Pats Vs. Jets

13 and 3.


7-Things For Sunday.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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1. 13-3- I know, I'm not going out on a ledge here, but I just keep getting the feeling that the Pats end up 13 and 3. I of course think they will be 14 and 2. I suppose I have to take a 50-50 shot at which game I think they loose (if my feeling is right).  I suppose I have to say it's this one. Though they could clearly tank the Dolphins game if they win this one. It's just that they can't sit Brady for two weeks. Brady has to play against the Dolphins in Week 17, or his creaky old bones will be a little rusty in the Divisional Round.

Meanwhile in the Joker's lair, the Jets got everything on the line here. "We know they're a great team," Fitzpatrick said. "Obviously, Super Bowl Champs and have won the division however many years, but each year is different and they've had a great year again. We've played them once and they beat us. We've got to try to get better and do some things better than we did last time.  Winning last week makes this one more important. This is everything for us this week trying to get a win in this game." The Jets are at Home, and the Pats just want to get home healthy.

I just don't like how this offense matches up against the Jets defense with Edelman out. "He's been one of our best players," TB12 said about Edelman. "[One of our] most dependable and consistent players, for as long as he's had the opportunity to be in there and play that role. So the more of those guys you can have out there, the better you're going to be. He's obviously a very versatile player, so it'll be great to have him back whenever that happens. I know he's working pretty hard to get back. The more good players you can have out there on a consistent, dependable basis, the more dependable and consistent your offense can be. So he's certainly one of those guys who's been very dependable for us over the years." But what happens when you run out of those dependable guys?

With Amendola out, Chris Harper in, and Hankerson cut? "It was a little bit of a scramble, probably hard to evaluate a player off of that game with hardly any practice time at all," BB said about Hankerson just before he cut him. "Most of it was on the scout team and stuff like that, so hopefully with a few extra days here over the weekend and then kind of being able to build off of last week instead of starting at the very bottom, we can get a little more done this week and move it forward, so we'll see how it goes. I thought he went in there and did the best he could, but like I said it's a tough situation. It's hard to really get a good evaluation of that." Yet he got the boot anyway.

And if Gronk is out? How do they match up with this defense? "People are always dealing with some stuff," Brady said about all the injuries. "It's a long season, so I think over the course of the season, you're always dealing with some type of adversities I would say. I think mental toughness is important in this sport to try to put whatever is going on, on the side when you go out and play football for those three hours a week because you only have three hours to kind of put your performance out there and do the best you can do. So all the guys are pretty mentally tough, but I'd say to be 12-2 is a good record. I know it's not perfect. There are certainly a lot of things we could do better, but it's good to be 12-2." When it’s 3rd and 7, and Brady drops and looks right and sees Martin being covered by Revis? Aaah-no. He looks left and sees LaFell being covered by Cromartie and/or Skrine. Then Brady looks up the middle and sees the rest of the entire back seven on Gronk! Where does he go then?

And I'm a LaFell guy, but he has struggled all season to get his continuity back since returning from injury. And I thought Cromartie was a bad match up for him, though he did burn him last time we played the Jets. If you remember he had six drops in that game, but he was wide open for those throws. The reason it was so painful is that he beat whatever DB they put in front of him badly, got wide open, and then dropped the ball. Brady threw to him eight times and hit him in the hands eight times, with six terrible drops. If he does that again, and LaFell holds on, he could have 8 catches for over a 100-yards and a TD.

Plus, they will probably put Revis on LaFell? "It was great having him as a teammate," TB12 said. "He brings a lot, I think, to the defense that he plays on. We’ve played him a bunch of times when he played for the [Jersey] Jets and then Tampa Bay, and we played him here, [then] back to the Jets. So basically [we] played against him every year in some form or fashion. He’s just a great player. I think he does a lot of things really well. It’s fun to watch him play. I think he has a very unique style but he certainly locks his guy down. I think that’s pretty impressive to do it for as many years as he has. It’s not a simple scheme for a guy like that because it puts a lot of pressure on those corners. It’s like having two offensive tackles that you don’t ever give any help to and whoever they go up against, they go up against. It’s pretty impressive to see what he’s accomplished this year. What he’s accomplished every year. He’s a great player." That doesn't make me happy.

This isn't the old erratic Jets Organization we have grown to know and love so much. "It's great that we're at our peak and we've won four in a row," Buster Skrine said. "We know New England is a tough team. They've been a tough challenge for everybody. No extra pressure. We just know it's an important game. We're just going to do what we've been doing." That doesn't sound like the old screwed up Jets at all.

The one match up I like is White. The Jets don't have anyone who can cover him, especially if they plan on quintupling Gronk like I would do if I were them. We might need White to get 10 catch for a 100-yards and 17 TDs to take this game.

When any team looses their top two players at any position it gets very tough for the team, but their back ups have to come in and produce. "Again," BB said about Brandon Bolden, "some of that is more of a product of everybody else than it is him because he can do all special teams, all third down, all first and second down. He can do all the running back stuff. I don't know. But who else do you have? Who else is part of that and what can they do? The way James White is playing and what he's done, he's done a great job for us on third down, so maybe that's something that Brandon, he has to be ready to do it but maybe it's not a role that's not as big for him and it's more of something else, or maybe James White's role shifts a little bit now. There are some options there, but some of that is a function of what else you have because it's not like we're sitting there saying here are the things Bolden can't do. That's a pretty short list. What he can do is pretty much everything. It's a question of where you want to use him, but he gives you flexibility that some other players don't, who can only do one thing or maybe two things." Bolden has to run tough inside in this game, and it still might not matter against their front seven.

Where does Brady go to win this game? We know they ain't gonna run the ball, but they will be relying on Bolden a ton in this game. "I can't even tell you how many games we've gone into with three backs and him being the third back as really being able to play on first, second, third and fourth down and play well and be one of our best fourth down players,". That's a lot, and you start talking about third-down backs and all they have to do in terms of blitz pickups, formations, coverages and all that, and then same thing on early downs being able to run the ball, handle the running game and blitz pickup on play action passes, which is a different set of protections and defensive looks. Then you get into fourth down and a core special teams player that's involved in four phases of the game – kickoff, kickoff return, punt, punt return and all the things that go on there and all the situational plays that happen in those units – the volume there, that's a lot. That would be a lot for a guy to do one of those things – third down or special teams or first and second down. For a guy to be able to be as competent as he is in all those areas physically and mentally, there aren't many guys in the league that can do that now." It is not a good sign that Bolden is one of their most important players in this game, though he might be the most versatile player on the team. Plus, if he reminds me of anybody it is Chris Ivory. It takes more than one guy to take him down, and that can hurt defense more than anything. Especially when he can give some nice pops to the pretty passrushers like Ivory does.

The Jets have been a roll the past month or so. "Looking at the Jets here, this is obviously a team that we know very well and they're playing very well," BB said. "I think Coach Bowles has done a great job with this team. They went through a little bit of a down period there in the middle of the season but they've really bounced back from that, won their last four games. They really do everything well as a team. They're a very good, physical team, run the ball, stop the run, play good defense, balanced on offense, throw the ball well, good in the kicking game, good situational team, very good in the red area, just play good situational football in general, not penalized much, don't make a lot of mistakes, turn the ball over a lot on defense, plus turnover ratio, so that has served them well this year. Again, well balanced, have a lot of guys contributing. A lot of guys on defense are playmakers, a lot of playmakers on offense. Fitzpatrick is having a great year along with all his receivers and backs. It's a good football team that's playing well. We'll be going into a hostile environment down there so it will be a big challenge for us this week to be ready to go." I just don't see how the Pats can pull this one out in New Jersey, unless their defense is elite this week.

2. 13-3 Part II-  Meanwhile, the Pats are walking on a massive strategic tightrope. The next three weeks are all about getting ready for the Playoffs. The Pats prime priority is to get Brady, Gronk, Amendola, Hightower, and Edelman on the field and healthy for the Divisional Round. That's all that matters. It you give them too much time off they will get rusty, lose their continuity, and then lose. If you play them too much they won't be healthy when it matters the most. They have to play guys both this week and next week, who are still recovering from injuries, to scratch the rust off a little.

This week is about squeaking out a win with minimum risk, which simply isn't going to work with the Jets at Home. They have been on a roll that has them at their highest confidence point of the season. It would be nice to clinch the first place Bye with a win this week, but do you really want to get into a knock down drag out junkyard dog fight with the Jets this week? Because that's what the Jets will be looking for. That is what this game is going to be. And once the players are on the field that is what they will want it to be. That is the line BB is going to be trying to walk the next couple of weeks.

If you think we hate the Jets, just think how much the Jets hate the Pats. We hate them, and beat them over and over again. They hate us, and we beat them over an over again. They want to crush, kill, and destroy the Pats. As much as we hate the Jets, they hate us worse. Plus, they are desperate for a win, at Home, to stay in the Wildcard race. "It was good to pull out some close wins when we'd lost some," Bowles said. "We hadn't had any close wins this year. We won some games by double digits or we just lost, we hadn't had any nail-biters that we won. So, it was good from a character standpoint, from our standpoint, to win a couple of those." To get this win against the hated Pats would be the highlight of their season, and one of the biggest building block in Bowles rebuilding the team for next year.

Meanwhile in the Bat Cave, the Pats just want to get healthy. "That's a good question," BB said when asked about the balance between resting and rusting his starters the next two weeks. "I think we just probably do the best we can to manage all those things that you talked about. They are all somewhat of a consideration and we've just got to try to balance it out. I think each part of your question requires some thought and every decision impacts other things as well, so you just can't act independently when one thing happens when there is a residual effect to it one way or another as part of the conversation. We'll just have to do the best that we can to balance all those things out. That's something we'll have to give some thought to and get as much information as possible because there are some guys that are in various states of physical health. We'll have to work our way through all that. It's definitely a challenging situation. I wish I had a cleaner answer on it, but really we're just going to have to work it out." How BB handles the next three weeks will go more to determine their Playoff chances than anything else he has done this season (except picking up Coleman and Johnson, to save their tragic depth at CB).

They want to win the Divisional game and get to the Champ game at Home. This game is about third or forth on their current priority list. That is never a good thing coming into any game. Never mind against a Division opponent on the road. To win this game they have to go all out. It is going to be one of their toughest games this season. Which is another problem. This is a must win for the Jets, but it is not a must win for the Pats.

Especially when you consider the Broncos and Bengals. I don't think either one of those teams wins out (although looking at the schedule it is a lot harder to say that with Denver playing the Sucking Chargers, and the Bengals playing the Sucking Worse Ravens in week 17). But they play each other this week. So one team is all but guaranteed to be knocked out of the Bye this week (What? They could tie).

They play each other tomorrow night. Denver is at Home the last two games, but they are not good. They have lost four of their last seven games and two straight. Granted, their last game is against the Chargers, but I think even the Chargers could beat them now. They are not the team that won seven straight to start the season.

Now the one thing that can really scare Pats fans is going into Denver for the Champ Game. But just don't tell me your ah-scared to go there now. I'm not. If we have Edelman, Amendola, and Hightower healthy Denver can't beat us. Maybe Denver wins out, but who really thinks Denver wins a play off game against a top Playoff team in the Divisional Round. It just ain't happening. The best thing you can say about Denver is that the schedule is clearly in their favor. But the Bengals are just as desperate. And the Chargers game is a division game, and anything can happen in those games.

On the other hand the Pats need one more win to lock it up (or two loses). They don't want that to be a priority going into next week against the Dolphins. Like Denver in Week 17, matchups matter less in Division games. So they will go all out to win this game, in New Jersey. I just don't like the matchup, the feel, and the priorities of the teams in this game. The Jets defense is playing phenomenal football right now, and the Pats O-line is still not quite in top form yet. At Home, I'd bet on the Pats to win this game. In Jersey, I'm not very happy about the match ups on offense. I don't like the idea of Brady holding onto the ball for too long against this Front Three.

However, like in most of these game it still comes down to Brady and Belichick hating to lose worst than being thrown up on by a drunken Jets fan. If anybody can pull this game out it is BB and TB12. "I think they do a great job with their guys," Bowles said. "When they have people that make their 53 man roster. They can plug and play guys and they pick the right guys for their system, which is a credit to their coach and scouting staff. They just plug and play guys and they understand how to win, they've been doing it for a long time and they have a high success ratio. Right now they're the Super Bowl Champs and they set the standard for the league, so everybody else has to catch up." This is clearly a plug and play game for the Pats.

3. However…- This is going to be a good olde timey football game. If the Pats have one advantage it is defense. I know I'm biased, but I think the Pats have the best defense in the NFL. They are tied with the vaulted Denver defense with Sacks at 47. I have really liked what I have seen from the Cardinals defense, but we don't really have to worry about them (until maybe the Super Bowl).

Plus, I thought the Panthers defense is terrific. "Yeah, absolutely," TB12 said about the Panthers. "They’re playing great. He’s [Newton] having an incredible season. They’ve got a great football team. It’s hard to get to 14-0. You have some games where you just don’t play your best and they’ve still figured out a way to win those games. I think that’s the mark of any great football team. Whether you have no losses, or one loss, or two losses, those are very hard seasons to have because injuries always play a part and they’ve won without certain guys. I think that’s also the mark of a great football team." But the Panther have faced the worst array of QBs of any team in the NFL this year.

The Pats have one of the top fronts sevens in the NFL. Plus, they have the best Safeties, one through eight, in the history of the NFL. They also have one of the top pair of starting Corners in the NFL. "They were good then," Bowles said about Ryan and Butler. "Malcolm is probably one of the best in the league. He shows up. He takes the best cover guy. They can play zone. They can play man. They're both big. They're physical. They can tackle. The defense has been playing outstanding and those two corners are a big reason, a big part of it." Their one weakness on defense is depth at Corner, but not their top two.

The Jets might have a better front three. "They’re playing really well," TB12 said. "They were pretty good when we played them the first time. We were playing a little bit different at that time, also. They’re pretty hot right now. They’ve always had a good defense. I think it starts with having really good defensive players like Pace, and Wilkerson, and Richardson, and David Harris, Davis is phenomenal, Cromartie and Revis, Skrine’s a great player. Gilchrist has had a great year. Pryor is having a great year so they’ve got a lot of guys. Harrison, their nose tackle's been great. So I think it hasn’t ever really been that this defense is kind of a walk in the park for our offense. It’s always been a big challenge but it starts with having really good players, they do. Now they’re really obviously been well coached, or really well coached this year. There are a lot of scheme things that they do that are challenging to prepare for. It’s tough. It’s tough but we’re grinding through it, trying to get everyone on the same page, and I’m sure we’ll feel pretty good about our game plan once we get to the game." But the Pats have a better front seven by far.

No one in the NFL would trade the Pats edgerushers for the Jets. Jones, Ninkovich, and Sheard are all having great seasons. Plus, the Pats ILB Collins and Hightower when healthy are the best in the NFL. The Jets got nothing to compare to those two guys.

Though getting Hightower healthy for the playoff is more important than winning this game for the Pats. "One, just strictly what's the player's medical condition, and so that can define it right there," BB said about Hightower. "If he's out, he's out. Then it's can play but less than 100 percent and then that depends on or that conversation continues into how it goes in practice. How it looked in practice, how the player feels, possibly what you're going to be asking him to do in the game if you can determine that, but sometimes depending on what position it is, you can possibly narrow down sort of what the role would be or what you'd ask them to do. How long is another question. How many and how long? So could the player go out there and play two or three plays? Yeah, probably. Could he play 60 plays? No, you wouldn't want him to do that. So what's the right number in there? Maybe you could talk about that during the game or maybe it's something you try to define before the game and work the player's role into that. But again at the same time you have to play the game and there are circumstances and events that happen within the game that you can't plan for. You don't know how it's going to go, so once you get into the game you have to be able to utilize the players that are available in a competitive way during the game. It's again a long kind of complicated discussion, but again once the player is cleared to play and he's able to play and he feels confident that he can play and so forth, then some of these other things come into play. Until that point, then there's nothing really to talk about." With Collins and Hightower healthy they have the best defense in the NFL.

So this is going to be a low scoring, ugly as Sexy Rexy's butt type game. Hopefully it will be the type of ugly game the Pats just pull out at the end. The defense will dominate both teams. So the Jets have a bit more of a defensive advantage at Home. But the Pats defense is better this year. And very underrated, as everyone always focuses on the Pats offense.

4. Jets Offense- This is not your old Jets offense. They have been killing it the past four weeks. "Yes, we've gotten better," Bowles said. "We've learned from past things, the middle of the season especially. We had lost four out of five, so we had some growing pains and that's typical of a new team. We've got some good wins lately, we've got some hard fought wins. So, we're building some character, we're moving in the right direction and we're just going to try to keep working." This offense can win a game now.

Especially Fitzpatrick. He has turned from a stats QB into a winning QB amazing before our eyes this season. It takes different amounts of time for every QB, but if a QB can hang around long enough they usually can turn from a young stats-QB into a veteran winning-QB. Sometimes it only takes two years, like Brady. And sometimes it takes ten seasons like it did for Fitz.

Plus, it doesn't hurt that Fitz has some nasty weapons. "They're good, big receivers," BB said. "I mean look every receiver in this league has got skill or they wouldn't be out there. Some guys have size, some guys have speed, some guys have quickness, some guys have great route running technique, some guys have great hands or combinations of those things. And it's the same thing with defensive backs – some are big, some are fast, some are quick, some have great ball skills, some have great instincts, so each guy matches up differently against different guys. That's why you have different receivers in training camp. That's why when you practice against a team like New Orleans or as we have in the past Tampa or Philly or whoever it happened to be, you get exposure to other guys in training camp, you get exposure to other types of players in preseason games. That's part of your preparation for the season. Somewhere along the line, if you don't have a guy like that on your team, eventually you'll see guys like that on other teams. Whatever your individual skillset is, you have to figure out how you match up against another guy's skillset, whether he's a fast, quick guy or a big, strong guy – whatever it is. That's the way it is across the board. It's no different than offensive and defensive lineman. Offensive lineman, you're going to be blocking some 350-pound guy and then you're going to be blocking some 235-pound linebacker that has great quickness coming through there. You're going to have to block both of them, so sooner or later you're going to have to figure out how to do it." Those two guys have been the most underrated Number one and two WRs this season.

They also have two other nice weapons for Fitz. "They've kind of gotten those skill players you mentioned more time on the playing field," BB said about Kenbrell Thompkins and Quincy Enunwa. "The tight ends are getting less play time. There are a lot of times you don't see any tight ends on the field and you rarely see two, so they've kind of moved away from that a little bit to more three- and four-receiver sets. And [Bilal] Powell has done a real good job for them as a receiver as well. Enunwa, I'd say he's probably taken some of the plays from the tight ends in terms of the passing game, or he's on the field instead of the tight end when they go to four receivers. They've got a lot of guys to throw to, again a very experienced quarterback who is playing well, playing with a lot of confidence, veteran guys on the offensive line and their passing attack is challenging, especially when you've got to deal with a good back and a quarterback who can run enough on third down and in those kinds of situations to keep drives alive and move the chains. You've got to be aware of that." They will test the Pats depth at Corner in this game.

They also can run the ball. Ivory has been very underrated this season. "For the most part he's been pretty healthy. He takes good care of himself and there hasn't been a strain on him, so we give him the ball," Bowles said. "I don't want to say all season, he hasn't had all great games like that, but he runs hard and he gives us a chance. You always have to bring him down with more than one player. He gives us a good run-pass option by running the football inside to open things up if you crowd the box too much, so he's been effective that way. I'm not going to say he's been effective every game from a yardage standpoint." He is also a Patriots killer.

So they have a good solid offense. But I think the Pats front seven can dominate their O-line. And they have too if the Pats want to win this game. This is going to have to be a defensive win for the Pats this week.

5. They Have a Good Defense As Well-  Mohammed Wilkerson is the man inside. "Obviously he's real important to the defensive line," Bowles said. "He's one of our vocal leaders on defense. Guys flock behind Mo and he does a good job off the field. He does a lot more leading us off the field so guys gravitate towards him on the field." He can single handed blow up an offense. "Same as in the past: big, fast, athletic," BB said. "He's got power. He's got quickness, hard to block, good motor. Everybody on the defensive line is good." Plus, he gets smarter every year.

Their front Three is the best in the NFL. "They just basically run over the guy in front of them," BB said. "The guy that gets there first hits the quarterback and the other guys jump on the pile. They're hard to block. They're all good. They're all productive. You can't just gear it towards one guy. There are too many guys. They're big. They're physical, very strong." They are going to need everything they've got from the O-line.

The interior guys, like Shaq, are going to have to play their asses off. "He's probably one of the most athletic players, one of the most athletic offensive linemen I've coached," BB said about Shaq Mason. "He would certainly be in that upper category and upper part of that conversation. He runs well. He's got very good balance and short-space quickness and is light on his feet. Fundamentally and technique-wise there are a lot of things that he still needs to work on and Shaq has improved a lot, but there are still things for him to work on, things he can do better and do more consistently, but just in terms of athleticism, balance, speed, quickness, he's very good, very, very talented, and he's got good power and playing strength and explosion, too. Those are all positives with him. Shaq works hard, he's continued to get better all year, but he still has a ways to go with his techniques and overall kind of understanding of the game and how he can … Each play is different, but just in total how he can work with the center – the two guys next to him, the center and the tackle – on different combination blocks and footwork and things like that so that the entire line can perform to a maximum efficiency." The interior guys are going to have work perfectly together to win this game.

The Jets have maybe the top Nose tackle in this game. "I mean, he might be the best of all of them against the run," BB said about Damon Harrison. "He's got great leverage, reads blocks well, hard to block, penetrates. He's not just a stay on the line of scrimmage guy. He makes plays in the backfield or knocks the blockers back into the backfield so the runner has to either give ground or cut back into unblocked guys and then they clean them up. He's had a lot of production – 60 tackles or whatever it is. He's made a lot of plays for that position. You see some guys playing that position that don't make many tackles. I'm not saying they're not good players, but he's not only disruptive but he's also been very productive. He's a major force." This is a game that is going to be decided by which teams O-line plays the best.

If the Pats O-line minimize the damage their front seven can do, we win. "I think everything is pretty good," BB said. "I think Coach Bowles and the defensive staff has done a great job with the defense. They are strong against the run. They're strong against the pass. They turn the ball over. They pressure the quarterback. They cover well. They tackle well. They're well coached. They disguise well. Really they've done a good job in a lot of areas. Some of the passing yardage they've given up in recent weeks is kind of circumstantial. They're ahead in the game. But they're playing very good defense. They do a good job of, like I said, number one, is they play well in the red area so it's hard to score and it's hard to get big plays. The quarterback gets hit. They do a good job on third down. They're hard to run against. So all those things help each other. Whatever one good positive thing you want to say is, that helps in other aspects of their defense. So in the end, they're well coached, and they have good players, and they're playing well. And they're very experienced. They have a lot of experience on the defensive side of the ball in every area: defensive line, linebackers, DBs. They have a lot of guys who have a lot of years in the NFL and really know what they're doing. It's a very good and veteran group." This game is in the hands of the Pats O-line.

6. Pats Defense- The Jets want to run behind their O-line, as they don't play their tight ends very much. "Well I mean you pretty much turn on any college game on Saturday and that's what you're going to see," BB said. "There are dozens of college teams that don't even have a tight end on their roster, don't even recruit tight ends. You spread them out, if they bring a lot of people in then you throw the ball. If you walk out there on them then it's fewer guys to block and more space for the runner. Ivory gets good blocking, but he doesn't need a lot of blocking. The run he had against Miami, he must have run through like seven different guys. It could have been me and you out there blocking for him on that play. He didn't need any blocking. So that's part of it. But Powell does a good job, too. He's quick. He hits the crease in there, so they're different styles. Powell is more of a space runner, and Ivory, he can run in space obviously, but he's a power back. He runs through tackles and has got great balance. But they do it from more of a spread set – one to no tight ends on the field. There is not usually more than that, so one at the most. Enunwa is not a tight end, but he's a bigger guy, so when you look at Enunwa blocking a defensive back, that's a mismatch. He's bigger than most of those guys, whereas if you put a tight end in a game, usually the guy he's blocking is comparable. In Enunwa's case, if you put a corner on him then he gains an advantage on that. So I'd say there is a little bit of that, too." They have been spreading it out in more and more three and four WR sets.

They have picked up a couple of WRs who have changed their offense. "Enunwa, he's a receiver; he's not a tight end," BB said. "He's strong. He's physical. He's a big, physical receiver. So it's a little different than a tight end. I don't think I would ever use those words to characterize Tim [Wright]'s game. I'd say their offense is quite a bit different from our offense anyways. But Enunwa, there are a lot of four wide receivers [sets]. So there is speed on the field with those guys and they throw to all of them. And then when you put Powell in there it's really a fifth receiver and then with Fitzpatrick scrambling you have to treat him like a sixth receiver. It kind of opens things up a little bit. But at the same time, this is one of the best power running teams in the league. They can move the line of scrimmage, backs get downhill. Ivory is a really tremendous back, runs hard, breaks tackles, great balance, very hard to get on the ground, and he's made plays for them on check-downs and screens in the passing game, too. As a runner, he's as hard and physical a runner as we've seen this year or probably in the past couple years. They have nice balance offensively. They can attack you with speed and a variety of issues in the passing game, but at the same time they can hand the ball off and get downhill and run in between the tackles and control the game that way, too. They're on the better teams in time of possession, they're a good red area team, they can make tough yards when they need them, and that's always a good thing to have offensively. Good offense, well balanced offense, and I agree probably a more dangerous and harder to defend group than we saw in the first game." They are going to spread the Pats out and test their depth at Corner. Which is so much more effective balanced with a power run game. The Pats defense, with the depleted offense, has to be elite this week. Giving up 14-points might be too much.

7. Hey Malcolm, You really Don't Want To Go To The Pro Bowl- Yay, Butler made the Pro Bowl, yay. While it is truly a great story. From a spring football signee, who had to sign away his injury protection just to get a chance to practice with the team, Practice? To Super Bowl hero.

And now a Pro Bowler. "Malcolm has come a long way on and off the field, as a professional, as a professional football player," BB said. "He's worked really hard at it, and I think everybody respects him for it. He didn't come from some big Division I program, big Heisman Trophy winner or anything like that. But I'd say it's been like that all year. He's humble, works hard, tries to get better, makes mistakes. There are a lot of things he can do better, but he works hard to get them better and he corrects them and I think everybody that's on our team or around our team respects that. He doesn't have all the answers, tries hard, plays with a good level of confidence, which is good for his position. I don't think that's a bad thing at all, and he's gotten better. So we all respect that." The problem? 

And let's be clear here. Malcolm was more pure luck than an act of scouting genius. "It's a pretty long list," BB said about evaluating small school players like Butler. "It starts with I would say just the overall program. The commitment in a Division I program is pretty much 12 months a year in terms of offseason training, offseason summer program, class schedule, practice. It's every day. It's like being a professional player. Not quite the same, but between your class commitments, your academic commitments, your football commitments, your offseason training and all that, you're always going. You have to do a lot of things just to be able to be compliant – your grades have to be up, you can't be missing stuff. Like the NFL, you have to be here every day, you have to be accountable, you've got to be dependable, so in other programs, that just isn't required or not anywhere near to the same degree. Level of competition is obviously a big gap. You see a lot of talented players at a lower level of competition, but then when the competition changes and it's a little more equal, are they really able to compete at that next level? Do they have the competitiveness, the drive, the whatever it is to go out there and outwork and out-compete and out-tough the guy that has just as much talent as they do versus just being better than everybody else and going out there and just being themselves but they're just better than everybody else. That doesn't really last. Schematically the same thing, teams that don't have as much time, don't have the same kind of resources, the game is narrower, fewer coverages, you're defending less, you're playing with less defense, a couple of coverages, that kind of thing, and now you come into a more expansive system and you've got the volume of we've got more, there is more on the other side of the ball. When you start putting all those together, it becomes really exponential the number of variables – playing one position versus both sides, inside, outside, factoring the kicking game into it, all that. So there is the on the field, there is the talent, and I'd say there is the overall program and being a professional. Being a solid, dependable consistent player, which is what all great players are, they're consistent. They're not just making one play. Those guys aren't the great players. They might have highlight plays, but the great players are the ones who can sustain it over a game, over several games, over seasons. Those are the guys who stand out. It's hard to measure until you put a guy in that situation." He was sign as a body to play in OTAs, and was not wanted to stick on the team. That's why they had him sign a waiver saving they could still cut him if he got injured during the one week (that's one week) he was signed to play for.

But he came him in and flashed some of those great instincts that made him one of the top Corners at the end of patterns in the NFL. And, he has done nothing but get better every week. "He studies the game. He's not just a man corner. He's a zone corner too. He's feisty. He has very good technique, which is rare. He's got great hand-eye coordination. He reads the ball. He accepts all challenges and you can tell he works at it. I enjoy watching him play," Bowles said about Brown, and then added. "There's a lot of guys that go undrafted it's hard with the draft process, but there's a lot of guys, I mean, Sherman was late and he's a great player as well. So, some of those guys just go through the system unnoticed and you get some guys in who show some promise in camp and give you something to work with and they blossom and he's truly blossomed. That was a great pick for them." So I don't mean to diminish what he has accomplished in the past 18 months or so.

I mean, the Pats had seven guys elected to the Pro Bowl. "It's great for the players who are recognized," BB said. "Certainly felt like all the players that were recognized were deserving, all had good years. There are other guys on the team that had good years, too, but that's kind of the way it always is. I'm proud of the fact that all seven of those players are homegrown – they all came in as Patriots, spent their whole career as Patriots, developed as Patriots one way or another, but that's what they all are. I think there is something to be said for that. Slater, five Pro Bowls, father had five Pro Bowls. That's pretty special. Nobody else had done that. The Matthews clan is still going, I had Clay, but that's as an aside kind of a special thing. I think the representation speaks a little bit to the balance of the team with Slater and Gostkowski in the kicking game, Rob and Tom on offense, and Chandler and Jamie and Malcolm [Butler] on defense. That's good" And all of them are praying they never play in that game.

If the magnificent seven that got voted into the Pro Bowl actually go, then the Pats are not in the Super Bowl. In another example of the League's infinite stupidity, they decide to have the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl. So the two best teams in the NFL never send a single player that helped them get to the Super Bowl to the Pro Bowl. The best players on the NFL's two best teams! So while it is an amazing honor for the player with the best rags to riches story in the NFL (remember, he did already single-handed win a Super Bowl this year), it is the one honor he clearly doesn't want to cash in on. Every player in the NFL plays to get to the Super Bowl, not in the Pro Bowl, or as it should be called now- The Stupid Bowl. Great job your doing Ass-Monkey!

Okay, gotta go. We got a birthday party, and were taking the kids to Star Wars. FINALLY! So I'm not sure I will be doing a review this week. Not with Bowl week about to run me over. I cannot give you the best coverage by far of the NFL Draft from a Patriots perspective without watching every single damn Bowl game.

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