Tag Archives: Ndamukong Suh

New England Patriots: This Isn’t Missouri, Fans

History tells us that Missouri is the “Show Me” state. The original phrase is widely credited to Missouri’s U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver in 1899 when, in a speech he said, “I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”

Cartoon from gobobby.us
Cartoon from gobobby.us

So, “Show Me” New England

How many times do the New England Patriots have to prove themselves to their own fans? New England has now become the “Show Me” area.  Each week the “show me” statements are repeated by fans of the Super Bowls champs. Need a few examples? How about this for starters:

  • At the start of the 2015 season fans were in full “show me” mode when the Patriots lost some key players. In particular Shane Vereen, Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis. Add in the injury to last year’s surprise, Brandon LaFell, Tom Brady’s aging body and – drum roll – it was time for the Patriots to step up and show the doubters (don’t kid yourself, there were many) once again that they could compete with the upper tier in the NFL

On top of that, the Buffalo Bills were reported to have the best defense in the NFL, the NY Jets had a new Head Coach and a world of talent on defense (Mr. Revis had turned traitor and moved his island to where the money was) and Miami…my God, they had signed Greg Jennings (Pats fans wanted him in New England), the world’s greatest pass rusher Ndamukong Suh, CB Brice McCain and a host of 2nd tier players.

Was it possible that all three teams had pumped up their game while the Patriots, on paper, had deflated theirs? (I’m sorry, but the devil made me say that)

Ben Roethlisberger complains about Patriots goal line formation move drawing the Steeler offside
Ben Roethlisberger complains about Patriots goal line formation move drawing the Steelers offside

1. The first test was the Pittsburgh Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown to challenge a secondary that, at best, was suspect. With Brady freed from his four game suspension the question was, can he overcome his off season distraction? The Patriots, playing at Gillette Stadium, were a 7 point favorite going into the game, but everyone was concerned…c’mon team, time to “Show Me.” Final Score: Patriots 28 Steelers 21…and the game wasn’t that close.

2. …But wait, that win was nice, but now the Patriots had to travel to Buffalo with Rex Ryan churning the upstate New York fans into a frenzy (what’s new) because he had the best defense in the NFL and the team was just plain mean! A road game

Buffalo Bills free safety Aaron Williams (23) tackles New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) in the end zone during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Williams was injured on the play as Edelman scored. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)
Julian Edelman scores to help beat the Bills (Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Orchard Park, N.Y. AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

against a rabid fan base chomping at the bit to chew up and spit out the team with the Elvis logo. Buffalo players had spittle drooling from the corner of their mouth as the two teams took the field. New England fans didn’t want to admit it…but they were worried. It was “Show Me” time again, as Brady’s offensive line was in a shambles and the Bills pass rush was unstoppable. Final Score: Patriots 40 Bills 32…and once again the score was deceptive as New England rolled to win #2.

3. After dismantling the Jaguars and Cowboys and going 4-0 it was time for the game fans had been waiting a year for.  The ol’ tattle-tale, whiny Indianapolis Colts. Andrew Luck returned after missing two games with an injured right shoulder, but everyone was predicting a blowout and Brady taking revenge on the team that caused his worst off-season in 16 years in the NFL. It wasn’t to be. At halftime the Pats trailed 21-20 and things weren’t going as expected.

In the second half New England pulled the game out…but not without some help from the Colt’s coaching staff calling the worst play in NFL history (yes, even worse than Pete Carroll’s Super Bowl disaster). Result: Patriots 34 Colts 27. Once again, fans showed some concern and the time had come for a true test.

Danny Amondola makes an acrobatic catch in win over the Jets (Photo David Silverman, Patriots.com)
Danny Amondola makes an acrobatic catch in win over the Jets (Photo David Silverman, Patriots.com)

4. The NY Jets, the new darlings of the NFL, were coming to Foxborough. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard this before, the NFL’s top ranked defense. A Jets win and the two teams would be sharing first place in the AFC East. Man, what could the Patriots do with a battered OL and just 18 players dressed on offense? Time for Superman, Tom Brady, to step up and “show me” he could carry the team to win #6. The Jets sacked Brady three times and otherwise made him uncomfortable in the pocket to take a 13-10 halftime lead.

The Patriots were passing on nearly every down and being questioned about their play calling as the second half began. Time for Mr. Brady to “show me” why he is the greatest QB in the history of the NFL…and he did. Against this supposedly great defense he completed 34 passes for 355 yards, threw for 2 TDs and ran for another while the defense stopped the feared Jets running game (Chris Ivory, who entered as the AFC’s leading rusher, was held to 41 yards on 17 carries) on the way a 30-23 win.

5. You would think the Jets win would calm the waters, but it wasn’t so. Suddenly the Miami Dolphins were playing up to expectations after firing their Head Coach, Joe (Tiger) Philben, and putting Tight End Coach Dan (Gung-ho) Campbell in charge. He was an emotional guy and the players loved the fact Campbell was giving them a free hand to play the way they wanted to. In his first two games as Head Coach the ‘Fins destroyed Tennessee and Houston (two NFL powers!), running up 82 points and the combination of Suh and Cameron Wake were suddenly sacking everything but the groceries. After wiping the field with Miami, 36-7, the Patriots ran their record to 7-0.

10-29 Nink sacks Tannehill (Photo: Keith Nordstrom Patriots.com)
Ninkovich and Jones sack Tannehill (Photo: Keith Nordstrom Patriots.com)

Show Me More

Common sense says, after going 7-0 with no real challenge, New England fans would be ready to relax a bit. No need to get worried about the future. Well, that’s just not the way we New Englanders react. We’re not happy unless we have something to worry about. After Denver slaughtered Green Bay Sunday night, holding Aaron Rodgers to 77 passing yards, and now trading for TE Vernon Davis, the “show me”ites are back.

Problem is, there are still 3 games to go before the Patriots travel to the mile high city (Nov. 29) for their Sunday Night battle. So, before that happens Washington, NY (Giants) and Buffalo have to “show me” they are up to the task of staying on the field with the current Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

This weeks worry is that the Skins is a trap game…so once again it’s time for the best team in the NFL to show everyone that there is no such thing as a trap when Bill Belichick is your coach.

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

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Miami Dolphins: The Mess in Miami, what’s wrong in South Beach

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There might not be a team that had more hype than the Miami Dolphins going into this year and yet here they sit, 1-3 with a fired head coach. His replacement, TE coach Dan Campbell, was drafted a year AFTER QB’s Matt Hasselbeck and Peyton Manning, who will start this week for their respected teams. What brought Miami back into the foray of a rebuilding team with a new coach yet again? What has caused their inability to find stability in a franchise that was considered one of the best in the first part of the Super Bowl era? It all starts at the top, but here are five instances that show why they are still years away from contending:

Lack of consistency in regards to coaching. There might not be a more prima donna owner than Stephen Ross, who is too involved and has made awful hires for his head coaches (Joe Philbin, Tony Sporano, Cam Cameron, and Dave Wannstedt) and GM’s (Jeff Ireland, Nick Saban (who was both HC and GM). By constantly going through unreliable, unestablished coordinators as their coaches and then forcing Saban back to the college ranks is why this team has not gotten ahead.

Poor decisions regarding drafting and free agency. The biggest blunder, of course, is trading for an injured Dante Culpepper instead of signing Drew Brees. The trades for AJ Feely and Brandon Marshall also backfired. Drafting Jake Long over Matt Ryan, and the first round busts of CB Jason Allen, Dion Jordan and WR Ted Ginn. Also, giving up on CB Vontae Davis, who is now one of the best CB’s in the league, is something that still haunts them. Also, paying DT Ndamukong Suh $100 million and WR Mike Wallace a lot of money for less than desirable results. All awful decisions.

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The development of Ryan Tannehill has been troubling. He is someone that got paid a lot of money for not really doing much after having a good 2014 (albeit statistically). He looks to have regressed (his completion percentage went from 66% last year to 56% so far this year)and now with recent reports of berating practice squad players for intercepting him shows that he has a long way to go when it comes to be a leader.

So, bad leadership from the Top down to the Quarterback shows that Miami is an organization that has a lot of deep seeded issues. All of these factoids show that they are a team is trending down and due to consistent mistakes in every facet of the organization. If they are to fix the issue, they need to a complete overhaul and try to build a team with a coach/GM that have the same mindset and an owner that will stay out of their way. Kraft learned this in New England in regards to Bill Parcells and due to Stephen Ross’ arrogance, I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

Deconstructing the AFC East: The Dolphins

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The Dolphins are probably the most stable team in the division outside of the Patriots. They have the pieces in place to make a substantial run, but there are some serious questions that the team hasn’t answered. Should the Patriots be afraid of being dethroned by the Dolphins? Let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses and decide:

Why should the Patriots be afraid: On offense, Joe Philbin has given the reigns over to QB Ryan Tannehill and have signed him to a large extension (6 year, 95 million) as a sign of good faith. He has improved every year and threw for over 4,000 yards last year. The Dolphins acquired WR Kenny Stills in a trade, signed TE Jordan Cameron and drafted WR DaVante Parker in the first round to improve his weapons. Second year Jarvis Landry looks like a future stud and adding a healthy Lamar Miller gives him a capable runner.

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library
Generated by IJG JPEG Library

On defense is where the strength is. There might not be a more underrated and dangerous player outside of Cameron Wake and to add one of the best defensive tackles in DT Ndamukong Suh gives them a dangerous duo to team up with steady DE Olivier Vernon. This is a dangerous defensive line that can wreak havoc across the line. CB Brett Grimes is an incredibly talented CB that teams up with probably the most underrated safety in the game with Reshad Jones. He is solid against the run and is excellent in coverage. These core players are the keys to a dominant defense that has the potential to carry them far.

Why shouldn’t the Patriots be afraid: Despite the optimism, there are some glaring holes that the pundits aren’t really addressing. When it comes to the offense, Tannehill might be overpaid, but he produces enough to warrant his new contract. With that, they have only solid offensive line starter with C Mike Pouncey. LT Brandon Albert is 30 and is coming off a major knee injury. Last year’s rookie RT Ja’Wuan James was overwhelmed and they have no real proven starter at either Guard spot. It doesn’t matter who is playing QB, RB or WR, if they can’t protect Tannehill, they are going nowhere. Lamar Miller has trouble staying healthy and they don’t have proven depth behind him. This means that is truly ALL on Tannehill’s shoulders and if you have watched him play, you can question why the team would do that.

On defense, there are some huge holes that they haven’t addressed. The back 7 leaves a lot to be desired. They have a promising LB in Jelani Jenkins and a solid starter with MLB Koa Misi, but they are both unproven and there isn’t a starter outside of him. Grimes is a great corner, but he’s 32. How much longer can he play at an elite level? Also, who is playing opposite him? Right now, their biggest acquisition was slot CB Brice McCain. That’s not the most encouraging sign for anyone. FS Louis Delmas has shown flashes but can’t stay healthy and is coming off an ACL tear.

What does all this mean? There’s obvious talent there in Miami, but it’s too lofty to expect much more than .500 for this team. There is a lot of holes on this team and questions aplenty across the offensive line, secondary and line-backing corps. If they get these resolved, they are definitely a team to be reckoned with, but are still most likely a year away.