Decisions But No Solutions for Patriots in 41-14 Loss to Chiefs

The Patriots' 41-14 loss to Chiefs resonated. But there are no answers to go along with it. (John Rieger-USA Today Sports Images)

The Patriots’ 41-14 Monday night loss to the Chiefs resonated. But there are no answers to go along with it. (John Rieger – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Decisions and solutions are separate entities.

That was seen over an hour before 8:30 kickoff on Monday night, as head coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots penciled only three wide receivers in to face the Kansas City Chiefs. Second-year pros Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins saw their names on the deactivation list in favor of rookie halfback James White, reserve linebackers Deontae Skinner and Chris White, and safety Don Jones for depth and special-teams purposes.

It marked fourth time that the two route-runners did not suit up for the same game this season. And it marked the first time that neither Dobson, a 2013 second-round pick, nor Thompkins, a 2013 undrafted free agent, suited up for a game this season.

After working in tandem for 69 receptions, 985 yards and eight touchdowns as rookies, Dobson and Thompkins have accounted for just seven receptions and 66 yards over split time in 2014. Concerns with their ability to get open quickly against the Chiefs was likely part of it. Only that reasoning falls short of justifying it.

All reasoning fell short of justifying what happened thenceforth on both sides of the ball. Dobson and Thompkins could not have prevented what transpired at Arrowhead Stadium, where the temperatures climbed over 80 degrees and the noise over 140 decibels; where the team’s offensive line was set to start two rookie fourth-round picks in Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming; where the Patriots would soon unravel in the darkest performance of the Belichick and Tom Brady era.

Something should have been different. Perhaps everything should have been.

New England knew Kansas City’s defense was going to bring pressure from a four-man rush, and that Brady would not have time to wait for his targets to separate 15 yards downfield. Kansas City knew that the Patriots were going to focus on the underneath drag and screen patterns to Julian Edelman and the intermediate routes to Rob Gronkowski. And in turn, the box crowded the middle of the field.

The Patriots tried to connect the dots between them and failed. The reads were limited. One second. Two seconds. Brady took the snap and released the ball. Incomplete.

The offense’s commitment to the run game – an idea that sounded practical in theory against a front conceding 130 yards per game – suited up four halfbacks along with fullback James Develin. But before long, that idea became a forgotten one with the Patriots down 17-0 at halftime, then 27-7 at the end of the third.

Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and White combined for 16 carries and 75 rushing yards over the duration. They combined for eight receptions out of the backfield for 56 yards as well. Yet it was, in many ways, what Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton wanted. The Patriots were stuck in a game plan not conducive to coming back from a deficit. From the line, to Brady, to the route-runners, the offense took the snap and went horizontal against a defense that dared otherwise.

The phrase ‘explosive plays’ has been used by the team to describe opposing offenses. But New England’s own offense was far from generating anything of the sort. With four completions on eight targets for 23 yards to Edelman, and two completions on three targets for 31 yards and a touchdown to Gronkowski, Brady’s top two connections were taken out of their element.

The was no vertical element, and the closest thing to explosive was Brandon LaFell, who, after being held without a catch through the first two games, resurfaced as the primary option on the outskirts. He went on to catch six of his 10 targets for 119 yards and a 41-yard touchdown; a consolation drawing semblance to Brandon Lloyd’s 190-yard outburst a loss to the San Francisco 49ers two seasons ago.

It, too, was far from enough.

The Chiefs’ offense was in another mold. It moved the ball down the field for 15 first downs passing and 10 rushing, in what was 36 minutes of clock-controlling football.

Patriots cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Logan Ryan looked overtasked in off coverages in the process, and Ryan was ultimately taken out of the game in favor of West Alabama rookie Malcolm Butler following a penalty down at the goal line. The linebackers could not contain the weak-side runs, while the front line could not close the gaps without Sealver Siliga’s leveraging presence next to Vince Wilfork on the interior.

Those facets carried over when quarterback Alex Smith dropped back. Kansas City’s 2013 third-round pick, tight end Travis Kelce, found space and required more than one tackler to keep him from finding more, taking eight of Smith’s passes 93 yards and into the end zone. Wideout Dwayne Bowe took five of Smith’s passes 81 yards, and Donnie Avery took two for 46.

And in between, there were only glimpses for the Patriots.

Aside from LaFell’s resurgence, the signs of growth from Stork and the learning curve for Fleming, the resilient effort of Matthew Slater in the kicking game, the first showing of White, and QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s relief performance that netted 6-of-7 passing  for 70 yards and a TD, the Patriots weren’t a football team on Sept. 29.

The coaching staff was exploring all options, much like Week 1 of the preseason. Nate Solder temporarily exited the left tackle spot and Marcus Cannon entered, as he also did for right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Ryan Wendell entered late for Fleming at right guard. And the shuffling continued as Brady was taken to the sidelines following two fumbles, two interceptions and a 41-7 deconstruction.

Brady headed into the game just 219 passing yards away from of the 50,000 career passing yards. He headed out of the game still 60 yards away. And as the seconds wound down and Garoppolo tossed a pass to Gronkowski to make the score 41-14, he sat on the bench, far removed from the seventh offensive touchdown of the Patriots season.

Brady’s elbows rested on his legs. His eyes rested on the ground in front of him. He was alone and disengaged.

They all were. There was no answer. And there may not be.

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67 Responses to “Decisions But No Solutions for Patriots in 41-14 Loss to Chiefs”

  1. Bom Trady says:

    Which one of these superstars will we get next year?

    C.J. Spiller
    DeMarco Murray
    Frank Gore
    Torrey Smith
    Dez Bryant
    Demaryius Thomas
    Randall Cobb
    Michael Crabtree

    answer none of the above

    FFS spend on some talent and stop getting these bums and stop with these BB wildcard picks in the draft

    • qwerty says:

      Don’t need any of them. Patriot roster is loaded. We need replacement for Vince Wilfork for when he retires.

      • cc says:

        LOL, they needed someone to play BESIDE big Vince this whole time,( would a not lost the SB too the Giants if say…….a Dontari Pie type was picked up previously), not just a hopefull replacement now.
        ****& Whatcha Allll think about my other prefferances now!??!!!???!!!?
        Like: trading Gronk and Mallet as a package for a sweet pick and the gronk savings too spend on an actual deep threat,
        Not bringing a dope like Chung back,
        Spending REVIS TYPE$$$$ on the best Olineman out there instead,
        …….among others previously laughed at……………

        Belichick too Oakland & TB12 too Tampa Bay is what’s left now……….

        • steve earle says:

          Mallett was traded already back before the 1st game. To soon to give up on Gronk. Yea woulda, coulda, shoulda, we all have them but it doesn’t help now.

      • steve earle says:

        Loaded? I thought so too before the season started, not so sure now. I have great fear our o-line does not have the talent to do the job. They have failed to create a running game, worse they are failing to give Brady even decent pass protection. I thought WR position was deep but they have yet to make much impact ( also a function of pass blocking) but the players we expected to show up, simply haven’t. I’ve also noted a destinct tendency for tacklers not to wrap up runners, allowing lots of YAC. Loaded just doesn’t seem to apply right now.

    • GM-in-Training says:

      They need a replacement for LeGarrette Blount this year. They need somebody who can reliably get short yards, but has the potential to break it open for long yards…y’know, a 250# kick returner.

      • steve earle says:

        Okay, who you got in mind? Is that player available? What would it cost to get him?

      • steve earle says:

        Post Sun. night I can now say after Ridley’s performance, Blount who? It seems it still comes down to o-line blocking after all.

    • MaineMan says:

      It’s highly unlikely that the Pats will be able to afford any of them, unless they’re willing to let both McCourty and Revis walk, AND give up on Wilfork and maybe one or two other guys.

  2. Big w says:

    Nothing is going to change this year this is the team that will finish the year do what it does, the NFL is set up so nothing can happen during the season to ultimately change a teams roster.Needs life and that can be QB, GM other coaching staff coming in but this team will not be a contender this year.

    • qwerty says:

      Nothing will change. Patriots will make it to the Super Bowl. Nothing will stop them now.

    • DMC413 says:

      BW,

      Not sure I
      am tracking… Teams are allowed to make trades with other teams up to the “Trading Deadline” which is OCT28 for 2014. Not to mention they can release and sign a player at any time if he is a FA.

      So how are teams restricted to their roster till the end of the season?

      • Big w says:

        Yes correct but to get enough impact players we would end up having to give up next years draft ala Trent Richardson so if you haven’t set your table at the beginning of the season your aren’t going anywhere.Nobody is going to want anything were willing to trade and I don’t want to see another genius trade like the Mankins one.

        • DMC413 says:

          Oh-ok,
          Your post definitely came across differently…. We have made trades before without mortgaging the farm if you will i.e. Teddy Washington, Aqib Talib and I almost forgot Randy Moss.

  3. acm says:

    In all the commotion surrounding the butt-kicking they got from the Cheifs, the Pats getting back CB Browner and WR Tyms has gone pretty much unnoticed.
    One would think Browner is a lock to make the roster. 4 weeks ago, I’d have projected Tyms to the practice squad but today, with both KT and AD seemingly in the doghouse (for lack of effort?), I am not so sure … as in “would be surprised if he doesn’t make the 53-men roster too”.
    Wonder who will make room for Browner and potentially Tyms too – one of the many useless, hugely over-drafted SAFs on the team and/or one of the even more useless UDFA OL? With so many underwhelming performances lately, BB might as well take his pick.

    • steve earle says:

      Some very good questions, who indeed will make room for Browner and Tyms? My first instinct would be Wilson and Amendola though the possabilitys extend well beyond those two. Amendola might bring a cap hit but we need to ask if he’s worth the space on the roster? Ebner, in spite of good sp-teams play must be considered given the numbers that we have in the d-backfield. I doubt either would be snapped up by another team. The other possability could be some trades we don’t know about yet, who knows?

      • Oppitz says:

        I dont see Amendola getting cut, its a heavy cap hit to take and he is the insurance if anything happens to Edelman (we dont have another slot guy on roster).

        Right now Dobson and Kembrell cant play the same game… Tyms is an outside guy, so Kembrell can loose his job if Belichick thinks Tyms is a keeper. Other guys in risk, Bolden, Kline/Devey, Walker, Butler, Wilson.

        • GM-in-Training says:

          Don Jones, Safety is also one of the last in who might be on the margin.

        • steve earle says:

          I’m not thinking of Butler as a cut prospect though he could possably be traded for draft pick to make room but even that I think is outside possability. Otherwise your list is logical.

      • acm says:

        Would be stupid to let Amendola go and not just for cap reasons. He’s shown he can be a good, reliable WR. Yes, I know he’s been poor this year (now that he is finally healthy) but the same could be said about 98% of the roster … which points the finger to no single player in particular but to the coaching staff as a whole.
        If you are gonna get rid of all under-performing players, that would leave only Jimmy G, Slater and Chandler. Jones on the Pats’ roster.

      • MaineMan says:

        Seems like there are a few options.

        The Pats are currently carrying nine OL on the 53 while eight is more typical. Based on my own hypothesis that this is “YEAR-1” of an OL rebuild, nine may be an appropriate number for awhile yet. OTOH, the coaches may have seen enough now to settle on the eight they’ll carry for the rest of this season. If so, it probably comes down to Devey, Kline or Wendell.
        – Devey (6065/317) is the biggest of the three by far. Setting our opinion of his performance aside for the moment, and without trying to read the coaches’ minds, he’s been given a lot of opportunity this season and now has far more game experience than Kline now. In Camp and pre-season games, he also got snaps at all five OL spots.
        – Kline is only 6025 and began last season at 307 lbs, though he appears a bit bulkier than that now. He started in wk-16 last season (Ravens), covering for Mankins at LG while Mankins covered LT for Solder who was out with a concussion. He looked very good there and even got post-game props from Brady. He’s also one of the fastest and most athletic OL on the roster. However, this off-season and Camp, he was merely “in the mix” for reps at Guard (and some Center). So far in 2014, he’s only been active for wk-2 when he got in some junk-time snaps. Perhaps he’s regressed?
        – Wendell is the smallest OL on the roster at 6021, +/- 300 lbs. As awful as he played last season, he hasn’t looked bad in limited duty this season. He’s not being paid an enormous amount for 2014 (basically backup money unless he hits all of his incentives), and his veteran presence may be an asset.
        =====
        Roster-end special teams guys are typically the ones who go away to make room. The ST distribution Monday night was as follows and is pretty typical for the season so far:

        FOUR UNITS
        RB Brandon Bolden – hasn’t been as notable on ST in 2014 as he was in his first two seasons and has probably seen fewer snaps on offense than Ebner has on defense – (POSSIBLE cut)
        S Nate Ebner – he and Slater lead the team with six ST tackles each; he’s become a regular in dime packages and done well in coverage; he even replaced Skinner at LB for the last couple series against the Raiders.
        S Don Jones – 5111/200, very fast and explosive (4.40/40, 42″ vertical), he’s also regularly been one of the first two guys downfield in KR/PR coverage
        WR Matthew Slater – ST captain, not going anywhere
        LB Chris White – steady veteran ST guy who’s also one of only two backup interior LBs on the 53-man (the other being Skinner)
        S Tavon Wilson – probably close to being tied with Harmon for number of snaps in nickel packages (and it’s maybe notable that Harmon hasn’t appeared on the ST lists very much), though Harmon maybe has more snaps overall subbing for Chung in coverage

        THREE UNITS
        DE Michael Buchanan – primary backup for Nink and Chandler
        LB Deontae Skinner – promoted from the PSQ when Collins was out (thigh) in wk-2 @MIN to help cover ILB (and looked kinda lost out there); pretty much relegated to ST work since. Probably the #1 candidate to be sent back to the PSQ, IMHO.

        TWO UNITS
        S Patrick Chung – has been the starting in-the-box, two-down safety and has been solid in run-D and better in coverage than he was in his prior stint with the Pats (and didn’t look any worse than most of the defense against KC).
        =====

        Seems to me that the Pats might like to keep all their options open at WR, so I’m doubtful they’d make a cut there, and I’m very doubtful that it would be Amendola because of his cap hit, experience and toughness. However, if the current rumors are true about Dobson sitting because he “mouthed off” to McD, and Tyms looks as solid as he did in pre-season, that could be a possible swap-out. Unlikely, but possible.

        =====
        If they actually need two spots because they’re keeping Tyms, my guess would be Skinner plus one of Kline/Bolden.

    • Russell says:

      I think Bill cut’s S wilson, and LB Chris white , to make room. Also interesting to note OT/TE Reid Fragel was cut from the Colts P-Squd. So no restrictions, for Bill to sign him to the P-Squad.

      • acm says:

        The Colt’s GM and coaching stuff would pimp out their own mothers for a half-decent OL-man yet they are letting this guy walk off the PS. I am sure he is the answer to all the Pat’s problems, both in the present and in the future. 🙂

      • steve earle says:

        Have to agree with acm here Russell. I know your a big fan of Fragal Russell but this doesn’t seem likely.

      • Russell says:

        I think Fragel can play TE, his Ohio state tape (Jr.) was very good, showing good hands and route running. His Oline play his just OK, but as a blocking TE very good. I don’t see him as an OT, but as a TE I like him as a prospect.

  4. Jack says:

    Wow. We got our *asses* kicked. Why? Reasons that pop into my head are
    1) The DL now consists of Chandler Jones, an aging Wilfork, and Chris Jones, with Vellano backing them up. It translates to plenty of time to pass and a porous run defense.
    2) Whither, Tommy Kelly?
    3) The pass rush is woefully inadequate with the exception of Chandler Jones
    4) Where have you gone, Timmy Kelly?
    5) Revis is off his game.
    6) Ryan was overmatched
    7) The LBs aren’t that great in pass coverage

    On offense, Brady is looking shell-shocked and scared.

    • MaineMan says:

      1) You forgot to so-far-relatively-invisible Easley. Yeah, Chandler still doesn’t set the edge consistently, and Chris still doesn’t seem to know where the ball is half the time. Wilfork should get the Comeback Player of the Year award for defying the odds and returning so quickly and so well from his ruptured Achilles (much tougher to recover from than an ACL anymore, especially for a guy his size and age). Vince is still the best interior DL the Pats have (unfortunately), though if Vellano, with his motor and smarts, were just a tad more athletic, he’d probably be a star.

      2) Tommy actually opted out on his own, apparently.

      3) And Chandler is probably also the weakest link on the DL in run-defense. Go figure.

      4) Tommy Kelly is probably wondering the same thing. You’re apparently one of very few people who knew Tommy had a twin (wink).

      5) Revis has been in off-coverage, which is not his game. But I’m confident that he’ll become just as exceptional at it as he is in close-man, which will probably come in real handy later in the season.

      6) Ryan has been over-aggressive more than overmatched. He just needs to calm down a bit and realize that his vision and athleticism afford him a half-beat more decision-making time than he’s been giving himself.

      7) And the sun rises in the East.

      • qwerty says:

        1) The DL now consists of Chandler Jones, an aging Wilfork, and Chris Jones, with Vellano backing them up. It translates to plenty of time to pass and a porous run defense.

        Let’s wait till next week before jumping to conclusions. It may have been game plan. Wish they had Kelley.

        2) Whither, Tommy Kelly?

        Kelley was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to meet his contract incentives due to lack of playing time so he left on his own. Kelley is dirt cheap talent. I would have guaranteed the measly half million in incentives instead so he wouldn;t have to worry about playing time. Patriots may have botched that one.

        3) The pass rush is woefully inadequate with the exception of Chandler Jones

        Chandler Jones will become All-Pro

        4) Where have you gone, Timmy Kelly?

        Who is Timmy

        5) Revis is off his game.

        That is all on the coach. Revis excels playing man to man. Let him do what he does best. They are wasting him playing in zone. Revis is being dinked and dunked to death. Coaches think that is ok since he is not giving up big play. only problem is that too many will add up to big play.

        6) Ryan was overmatched

        Maybe it was bad game. Maybe learning curve. Hopefully he learns and figures out a way to overcome that.

        7) The LBs aren’t that great in pass coverage

        There is enough talent.

        They had very bad game plan to begin with. They have enough talent to lock down the entire NFL but it was used poorly by coaches. There is very little excuse for secondary to play off their man and play scardee cat precent defense. They need to play aggressive to be a super bowl xontender. Prevent defense was good for 2009 team.

      • DMC413 says:

        LMAO!

      • DMC413 says:

        ****Breaking News****

        TIMMY Kelly found in elderly man’s home in Cleveland where he has been held captive since BB and company left town(not his decision).

        Reports are good, TK says he’s been keeping in shape!

        • MaineMan says:

          THAT’S a relief!

          The rumor was that he’d been shacking up with Lindsey Lohan at the Nitey-Nite Motel (free cable!) outside Vegas.

    • steve earle says:

      Another insightful post I can find myself nodding in agreement with. What was Bill thinking letting Kelly go? Wolfolk is not the Wolfolk of old, though still solid. He may still improve during the year? Chandler Jones needs to learn how to set the edge, he killed us Mon. night. Young guys can do that. Maybe Browner will help with the run def on that side? Who can blame Brady for looking shell shocked given the o-line he’s behind. Even Solder is looking like a street free agent, geeze! They may have to consider moving him inside to guard but then who’s the LT? To many questions and few answers.

      • MaineMan says:

        Actually, Kelly asked for his release. Apparently, he wanted to be the fulltime starter/3-down player and was offended that he might be switched out situationally in favor of “younger players who aren’t as good,” his own statement from a couple days ago.

        Wilfork is certainly not where he was a couple-three years ago, and Siliga had probably surpassed him before HE got hurt, but Wilfork seems better to me than he was at this time last season before his injury, which is a truly remarkable accomplishment that most folks don’t realize.

        Medical researchers studying football injuries found that only about 2/3rds of NFL players who suffer ruptured Achilles ever play again at all – a percentage that naturally drops off with age. Of those who manage to get back on the field, about 75% play significantly reduced snaps and perform at about 50% of their pre-injury effectiveness for about a year afterward. So Wilfork has beaten very long odds to be playing as many snaps as he is and as effectively as he has, especially at his age. Personally, I wrote him off, thought his career was over, when he first got injured.

        I was completely serious when I wrote that Wilfork should get the Comeback Player of the Year Award if he finishes out the season at his current level. He probably won’t because most of the folks who vote on that probably don’t recognize how much more challenging it is to comeback from an Achilles than from an ACL these days.

  5. Ryan says:

    As bad as the WR are the RB are worse. Ridley and Vereen both lack the ability to break off long rungs, break tackles or extend the play. Ridley is average at best. Like to see a veteran RB brought in. Vereen spent last night dancing. When White came in he was a breath of fresh air. That being said I highly doubt he is the answer. More than anything I believe we miss Blount. He was a downhill runner and closer. Without a a viable threat at RB the OL will get abused with continuous blitzes and at that point it wouldn’t matter what WR we have. Next, I consider the Danny Ammendola experiment over. He hasn’t caught on and doesn’t have Brady’s trust. I had hoped Wright would have a bigger role.

    • Dylan.C says:

      Vereen is dynamic as a pass catcher and in a 3rd down role but is NOT built for between the tackles. Ridley only got 5 touches for 28 yards… I think they are being miss and or underused.

    • steve earle says:

      Agree Wright should see far more snaps as an H-back and slot/ move TE. KC often used 3 TE’s Mon and just over powered our DB’s. Something we should adapt given the lack of outside WR plays. Not sure even Blount would be effective behind our line though, just saying.

  6. GM-in-Training says:

    Why did they play a soft zone against KC? I thought this incarnation of the Pats D was designed for man coverage and aggressive, opportunistic attacking.

    • qwerty says:

      the coaches are locked into their habits that were successful in past. in their eyes they don’t want to give up the big play. of course teams just dinking and dunking them to death. they need to make adjustments for that. they just weren’t made.

      it could work if the DL were making plays but clearly they were being shredded there so dink and dunk killed them. alex smith was making critical passes also in the zone defense. bb was being clearly had inferior game plan and out coached. they patriots defense players were confused. secondary should have reverted to more man to man to simplify things for seconday while the game plan was imploding.

      they should have used an aggressive secondary mode – man to man. this would have made game plan less relevant

    • steve earle says:

      Why have they done half the things they did? Who knows?

  7. Die Hard Pats Fan says:

    The New England Patriots are one of the worst drafting teams in the league in my opinion. The whole finding developmental players instead of blue chip players has finally caught up and is showing in a big way. Besides Chandler Jones, Hightower & possibly Collins or Logan Ryan the patriots have failed to address needs. No consistency protecting Tom Brady, No reliable # 2 tight end, No reliable back up DT, No reliable handed field stretching WR outside of Edelman & absolutely NO pass rushers outside of Jones. All problems that existed prior to this year. I’ve stated here before that the poor drafting would ultimately lead to a struggling dynasty and now that the time is now geez does it stink to witness the regression first handedly.

    • steve earle says:

      Over the years Bill has cut so many corners, made questionable draft choices, it is coming back to haunt us now.

    • MaineMan says:

      Well, if the Pats would just stop winning all the time, maybe they’d get more of a chance to draft some of those blue-chippers. Y’know, like the eleven picks in the Top 15 that Buffalo and Detroit have had in the last 13 drafts. Or the ten Top 10 picks that JAX has had. Or the eight Top 10s that Oakland has had.

      I mean, the Pats have only picked in even the Top 15 twice in the past 13 drafts – once after the 2002 season, and again in the 2008 draft (the result of a trade forward).

      Seriously, the Pats’ round-for-round success rate with draft picks during the BB Era has been pretty much the same as that of the other teams who’ve drafted in the Top 15 with similar rarity – namely Indy, Green Bay, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. I know nobody wants to hear that, but if folks would take the time to look at the whole league and run the numbers like I did they’d find that every team effs-up a crap-tonne of draft picks and that there are several teams who’ve had MUCH better access to top talent year after year who’ve done way, WAAAAY worse than BB.

      • Die Hard Pats Fan says:

        I agree that the league as a whole probably aren’t as efficient at drafting as we perceive them to be. With that said the patriots rarely draft players that can come in and contribute instantaneously. Coming off a season where many productive players faced serious injury the pats did little to address any of the issues, except of course use a first round pick on a player coming off back to back serious injuries! Is that really the best choice? Over the past five years how many drafted players in the first 4 rounds either been cut or remain on the practice squad? Drafting players on hope of them developing into the scheme is proving faulty at the least. Trading Mankins (consistently productive) to hope one of the players that haven’t proved they are a better option was a huge miss step. The player received (Tim Wright) has hardly been productive and the draft pick will most likely be wasted on a player that will wind up being cut or placed on the practice squad. BB is a tremendous coach but his evaluation of players have been a bit off, especially as of late. The productive free agents we find we let go do to unwillingness to compensate the players for actually EXCELLING. Here is a thought to ponder, Julian Edelman was almost GONE from the pats due to the same foolish thought process. He was the only productive receiver and still the team found it hard to pay him. Sad

        • MaineMan says:

          Well, that’s my point. The teams that, like the Pats, rarely even get a pick in the Top 20 (where most of the instant contributors are), have not been any better or worse than the Pats by any of the measures you’re using.

          Without question, BB takes more risks on very talented players who fell to him because of their injury histories than most other teams and many of those have indeed been spectacular flops (Wheatley, Dowling, e.g.). OTOH, Gronk was a spectacular success, missing zero games to injuries for his first 2+ seasons while setting all sorts of records. Even then, his subsequent injuries have been completely unrelated to the back issues that caused him to fall in the draft. The thing is, the other teams who have had comparable records and consequent late-in-the-round draft picks have ALSO had roughly the same flop-success rate on late-first and second-rounders over the past 15 drafts even without taking those injury risks. And they’ve had just as many draftees who’ve taken a season or more to get going.

          I’m as disappointed as anyone when draft picks don’t work out, but this whole notion that BB is somehow so much worse than everyone else simply is NOT the reality.

        • MaineMan says:

          WRT Edelman, his one-year 2013 contract was dirt cheap, but then he’d averaged only 17 catches for 178 yds and 1 TD over his first four seasons. His new contract, though not as large as Amendola’s, still guarantees him more than the Broncos guaranteed Welker (who actually DID have a comparable offer on the table from the Pats, BTW).

          The thing to remember is that the Pats have been limited in what they can do in free agency from having to absorb the dead money that resulted from cutting Hernandez, an amount that’s eaten about 6% of the cap for each of the past two seasons and a situation that couldn’t have been planned for. [Kind of interesting that the Pats instantly cut Hernandez when charges were filed while the Ravens, Vikings and other teams have dithered over even de-activating Rice, Peterson, etc.]

          Anyway, even after the Mankins trade, the Pats are still only about 7% under the cap, a percentage that will undoubtedly decrease to 6% or 5% by the end of the season as players earn their incentive bonuses – and dwindle even further (possibly by quite a bit) if there are injuries. There are probably 20-25 teams in the league who aren’t spending that high a percentage of the cap (at least a couple of which are paying their starting QB much more than what Brady’s getting).

          So, the whole “too cheap to…..” argument doesn’t match the reality, either.

  8. GM-in-Training says:

    It sounds like teams think if they shadow Edelman and Gronkoswki, the Pats have nothing else. If the Pats get behind and lose commitment to the run, that has been too true.

    Bellichek used to win a lot of games by taking away the opponent’s number one and two weapons and making them beat you with depth. It works if the other team doesn’t have too much depth. The funny thing is, the Pats actually have some depth…they just aren’t spreading it around enough. Lafell had a good game on the outside because KC wasn’t as concerned with that.

    So, what to do against Cincinnati? Run hard on first down. Pass deep on second down. The Pats might want to think about trading a running back and signing a big heavy power back for the hard short yardage situations. They’ve got enough cap space, maybe it is Richie Incognito time.

    • DMC413 says:

      GM-I-T,
      Not sure about sticking with that exact scheme of play-calling… but yes we need the run to get going so we can open things up in the passing game.

      OTOH:

      Jonas Gray or a big back, AGREE!

      Incognito, reluctantly AGREE!!

    • qwerty says:

      Someone thinking that the offense could have turned this game around was watching the wrong game.
      The KC offense were abusing the patriots defense every which way.

    • MaineMan says:

      I’m not intending to criticize you personally, but it never ceases to amaze me. Someone is assumed to be well-informed and, therefore, “authoritative” simply because he has the media megaphone and gets paid big bucks to use it. He broadcasts a judgement that is contrary to fact, and it gets repeated over and over and over until everyone just assumes it’s the truth.

      “The Pats/Brady aren’t spreading the ball around enough and are targeting Edelman/Gronk waaay too much of the time” is the case in point.

      The facts are:
      – Through the first three games, Brady targeted 8 different guys each game, 12 different guys in all.
      – Edelman saw 26% of Brady’s targets in those games. He saw 25% of Brady’s targets in 2013. Welker saw 25%-27% of Brady’s targets pretty much every year he was with the Pats. Funny, I don’t recall hearing any chorus of complaints about Edelman’s or Welker’s percentage of targets before this year.
      – Gronk was actually been targeted at a lower rate per game than he was in his seven healthy games last year. Vereen was targeted at very close to the same rate as last season, Thompkins, too, in spite of sitting for one of the three games. The biggest change was that LaFell absorbed some of the targets that went to Amendola and Dobson last year.

      Another thing:
      – Edelman has been catching 80% of what’s been thrown his way. Vereen 70% (and he’s been third in target %). Aside from Wright and the “occasional use” guys like Develin, Ridley and Hooman, all of Brady’s other targets are catching only about HALF of what’s been thrown to them (including Gronk, but then he DOES get open a lot). So, the suggested “fix” for the passing attack seems to be for Brady NOT throw so much to a guy who’s catching 4 of every 5 in order to throw more often to guys who are only 50-50 to catch the ball (on the rare occasion that they get open in time). Is there some rational thought here that I’m missing?

      [SIDEBAR: Probably the most reasonable assumption one could make wrt Dobson’s absences is that he’s just not quite far enough back from his foot surgery yet to make a significant impact under the current circumstances. After all, he only started doing cutting drills on it six weeks ago and has missed a lot of practice time with the offense. Expecting him to be 100% back to game shape and completely up to speed again with the offense might be stretching things a bit. Those who are ranking Dobson with Chad Jackson, Bethel Johnson and Taylor Price as yet another “failed WR draft pick” may be a bit premature.]

      BTW – Though the Pats appear to have “enough cap space” at the moment with their current $9.4M, they’re already at $137M in contract commitments for 2015, and that’s WITHOUT re-signing McCourty, Connolly, Ghost, Siliga, Cannon, Vereen, Ridley, Slater and about 10 other guys.

      • Claire says:

        With the exception of your snarky comments in your first paragraph, you made a number of excellent points in your post.

        • MaineMan says:

          Thanks, but it wasn’t snark. I am genuinely amazed that folks keep falling for what the media dishes out when it’s so easy to fact-check them (and that goes way beyond sports).

          As the world’s second oldest profession (and closely related to the oldest), “news” reporters have always been storytellers, creators of melodramatic distractions, operating under the guise of informed objectivity. They encourage our primitive urge to idolize and then “help” us in the piling on of outrage and condemnation when our idols stumble. Proportion, perspective and balance are anathema to them. But, it’s their job, and the above isn’t a condemnation of them anymore than saying “lightning is dangerous” is a condemnation of electricity. It is what it is. I just feel that it might encourage more rational discussion if folks were just a tad more skeptical about what they read and hear from “authoritative” media sources.

      • DMC413 says:

        MM,

        I actually agree with you whole-heartedly on this post!

        So I guess me question to you is why is our offense so, so, I don’t even know what to call it!?!?

        • MaineMan says:

          For now, I think I’ve decided to call the offense “Ralph”.

          Like the genetics that produced a true black petunia, what we’re seeing (or “think” we’re seeing) is, as always, the confluence of a number of factors, none of which are inherently “bad” (or “good”), they simply are what they are. This includes the current “state” of the individuals involved, which we largely can’t actually “know”, and the historical context that led up to this situation, which we ~can~ reasonably know, but is currently being cast in the worst possible light for us (e.g. the numerous media rants that are trotting out the old “why can’t BB-the-GM ever draft/develop good receivers?” song-and-dance, an argument that is relatively easy to pick apart).

          In the same way that the defense entered a major transition/rebuild phase in (roughly) 2009 that included drastic scheme changes as well as personnel changes (that’s just about complete, wk-1 and wk-4 performances notwithstanding), I think that the offense is deep into a major transition phase with new personnel, new coaches, new schemes, etc. I’m not sure what particular event kicked it off, but it’s proceeding now in fits and starts with some great moves being offset by things that don’t pan out, with some regrettable-but-necessary temporary setbacks, and with the usual “obvious mistakes” that turn out to be blessings in disguise, and with contributing factors that are beyond anyone’s reasonable control (Scar retiring; the sudden, unexpected loss of Hernandez and his continuing impact on the cap, etc.). Seems to me that it’s a one step at a time process and that there’s a ways to go yet. Last year was the start of the major WR overhaul, this year is the start of the OL overhaul, next year it’s the RBs’ turn. At some point, sooner or later, it WILL be Brady’s turn.

          As fans, we’re going to need considerable patience and to make some effort to remember that these are human beings we’re observing – the players and the coaches – replete with exceptional talents and common human flaws, and NOT robots. Note that I didn’t include the officials in this, since they’re largely sub-human and probably SHOULD be replaced by robots. Or at least by the NSA. (Note to Claire – THAT was snark.)

          But, then, I’m well-aware that I’m an odd duck, more fascinated by the mechanism of the whole thing than the outcome, per se. I mean, I’m thrilled when moves work and disappointed when they don’t and I’m hoping that enough of the moving parts mesh to result in another season getting to the playoffs (= more time to watch the mechanisms at work), but I’m not a believer in the mythical “one thing that fixes everything” and there simply isn’t time on my schedule for figuring out who to blame.

          There is, however, ONE thing that I believe SHOULD be examined more closely – Solder’s head. I mean that literally. It seems to me that he’s been “off” ever since suffering that concussion last season, and I really think he should get an MRI or CT-scan of his brain.

        • DMC413 says:

          MM

          I think “Waldo” is a more suiting name for this defense at this moment.

        • MaineMan says:

          So, it’s settled then. Henceforth, the offense is to be referred to as “Ralph” and the defense as “Waldo”.

      • qwerty says:

        the offensive line did a decent enough job (not great) in protecting brady while passing. they didn’t appear to give decent run blocking though. the running game was pretty much neutralized. i think coaching decisions and game plan had an impact.

      • qwerty says:

        the poor defense performance is a combination of the players and coaching. i really don’t like coaches using zones in secondary so often. when i see any type of prevent defense, i cringe. i wonder how much of revis performance is due to coaching.

      • steve earle says:

        I understand about next years 137m but I’m not sure we keep all those FA’s. Connelly and Cannon could be replaced by a couple of high round o-line draft picks and some of the other moves could and likely will bring the numbers down. Besides that’s next year right now fans are looking for something this year. You are right however.

        • qwerty says:

          great OL players can be drafted in later rounds. There have been plenty
          of high OL first rounders who busted. First round should be best available player.

    • MF says:

      Uhhhhhh, Edleman is nothing more than a good locker room type guy, and an all around athlete/enthusiastic and the “yeah sure coach, ill be a DB for a minute” guy, but at best…..a parttime WR, he’s only seen as The best they’ve got……quite simply because sadly enough……he’s the best they’ve got.
      J. Eddy is a simple #3 and at times due too length of time with the team a sometimes #2.
      AND……..
      Respectively, GRONK should a either A/. Taken a MASSIVE/RESPECTFUL pay cut in order to get someone to fill in, or just B/. Just been traded W/Ryan Mallet and Ridley in a package to Arizona.
      He was good when healthy and there was also 3 other options too make him look good………..
      So too move on your opening sentence GM-IN TRAINING………..
      THE PATS DON’T HAVE SIMPLY JUST HAVE NOTHING AFTER/IF YOU COVER J.Eddy & Gronk……………
      The PATS, THANKS TOO THE GM……………….IN FACT HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING PERIOD!
      When Robert Kraft pulls his head out………….and received BB of the GM STATUS, then and only then, will there be a possibility of a continuation of TB12 doing his thing.

  9. qwerty says:

    This game was a defensive horror show. The offense had it’s problems but should not be the focus. We need to figure out how much was due to the game plan and coaching decisions.

  10. Ben says:

    I am struck by this paragraph: “The closest thing to explosive was Brandon LaFell, who, after being held without a catch through the first two games, resurfaced as the primary option on the outskirts. He went on to catch six of his 10 targets for 119 yards and a 41-yard touchdown; a consolation drawing semblance to Brandon Lloyd’s 190-yard outburst a loss to the San Francisco 49ers two seasons ago.”

    Why is it when the games matter, Brady is unable to “connect” with almost any new target, but when the games are out of reach (or he is in hurry up mode) he seems to be able to just fine? I hate to point a critical finger at Brady, but I think for whatever reason, unless he is forced into it, he just zeroes in on throwing to the same few people every time. I don’t believe LaFell or Lloyd simply learned how to run the offense in certain games. Over the last few years, I think the Pats have seen countless receivers come and go without ever doing anything, and unfortunately the only common denominator is Brady (and McDaniels). To win, you have to spread the ball around, you have to be to throw to the outside and down the field – I don’t believe that Lloyd and Lafell and now Dobson and Thompkins and several others, were all incapable of picking up the offense. It is up to brady to work with them. Because they will never win games that matter throwing it to just edelman and gronkowski.

    • steve earle says:

      Looks are deceiving sometimes Ben. It matters that guys are just not getting open and that’s a function of time, which the o-line isn’t giving Tom. Until that changes expect pretty much the same results imo.

    • MaineMan says:

      A couple of things.

      Since at least 2006, which is as far back as target tracking goes AFAIK, only 3-5 guys have seen 75%-85% of Brady’s throws in any season. So, “throwing to the same few people” isn’t really new. Through the first three games, Edelman saw 26% of Brady’s targets – lower in week-1, a bit higher in weeks 2 & 3. Edelman saw 25% of Brady’s targets in 2013. In 2012 and before, Welker saw +/-25% of Brady’s targets each season. Gronk has seen 19% of Brady’s targets in 2014 so far, a significantly lower percentage than he saw during the 7 games he was healthy for last season.

      LaFell saw 11% of Brady’s targets in wk-1 (and caught zero), was shut out in wk-2, saw 22% in wk-3 and then 33% against KCY. He’s also caught at a 55% rate over the last two games. Seems like there’s been some ongoing improvement there that few have mentioned.

      WRT “spreading the ball around”, as I’ve posted a couple times before, Brady targeted at least 8 different guys in each of the first three games and 12 different guys overall. The KC game was the first on the season when he hasn’t spread the ball around.

      The problem with the media’s “official story” about Brady and what he’s been doing “different” this season is that the actual facts don’t back it up.

      • qwerty says:

        exactly.

        i remember when ochocinco was playing, brady threw poor uncatchable passes to him. i notice with amendola, he throws too far in front of him. he has timing with edleman but may not with other receivers. fronk is easy to throw to because he has such a wide area to throw into. i don’t criticize the receivers. i don’t criticize brady. it is what it is. constantly amazes me how brady can throw to the same receiver over and over and other team can’t defend it.

      • DMC413 says:

        Media, media, media, shame on you!

        It’s apparent people aren’t watching the games… From the second week on when the rumblings of TB isn’t spreading the ball started I was like “what are they talking about?” Figured it was some reporter trying to turn a 10 dollar bill into a BEN-FRANKLIN. Knowing that was far from the truth I figured it would be an article read and forgotten…. So now that the notion of TB not spreading the ball has taken on a life of its own, I ask are you’ll watching the games?!?!?! Stop letting ESPN/NFL-network and all these radio outlets form your opinions about your FB-Team. There the stats to back this up like MM pointed out and there’s what I thought fans were suppose to do, WATCH the Game!

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