In response to HOTBLITZ's comment:
Midway point, bye week and time to regroup and get healthy....
Our beloved Pats are a respectable 5-3. Maybe not where most thought they'd be or predicted at the beginning of the year but I for one think these close games are absolute character builders.
RESPONSE: Sorry...can't agree that a 5-3 record is "respectable" for a team with the talent that the 2012 Patriots have. A 5-3 record for the Pats represents underachievement. There's simply no excuse for losing to both Arizona and Seattle. A 6-2 record would be respectable.
A quick grade from my perspective on each position...
QB'S - B+
I believe although there have been many bright spots in TB12's play and lots of flashes as to who we all know he is and can be he has definitely got to find a way down the stretch in games to bring that killer instinct back to his arsenal. The Jet's game was a nice couple of drives at the end of regulation and overtime to put me at ease a bit and realize he does still have it in him.
Tom Brady 209/320 2,408 yards, 65% 16td 3int 100.6 qbr...
Pretty impressive by the numbers and maybe I graded a little low but to me I want to see him find a way to get those tough first downs late in games. All in all very nice statistics and a solid first half to build on.
RESPONSE: Actually, I think you're bring too generous. Sure, Tom is coming off an A+ game against St. Louis. But, prior to that, there was that mediocre performance against the Jets, a poor performance in Seattle, and another mediocre performance against the Cardinals. Tom has played poorly in the 4th quarter of the three Pats' losses this season.
RB'S - A-
Love the production this year. I really don't have any complaints here. Everyone seems to fill a role nicely with Ridley kind of taking a lead role and probably alot more Vereen in the second half as opposed to the first 8.
Stevan Ridley 150 carries, 716 yrds, 4.8 per, 5 td's
Brandon Bolden 43, 214, 5.4, 2 td's
Danny Woodhead 48, 164, 3.4, 1 td
Shane Vereen 17, 72, 4.2, 2 td's
Like I said this area is a big positive this year. The only reason a higher grade wasn't given is because against the stout defensive teams we can't seem to pound it or just line up when the game is in crunch time and be able to run it down our opponent's throat. I don't think this team will ever be that way as we seem to use the pass to set up the run which in turn sets up playaction as opposed to just run, run, run to set up the passing game. That however is nitpicking. Two thumbs up for this group in my opinion.
RESPONSE: We agree here. Lots was made about that late Ridley fumble against Denver. But, I felt that BB over-used him in that game...as he fumbled on something like his 32nd carry. Too many. Otherwise. the Rid-Man has been one of the few Pats to play above expectations, thus far. If he can ever get healthy over aa stretch of games, Shane Vereen is going to be productive. Danny Woodhead does a decent impersonation of Kevin Faulk.
Oline - B+
Nate Solder has done extremely well in filling in some big shoes. He continues to progess and when it's all said and done Brady will have had his blind side protected by two probowlers over the course of his career. Some may say that grade is too high but in my opinion given all the injuries this group has sustained over the course of 8 games I feel with all the shuffling constantly that they've done quite well. Is it just me or is Logan Mankins expendable? I don't think they miss him all that much and it seems just from my viewpoint that they've run the ball better when he's out. Connolly, Wendell, Thomas all coming along thanks to having the best Oline coach in the business. Last but not least I wasn't expecting it but Seabass has been healthy and effective which is awesome for this team, almost vital. Let's hope this unit gets healthy and gains some continuity and can finish even better then it started.
WR's + TE'S - B+
RESPONSE: Nate Solder was terrible early on, but has seemingly improved with each passing week...as he gains both experience and confidence. The key to the OL is RT Sebastien Vollmer. When he's healthy, he's a pro-bowl caliber tackle. Ryan Wendell has played better than expected. Mankins is playing in pain, on a bad knee. He came back too soon. Connelly and/or Thomas appear to be the weakest links. Nonethelesss, they have by and large been okay. Since their collectively poor performance against Arizona, the OL has gotten progressively better.
WR's + TE'S - B+
No one can expect the Gronk to have the same season as last year. However although beat up he has produced and been vital to this offense and is on pace for another probowl year. Folks if this continues we could be witnessing the best tight end in history not even hit his prime yet. SCARY. The YAC Man A. Hernandez has been crippled with a high ankle sprain throughout most of the season so far but the bye should help greatly and with him back 100% which he hasn't been this offense can only get better, which also is very scary.
Once again TB's binkie WW is the man. You know there's a part of me that says I wish BB would go against his better judgement and pay the man whatever it takes. God love Wes. I know I do. He's incredible, durable, dependable and once again the best slot receiver in the league (Percy Harvin may have something to say about that). What more to say about him? Amen. B Lloyd has been controversial among this board from what I can tell. I've gone against popular opinion and said/posted he is what I've wanted him to be and what Ocho couldn't be. Aside from a few drops I believe he's been good and will totally hit his stride down the stretch. Branch, Edelman, Fells, and now maybe Shiancoe aren't a bad supporting cast and anything we get out of those guys would be a nice bonus...
W. Welker 60 rec, 736 yrds, 12.3 per, 2 td's
R. Gronkowski 43, 580, 13.5, 7 td's
B. Lloyd 37, 435, 11.8, 3 td's
D. Woodhead 19, 200, 10.5, 1 td
A. Hernandez 17, 143, 8.4, 2 td's
J. Edelman 13, 100, 7.7, 1 td
The rest are under 10 catches and a bonus for whatever we get out of them receiving. If the yac man gets healthy and productive this unit will continue to boatrace the rest of the league. Two thumbs up here.
RESPONSE: Gronk finally started playing like the Gronk of 2011, last season. He had been slowed all season by a hip injury. Ditto Hernandez, who was off to a good start before suffering an ankle injury. Josh McDaniels foolishly went away from Wes Welker early, and it might have cost the Pats a game. Brandon Lloyd appears to be settling into his role:
Dline - A-
Again this unit is led by our leader on D big Vince. I personally like this unit. I don't think the fact there is not always pressure is their fault. BB aside from the Rams game refused to bring more then a 4man rush which is tough on any line. Chandler Jones is the man is in line for DROY in my opinion. Let's hope he doesn''t hit that rookie wall cause we are going to need him big time down the stretch. I love his array of moves and if the zebra's called any holding on opposing teams this unit would get much more credit then it does. Perhaps most improved player on the entire roster has to be Rob Ninkovich. This guy does it all and is more then servicable. I felt early in the year when he was at end he wasn't doing much but I'll eat some crow caue this guy is producing.
C. Jones 33 tackles, 6 sacks, 3 ff,
R. Ninkovich 27, 4, 4
V. Wilfork 22, 0, 0
J. Cunningham 14, 1.5, 0
K. Love 18, 1.5, 0
Againn this unit can only get better. When I look I only see upside and thats without the rose coloured glasses. Good Job boys..
RESPONSE: The good news is that the D-line is stopping the run. The bad news is that it is not applying ample pressure with a three or four man rush. But, only the great defenses do that. The Pats need to take more chances, by mixing in a occasional blitz or three, as they did with success against the Rams.
LB'S - B
On paper this unit is as stout as it gets around the league. Verse the run they deserve an A maybe even A+. However verse the pass I would give them a C and I think that's fair. B. Spikes is the man at shooting the gap. I love the way he hits and he totally has a knack for making big plays. Dude is a top 3 ILB in the Afc. However he is not good at all against the pass. In fact I would say he is a Liability. I wish BB would put Mayo and either Nink or Donta in nickel packages but if you watch Spikes is often in there in thos situations and all 3 downs. I own 2 different J. Mayo jerseys so ya I'm a little biased there. I think everyone know's who he is by now. A tackling machine, dependable, serviceable in coverage and every now and then can make a big play. Love the move to outside and think he should blitz more. Donta looks promising and I think he will be a serious gamer. The book is still out but to me he definitely passes the eye test. His speed is unreal when you consider how big he looks.
J. Mayo 79 tackles, 1 sack, 3 ff
B. Spikes 50, 1, 3
D. Hightower 25, 2, 0
This unit is young, ferocious and the heartbeat of this D. Let's hope for the consistent progression into becoming the dominant force we all envision. I mean let's face it, if these three guys max out on their potential we could be looking at something really special. Ravenesque when they had Ray, Sharper, Boulware. I don't think I'm overstating. While Spikes will never be Ray the other two have a chance at being better then the ravens other two. Certainly top three in the league right now in my opinion.
RESPONSE: Here, we agree. Though there are some issues in coverage, and I'd like to see more blitzing, the Pats' LB corp appears to be improved over last years' group. ILB Dane Fletcher was a solid reserve, and is missed. Injury to Dont'a Hightower appears to have stunted the creativity and flexibility of this unit:
Secondary - C-
I think that grade is accurate. I may get ripped for it but this is the weakest unit on the team. Between Injuries and ineptitude this group is in constant flux and can't get any cohesiveness going. Dmac in my opinion is better at free safety. Better then Gregory too. We need some sort of constant and him there is a good start. If Chung can get/stay healthy he can be our SS and that group's energy guy. He can come up in the box and play that role. Dennard is this group's bright spot. I say forget zone which is a bad look for this team and let our young kid's play man. The results can't be any worse. The deep passes and record shattering amount of 30+ completions needs to stop in order for this team to make a deep playoff run. Hopefully T. Wilson can improve and the game can slow down for him sooner then later and that would help alot. We need whoever plays the other corner and star position's to be at least serviceable for the rest of the year and into the playoffs. If Arrington is going to play anywhere it should be in the slot.
D. MCcourty 38 tackles, 0 sacks, 2 int's, 0 FF
K. Arrington 31, 0, 0, 0
T. Wilson 28, 0, 3, 3
P. Chung 26, 0, 0, 0
S. Gregory 14, 0, 1, 0
S. Moore 13, 0, 0, 1
A. Dennard 10, 0, 2, 0
Again if this unit gets any better our chances for a title are amazing in my opinion. I believe I believe.
RESPONSE: Agreed. This group has surrendered far too many big plays. Safety position remains a major problem. Injuries to Chung, Gregory, and to Crystal-lite Dowling have taken their toll.
Special teams - A
Alot of people don't like ghost but his kicks against the not yet's are a great confidence booster for him and a good sign for this team. Let's not forget guys, no one will ever be Adam V. in the clutch again so ghost isn't a bad consolation prize considering what's floating around the league.
Punters are people too you know. Z. Mesko is awesome. A good person and a fantastic punter when called upon imo.
Kick returns are good so long as dmac doesn't fumble. It would have been awesome if Jeff Demps never got IR'ed.
Edelman and WW seem to have been doing alright on punt returns so nothing more on that front.
S. Gostowski 17-20
Z. Mesko 30 punts 42.0 avg.
RESPONSE: Strongly disagree. The special teams cost the Pats the Cardinals game (surrendered a block punt...and the Gostkowski shank in the closing seconds). That horrid loss may end up costing the Pats a playoff bye. Other than the McCourty KO TD return, the Pats have gotten nothing from their kick-off returns. McCourty also nearly gave the Jets game away with his SP fumble. That said, the Arizona game aside, the SP have been solid, if unspectacular.
Offensive coordinator- B
RESPONSE: Seems that McDaniels has done more to screw up the offense, than to improve it. Some poor play calling, and foolishly trying to transform the Pats into a smash-mouth team with Brady operating under center, managing the game. Against the Rams last Sunday, it finally dawned up Josh that he has a Hall of Fame QB at his disposal, who operates best out of the shot-gun formation:
Defensive coordinator- C
RESPONSE: Here, we agree. Same secondary problems as last year. Tepid pass-rush. I've seen little innovation. But, BB and Patricia could be holding back wrinkles, to be used in the play-offs.
Hey guys just a little fun thing I wanted to do for the board so you all could discuss amongst eachother. Whether I agree or disagree with you as posters i appreciate the fact you are all Pats fans and in that way we are all tied together.
I would love your input as to what you all think as to what's unfolded and what will happen. Thanks for taking the time to read and don't rip me to much. : )
RESPONSE: Any time you render an opinion, especially if it's somewhat critical, you're going to hear from the whiny homers...LOL!!