2016 Season Blog.

Pat Vs Browns.

7 Things For Sunday.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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Part I.


1. Duh Browns?- I think you all are like me, I really don't know squat about the Browns. I don't think anybody else in New England really does. I mean, I know they suck. But they have sucked for so long that there really has been no reason to follow them. I can't remember the last time I watched a Browns game. They drafted Brandon Weeden in the 1st, and took Manziel over Garoppolo. "The two guys we felt good about were Carr and Garoppolo," ex-Browns HC Mike Pettine said. "Just projecting the guys we thought would be there, we all thought Bridgewater would be gone." LOL.

I judge a lot of team by how they Draft. Cleveland does not Draft well. But they have built their defense in the Draft. "It's mostly on the front," BB said. "I mean [Demario] Davis, we've played against him for a long time. [Christian] Kirksey, Tramon Williams, [Joe] Haden, Jamar Taylor, we've played against him; [Jordan] Poyer. So, it's actually a pretty good level of experience. It's the front. You've got a lot of one and two year players, no doubt. They all play. I think there's plenty of snaps of them but I'd say the secondary including Kirksey.

"I mean, I know Kirksey's a young player too. The guy's made a lot of tackles. He's made a lot of plays. There's plenty of tape on him. They never come off the field, he and Davis. But yeah the front, we're going to have to do a good job and I think that's a challenge for the players to see two or three different guys line up across from them. A lot of times it's the same guy most of the game. I don't think that'll be the case this week." Who?

They sub players in and out of their defensive front constantly to keep them fresh and the O-line confused. "I'd say they roll everybody through," BB said. "Yeah, I mean everybody plays. I mean they don't have to but it seems like you kind of get everybody. Guys that are active, they all have a role. They all play, whereas in the secondary that's less true. They have their base defense and then they have their 4-2-nickel. Davis and Kirksey never come off the field so you can forget about them. So it's either four DB's [defensive backs] or the fifth DB, and the fifth DB is usually always the same guy in that game. I mean they've had Haden, Williams was out last week, Haden was out a couple of weeks ago, [Ibraheim] Campbell got hurt, he's been out, so there's been different guys in there but I think if the players are healthy it's pretty much the same four to five guys depending on whether they're in base or nickel." Who?

The good news is that Brady has played against a Browns style defense three of the past four years. "We played against Coach Horton three of the last four years: Arizona, Cleveland, and Tennessee," BB said. "[He has a] Pittsburgh kind of background. I think that there's certainly been some changes or modifications in his system from the Pittsburgh system if you will. I think there are definitely some similarities, but again, they're a 3-4 base team and a 4-2-nickel team. Really they don't take those two inside linebackers off the field in any situation. It's just a question of how they structure the front and the coverage. I mean, they play a little bit of dime but they're primarily a two-personnel grouping.

"But they use a lot of personnel, particularly in the front. They use a lot of different combinations of people with the front four or front five, however you want to look at it. The two inside linebackers are pretty constant. I would imagine the secondary would be constant but they've dealt with some injuries back there. Guys have missed a game or two and they've had to replace them, but I would imagine that would probably be consistent, too, if they were all healthy. A lot of different guys upfront but the same basic alignments, again, similar to Pittsburgh. I mean they don't blitz zone as much as Pittsburgh does. I don't know if anybody does. It's not the same but it's that foundation." Finally something familiar.

Brady will be able to go into those deep memory banks of his, and find most situations that he has seen before. They have a lot of young players learning a new defense, and offense for that matter. We might not know who they are, but I can guarantee you that the coaches have shown the players who they are. They now know who they are. But the one thing I know for sure is that I don't know who they are, and I'm putting some money down on them this week. Now I'm even more confused.

2. We Have No Idea What's Going On- I think we are all in same the boat here. Everything has changed for the Patriots three times this season with injuries and issues with the QBs. Now everything has just changed again. This has been the most confusing season we have seen in the Pats in a while. We are going into Cleveland, and we have no idea who they are? "I don't know," BB said. "Each week is its own week, so we'll just try to do the best we can this week to go out and play well in Cleveland, that's all. I don't really care what happened last week." I just wish I had seen them play a few times the past few years.

So who are these guys we are about to face? "I don't know," BB said about Cleveland. "I mean, right now we're going forward into Cleveland. So the players that will play in that game hopefully will be prepared to play and be able to go out there and play and coach well. Next week we'll play the next team. I mean all the experiences that we've had this year have been good experiences, whether it's been training camp, practices against the Bears, the Saints, all of the things that we've done out there, our preseason games, our regular season games, guys have played in and gained experience from but so has everybody else in the league. It's really about our preparation for Cleveland this week." Who?

So who should we be worried about on this Cleveland team? "I don't know," BB said. "We'll just work through it. We'll just do the same thing we do every week. There are always players that fall into that category whatever the position is. We'll take it day by day." Who?

I'm just getting more and more confused. What is a Brown anyway? Is it a dog? Is it a sir name? Is it a poo? The more I study this game the less I seem to understand it. Like even their QB situation. It seems that their best QB is a prior QB turned WR? Like even the one constant on the Pats the past 16-years, Brady, we have no idea what he will be this week. Will he be great? Will he be average? Will he be brownish rusty? Will he blow brown chucks on the field?

Brady's back and I'm wondering who is going to be in trouble this week. "I've coached for a long time in this league. I've seen a lot of players miss practice time for whatever the reasons are: injuries, contract holdouts, suspensions etc," BB said. "I would just say in general it's hard for a player who's not playing football to practice playing football. I don't care how many times you run around the track, I don't care how many sit-ups you do. Put 21 other guys out there on the football field and work on the timing and situational-football." So will a rusty Brady show up, or a pissed-off Brady show up?

I'm hoping a zoned-out Brady shows up. "Like if that was the best way to do it, to just not do anything for four weeks and go do pushups, I think then maybe that's what we'd do," BB bemused. "But I honestly don't think that's the right way to go. That's just my opinion. So, I think we benefit from practice reps. I think we benefit from game reps. I think not having those is not beneficial. It doesn't mean it can't be overcome, it doesn't mean you can't have a good performance, it just means if that was the best way to prepare for the game then that's what we would do. I just don't happen to believe that. I'm sure a lot of other people disagree with me but that's just the way I see it." Let's hope he can at least keep his butt tucked in his uniform.

I have always found, in basketball, that when you don't play for a month or two that something weird happens. That instincts take over, and if you just don't think, it weirdly works out well. "We'll do the same thing on this Wednesday that we do on every other normal Wednesday," BB said about TB12. "We go out there and practice: we make the corrections, we come back in, and go over some new stuff for tomorrow, for Thursday, and try to correct the things on Wednesday that need to be corrected. That's what we do." I tend to do everything right the first game back, and then nothing right the second game back. I don't know if it is the same in professional football, but sports tend to be sports.

So the first question is can Brady climb out of Darth Goodell's evil trap, stop thinking, and just get in the 1st-game-back zone (which would also mean huge trouble for the Pats next week against Cincy). "I mean, that is the question (Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles?)," BB said. "How much is too much? How do you get ready for the speed of the game when you haven't been at the speed of the game? And anytime you bring an injured player back, sometimes the injury is part of that whole conversation. How much can he do? It could be other, again, situations.

"What kind of condition is the player in based on the time that he has been away? Whether that's a suspension, or a contract holdout, not that we have a lot of contract holdouts, but there was a point in time in this league when we did and it's the same thing. So yeah, it's trying to find that sweet spot for getting the player the best preparation you can. In all honesty, my experience with all of those players has been as time goes on they play better. Maybe their first game will be the best game, but most likely the third, fourth, fifth, sixth games will probably be better than the first. But again, that's just based on experience.

"I don't know what will happen with a new player who comes back. We have a couple of them. I have no idea. I think those guys are preparing well, they're competing hard, but again, if that was the best way to prepare then I think you'd see more people doing that. I don't really think that's the way to go."

It is all mental for Brady now. Which is a good thing. Mentally, there has never been a better QB. He just has to find that 1st-game-back zone, and tear-up that familiar defense. Don’t think too much, and just keep throwing to your guys. Brady can do that. He needs to do that.

Even the Browns know that their one chance is that Brady looks like a rookie QB. "Let me say this much, 'I hope there is an adjustment period' (laughter)," Hue Jackson said. "I would not think there would be for him. He is well prepared. He understands how to play this game and he will come back. This is Tom Brady we are talking about, and he is chomping at the bit to play. He does not like sitting out games so he will come back and he will play as well as he has played. We just have to do everything we can to make sure that he does not play as well." He won't look like a rookie QB.

I know, you think I'm full of crap. But when you get into the 1st-game-back zone it is eerie. I have no idea what I am doing, but everything I do seems to work out somehow. I find the second game back is when the rust hits, and you spend the next couple games knocking it off. I think Brady is great in this game, and struggles against Cincy next week.

3. Pats D- The D has to make a comeback this week. Statistically, it wasn't as bad as it looked. They only gave up 16-points, with the offense falling apart around an injured rookie QB. Aesthetically, it was the ugliest we've seen in a long time. But again, they pulled it together in the 2nd Half, and held them to three 2nd Half points.

The biggest problem the Pats will face is that the Browns do have a top running game. "I think there are definitely some unique things about [the Browns OC/HC Hue Jackson]," BB said. "Again, it's similar to what he did in Cincinnati, so unbalanced line, spread formations, a mixture of big people runs, two tight ends, three tight ends, two tight ends and a fullback, two sub-personnel runs so all of the things in-between. They run the option plays with the quarterback, they run the zone schemes, they run the man schemes and they run the gap schemes.

"So, they do a good job on all of those. A lot of misdirection plays. It's hard to really stop one thing because they always have some complimentary play that goes with it, so if you're over here they run back over there. If you're back there then they run over here so you have to respect their ability to tackle all the way across the front with, again, a lot of different types of blocking schemes, personnel groups. I'd say they put stress points on the defense in different areas of the running game. I don't know if that's unique or not but that's what they do and they do a good job of it."

I really liked Duke Johnson in the Draft, and I thought Crowell could be a steal. "Crowell's a powerful back," BB said. "He breaks a lot of tackles. He runs very hard. He's a very strong runner with good balance and very good toughness: doesn't go down easy at all, will try to fight for extra yards, stay in bounds. He had a real good touchdown run. He's had a couple of them really, where he kind of gets, it looks like stopped on the one or two-yard line, and he just moves the pile into the end zone. So, he's a very talented back, very hard to tackle." They are looking like one of the top dynamic duos in the NFL.

Their QBs sucks, but they can run the ball. If the Pats take Crowell out of the game it is already over. Kessler, while I think he can be a good QB, is not going to throw the ball over many defenses. The Pats will play it tight up close, short and intermediate, and dare him to try and go to the 3rd level. Kessler does not have a great arm. It is not as weak as Hoyer's, but it is not as strong as Garoppolo's or Brissett's either.

They have two good RBs who can hurt you fast. "Oh yeah, we have two guys that have done a good job thus far," Hue Jackson said about Crowell and Duke Johnson. "The offensive line, as well as receivers downfield blocking, tight ends [have done well], it is not just them. Everybody has a hand in that. At the same time, it is still early in the year. We will find out truly what kind of run team we are as we continue to move forward."

The good news is that there is not likely to be a let down this week. When you get shut out by the Bills, at Home, it is pretty impossible to have a let down. The whole Pats' team, and not just Brady, are going to be pissed this week. If special team players don't do their jobs better this week, there will be some waiver wire fishing going on pretty quick.

The defense will be monstrous against a rookie QB, like the Bills played against last week, with missing personnel. "Well, they mix a lot of personnel groups from big people: two tight ends, fullback, some three tight ends, and then they can get more skill players on the field to: 21, 12, 11 [personnel], and some other formations, with Pryor at quarterback and things like that," BB unclarified. "So, they also use some of the things we've seen from Cincinnati where they do a lot of pre-snap shifting, unbalanced line, the tackle extended so there's only just a couple of guys in the box with the center and the formation spread across the field and then shift out of it and things like that.

"So they give you things, a lot of things, you have to adjust to. As I said, wildcat, multiple tight ends, unbalanced line, spread formations out of regular people, so a lot of alignments, adjustments that somebody has to make, and again, a very good running game to attack in a balanced way the defense. They can run a lot of counter and misdirection plays as well as power point-of-attack plays. They use a lot of pullers: Bitonio in particular, I think does a really good job pulling. They have a lot of excellent scheme plays and they do a good job on the double-team blocks. I think both of the tackles: Thomas and Pasztor, are very good at creating movement on those double-team blocks and creating space for the runners.

"He keeps you off balance and if you try to get up there and crowd the run then they've got a lot of speed and big-play receivers down the field with play-action and double moves and big plays to the perimeter guys, as well as a very good tight end on bootlegs and misdirection plays that come off of the running game. So, they do a lot of things well. They move the ball consistently. I don't even know if they punted last week against Washington but they've been moving the ball well." But they want to do all of that poo with a rookie QB.

I think Brady gets in the zone and this game is a blow out. He gets into the bizarre first-game-back zone, and does everything right, without really knowing how it is happening. And I'm already ah-scared about the Cincy game.

4. Rookie QB- There will be a rookie QB on the field this week, but it ain't gonna be on the Pats side of the ball! "We just want to be ready to go and come out and compete," Rookie QB Cody Kessler said. "It is going to be a tough game. The Patriots are a great football team and a great organization, and we are going to have to work very hard this week and get prepared." YAY!

I actually liked Kessler a lot better than Brissett in the Draft. "I mean, he runs their offense," BB said glowingly. "I don't think there's been a big change in their offense. Kessler had a good career, a very productive player in college in a passing offense. Threw the ball well. He's athletic. He can definitely buy time in the pocket with his feet, with his quickness. He's an accurate passer, he throws the ball well short, intermediate and long. Can move out of the pocket, again, on some bootleg plays and scramble and that kind of thing.

"He has done a good job for them. He's handled their offense. Again, they do a number of different things; shifting, motion, change formations, things like that. He obviously can handle all of that. They keep doing it and they give him some checks at the line of scrimmage. It looks like he gets them into the right play based on what the defensive looks are. He protects the ball pretty well. He has done a good job for them."

The one thing he didn't have was height, and a cannon for an arm. He showed a good arm at USC, but not a great one. He will float one deep from time to time, and has some zip on the intermediate ball, but the Pats do not have to be afraid of his arm.

But even Cody was surprised to be starting this game. "Obviously, getting thrown in there," Kessler said about his biggest surprise this season. "But for me, having to be prepared a lot sooner than expected. But like I said: 'just tried to control what I control', 'stay in the comfort of my game', and 'go in each week and just stick to the process'. Work hard and study the offense and study who we play each week defensively and stay on top of everything. That way it eliminates confusion. And [I have to] have that type of patience, so I can go in and play fast."

Their top two WRs, 1st round pick Corey Coleman and the self-inflicted Josh Gordon, are gone. G-O-N-E gone, and so is any chance to win this game. They are starting a prior QB (Terrelle) and a wavier wire pick up (Hawkins) at WR. So they have a rookie QB, who desperately needs help from his WRs starting, and their two best weapons are gone. Yeah, good luck with that.

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