters is outplaying him right now. Mankins has really hindered the team with his penalties, he has to learn to play more disciplined. Matt Light gave up two QB pressures and one QB hit and went down with an ankle injury late in the 4th quarter. Hopefully he’ll be healthy by next week. If not, we have tackle depth with Solder in the wings.
What a draft pick by the Patriots, huh? Only halfway through his second year in the NFL and he’s already accurately been crowned the best tight end in football. He’s a giant target, he’s incredibly difficult to cover, he’s an elite blocker, there isn’t anything that Gronk doesn’t possess from a skills standpoint. Both touchdowns to Gronk were great throws by Brady, but those TDs were all on Gronkowski’s athleticism.
Hernandez had a bit of an off game, but he always makes one play that makes you say “wow.” That play for me came in the first quarter when he caught a pass over the middle where he was about three yards shy of the first down and he pulled his patented move of stepping backwards, juking out his defender and running forward for the first down. It happens almost every game.
The Patriots special teams has really been lacking this season while it’s usually a source of pride for Belichick. Last night, they were much more impressive. Zoltan Mesko averaged 50.8 yards per punt, Stephen Gostkowski his two chip shot field goals and Julian Edelman returned a punt 72 yards for TD.
We’ve been waiting all year for one of those returns from Edelman. He has elite elusiveness when he has some space in front of him and he did a very nice job of avoiding some tackles as soon as he caught the punt last night. Edelman was really all over the field last night playing snaps on offense, third down and long snaps on defense and in two units on special teams. Edelman not only played as a slot corner, but also a linebacker. He has to be told what to do on most defensive plays, but he plays physical and has decent instincts. I would love to see the Edelman defensive experiment continue.
According to Pro Football Focus, this was the Patriots second best cumulative pass coverage effort and fifth best game at getting after the QB. Phillip Adams and Tracy White were the two highest rated players in pass coverage by PFF and Rob Ninkovich and Gerard Warren were the two highest rated players in pass rush. Mark Anderson finished with 1.5 sacks, Nink with 1 and Andre Carter with a half of a sack. Carter also had two tackles for a loss. Carter didn’t have the same kind of pass rush performance he did last week, but he was the Patriots highest rated player in run defense.
Arrington finished with three receptions on six targets and two interceptions, Adams was 1/3 for only seven yards and a pick, Molden was 3/5, Sterling Moore was only thrown at once and Edelman was 1/1 for six yards.
What we can really make out of this performance is that the Patriots aren’t getting exploited despite playing Edelman, Adams, Molden, Moore, Ihedigbo and Ross Ventrone.
BALANCED OFFENSIVE ATTACK
AKA, the Patriots figured out how to run the ball. With the Chiefs (and especially Brandon Flowers and Javier Arenas) blanketing Wes Welker all game, it was necessary for New England to run the ball and they came away with an impressive 157 yards on 35 carries. Green-Ellis was the pound and ground back getting 81 yards on 20 carries, Woodhead showed off his versatility finishing with 55 total yards on seven touches and Shane Vereen had a nice drive at the end of the fourth quarter finishing with 39 yards on eight carries and a touchdown. Like Stevan Ridley’s performances this season, it was just a glimpse into the future of the Patriots running game, but it was impressive nonetheless.
Some other notes:
-The Patriots didn’t throw to Brandon Flowers once.
-Tamba Hali was limited to one sack, one QB hit and one pressure, not bad.
-The Chiefs really miss Tony Moeaki, Leonard Pope and Jake O’Connell played terribly.
-Chad Ochocinco was nonexistent.
-The Patriots looked like they had some real trouble defending the wildcat, thankfully the Chiefs stopped running it.
-Rob Ninkovich had another nice game in a row for the Pats finishing with one sack, one QB hit and two pressures. Nink was a weak spot early in the season.
-Shaun Ellis didn’t see a single snap. Finally someone’s listening to me!
As Belichick would say, we’re moving on from the Chiefs, it’s on to the Eagles now.