Patriots vs Redskins: Keys to Victory

Tom Brady Perfect

"Yeah, Tom? We're going to need you to be pretty much perfect from here on out."

NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed

With the way football fans are talking around Boston today, you’d think the Patriots were on a five game losing streak or something.

The fact is, the Patriots aren’t going to blow every team out and they came away with a seven point
road victory. Was it a perfect game? Far from it, but a win is a win.

Here are my six keys for victory:

THE TIGHT ENDS
For anyone that complains about this Patriots team, or says that they’re not fun to watch, or is “ashamed of the defense”: quit complaining. You’re getting to see one of the most dominant performances of any position this season from Rob Gronkowski. Even if this team loses in the first round of the playoffs again, you’ve been able to see Gronkowski absolutely dominate games from start to finish.

Aaron Hernandez maybe hasn’t had the season we all expected from him (I’m still not sure if he’s fully recovered from his knee injury), but he again had a very solid performance against the Redskins. Both tight ends dropped touchdowns in the end zone, but without them, the Patriots would not have won this game.

Gronk and Hernandez accounted for 244 of Brady’s 357 yards to go along with Gronkowski’s two touchdowns. Whether it’s Gronkowski ripping through opponents grasps or Hernandez using the same move after every catch, which somehow works (catch the ball, take a step back, juke right, burst through the middle), it’s really fun to watch these guys now and it’s going to be fun for year to come.

BRADY
Let’s forget Brady’s spat with coach Bill O’Brien for a second and concentrate on his performance. Sure, he completed less than 60% of his passes, but I’ll take it when that goes along with 357 yards, three TDs and one interception. Brady’s had an incredibly impressive five game stretch now during the Patriots winning streak that will absolutely have to continue if the Patriots are going to keep winning games. This Patriots team simply isn’t good enough to bail out Brady.

Brady is currently averaging an other-worldly 328.7 yards per game and is on pace for 5259 yards (Brady could break Marino’s record in week 15) and 41 TDs.

As for the dust up between Brady and O’Brien, let’s just get over it, okay? Tony Massarotti’s column today disgracing Brady is a joke and clearly just a shock piece. Greg Bedard, also of the globe, wrote a well thought, well-crafted piece about the confrontation that I would recommend you read. I’m not quite sure where anyone would jump to the conclusion that Brady over reacted when Bill O’Brien was being held back from charging at the QB. And it was just as bad of a route by Underwood as it was a throw by Brady. There was a reason Underwood was cut by Jacksonville, just saying.

KEEPING ORAKPO AND KERRIGAN OFF BRADY
Both stellar outside linebackers finished with identical stats, one tackle, one QB hit, zero sacks. A lot of credit goes out to Matt Light and Nate Solder, who had occasional help from Rob Gronkowski, but were for the most part alone on the edges against the pass rush. Solder also played five snaps at TE during which rookie Marcus Cannon came in at RT.

According to Pro Football Focus, Matt Light allowed two pressures while Nate Solder allowed three pressures and one QB hit. Logan Mankins had the weakest day of the Patriots offensive linemen with four pressures allowed inside. Mankins has shockingly been a bit of a disappointment this year.

WINNING TURNOVER/PENALTY BATTLE
Other than Brady having a good game, this is the next most important thing for the Patriots once
the playoffs roll around. The Pats had one turnover to the Redskins’ two yesterday while the Patriots committed four penalties for 47 yards to the Redskins’ eight penalties for 73 yards. The bend, but don’t break defense wasn’t in full effect yesterday, but those two turnovers and especially the one at the end turned this game for the Patriots.

KEEP THE OPPOSING OFFENSE UNDER 300 PASSING YARDS
I’ll openly admit this was a very small victory, but I’m running out of good things to be said about this game. This was only the fourth time this season that the Patriots have held an opposing offense under 300 yards passing. They’re 3-1 in those games, so I’m not going to pretend it’s something they have to do. But it’s nice to see.

According to Pro Football Focus, Kyle Arrington was only thrown to twice, he allowed one reception for 24 yards. Julian Edelman also allowed one reception on two targets for five yards. Devin McCourty allowed six receptions on eleven targets for 111 yards and a touchdown. The worst performance of the day goes to James Ihedigbo who allowed three receptions on three targets for 69 yards and a touchdown. He’s a pretty big liability in pass coverage.

PRESSURING GROSSMAN
Once again, was it perfect? No. Did they get as much pressure as I expected against three reserve linemen? No, but the Patriots wound up with two sacks and seven QB hits. Andre Carter had a nice bounce back game from a pass rush perspective finishing with a sack, a forced fumble, two pressures and three QB hits.

Some other mostly negative notes:
-James Ihedigbo may not last through the season. His shoulder seems to be getting more and more jacked up every game he plays. Eventually, he may not make it back into the game. We’re seeing how McCourty is playing with a hurt shoulder and Ihedigbo isn’t nearly the player that McCourty is.
-McCourty had a terrible first half, but finished pretty well. We need to see more of that second half.
-The Patriots had their worst game of the season against the run letting up 170 yards. The Patriots have given up over 100 yards on the ground five times this season where they’re 4-1. Watching this game made me wonder if the Patriots have only appeared to be so good against the run all year because teams have to pass on them so much because they’re behind. The run defense will only improve once Spikes and Chung are back.
-The Patriots weren’t stellar on the ground. I would have liked to see some more Green-Ellis and Ridley.
-It’s incredible that London Fletcher is still playing at such an elite level at 36 years old.

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2 Responses to “Patriots vs Redskins: Keys to Victory”

  1. D.T. says:

    Keys To Victory:

    Brady scores 30+ every game. Our D gives up about 24 points every game. WIN.

    No seriously, I don’t care about the yardage stats, the lack of pressure, the makeshift secondary as long as the D keeps being clutch. The red zone stops, the clutch sacks and picks, the forced fumbles. As long as we win the turnover battle and stiffen up in the red zone, Brady will carry us.

  2. Lundahl says:

    We got the win, we’re 10-3.

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