Wrapping up a disastrous afternoon Deep in the Heart of Texas:
1) Baltimore might be the wrong draw: Texans players told me after the game that their gameplan was adjusted at the half to be more aggressive with their pass rush, and it certainly created inconsistency (that's the difference between having Wes Welker and Julian Edelman in there) due to No. 83's absences. The Ravens mix and disguise with the best of them, and if their sixth-ranked run defense can slow the Patriots' ground attack, then things will be wide open for Baltimore to come after Brady every which way. Welker's really been the man for Brady on sight adjustments and hot reads, and dealing with the blitz just got a whole lot tougher.
2) Confidence killer?: All week, we heard about how another week of high-level execution would be enormously helpful for an offense and defense that put together a pretty complete performance against the Jaguars. Well, this was the risk. All that good feeling from Jacksonville? Gone. The offense was shoddy after Welker went down. The defense had a Indy-style meltdown in the second half. There are a lot of self-assured guys on that team, but there's plenty of room for doubt now.
3) Don't worry too much about Brady: Despite the emergence of new information on Tom Brady's laundry list of injuries today, really, not all that much has changed. His broken finger is a month old. His rib injury happened earlier than that. So the truth here is that the Brady you've gotten for the last month is probably the Brady you'll continue to get. Which isn't bad.
4) Run defense has predictable problems: ... And so Vince Wilfork's value was confirmed, once again. The Patriots yielded 144 yards on the ground, and 5.3 yards per carry. Let's just say that Ray Rice is slightly more dangerous than Arian Foster and the Ravens front's just a little better than the Texans grunts. On the other end, Wilfork and Ty Warren should be back next week. So maybe we have no real indication on what will happen in that aspect of the game next week.
5) Don't blame the coaches: Obviously, seeing Welker leave the game isn't what anyone wants. But it's not fair to lay any blame on the coaches for their decision-making in letting him play. The Patriots did what they should've done ... Holding back players who were working through more serious injuries. You can't sit everyone. Forty-five guys have to dress, and that's usually barely enough to get through an NFL game to begin with.
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