I wanted to take some time and think about what I saw yesterday. After taking almost 24 hours, here is what I came up with:
This game was below average. The Bills didn't play as good as the score indicated.
What is funny is that if you had asked most Rumblers on here if they'd take a week one matchup where the team lost by 2, but, the D kept Brady off kilter somewhat, EJ would have 2 TD's and 0 INT, Stevie and Woods catching a TD pass, most of us would have taken it. Boy, I bet no one was happy about yesterday after watching it play out...
I am gonna go through grades for the team:
Rushing- this one is tough b/c CJ was so bad (D-) but FredEx was so good (A-). So, I'd call the running game a C- b/c Fred wasn't in the game enough. I hope CJ turns it around soon...
Passing - This is another tough call. EJ had an OK day, 0 int, but, he wasn't effective either. He had absolutely no help from CJ. Overall, I'd give him a C rating b/c he was average, he made no mistakes, threw a few nice throws, but, overall, didn't start off well. That said, I will say 2 things impressed me about him yesterday and I think this bodes well for him, and for us. I don't know if he will put it together in the future, but, that pass to Stevie for the TD was the best pass I have seen in years. Perhaps a decade. It was a perfect pass. The other thing I loved is that he's a pass first type guy. He had several times in the game where he could have taken off. The biggest issue I have with the athletic QBs like Vick is they bail too early on the play and use their legs instead of their arm. If they aren't getting a first down or a TD, I want them to stay in (or avoid a sack) and throw the ball. EJ did that. And the one time he did take off, he got almost 20 yards. That is what you want to see in a QB. Or at least I do. I'd rather have a QB like him over Cam Newton any day of the week and twice on Sundays....Newton might, and I stress might be better now, but, lets see where each is in their craft in 3 to 6 years from now...
Other offensive thoughts: I thought the OL was okay, not great, but okay. I don't know if CJ was the problem or if the OL was. Fred had success running behind them, so, I am inclined to think CJ just had a bad game. I hated the penalties. They helped cost us the game. EJ had a few nice passes called back b/c of dumb hands to the face calls. I don't mind if a guy takes a holding penalty if it saves his QB from a nasty hit, but, hands to the face are a dumb, undisciplined penalties that need to stop, NOW. I blame coaching (more on that later)...
Defensive run stopping I'd give a C-. Any game that the Pats only score 23 is good, however, the Pats were in total control for the entire game, even when they were losing. This was a chess game and they were never in doubt. While the D did have some good stops, far far too many big plays were given up by the D. I think I saw a stat that showed the Pats had 7 plays of 20+ yards at one point in the game and the Bills had 0. While some might say that they bent but didn't break, that is fine and true, but, it also flipped the field, which allowed the Pats D to play 8 or 9 in the box. The D was better, but, too many blown assignments. Too many big plays that really hurt the team.
Defensive Pass Stopping I'd give a B. I actually thought they were pretty good. They got some good pressure and hits on Tom and he was clearly frustrated. They got hands up and tipped a few passes, but, in the end, when they had to make a stop, they failed. But, this was the best game they have played in 2 years against Brady, so there is that.
Special teams was a B. They had some good punts, some good kicks, Carpenter was okay. Powell was pretty solid all day. They had to play on the long side of the field, especially in the second half, so, that was unfortunate.
Coaching was a D. I didn't like the offensive game plan. Too many runs on first down. Too many penalties by the team. The penalties weren't just a one week thing that you could blame on the players, they have been a problem for the last 5 weeks. Have they had a game yet that didn't end with them in double digit penalties yet? I don't think so. That was just sloppy play and that is on the coaching staff. Hands to the face are unacceptable and to have that call twice was salt in the wound. I think he should have slowed the game down in the 4th.
This is a personal peeve, but, I don't like a rookie QB in the no-huddle. Most likely he had 0 ability to change a play, and that means if the play is doomed, he still has to run it. Why else wouldn't he opt out of a run when 9 are stacked in the box pre-snap? You can't run an offense like that unless the QB can alter the play. And I don't know if I want that kind of pressure on a young kid. For me, this season isn't about this year. It is about setting up the foundations for the next 4. We have a lot of good players here for the next 3 to 4 years. That is our window. EJ has to be ready to play at a top level next year, or by year 3 AT THE LATEST, or all that cash spent on Mario and Kyle etc is wasted.
The coaches need to help the kid win, and putting him in hopeless positions isn't the way to do it.
But, even though they didn't play well, this game really came down to 2 plays.
One was the drop Stevie had. Oh Stevie, less talk and more production please. You can't pat yourself on the back and then drop a ball that elite WR's catch all the time. It is entirely possible that if he catches that ball that they run out the clock, or score more points. Stevie, take a long look in the mirror, and STHU, now. Until you catch those, you don't have the right to talk like an elite WR. You have had far too many big time drops.
The second play was the third down where Brady's pass is tipped AND somehow, still finds its way to his receiver's hands with all sorts of Bills around the ball. Man, those football gods hate us. I mean, how else do you explain Stevie dropping a ball he should catch, and Brady's pass floating like a wounded duck that still manages to go to a spot that only his guy can catch? That was extremely upsetting and total random luck.
I thought at the beginning they'd go anywhere from 6 to 10 wins. I see nothing that changes my view on that. Good attempt buy a young team and coach that fell short, again, and we suffer due to bad luck and dumb plays. Good teams find a way to win, and the Pats did yesterday. 'Nuff said.