Tag Archives: Houston Texans

New England Patriots:Moving On Without Any Excuses

I am a Patriot fan and have been since the original Boston Patriots came into existence in 1960, so now you know I’m REALLY old. Hell, I remember when Elvis was still The King. Those following this now great franchise are as loyal as you will find anywhere, and more so than most.

Boston Patriots 1960

Now that I have that out there, I have to admit that I’m getting tired of the whining.  A team of mostly battered and bruised players at almost every position (I know, no player in the NFL is 100% healthy right now) in a meaningless game, an offensive line (and, yes it is offensive!) that can’t block, one of the youngest defenses in the NFL and a usually reliable group of special teamers gave away two games they should have won. As a result many (not all, but a lot) Patriot fans are ready to hang the officials, blame Roger (Mr. Integrity) Goodell and, worst of all, start doubting the team.

Hey, they are 10-2 and still control their destiny. New England is positioned to get a bye throughout the play-offs by winning their last 4 games against teams they should beat. Calm down…Sunday was about as bad as it will get. Bill Belichick said after their worst loss in Kansas City last year…It’s “on to Cincinnati” … this year it’s “on to Houston.”

Worst Loss Of The Belichick Era?

This was perhaps the worst loss of the Bill Belichick era. No, not in term of importance of the game, but just how bad the coaching was, lack of adjustments made and overall team performance. At least the loss to the Chiefs last year was against a decent team. Not the case Sunday. The Eagles were ready to cave when the Patriots went up 14-0. And then something happened that had occurred a few times early in the season.  The Pats decided they needed to pour it on and the world turned upside down (someone please explain to me what that means…but it seemed to fit here).

The Turning Point?

Tom E. Curran of CSNNE disagrees, but the game changed when the Patriots decided to try a play that rivals that used earlier this year by Indianapolis in their loss to this same Patriots team. Their blunder was a fake punt, our was a fake kick-off!

"Now let's see here. Wait, I know...let's try a drop-kick instead of kick-off. That should fool 'em" (Photo: AP /Charles Krupa)
“Damn this high tech stuff. Now let’s see here. Wait, I know…let’s try a drop-kick instead of kick-off. That should fool ’em” (Photo: AP /Charles Krupa)

At that time we mocked the Colt coaching staff for their ineptitude and were thankful our Patriots wouldn’t and couldn’t do anything that dumb. Well, guess what? Bill Belichick just took a step back into the crowded list of coaches who do really dumb things that look horrendous when they don’t work…which is usually the case (ergo the word dumb).

A few weeks back it was an onside kid that the Patriots were lucky to recover (again when up 14-0) and we all laughed and said…smart move. Go for the knock-out punch. Sunday the brain trust on the sideline decided to try…are you kidding me…a drop kick by Nate Ebner, and it was the beginning of the end.

Up 14-0 and having the Eagles ready to concede the game, the brilliant minds of New England’s football team gave them hope…and the ball in great field position. Before you could blink (well, maybe not that fast, but it sure seemed like it) the Eagles had tied the game 14-14.

The botched kick (BB said after the game it wasn’t an on-side kick) and a missed assignment that led to a blocked punt resulted in two TDs for an Eagle team that had been inept up to that point. If it wasn’t an on-side kick than was the attempt being made to give the Eagles a chance? Sorry, not buying it Bill.

Second Half Adjustment?

Throughout this season I have praised the Patriots for their ability to adjust on the fly. Well, for yesterday’s game, I take it back.  Any adjustments they made were either wrong, or just plain arrogant. It seemed like the strategy was, as in last week’s loss in Denver, let’s throw the ball long and let our fleet-footed (huh!) receivers outrun a poor Eagle secondary.

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin (98) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the first half (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin (98) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the first half (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Forget the fact that Brady was being hammered in the pocket and long passes take time to develop
  • Who cares if the Eagles are 26th in rushing defense, let’s fool them and pass-pass-pass…Brady threw the ball 56 times.

With the score knotted at 14-14 the Patriots continued to look like the Detroit Lions (that’s about the worst thing I could say), only worse. New England usually owns the second half, especially at Gillette Stadium. Shoot, when they get the kick to start things off after the break fans know something good is going to happen.

Forget that “score at the end of the half and starting the 2nd half” strategy that has worked all year. This time it was, let the Eagles score five (yes, 5) straight TDs without scoring a point and see if you can come back.

How The Eagles Scored

This isn’t pretty, so take a deep breath:

  1. Botched on side kick = TD. Coaching blunder
  2. Blocked punt = TD. Missed blocking assignment
  3. 99 Yard interception = TD. Brady throws into a crowd and looks really foolish trying to tackle Malcom Jenkins as he runs through the entire Patriot team (see featured photo)
  4. 83 yard punt return for Daryl Sproles = TD. Patriot special teams part the waters as he scrambles to the end zone.
  5. Bradford to Matthews for 10 yards = TD. Once again Tom Brady was intercepted on an up-for-grabs long pass intended for Brandon LaFell which was nowhere near him. Wrong route? Bad pass? Only the Patriots know, but bottom line another Eagle TD.

Every Eagle score was a result of a Patriot miscues. The only impressive offensive drive by Philadelphia was after Brady’s second interception. They took over with 2:10 left in the 3rd quarter and marched 80 yards, scoring with 11:14 left in the game to make it 35-14..

Garbage Time

Despite the big lead in the 4th quarter the Eagles still were ready to

Scott Chandler had a nice TD catch ( Photo: Keith Nordstrom Patriots.com)
Scott Chandler had a nice TD catch ( Photo: Keith Nordstrom Patriots.com)

give the game away (this is a terrible team folks). After the Pats went three and out following the Eagles final score, the defense stepped up and forced a Philadelphia punt with 7:54 left in the game. Brady marched the Patriots 71 yards, culminating with a Brady to Scott Chandler 14 yard TD as the clock ticked down to 5:33. 35-21 Eagles

This time the Patriots successfully executed a regular on-side kick and recovered the ball on their 45. Nine plays later Brady scored on a 1-yard run and it was 35-28 with 3:02 left.

Tom Brady scores on a quarterback sneak (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Tom Brady scores on a quarterback sneak (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Many in the Gillette Stadium crowd had already left, but those headed to the exits at this point stopped in their tracks and scampered back to their seats.

Another Brady Miracle Finish?

The Patriots 3rd on-side kick almost worked again, as Philadelphia muffed the kick, but the ball went out-of-bounds as the Eagles took over on the NE 46.

The Eagles again tried to give the game back when, after getting to the Patriots 25, Jamie Collins (he’s back) forced a fumble. It was all in the hands of the greatest QB in NFL history. Well, actually, it was in the hands of the receiving corps, who, after getting 1 first down, had 3 drops and the game was over. Eagles win 35-28.

Game Notes:

  • If my memory is correct the Patriots last drop kick was an extra point by Doug Flutie against the Dolphins in his last game in the NFL
  • James White was finally given a legitimate chance to make a

    James White (28) runs from Philadelphia Eagles linebackers Brandon Graham (55), Kiko Alonso (50), and safety Walter Thurmond (26) (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
    James White (28) runs from Philadelphia Eagles linebackers Brandon Graham (55), Kiko Alonso (50), and safety Walter Thurmond (26) (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    difference and he took advantage of the opportunity with 10 receptions (on 13 targets) for 115 yards and a TD

  • The running game, when given a chance was effective. Despite just 13 carries, LeGarrette Blount averaged 4.2 yards per touch while bowling his way to 59 yards.
  • Danny Amendola made a difference with 7 receptions (13 targets) for 62 yards and a TD
  • It looked like Brandon LaFell cut off a long route on Brady’s 2nd interception. He ended up with 9 targets and a poor 4 receptions for a measly 24 yards…and he was the intended receiver on most of Brady’s long throws
  • Brady was sacked 4 times while the Patriots only got to Bradford once. Tom has already been sacked more times than he was all of last season
  • Scott Chandler had one of his better games (that’s not saying much) since joining the team with 4 receptions (7 targets) for 61 yards and a tough TD catch

     Jamie Collins a little late as Bradford releases while getting hit( Photo: Keith Nordstrom Patriots.com)
    Jamie Collins a little late as Bradford releases while getting hit( Photo: Keith Nordstrom Patriots.com)
  • Jamie Collins returned and led the team with 7 tackles
  • Of the Eagles 5 TDs, 1 was on defense and 2 were by special teams
  • Brady, pressured all game, was 29/56 for a deceptive 312 yards, 3 TDs, 2 int’s and  a rating of 71.4. Bradford, with little pressure went 14-24 for 121 yards, 2 TDs, 0 int’s and a 99.3 rating

 Moving On

Get the Philadelphia fiasco out of your head now. Don’t dwell on it, it will just give you a headache. It’s on to Houston to face the Texans, who are suddenly playing some very good football.

Early in the season this looked like a no brainer. When they were crushed by the Dolphins Patriot fans set them aside as a non-entity. That’s just not the case anymore.

Despite losing to the Bills yesterday 30-21 the Texans are in the hunt in the weak AFC South, tied with the Colts for the division lead at 6-6. In case you missed it, the game has been moved to Sunday Night.

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

Houston Texans: Houston We Have a Starter

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The quarterback controversy is over, for now, in Houston. Yesterday the Texans named Brian Hoyer as their starter over Ryan Mallett. This was one of the few true quarterback competitions you’ll see. They both entered camp with a legitimate shot at the starting job, and neither seemed to have a leg up on the other skill or experience wise.

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This is not the first time these two have been linked. Hoyer and Mallett have both spent time as Tom Brady’s backup in New England. Hoyer was undrafted out of Michigan State in 2009, and he then signed with the Patriots. He beat out three other quarterbacks to be Brady’s backup. He remained in that role through 2011, but didn’t make the team the following season. Who beat Hoyer out in 2012? Why none other than Ryan Mallett.

Mallett came out of Arkansas in 2011. For most of his college career, the 6’6 quarterback was regarded as one of the top quarterback prospects coming out of college that year, easily a first-round talent. Due to off the field issues Mallett fell to the third round, where the Patriots scooped him up with the 74th overall pick. Although he was the seventh quarterback selected in that draft, the Patriots regarded him as the best in the 2011 draft, and thought he was a steal in the third round.

After stints with both the Steelers and Cardinals, Hoyer landed in Cleveland in 2013. Due to injuries Hoyer ended up as the Browns starter in Week 3, and played extremely well. After three straight starts, Hoyer suffered a torn ACL, ending a promising season. In 2014 the Browns named Hoyer their starter despite using a first round pick on superstar Johnny Manziel. Hoyer had some ups and downs through the first 13 games, and Manziel ended up replacing him. Johnny was far from impressive, and after an injury Hoyer finished up the season. He left the mess in Cleveland and signed with the Texans this offseason.

Mallett spent 2012 and 2013 in Hoyer’s role as Tom Brady’s backup. However, in the 2014 draft, the Patriots spent a 2nd round pick on Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo. Before the season started, the Patriots sent Mallett to the Texans for a conditional 6th or 7th round pick. Mallett sat behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage before injuries allowed him to start Week 11. Mallett played well, but a torn pectoral a couple of weeks later ended his season.

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Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has spent plenty of time with both of these guys. O’Brien was with the Patriots from 2007-2011 mostly working with the quarterbacks during that time. But O’Brien is certainly fond of both of these quarterbacks. The opening scene of HBO’s Hard Knocks with the Houston Texans shows O’Brien at a table with his assistants on the eve of training camp. O’Brien says, “Let’s be honest with each other. This place has no respect in the league, just so you guys are all aware of that. This organization is 96-126. Thirty games below .500. Turn your TV on. Nobody talks about the Houston Texans because nobody thinks we’re going to win. And the disrespect that they show our quarterbacks? I’m tired of that too. Because both of those kids can play. They just need a chance and one of them is going to get it.”

The Texans have been missing a quarterback since they gave up on Matt Schaub. Last year proved, they’re a good team, but they didn’t have a reliable quarterback. The roster is loaded. The defense is one of the best in the league, led by the league’s best defensive player, J.J. Watt and linebacker Brian Cushing. They just added Vince Wilfork to be a run-stopper in the middle. Offensively they’re skilled too, with talented guys like Arian Foster and DeAndre Hopkins. All they need is a quarterback. The situation is looking better than it did last year. Hoyer and Mallett have both had success in the league, but haven’t really had a full workload. If Hoyer proves to be good enough, the Texans could be a scary team this year.