Ravens @ Patriots REPORT CARD

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    Re: Ravens @ Patriots REPORT CARD


         You stated the following:

         "...You have been overrating Mayo all year long. He's a decent player at best. He won defensive rookie in a down year (he wouldn't even be top 4 this year) and he has been awful most of this year.
    RESPONSE: You say that I'm overrating Mayo. I say that you're underrating him. Although I have not checked the final stats, my guess is that Mayo led the team in tackles. As inconsistent as the Pats' defense was this year, I shudder to thing how bad the unit would have been without him. Mayo is not part of the problem...he's part of the solution. But, the kid needs help.   

    I give him some props because he came back from his injury so fast, but how many big plays did he make this year?
    RESPONSE: No, he's not Ray Lewis or Dick Butkus. But, he's a very good player. He's paired up with a guy who made the team as an undrafted free agent (Gary Guyton), and a bunch of non-discript OLBs, that hardly conjure up memories of Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel in their heydays. 

    How many interceptions did he have? How many sacks (don't give me any middle linebacker nonsense because he does blitz)? How many tackles for a loss? Fumbles caused or recovered?
    RESPONSE: True. But, again, look at who he's playing with. Mayo can ill afford to free-lance in the middle because, without him there, the Pats' "D" has no middle. 

    He has good speed and he plays hard but how many goal line or short yardage tackles does he whiff on or fail to wrap up on.

    RESPONSE: Like a RB is only as good as his OL, a MLB is only as good as the DTs up front. Do you remember Ray Lewis whining for protection a couple of years ago? So, the Ravens brought in Haloti Ngata...and prolonged and rejuvinated Ray's career. Mayo needs more help up from the boys up front. 

    Let's face it, If Mayo is our best linebacker we are in trouble. In the future he may be great if he works hard but right now he is part of the problem.

    RESPONSE: I completely disagree. I see him as part of the solution. Defensive line and OLB badly need to be addressed. Ty Warren was injured for most of the season, limiting his effectiveness. Richard Seymour, formerly a pro-bowl caliber DE, is gone. Vince Wilfolk is a quality DT. But, the play at DE was so poor, that BB had to shift Wilfolk at times to DE.  

    About Guyton, he's out of his depth right now, he belongs on special teams.
    RESPONSE: Guyton is a solid player. As stated above DL and OLB are the main problems.

    TBC might be their best pass rusher and that's a scary thought. What's even scarier is trying to watch him tackle Ray Rice or hold containment.
    RESPONSE: The fact that TBC was their best all-around OLB is not a scary thought. Its' a reality. Thats' whats' scary.

    Actually the best defensive play of the game yesterday was Adalius Thomas creating contact off sides to stop a 2 point conversion before it started because our coaches were so unprepared they couldn't get 11 men on the field. Adalius is probably going to be a Jet next year and we will probably all ask why he didn't play like that for us, especially after he strip sacks Brady. In my opinion he was misused here from the beginning. In Baltimore he was never the man, he was a piece of the puzzle, a pass rushing specialist who we tried to make into an inside linebacker.

    RESPONSE: Here, we are in complete agreement. Adalius was misused from the beginning. He was no ILB. He should have been used off the edge, at OLB. 

    That was kind of long winded but I was trying to say I enjoy your grades but the biggest weakness on this team are not it's defensive backs but our linebackers who are not playmakers.

    RESPONSE: Agreed. I've been saying all season that the Pats' #1 weakness was the lack of a pass-rusher. The Pats have never been able to replace Willie McGinest.

    Being amongst the league leader in tackles might mean your defense is on the field a lot. I'll trade those stats for turnovers caused or recovered every day.

    RESPONSE: No pass rush equals no turnovers.

         Thanks for your interesting post.

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    Re: Ravens @ Patriots REPORT CARD

         Dirty Water...you stated the following:

         "It was almost like the Ravens had the Pat's game plan for both the defense and the offense.  The only thing worse than the terrible early screen play that was blown up by the Ravens for a loss (and almost intercepted) was running it again for another loss and near interception.

    RESPONSE: I read somewhere that Ray Lewis studied hours of Patriots' game films, and was able to ascertain what plays the Patriots were calling from Tom Brady's cadence and signals (gee...do you think "Jets" Goodell will dock the Ravens a first round draft choice??)...LOL!! 

    Whatever happen to the ball control passing game where the Pats would throw for 4 and 5 yard gains?

    RESPONSE: No Wes Welker...and the lack of a competent WR playing opposite Randy Moss.

    Where did the creative defensive schemes of yesteryear go?  It used to seem like the coaching staff sould do no wrong and the players knew it.  In the old days, it seemed like the coaching staff would put together winning game plans that asked players only to do what they were truly able to do.  It seemed that the players believed that if they did what the coaching staff told them to do, then they would win.  And the players knew that the coaching staff wouldn't ask them to do things that they physically weren't able to do.

    RESPONSE: Dean Pees may not be on par with his predecessors. But, in fairness to Dean, the same holds true for the defensive players...the front seven in particular.  

    This year, the coaching staff seemed a little at sea.  Either they couldn't figure out how to utilize the talent that they had or they lost the trust of the players.

    RESPONSE: Perhaps too much blame is being heaped upon Pees. The best schemes in the world are worthless unless there are good players available to execute them. The Pats' weaknesses on the DL and at OLB were exposed by the Ravens. 

    This year it just didn't feel like a Belichik team.   

    RESPONSE:  Another way of looking at it is that, despite the obvious talent deficiencies at certain positions, BB led his team to 11-5 and 10-6 records over the past two years. The more I think about, the more I believe that the Pats' decline is a function of simply not having enough talented players, than anything else.

    It kind of reminds me of the Celtics in the 80's.  A few seasons where they got better every year until they reached greatness and then a few years where they were hanging on.  Veterans got hurt and were never the same.  They brought in guys to fill gaps that really weren't up to the task.

    RESPONSE: I wouldn't classify the current Pats with the declining Celtic teams of the late 80s and early 90s. The Celts suffered some terrible luck, and were mismanaged by Jan Volk. Bad luck came in the form of Larry Bird's back giving out on him, and, of course, the awful Len Bias tragedy, as he died the day after being drafted, second overall. The passing of Bias killed the Celtics. He would have been a super-star, and would have been that ellusive 6th man on the Celts starting five marathon-men squad, of 1987.

         In contrast, the Pats are in the process of rebuilding on the fly...jettisoning their great veterans on defense through trade, or retirement. It is hoped that the 2011 #1 pick acquired from Oakland will produce that aforementioned illusive DE/OLB, to serve as the cornerstone of the rebuilt Patriots' defense. The Pats have three 2nd round draft choices, in addition to their first round choice. So...hope for an infusion of young talent springs eternal.  
    Luckily, the Pats aren't owned by the same type of people that owned the Celtics in the late 80s and 90s and I bet they get back on the horse fairly soon.

    RESPONSE: Yes. But, it is fair to criticize BB for his last two drafts, and free agent acquisitions. The 2008 draft class, with the exception of Jerod Mayo, appears to be as fine a collection of busts as you'd find in any museum.

         In 2009, the Pats passed on OT Michael Oher at #23 overall, passed on OLB Clay Mattews at #26, and passed on OLB Rey Maualuga at #34 for somewhat disappointing safety Patrick Chung (although, in fairness to Chung...it may be too early to lable him a disappointment). DT Ron Brace, taken with the 40th selection overall, appears to be a bust. That said, CB Darius Butler, taken 41st overall, had his moments...and OT Sabastien Vollmer appeats to have pro-bowl potential.

         Far more disastrous was BB's 2009 trades, and selection of free agents. Aging veterans Joey Galloway, Shawn Springs, and Fred Taylor were paid good money, but paid little dividends. The decision to sign Galloway and let Jabar Gaffney go was particularly damaging. BB's belief that FA Miami DE Jason Taylor was coming to the Patriots factored into his decision to jettison Mike Vrabel, in order to gain cap space. When Taylor signed with Miami, the Pats were in desperate need of a pass-rusher, and traded a 3rd and 5th rounder for Derrick Burgess...who produced only modest results. BB also wasted two 5th rounders on TE Alex Smith and WR Greg Lewis...both of whom failed to make the team.     

    It would be great if they were able to find a few coaches that they could keep around for a while.  The revolving door on the Offensive Coordinator's office has got to be stopped.

    RESPONSE: True...there's been too many changes with the coaching staff over the past several years. But...thats' the price of success.  
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    Re: Ravens @ Patriots REPORT CARD

         PatsareFine...you stated the following:

    '' Though injuries did take their toll...it was clear throughout the season that the 2009 edition of the Patriots was perhaps the least talented of all Patriots' teams, since 2001. ''

    I wish our D was half as good as it was in 2001. When was the last time you saw our run D this bad in the playoffs? (never)

    RESPONSE: Agreed. I don't know why I said 2001. I meant 2000.
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    Re: Ravens @ Patriots REPORT CARD

         DBAZ22...you stated the following:

         "I disagree with only one point - Vince was one of three players to show up along w/Edelman and Faulk.

    RESPONSE: Perhaps...but Vince got blown away on the Rice run, and it was "Katy bat the door" from there. 

        The LBs missed more tackles than I can recall in a long time.  Guyton is a part-timer it looks like, and you were spot on about Mayo.  The 3-4 is all about the DL taking the lanes, and LBs cleaning up.  The only thing they cleaned up was the trail Rice and McGahee burned.

    RESPONSE: The DL is supposed to keep the opposing offensive linemen off the LBs. They didn't. That said, you're right. Very poor tackling...and tackles were being made after gains of made 5 yards or more. Horrible short-yardage defensive. The Ravens were able to convert fat too many 3rd and shorts.  

         The rest of the team was already in vacationland, as well as the coaching staff.

    RESPONSE: Obviously, the team was not ready to play.

         Being at the game the only high point was Welker's GF is smokin' hot!!
    RESPONSE: Many we shouldn't be feeling too bad for ol' Wes...despite his  injury...LOL!!
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    Re: Ravens @ Patriots REPORT CARD

         nyjoseph...you said:

         "...My belief is the OL and DL need to be the top priorities.  Everything else will benefit from those changes".

    RESPONSE: I think you've hit the nail on the head, Joseph. 

         Happy New Year, my friend! 
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    Re: Ravens @ Patriots REPORT CARD

         Coop...you stated the following:

         "...Am I being too harsh in thinking a losing season is a distinct possibility next year? See no reason for optimism. Too many holes. Who is going to improve? Butler, Edelman, Vollmer, Pryor good possibilities.  Maybe Meriweather, McGowan or Chung, but not sold on them. Most everyone else is just a year older. I'm sure as memory fades, things will look better."
    RESPONSE: Could the Pats have a losing season in 2010? YES, for the following reasons:

    1.) The Jets, Bills, and Dolphins are younger, improving teams. The Jets in particular are a team to watch...provided that QB Mark Sanchez continues to evolve, and his knees hold up;

    2.) As division winners, the Patriots are likely to play another tough schedule.

    3.) Repeated failure to win on the road is very disquieting;

    4.) Wes Welker can't be counted on in 2010, and, perhaps, beyond. His game is predicated on rapid acceleration and sharp cuts...which require sound knees;

    5.) Logan Mankins and Vince Wilfolk may both be gone next season;

    6.) As you have correctly pointed out, the Pats have a ton of holes. They need help on both their defensive and offensive lines, OLB, WR, RB, and, so sorry to say, still, at CB. 
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    Re: Ravens @ Patriots REPORT CARD

         dadairt66: You stated the following:

         "Edelmen was great- he really showed something to me yesterday.
    RESPONSE: Agreed. It seems that the Patriots have found themselves a player. He'll start next season, since it unfortunately appears that Wes Welker will miss most, if not all, of 2010.

    Him and Faulk seemed like the only two players who brought some passion to the field with them. Did everyone notice Faulk screaming at his teammates on the sidelines? They then promptly went out and turned the ball over again...Edeleman...showed a whole lot of heart. Something that was sorry lacking from 98% of the team.
    RESPONSE: True. The Pats' will continue to rebuild on the fly...which brings us to the following questions...who should be resigned...who should be jettisoned...and what additions need to be made? 

         1.) Who should be resigned?

         Both Logan Mankins and Vince Wilfolk are free agents. The Baltimore debacle exposed the Pats' run defense. Furthermore, rookie NT Ron Brace appears to be a bust. Thus it would appear that resigning Wilfolk is a must. As for Mankins, he is a very good LG. But, he's no Alan Faneca, or Steve Hutchinson. If he wants Hutchinson money, he'll likely be gone. But, with "The Franchise" getting mauled weekly by blitzing defenses, the Pats may not have the luxury of letting him go. Much depends on whether some sort of CBA is reached...and on the ramifications of the capless season. 

         2.) Who Should Be Jettisoned?

         a.) LBs: Adalius Thomas will be 34 years old next season, and seemingly, has not bought into the "Patriot Way". Without a doubt, he'll be gone. Theres' lots of deadwood at LB. Though Eric Alexander and Pierre Woods are good special team players, they'll don't appear talented enough to take meaningful rotations on defense. Shawn Crable can't stay healthy...and must be labeled as a bust.  

         b.) CBs: Both Johnathan Wilhite and Terrence Wheatley from the miserable 2008 draft class appear to be busts...although there may still be hope for Whilite as a nickel back. Leigh Bodden is a decent player...but not worth the big money he seeks. Shawn Springs is on his last legs. Man, its' still ugly at CB.
         c.) RBs: Laurence Maroney has underachieved, and has seemingly picked up the fumbling virus. Kevin Faulk will be 34 years old. Fred Taylor will be 35. Sammy Morris will turn 33...YUCK!! 

         d.) OL: Matt Light does not appear to be aging gracefully. Nick Kaczur is clearly not the answer at RT, and may be moved inside to RG to replace Steven Neal...who will likely retire. Sabastien Vollmer will eventually replace Light at LT. 

         3.) What Additions Need to Be Made?

         a.) DL: Even assuming that Vince Wilfolk is resigned, and Ty Warren regains his health, the Pats need an upgrade at DE and DT. Mike Wright and Myron Pryor are good back-ups. 

         b.) OLB: The Patriots must upgrade here. Though Tully Banta-Cain had a good year, Adalius Thomas and Derrick Burgess did not...and both are approaching age 34. The Pats must find an athletic player who can rush the passer.

         c.) CB: Assuming that Leigh Bodden resigns,and Darius Butler continues to improve, the Pats are OK here. But, there's lots of deadwood. As mentioned about, both Johnathan Whilite and, especially, Terrence Wheatley, are imminently replaceable. Shawn Springs, at age 35, is done. 

         d.) OL: The Pats should try to retain Mankins. OT Sabastien Vollmer appears to have pro-bowl potential. But, the rest of the group needs to be upgraded...hopefully with players possessing mean streaks. As stated above, Steven Neal will retire, and Nick Kaczur is not the answer at RT...but may be the answer at RG, replacing Neal. As for Dan Koppen, one has to wonder whether he's still bothered by that shoulder injury he had suffered previously? Too many blitzes up the middle are not being picked up.

         e.) RB: The Pats need a new stable. The guys they have are injury prone, and, with the exception of Maroney, old.

         f.) WR: It breaks my heart to say it, but Wes Welker, as we know him, may be done. Randy Moss turns another year older. There is no viable option at #3 WR. A very good free agent WR must be added.

         Wow...what a mess! BB has his work cut out for him in the off-season. If he can't patch up the majority of these problems, the Pats could be looking at a losing season in 2010.

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    Re: Ravens @ Patriots REPORT CARD

         Brad34: You stated the following:

         '...This team is not tough anymore and can't handle when opposition teams play smash mouth football. The Pats used to be the team that handled finese teams by playing smash mouth football. There are so many holes it's not funny. The Defense is full of poor tackling softies and it needs a complete rebuild. The O line is woeful and hasn't recovered from the 2007 superbowl beating it took. The Pats are also missing a big physical presence at wide receiver. Too many small or soft recievers. They are also blessed with the worst handling tight ends in the NFL. Bargain basement running back by committee needs overhauling as well. The only players worth keeping are Brady,Faulk,Welker,Moss(if they can get a worthy 3rd wide receiver to take pressure off him otherwise it is a waste of time having him) Edelman,Vollemer,Koppen,Mankins on Offense and on Defense Mayo,Wilfork,Warren and Tully. The rest are making up the numbers I'm afraid.  The Pats need to move away from fitting other teams rubbish into BB's golden system and become very active in FA"
    RESPONSE: We appear to be on the same page as to what changes need to be made, and overall accessment on the team. If your interested in my expressed views on those subjects, you can take a browse at my previous post, directly above this one.

         Happy New Year to you and yours.