Still Good But No Longer Elite

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    Still Good But No Longer Elite

    We're not Detroit. We're not Oakland. We're not Saint Louis. We still have a pretty good--even above average--football team here in New England, but let's face it: we're no longer an elite team. There are too many holes in both our offense and defense right now. And--just possibly--maybe our skills in coaching and selecting talent are starting to wane.  Here's what I see:

    Offensive line.  I've never liked the way we ignore the tackle position.  Vollmer looks like a great find, but the rest of the tackles just aren't up to par.  The guards and center are okay, but without good tackles we have trouble blocking good pass rushers and trouble opening holes in the running game. Remember we lost a super bowl in large part because our line couldn't handle the Giants' pass rush. The problem is still unfixed.

    Third wide out. We can't reliably win with only two wide receivers.  It's easy to double Moss (who's not as dominant as he once was--he's getting older, after all).  And while Welker is hard to cover in the underneath zones, he (and Faulk) are becoming our only options. A one-dimensional offense isn't going to be successful.

    Offensive play calling. We need to run more and not give up on it so quickly. We have only two decent wide receivers and poor pass protection. Once we become one-dimensional, with Brady chucking passes to Moss, Welker, and Faulk from the shotgun (and occasionally handing the ball to Faulk for a draw play), teams can ignore the rest of the offense. And we are getting almost no production from our tight ends.  

    Pass rush.  We have no pass rush whatsoever. Quarterbacks have hours back there to pick their receivers. Is it talent or scheme?  We never blitz, it seems. But our four-man rush is anemic. Should we try to blitz a bit more just to keep teams on their toes?  But that gets us to the other big issue on defense--our secondary. It's bad enough with seven or eight in coverage. Do you want to blitz and leave only six in coverage?

    Secondary.  Wow, they are bad.  Wilhite stays with his man relatively well, but he's never in position to make a play. Both the Colts and Saints ate him up. Yet he was continually left man-on-man against top receivers.  The talent isn't there, but I also wonder about the schemes. I know you can't double everyone, but why is Wilhite so often left alone with a top receiver?

    Coaching.  We just don't seem very creative. Maybe it's the talent, but don't we seem to do the same thing every week?  Is Belichick trying to do too much himself?  We may need some new blood at the offensive and defensive coordinator positions. The team was best when we had Crennel and Weis working with Belichick. Do we need to get coordinators of that stripe again?

    Player personnel. Mike McKenzie looked better than most of our DBs and the Saints picked him up off the street last week. Ty Warren and Jarvis Green don't look nearly as good without Seymour.  Without getting lucky with Vollmer, we'd be awful at offensive tackle). We have no third receiver (there must have been someone better than Aiken and Stanback--Gaffney, if no one else!). Daniel Graham would be better at TE than anyone we have now. Asante Samuel had his flaws at CB, but he at least made some big plays. We've had a lot of decent draft picks. Why is the talent declining so much?  

    Patriots football is still good--and still exciting to watch (I"m keeping my season tickets)--but there are disturbing signs that we're headed not to the bottom of the pack but to the middle.  How does it get turned around? Better coaching? Better talent? Or better of both?




     
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    Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite

    great post, "good but not great" was my thought as I watched the Saints dismantle the Pats.

    The Pats have had a good run. Not many NFL teams can dominate for more than 6 or 7 years....this is a rebuilding team. They are stock piling draft picks and replacing the maintsays of the last 9 years, who are starting to get old and turnover. 

    After wtaching the Colts and Saints games this year, its obvious a good QB is key. Let's just hope that BB can put the personnel in place while TB still has some fire left to be elite again.
     
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    Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite

    Good observations.

    This NE team has alot of flaws and I think they are getting alot of credit due to the 3SB's, but this team has no resemblence of any of those SB teams.  As a matter of fact, the philosiphy that won them 3SB's dissapeared when Crennel and Weis left.
     
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    Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite

    In Response to Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite:
    [QUOTE]great post, "good but not great" was my thought as I watched the Saints dismantle the Pats. The Pats have had a good run. Not many NFL teams can dominate for more than 6 or 7 years....this is a rebuilding team. They are stock piling draft picks and replacing the maintsays of the last 9 years, who are starting to get old and turnover.  After wtaching the Colts and Saints games this year, its obvious a good QB is key. Let's just hope that BB can put the personnel in place while TB still has some fire left to be elite again.
    Posted by OldDomPats[/QUOTE]

    A positive spin on this is that in a rebuilding year, we're still winning the division.  Let's hope it really is just the BB way of rebuilding.  If that's the case, it's remarkable.  How many teams win their division while rebuilding?

     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from prolate0spheroid. Show prolate0spheroid's posts

    Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite

    In Response to Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite:
    [QUOTE]Good observations. This NE team has alot of flaws and I think they are getting alot of credit due to the 3SB's, but this team has no resemblence of any of those SB teams.  As a matter of fact, the philosiphy that won them 3SB's dissapeared when Crennel and Weis left.
    Posted by patsfaninsatx[/QUOTE]

    Remember, too, the defense struggled until Crennel got here. . . . I remember articles about how Crennel was good at getting players to understand BB's complex schemes.  Maybe we need Crennel back to interpret BB's ideas to the players. 

     
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    Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite

    Does BB have to much pride to bring him back?

     
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    Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite

    While I am no Pats fan, I think some are overreacting to that loss.  It was tough to watch, this is true.  The Pats ran into a buzz saw.  That said, there is no team in the AFC that is clearly better.  When push comes to shove, The Pats will beat The Cincy in a big spot in the playoffs.  Playing the Colts will be a war, as usual.  The Chargers come up small in the playoffs.  The Pats can still get to the Super Bowl.  At that point, either the Vikings or the Saints will be out.  You might face one of them unless Romo figures out how to win in December.  Place your faith in the coach and Brady.  As you mention, yours is not a great team, but a very good team with winners at key positions.
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from NickC1188. Show NickC1188's posts

    Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite

    In Response to Still Good But No Longer Elite:
    [QUOTE]We're not Detroit. We're not Oakland. We're not Saint Louis. We still have a pretty good--even above average--football team here in New England, but let's face it: we're no longer an elite team. There are too many holes in both our offense and defense right now. And--just possibly--maybe our skills in coaching and selecting talent are starting to wane.  Here's what I see: Offensive line.  I've never liked the way we ignore the tackle position.  Vollmer looks like a great find, but the rest of the tackles just aren't up to par.  The guards and center are okay, but without good tackles we have trouble blocking good pass rushers and trouble opening holes in the running game. Remember we lost a super bowl in large part because our line couldn't handle the Giants' pass rush. The problem is still unfixed. Third wide out. We can't reliably win with only two wide receivers.  It's easy to double Moss (who's not as dominant as he once was--he's getting older, after all).  And while Welker is hard to cover in the underneath zones, he (and Faulk) are becoming our only options. A one-dimensional offense isn't going to be successful. Offensive play calling. We need to run more and not give up on it so quickly. We have only two decent wide receivers and poor pass protection. Once we become one-dimensional, with Brady chucking passes to Moss, Welker, and Faulk from the shotgun (and occasionally handing the ball to Faulk for a draw play), teams can ignore the rest of the offense. And we are getting almost no production from our tight ends.   Pass rush.   We have no pass rush whatsoever. Quarterbacks have hours back there to pick their receivers. Is it talent or scheme?  We never blitz, it seems. But our four-man rush is anemic. Should we try to blitz a bit more just to keep teams on their toes?  But that gets us to the other big issue on defense--our secondary. It's bad enough with seven or eight in coverage. Do you want to blitz and leave only six in coverage? Secondary.  Wow, they are bad.  Wilhite stays with his man relatively well, but he's never in position to make a play. Both the Colts and Saints ate him up. Yet he was continually left man-on-man against top receivers.  The talent isn't there, but I also wonder about the schemes. I know you can't double everyone, but why is Wilhite so often left alone with a top receiver? Coaching.   We just don't seem very creative. Maybe it's the talent, but don't we seem to do the same thing every week?  Is Belichick trying to do too much himself?  We may need some new blood at the offensive and defensive coordinator positions. The team was best when we had Crennel and Weis working with Belichick. Do we need to get coordinators of that stripe again? Player personnel. Mike McKenzie looked better than most of our DBs and the Saints picked him up off the street last week. Ty Warren and Jarvis Green don't look nearly as good without Seymour.  Without getting lucky with Vollmer, we'd be awful at offensive tackle). We have no third receiver (there must have been someone better than Aiken and Stanback--Gaffney, if no one else!). Daniel Graham would be better at TE than anyone we have now. Asante Samuel had his flaws at CB, but he at least made some big plays. We've had a lot of decent draft picks. Why is the talent declining so much?   Patriots football is still good--and still exciting to watch (I"m keeping my season tickets)--but there are disturbing signs that we're headed not to the bottom of the pack but to the middle.  How does it get turned around? Better coaching? Better talent? Or better of both?
    Posted by soloflyfisher[/QUOTE]

    Did you think it was going to happen overnight?

    Did you stop to think, as Bruschi, Vrabel, and Harrison aged before our eyes, that it might not be possible to instantly replace them?  That the young guys would just magically inherit their predecessors' ability to play in pressure situations just by putting on a Patriots' jersey.

    I'm glad you note that Wilhite is right there with receivers.  He's a second-year players who's still learning.

    I think having Vollmer replace Light at some point will stabilize the line.  I think the only real concern will be re-signing Mankins and replacing the ever-injured Stephen Neal (who is a beast when healthy, but at this point somewhat unreliable).

    I also think that the players weren't lacking in talent, but can't seem to handle the tension on the big stage.  They'll learn over time.  It's nice that, being members of the Patriots, they're getting experience in hyped-up playoff-atmosphere games in the regular season when nothing is on the line.

    I'll be concerned when they appear to QUIT.  When they start getting down on themselves and stop showing signs of improvement.

    Losing to the best two teams in football is no disgrace if they keep improving.
     
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    Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite

    The Pats are done. They will not go anywhere in the playoffs. 
     
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    Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite

    http://espn.go.com/blog/afceast/post/_/id/7141/patriots-show-theyre-not-among-elite
     
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    Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite

    In Response to Re: Still Good But No Longer Elite:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Still Good But No Longer Elite : Did you think it was going to happen overnight? 
    Posted by NickC1188[/QUOTE]


    No, of course not, Nick--and, as someone above pointed out, if the Pat's are truly in rebuilding mode, they're doing a fabulous job of it, since they're still likely to win their division and they're still better than two-thirds of the teams in the league.  Most teams drop to the bottom of the league when they're rebuilding. The Pats aren't even dropping to the bottom of the playoff teams. But my main point is that they are not the elite team they were a few years ago and that many seem to think they still are.  They are above average, but they're not a truly great team right now.  


     
     

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