2016 Season Blog.

Pat Vs Miami.

7 Things For Sunday.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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Part I.


1. To Trade or Not To Trade- All this talk of trading Brady or Jimmy-G now is stupid. They will not, under any circumstance, trade either during the season. That is a decision that will be made this off season. There are still too many variables left unknown for them to trade either during the season. So chill out. Plus, we still don't know who Garoppolo is. He was spectacular this week, but was that an average game for him or was it his best. We don't know how consistently he can be that spectacular yet (my apologies, I am going to write the word "spectacular" about a 100 times in the next week).  

Garoppolo's play last week changed everything for this Franchise, and we don't know what the fall out will be. "He was a good player when he got here," BB said. "He's worked hard and he's improved every day since he's been here. It's gone all the way back to his initial rookie minicamp." He is still an ascending player as well.

If they trade Brady or Jimmy-G to Cleveland for their 1st during the season, than that pick instantly becomes less valuable. Cleveland would suddenly have a winning QB as a starter. Which would knock them out of a top ten picks. Instead of one or two wins, they could have seven or eight wins. Then your precious 1st is in middle of the pack instead of a top ten pick. That is just plain dumb.

You trade one of them after the season when you know what you are getting. You trade one of them to a team with a top five pick after the season, because if you trade one of them before they won't have a top ten pick with Brady or Jimmy-G at QB. Then you won't have a shot at a guy like: Fournette, Dalvin Cook, or Malik McDowell.

The reason you have to trade one is because of their value. That Value is diminished during the season by their value during the season winning games. A Cleveland, Dallas, or Rams 1st suddenly goes from top five to 20th with Brady at QB. Or, you trade him to one of those three teams that you have made deals with after the season, when you know who has the best pick. You have more information.

Plus if one gets injured, you still have the other. They still have to get through a very long season. Wacky things always happen during the season. This is a time when patience is important for the Franchise. They have two guys who can play QB in the NFL better than most. That leaves them with an excruciatingly painful decision, but it also leaves them in the power position. They have the time to gather all the facts. And then make a painful decision that will affect the franchise for the next decade plus. You don't make that decision on a whim.

This is a time for strategy and quiet contemplation. The Pats Franchise is about to go through a terrible and painful change. Rushing this change will just make it worse. Brady is going to come back to the Pats and lead them to the never done before fifth Super Bowl victory. And then everything in the Patriots Franchise has to be evaluated carefully and quietly, because everything in the Patriots organization changed last Sunday night. And it all likely isn't going to come down to a 1st, but more likely a 2nd and 3rd to a team like Dallas, San Fran, or Cleveland.

Plus, we don't know if they are going to go Elway, and keep him to the bitter end. Or if they want to go Rogers, and trade the 40-year old Hall of Famer. I suppose it comes down to value. If you can get a top ten pick for Garoppolo from the Rams, Dallas, San Fran, or Cleveland, and add an RB to help out the over aged Brady like Fournette, Cook, or McCaffrey? Than you probably have to do that. 

But after this season Brady has two years left at the most. That is trading ten years of winning QB play for a top five offensive impact player in the Draft. Or do you keep the young QB who is not as great, but has 12 to 15 years left to play QB in the NFL. In which case you're likely looking at lower picks. I keep going back to 2nd and 3rd round picks, because Brady's career has so eerily followed his hero, Joe Montana's, career.

2. Garoppolo- Jimmy-G was spectacular last Sunday. "It's been good," BB massively understates when he was asked about Jimmy-G's play. "He made some good plays. It's not perfect, but he made a lot of good plays. Like I said, it's a tough place to play and it's a good defense." It is easy to forget what an unknown he was before the game, and how much crap he got from the media after the 3rd Preseason game for some reason (I still don't understand what the trollers were talking about).

They needed him to be spectacularly efficient to win that game, and he was. You can't get any more efficient than 24 of 34. It was an amazing performance that cannot be overblown. This game was on the road, against one of the top four teams from last season, and his most important players, Gronk and Solder, were out. Not only was this the teams first game of the season, it was Garoppolo's first start.

"Heís incredible," McCourty said. "All game he went out there and made the plays he was supposed to make. We knew as a team, we believed in him. There was no doubt in this locker room that Jimmy could go out there and play. Iím happy he went out there, did it. And everyone can shut up now and watch the guy get better and grow, and us keep improving as a team in the early part of the season. I believe in everybody on this team.

"You watch us from April until now, we put a lot of work in. We do things that sometimes we hate as players and the coaches tell us to believe in it and itíll work out. We have a team of 53 guys plus the practice squad doing that every day. You have no reason not to believe in every one of your teammates. Today was a great team win. Everybody stepped up and played well and made plays."

I think any reasonable person with any kind of football intelligence couldn't have predicted that the Pats would win this game, and that Garoppolo would be the man who did it. We just didn't know who he was, and we still don't. Garoppolo led this team to a victory, period. He was as near perfect as a QB can be in that game, on the road, against a near Super Bowl Defense from last season.

I predicted the Pats would win this game, but I openly was blaming it on my homerism (brilliantly warning everybody not to bet on the Pats in that game). I didn't really think they would win. The only way to victory I saw was with the defense. I desperately tried to put together a scenario were the Pats would win before the game. Everything I plotted was not just wrong, but the exact opposite of what happened. I thought the Cards would go up early, and get gassed. But it was the Pats who got up early and then got gassed. I thought that if Garoppolo played well he could lead them to 17 points, and if the defense couldn't hold the Cards under 17-points they would lose.

He surpassed that with spectacular play, especially on 3rd downs. "I didnít really think about it too much I guess," Jimmy-G said about his spectacular play on 3rd down. "They are a very talented defense and thatís a good group of players out there. They gave us all we could handle tonight. It was a good test for us. Whoever is out there, we have confidence in one another and thatís a good thing we have going for us." He was spectacularly Aaron Rogers like on 3rd downs.

Garoppolo won this game on 3rd down. "I'd say on the penalties [hurt us]," BB said. "The third-down conversions helped on some of those where we put ourselves in long-yardage situations with penalty infractions and then were able in a couple of cases to convert on third-down and overcome that. Or on one case, I think we overcame a sack that got us into a long-yardage situation, and then converted on third-down. So, those third-downs got us out of a couple of negative plays that we had on earlier downs which we've got to do a better job of avoiding." He made so many clutch passes on 3rd down that it is hard to remember them all. So I broke them down:

The first 3rd down was 3rd and 10, and he hit Edelman on an Out. "The game comes down to third down, red area, and turnovers," Edelman said. "We lost the turnover battle which kept the game closer than we wanted to, gave them a little more opportunity. But we were able to go in there and do well on third down, I donít know what the stat is, I havenít seen it. And the red area, we didnít really get in there too much. It would have been good to get some more touchdowns but third downs were a big help."

Edelman turned to the corner and dived for the first to keep the first drive alive. Garoppolo went 8 for 10 on 3rd downs in that game. That is a spectacular stat. Everything has just changed in the Patriots organization (I told you I was going to say "spectacular" until it annoyed you).

On his next opportunity it was 3rd and 5, after he just took a big hit from the Safety Tony Jefferson. Which is when you want to judge young QBs: what they do after they take a big hit? They lined up Empty, with trips on the left. Edelman and Mitchell were lined up outside of Hogan. They both slanted inside in front of Hogan, and Hogan turned back towards Garoppolo as he ran straight down the line to the sideline. He caught it in stride off a perfect throw by Garoppolo, with four DBs fighting Edelman and Mitchell inside. Hogan turned up field, and was past the four defenders by the seam, who tried to get outside to him. He flew past all three and was final hit out of bounds by the Honey Badger.

Just a great play by Garoppolo and Hogan. "Just having confidence in your teammates," Jimmy-G said. "When they have confidence in you, and you [have] confidence in them, itís easy to stay poised out there. Youíre in the huddle, youíre all looking at each other and itís a good feeling. The play with Chris, he had a great release and it makes it an easy throw for me." He had faith in Hogan on that 3rd down.

His fourth 3rd down conversion showed how he is different from Brady. The pocket was collapsing around him. He had to move to his right as Mr. Jones was screaming behind him on his left. He saw the zone defense, and that all the defenders were well past the marker. He up faked, and got Golden to jump, and Cannon slammed him to the ground. Then he bolted forward in a flash.

He was past the magic yellow line before a defender could get within 10-yards of him. Then he took off aimlessly to his left, with a linebacker chasing him. In very un-Brady-like fashion, the LB couldn't close on him at all. I was expecting Minter to rip him down from behind, but he actually pulled away from him a little. Then he realized that a DB was charging at him, and he was about to be sliced in half by a high-low from Minter and Mathieu. He slid down safely to the ground with a 1st down.

On Garoppolo's fifth 3rd down, he did a remarkable job again. The Cards had an odd front, and all three DLs went. Then they blitzed three LBs as well. Two blitzers crashed into each other in front of Karras and Cannon, which allowed them to grab shirt and hold on. Bennett had the edge on that side. White, Thuney, and Andrews took care of two on the other side.

With all this chaos in front of him Jimmy-G just dropped, hitched forward, and calmly lofted the ball to Mitchell on a comeback on the left sideline at the marker. He caught it, shook off Brandon Williams, and took off down field and almost scored. 

On Garoppolo's sixth 3rd down throw, it was right after the Cards took all the momentum when Blount fumbled the ball, and the Cards scored. He 3-stepped dropped and planted his back foot. And there was trouble in the pocket. Golden jumped over Cannon's cut block. Fleming cut Mr. Jones right in front of him, and he was getting up. Gunter was shoving Thuney straight back into Garoppolo's face. Garoppolo threw calmly to Bennett dragging short. He hit him with just enough room for him to make a radical move and get the First.

On his seventh 3rd down completion, it was 3rd and 15 with the game on the line. The Pats were suddenly down 1-point. "The line did a great job, first of all, giving me that time," Jimmy-G said. "3rd and 15, you got to let your guys get down the field. And Danny found the opening in the zone. It was a great job by him. He made it a pretty easy throw for me and he made a nice catch too, so it was a good play all the way around." He juked deep after he saw the DBs staring at Jimmy-G and not just watching him.

Then Jimmy just had to throw it over the two DBs who came up a little in reaction to his fleeing the pocket. "The 3rd-and-12, or whatever it was, was a big play," BB said. "We made it look like we were trying to set up a screen. They kind of played the screen. Fortunately, that took away some of the pass rush. Jimmy's able to scramble.

"As usual, Danny came up big for us. He made a big catch down there and took a hard hit. The slant route to James White was a great throw and a great catch in really tight coverage. Then really in the third down play, we wanted to make sure we had the ball close enough for the field goal.

"LG (LeGarrette Blount) made a good run. He had some good space in there and it looked like he broke a couple tackles. He was short of the first down and he dropped his pads and got it. So that was a big run. It definitely shortened the field goal for us, which we might have made it from there anyways, but it definitely would've been a tougher kick." That play set up the whole win. It really got them to within striking range of the field goal attempt that ultimately won the game.

On his final completion on 3rd down, he jammed the ball into White's gut with Jefferson on his back. This catch was spectacularly important to this game. Not only did it give the Pats a 1st down. It also brought them into field goal range, which allowed them to work the clock a little, and forced the Cards to burn off their timeouts.

This was such an spectacular victory for Jimmy-G, because of his play on 3rd downs. "I think itís good for the whole team, especially the first game of the season coming into a tough environment like this," Jimmy-G said. "Itís good to see how everyone responded. We had a couple of young guys playing, especially up front, making their first starts and I think everyone responded pretty well to it. The crowd was rocking at times and they didnít flinch at all. It was a good thing."

He passed so many tests in this game it is hard to count. But you can count him to go out on 3rd down against Miami and go 8 for 10? There are still a lot of questions when it comes to Garoppolo. We still don't know who he is.

3. Fleming- Fleming was also spectacular in this game. Now he is a sub, so he is graded on a curve, but he kept an all-pro passrusher off Garoppolo's back every snap except one. He was solid in the run. He was solid in pass pro. And, he was spectacular chop blocking D-ends to the ground. he is going to have to be better this week.

Just do your job. When a backup gets shoved into the starting lineup, and he just does his job, that is a spectacular performance. He faces a similar challenge this week with Patriots-Killer Cameron Wake lining up on his side, or Patriots-Killer Mario Williams on his side. They both have primarily lined up as the Strongside DE/OLB, so we don't know who will be on his side this week yet.

He held down the left side better than I think you could expect. He wasn't inside where they could help him like Karras last week. "I'd just say the overall exposure to this type of an offensive system," BB said about Karras. "Again, different protections, different adjustments, more variety in the running game than what he probably had at Illinois. I'd say definitely more. He has played all three interior positions, both guards and center, so again, he's a smart guy. I think some of that playing different positions actually helps him play whatever positions he's playing a little bit better because he understands what's going on around him. 

"Again, that's part of the centers job, is to quarterback the whole line, if you will, in terms of line-calls and adjustments that they have to make. We have the same five guys but sometimes how you block them - do you bump him and go to the linebacker? Do you go straight to the linebacker? I mean just how all of that works. There are a lot of fine points in there but they're critical really to the success of that unit and naturally to the success of the play. It's just a lot more exposure, a lot of different things that he I would say didn't have a lot of experience with. He has gained a lot, he's smart, he works hard, he understands football concepts well, as Joe does, as David does. 

"Shaq's kind of in the same boat coming from the offense he came in, which is they threw the ball five times per game. In terms of protection it's just a whole new world. Those guys have all grown quite a bit in the last year, or two years, whatever the case might be, in terms of systems. David obviously came from Brian Schottenheimer's system in Georgia so he had a change of I'd say NFL-type of offensive schematics." Karras and Shaq are going to be facing Suh this week, and that matched could make or break this game.

He will be out on that edge again this week. Wake is a speed rusher like Mr. Jones, but Williams is much more of a power rusher. "Well, the third-down scheme is a little different than the first and second-down scheme," BB said about Wake. "So, I'd say whether he's in there or not, on first and second-down its going to be similar to what it is. Aand whether he's in there or not on third-down its going to be more of a third-down scheme, if that makes any sense." Williams is slowing down, but we will see what he has left in the tank tonight.

Jimmy-G and David Andrews are going to have to help Karras and Shaq a ton today. "Yeah, it's a critical relationship," BB said. "Especially in the National Football League and an offense like ours where there's a lot of communications, and protections, and recognition and so forth. Those two guys being on the same page is enormous. But David's very good, Jimmy's good. They communicate well, each of them individually and together, and they both understand the importance of it, of not taking something for granted and then "Oh I thought it was this," and then "I thought it was that," and then somebody runs free because we weren't on the same page. There's not very much of that, nor should there be. It's critical. It's a huge part of both of their jobs, to be able to be in sync with the other positions, the center and the guard, the quarterback and the quarterback to the center." Jimmy-G has to make the right calls, and Andrews has to communicate with the ORG and slide over and help him a ton.

Fleming lined up on the QB's blindside, alone on an island, and kicked ass. "We play our offensive linemen at a lot of different positions," BB said. "So I'd say really all of our tackles have played both sides and we just felt like that was the right thing to do." I just didn't see that coming.

He wasn't perfect. But he had been an ORT his whole life, right up until last year when plaque of injuries murdered the Pats Super Bowl chances. But maybe the best news is that Fleming played so well that no one from the media asked BB any questions about him hits week. When you are a backup OLT, and no one notices you when you have to play? Than you had a spectacular performance.

He wasn't the best player in the game, but when an O-linemen pretty much goes unnoticed that means he is winning most of the battles. "We weren't sure of Nate's situation going into the game," BB said. "As you know, he practiced last week and so rather than switching everybody around, moving Marcus [Cannon] over to the left. and making two moves instead of one. We weren't even sure who would have to make the one [move] depending on if Nate would've been able to turn the corner then that wouldn't have even necessitated that." So they stuck Fleming in at OLT against the Giants and Cards.

You can say what you, but even I, his biggest fan, didn't think it was possible for him to go unnoticed in that game. "We would've just had a third swing tackle," BB said about Fleming. "All of those things kind of played a part of it but in the end we did what we felt like was best for the game. I thought Cam did a credible job over there, again, blocking a couple of good pass rushers but he hung in there and gave us some plays in the running game and hung in there on pass protection, so I thought he did a pretty solid job."

If Garoppolo hadn't been so spectacularly efficient (which he wouldn't have been without Fleming), I would say that Fleming was the player of the game. That's right, that's my story and I'm sticking with it. But everything considered along the O-line: two backup O-tackles, two rookies on the O-line, and a two-year veteran on the O-line? It was a spectacular performance all around.

"I think the world of Dante," BB said. "I think he is as fine of a coach as anybody that I've coached with and I've had the opportunity to coach with a lot of them, certainly. Him and Coach [Saban are up there pretty high along with a lot of other great coaches, and Scott O'Brien in the kicking game. But yeah, it's great to have him back and he does a tremendous job with the individual techniques of the players and also in terms of making them aware of their assignments and adjustments and scheme things that come up, too. Those two components are just huge for the offensive line, not only individually but so that all five guys understand the same thing at the same time because that's really what makes an offensive line a good line, is that they can all work together and do it cohesively.

"He does a great job of all of those things. But, you know, we really played three guards last night. Joe [Thuney] on the left side and then Shaq and Ted [Karras] on the right side. They [Arizona] have a good defensive line. They gave us some problems. We blocked them a lot but not always. They were able to have a couple of disruptive plays in there and they're a very talented group so, you know, we hung in there, we competed with them and we had some good ones and some not so good ones, but we hung in there and kept slugging it out."

I mean right from the first snap, he just did his job. They ran a play action to  his side, and Garoppolo rolled out to the other side and whipped the ball wildly at Hogan. Fleming just calmly washed the DE in the opposite direction of Garoppolo. He doesn't have to be Orlando Pace, he just has to do his job.  

On the first 3rd down of the game for the Pats, he took on Mr. Jones. He hit him with his hands, and Jones knocked him down. He turned and shoved him past Garoppolo as he threw. We was beat, but got in a second hit, and luckily it was a quick pass. When he faces Wake he will have to have the same hand usage, and recovery. Because Wake can beat you as fast as Mr. Jones.

On Garoppolo's first 3rd down attempt, it was 3rd and 11. He didn't let the pressure get to him at all. He 3-stepped back into the pocket, hitched forward, and hit Edelman in the hands quickly enough for him to be able to turn up field for the first.

On the third 3rd down of the game. He had Mr. Jones one on one outside. Garoppolo three stepped and threw in rhythm, but Fleming was grabbed by the 5-Tech on his inside shoulder as Mr. Jones went outside. He shoved him off and punched Mr. Jones past Garoppolo as he threw. That was a great block.

On Garoppolo's fourth 3rd down, where he took off and ran with it. Mr. Jones blasted off and tried to beat Fleming around the other side. Fleming did a great job pushing outside a little, and then shoving him past Garoppolo. Then he ran all the way around Garoppolo and met him on the other side and hit him hard enough to allow Garoppolo to escape for the 1st down.

On Garoppolo's fifth 3rd down conversion.  He was out on an island with  Gunter again, and the Cards brought six. He slid back smoothly, and got both hands up and shoved him outside. Gunter tried a Rip, but Cannon hit him again. He lunged a little, and this allowed Gunter to spin past, but the ball was gone by then. Again not perfect, but great for a backup thrust into a very difficult situation.

They not only need Garoppolo to be as good this week against Miami. They also need Fleming and Cannon to be as good. They need all four interior guys to be as good as well. The thought of Karras and Shaq facing Suh down after down is scary. They can't allow Suh to be the key to the game.

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