SJ takes a look at the good, the bad and the ugly from
Sunday's action in the NFL.
Did we all just think Aaron Rodgers got mortal overnight? You just knew
the Packers were not going to go away, which they made crystal clear in their
42-24 thrashing of the AFC's top team, the Houston Texans. The Pack showed that they have
absolutely no intention of letting a few early season hiccups spoil their
Aaron "Air" Rodgers, the NFL's reigning MVP, decided Sunday night
was the perfect stage to execute a career-high six touchdown passes; this feat tied
a franchise record set in last year's regular season finale with then backup
Matt Flynn doing the honors. Week 5's stunning loss to the Colts must have
festered in Green Bay's collective craws (how do you like that mental picture, kids?) and they were taking no prisoners in Houston when they beat the Lone
Star gunslingers in their own corral.
Now 3-3, Green Bay must be wary of another letdown next week when they
travel to St. Louis to meet the Rams. As
long as Aaron Rodgers and his air force are clicking on all cylinders, the
Packers will win plenty of games this season. If, however, their defense does not come
around, it could be a short postseason. We shall see.
Grades for the Genius
Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, has been referred
to as a genius for all his on-field and off-field machinations and
manipulations. Lately, however, he has done little to validate the reverence with which New Englanders think of him. We know how
humbling the game can be: a genius one season can be a dunce the next. But, this team seems to lack the passion, the
motivation and the fire of previous Patriots iterations.
The Patriots lost a game they should have won on Sunday. They watched
helplessly as the Seahawks stormed back from a thirteen point 4th
quarter deficit and eventually won the game 24-23. But, the killer was not so much that Tom Brady
had a series of mind-boggling brain cramps when, for instance, he was called for intentionally
grounding the ball not once but twice or that the secondary made Seattle's
rookie quarterback look like the second coming of Joe Montana.
No, the more confounding aspect of the game was Bill Belichick's stubborn
refusal to acknowledge that his secondary needed help, big help. On Seattle's final drive they had essentially
abandoned their running game as Marshawn Lynch found out that All-Pro Patriots
nose tackle Vince Wilfork guards the trenches like a Doberman in a junkyard. More to the point was that the Seahawks had
only 2:38 to drive the field and score a touchdown with the Pats knowing a
field goal would do them no good. Belichick decided to stay with four linebackers instead of adding
corners and safeties to help out their overwhelmed brothers in the starting
But, what makes this entire scenario even more incredible is that the
defensive line was actually biting on the play-action instead of being
instructed to target one person and one person only, namely, Russell Wilson. Did
Belichick really believe that Seattle would try to run the ball with time
ticking down, especially considering that they had had no success on the ground throughout the
game?! I understand that a case can be
made that the prevent defense often prevents you from winning, but couldn't he have put a nickel or dime package together to make life a bit more daunting for
young Russell Wilson?
The Patriots are 3-3 in a season that's no so young anymore, having lost all three games by a combined 4 points. Someone made the comment that they don't know
how to win. I have no idea what the hell
that means because all these guys have played big time college football and
have had their share of success. It's a
nebulous statement that ignores the problem.
Their secondary is atrocious, so you have to gamble with your offense and
allow them to go for 4th and 2's if the time is right and put some
distance on the scoreboard between you and your opponent because anytime the
opposition quarterback goes back to throw it's like watching Kobe take a jump
shot, you've just got to hope it clangs off the rim because there's really
nothing you can do about it.
The sad fact is that the Patriots can do little or nothing to prevent
teams from successfully passing on them. My advice to the man under the hoodie is to bring the house more often
than not and put the heat on the quarterback. Blitz packages are fine because you have no secondary to begin with so
you might as well try and stop the pass before it starts because once that ball
is launched you have to hope either the quarterback is inaccurate or his
receivers are inept.
It's a sad state of affairs in New England and the drapes are being drawn on on
Tom Brady's championship window; and once Tom Terrific retires, so will the
Patriots' dynasty of excellence. The Pats
have consistently drafted high on corners and safeties, but either their
scouting, coaching or strategic planning is amiss because they haven't had a
decent corner since they let Asante Samuel walk several years ago. Coach Belichick needs to find a new secondary
coach or a new group of corners and safeties. We know it's too late for the latter, but what about the former? The Genius must go back to the drawing board
and realize he cannot make average players great, but can he not rescue average
players from performing poorly? New
England awaits your answer, Bill.
Well that's it, boys. Another week in the books and
we'll be talking about some great matchups after they happen because when
you're a Monday morning quarterback, every call is the right call and every
game is predictable in the light of 20/20 hindsight.