PatsDraft Blog 2013

 

Updated 6/10

 

 

Slurping-Up Mr. Irrelevant.

By TOM

 

Okay now that the apocalyptic over-response to Tebow is over, it is time to get serious. It was a shocking signing that nobody expected. ďDefinitely was a surprise for most of us,Ē Aaron Hernandez said at OTAs on Tuesday. ďOnce I heard the information I was a little shocked, and I was happy because we had a long relationship in college, and itís good to play with a college teammate again.Ē Or should I say no one expected after the hating story they planted in the paper. 

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Of course BB was shocked and chagrined that such a thing could ever have been said in his name (yeah right;-). "I wouldn't get into the probability of us pursuing any free agent," BB said dramatically in an interview with ESPN (with a slight tear, and the back of his hand resting sadly on his forehead;-). "Every single player has strengths and weaknesses but regardless of that, for anyone to have represented that is the way I feel about Tim Tebow is completely untrue, baseless and irresponsible. It is unfortunate that something so inaccurate was reported." So how do you love TT; Then hate TT; And then always have loved him again? 

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TT's biggest problem is that he is in the eye of a fanatical religious hurricane that swirls around him, and doesn't really do anything to prevent it. It is not all his fault. The media pounces on the controversy like "a pack of wild dogs" (oops, that's LT not TT;-). The new news media slurps up controversy like Seinfeld's soup nazi creates controversy ("no soup for you. Comeback, one-year";-). When was the last time an impromptu media swarm was held at an OTA for a 3rd string QB. What kept TT off rosters was the fear of this exact reaction destroying practices. 

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I also like how they didn't sign him until all the assistant coaches were forced to be interviewed by the NFL. The timing of this charade was not coincidental. BB's ability to use and control the media was masterful the past few weeks. "He's a talented player," BB said nearly yawning. "Who's smart, and who works hard." Maybe BB can control the media slurping, and the soup nazis that follow TT everywhere. "No media for you," I'm sure BB has said behind the scenes. "Two-years!" 

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I know this is not controversial, exciting, or tasty soup slurping, but this was the most irrelevant signing of the off season. Tebow will have ZERO impact on this team winning next few years. ďSo itís going to be a lot of fun," TT said. "Iím looking forward to working hard every single day, and getting a lot better, and learning under some great people. Thatís all Iíve got, but thank you all so much and God bless," TT said. "Iím sure weíll be talking more soon." No, no you won't. You still haven't learned it is not your role to talk to the media and swirl up the winds that helped destroy the New Jersey Jets this year. You will be sitting and learning for a long time, not slurping-up the media  (you media whore;-). 

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The only impact this signing would actually have on the roster is if BB felt comfortable enough with Tebow to trade Mallett for a song and a dance. Otherwise the shock and controversy outweighs the value by about a billion to one. If the 3rd string QB gets on the field, that means the season is over.  He will not be activated on the actual playing roster unless it is for mind games or trickeration. His biggest impact is likely to be when he gets half naked on the field for all his media fellahs. Otherwise he is irrelevant. 

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The one thing I keep wondering is what BB is thinking about him. He has a vision of talents in his head that he thinks he can put on the field in appropriate situations. ďThereís a reason why he is here," Hernandez said, "and I actually donít know the reason yet?" I couldn't have said it better. I don't think he is here to be a jack-of-all-trades. I think BB and Josh think they can develop him into a legit, if unconventional, NFL QB. Another Hostetler. ďHeís a football player and he knows how to make plays,Ē Hernandez said. ďIím lucky to have him on my team again.Ē One thing about Tebow is that he does make plays on the football field. Unfortunately it is usually with his legs not his arm. 

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I said when he was drafted that he needed three years before he would be a legit challenge as an NFL QB. He is now in year three, and in my silly opinion is now a 2nd year developmental running QB. He has not done the work I had hoped. He pretended to straightened out his triple-hitch throwing mechanics at his Proday (he move back to throw, then moves the ball out, down, and back in, and finally throws the Triple-Hitch;-). Then in games he reverts back to the Triple-Hitch. 

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However, he can run the read-option. I keeping thinking of Jeff Hostetler. Who was not a thrower when he came into the League, though he turned into a, excellent underrated QB. He was called a running QB by everyone when he first arrived on the Giants, and he was still a much better thrower then than Tebow is now. I think you could say Tebow is a much better runner now. Which is how I see him. I see Tebow as a 2nd year running QB trying to earn/learn a role in the NFL as a 3rd string running QB. He has been in NFL QB camp for the two years, last year was more of a detriment to his development (it is never to late to take a cheapshot at the Jets;-). Now he has to show he has learned something other than he is a football savior. 

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As a 2nd year (on my three-year schedule) he might be close to Hostetler as a thrower when he was a rookie. We really don't know for sure. Hostetler was as tough as anyone in the NFL, and he worked himself into a starting QB role on a Super Bowl winning team. Something I don't think Tebow is capable of doing (yet? I'm not a homer;-). Hostetler did it with humility, grit, and mental toughness. I don't think Tebow possess an ounce of humility. 

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Of course, I don't really know. If he could find the humility of Hostetler he could develop into the legit NFL backup QB, which is a step away from being a starter! Especially when (gulp) your starting QB is approaching forty. There are two schools of thought on backup QBs. One, you want a carbon copy of the starter to take over so the offense doesn't suffer a hiccup if the starter goes down. I don't buy that philosophy at all. Hostetler was not a carbon copy of Simms. If Mallet or Hoyer were as skilled throwers as Brady they would be starting today in the NFL. No backup since, well, Hostetler has been able to match the talent of the starting QB. 

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The other philosophy is you put in a completely different type of QB who does different things. So for three or four games the D-Coordinators don't have enough film of the backup to stop him. Sort of like what Tebow did in Denver when he took over. "He's a talented player, who's smart and who works hard," BB said of TT. The offense changed completely, because he can't read defenses or make quick enough decisions to throw decisively. But he can run. He can take a hit, and he can help the RBs get some free yards.  

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I must admit he does have the toughness, grit, and (gulp) intangibles that seems to inspire teammates.  ďI was happy for him,Ē Spikes said. ďHe got his job back. Or whatever. And he comes out here [to] compete. Thatís good to see him smile. That big smile Iím used to seeing the last few years down in Florida.Ē We can criticize him all day, but his teammates definitely don't. They stick up for him. ďHe handled it well,Ē Spikes said. ďI think heís a great guy. Heís a winner. Thatís all I pay attention to. The outside distraction stuff is not for me to decide.Ē I can hear the hurricane winds slurping already.

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Most rookie QBs can't think quickly enough to be decisive. So he was not completely at fault for his inability to read defense quickly enough in Denver. However, he really didn't show much better when he wore a green shirt. He has always had nice touch on deep throws, but other than that his throwing talent is about the NFL minimum you need. 

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But, maybe, just maybe, BB can wrangle some Hostetler magic out of him in the next few years. God save us all, but if he needs to play QB for the Patriots (gulp) in an actual game. ďFirst and foremost, I just want to thank the Patriots for giving me an opportunity,Ē said Tebow. ďIím very thankful. Itís such an honor to be a Patriot and play for coach Belichick, for coach McDaniels, to learn under Tom and be a part of this great franchise, a part of a very successful franchise. I found that out firsthand. I lost to them several times." They could change the offense completely. Obviously he cannot run a precision passing game. But maybe he could run a run first read option just long enough for the football gods to shine their brilliance back on the Foxboro once more.

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Mallett still shows no signs of being able to step into a precision passing game. We will see come preseason. So might not the Pats be better off just changing everything the offense stands for if the most horrid of horrors happens. "Look, I've said it three times," BB says with all do irritation to the media hurricane trying to foster the winds of controversy. "He's a talented player, who's smart and who works hard," Otherwise the truth of this signing is that he is the new true Mr. Irrelevant. 

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My real problem with the signing is that it will cause me to root for TT. I enjoy ragging on all the moronic Tebowites too much to give that up. But what am I going to do? If I were a homer I would be rooting for him already, and envisioning ways he will be successful on the field once Brady is done. Oh crap!

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This signing is media gold, and football foolishness. Tebow's talents on this team are less than a backup kickers relevance to the roster. So when the dust settles, and it is not the End of Days, no announcer is going to put these two syllables together, tea and bow, once during the regular season. Even if Mr. Irrelevant feels lonely and decides to get naked on the field again for some pathetic need for attention reason. I will say no more about this foolishness (okay, probably not;-). 

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He Wore A Green Shirt. Or, 

I Don't Know If This Is Brilliance or Blasphemy.

By TOM

 

 

Isn't that an oxymoron? When you jam Tebow and QB together? Even when you add a 3rd to the equation, those are two words that should never be put together. It's like butt and tackle, those are two words the Tebow Jets brought together last year that should never be brought together. Someone needs to wake me up from this all too real delusion. 

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Okay, I changed the channel from CSN to NESN, and the story was the same. The QB killer has descended on Foxboro. I think as a recovering catholic I can say that Jesus has gone too far this time. Using his messengers to send this message, via Cable TV is just too much for me. 

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I must say the future does not look bright, as we shift closer and closer to the 5-TE offense (with the tight end Tebow under Center, Hernandez in the backfield, and three TEs to be named later on the outside;-). Is this a sign that Brady has lost his way. That his golden arm and his faithful right hand has finally repented. This is shocking news on an apocalyptic level.   

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The very great tribulations that shakes my very soul at this news, is beheld in both worry and wonderment. Can the spear arm of Brady overcome this trial, like the blessed arm of Manning. Who vanquished him on his Bronco. Let me hear what the messengers say. They have kept the word in New Jersey, just north of Philadelphia. They say he closed the door on quarterbacking north of Philadelphia. The Eagles said no. The Lions said no. 

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The ugliness of his release is enough to cause angels to quake in the earth. His desires for sheer naked attention has disrupted everything he pretends to preach. He opens the play book and read the words of offense: the OC wept, Sanchez was slain, and the Tebowites said, "amen."

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The Broncos were free. The riders of green Jets had done their worst. Pale and red he will ride into Foxboro, for us to draw near and watch on two-a-days. And football oblivion followed with him. It didn't make any sense, like the moon was Miami orange or the sun was jet. Tebow is a 3rd string QB in the Patriot land. I hope I don't sound vindictive. But the stars are falling to earth. Logic has given way to pestilence. I have faith. I have truly holy hope. I give great thanks to him. In Bill we trust. But...

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...Where is wisdom. In know we will here Bill's big voice crying out what must be done. That he wears green, nor rides pale Bronco, nevermore. I trust his judgment; his mad scientist way to find a place for this fallen football player. But his labors and works have not been enough. Can he transform himself into an offensive jack-of-all-trades. Maybe he has matured and no longer seeks to reap the harvest of the QB fields. 

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I also worry about the words of those who worship this false legend. He was a great college player who has no NFL skills. I don't care if seven angels descend onto the stands of Gillette to say he will pour out the cans of whoop-ass onto the earth in Foxboro. He will not. My assessment of his skills are true, faithful, and just. He has no NFL skills in his arm.  

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I don't know if this is the beginning or the end. Or a final prayer for the spirit of our faithful city of Foxboro, having held the glory of the Lombardi Trophy, and the light of the three trophies that glow like precious stones. We march towards the judged forth golden glory with the passions of the sons of Israel. 

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But have the gates just been closed. Is the throne of a champion no longer illuminated by him. Does the great media shadow, and foolish false idol worshipping, the false QB Tebow brings behind him too much for the Foxboro faithful. Behold, he is approaching quickly. Too many fell to his feet and should be reprimanded for such foolishness. He is not a prophet of football. He does not seal the words of the play book onto his arm. He is far from the first, nor will he be the last, to kneel and pray on the field. To "Tebow", should mean to confuse those who worship in the church of the NFL. So draw near to your screens and witness this prophecy, because it is gong to be a hell of a ride watching this football revelation (it can also mean surprise;-) unfold. 

 

 

WR.

By TOM- 4/12

 

Well it really has been a whirlwind of a week. First we have a WR, then we don't have a WR. I see D-End as their top need, then D-End is no longer their top need. First, I'm working on the 3rd Round. Then I'm not. Now I am, I guess. If I am going to keep covering BB's Draft manipulations I am going to need a prescription for Adderall. 

However, if this A-D-D Draft continues as scheduled? I see three main needs that I can't seem to shake. Even though they seemed to have added depth at each position:: DB, OLB, and WR. They will have their fill of choices. So many that drifting down to the 2nd Round to acquire some picks in the middle is inevitable. The only question can the find a sucker to give up a 3rd to trade up in this Draft packed with middle of the road starting talent stretching into the 4th Round.  

Looking at picks 29 and 59. They could be deciding between Robert Woods, and Eric Reid here, and either could fall to 59. They Could be deciding between Justin Hunter and Alex Okafor here. Now neither is likely to be available at 59, but what if Okafor is available at 40? And DeAndre Hopkins (before you freak out about Hopkins, he ran a 4.59, WR who run 4.59 slips into the early 3rd Round) or Kenny Stills slips to the 3rd, or Chris Harper in the 4th (if they trade down and acquire a 4th). Suppose they like the CB that I like Jamar Taylor. He could easily be there at 41. When they are on the clock, likely to be on the board: Hayden, Taylor, Wren-Wilson, Slay, Banks, Amerson, Alford, and Gantz; Plus, don't forget Safeties likely on the board: Reid, Elam, Cyprien, Phillip Thomas, Swearinger, and Shamarko Thomas. So they could trade down 14 spots to 42, and still be guaranteed a top DB, even if every single team after picks a DB from 29-42 (not gonna happen;-). Most likely, one of those 14 DBs is going to be sitting on the board when if they get a pick early in the 3rd Round. 

This Draft is such an odd Draft. You could see over half of the 2nd Round be DBs or WRs. You could see 10 to 12 of the 14 DBs I just listed go in the 2nd, and Patterson (personality is causing him to drop like a stone. He is no longer a top 20 pick), Hunter (not likely), Woods, Hopkins, Keenan Allen (speed and injury could pop him out of the 1st Round), Terrence Williams, Wheaton, Patton, Stills (not likely), and Dea'Rick Rogers (has the talent, but not the character). 

So then you have passrushers. They could be sitting here looking at DE and OLBs: Hunt (DE in a 3-4), Carradine (DE/OLB in a 3-4), Okafor, Jamie Collins, Moore, Montgomery, and Datone Jones (DE in a 3-4). I don't see any of them be available at 59. Collins, Moore, and Montgomery are likely to be on the board at 42. So if they go for those three moves, they will likely have to go OLB, DE, Passrusher first. The quality drops off fast. Hunt, Carradine, Okafor, and Jones are the top guys, and they will go quick. 

So they will have to decide if they want one of the athletic freaks here, like Hunter, Hunt, Carradine, Okafor, Elam, or Reid. Because those guys aren't going to last long. Is getting a 4th Round pick worth losing one of these six guys? I say no. However, acquiring a 3rd is worth losing out on one of those six guys. The could turn an early 3rd into: Thomas or Thomas at Safety, Alford or Gantz at CB, Wheaton or Stills at WR, and Lemonier or Gholston at OLB or DE. 

Okay (LOL), here is my wacky trade that will never happen for the week. I thought it was funny how BB was interviewing Dion Jordan. I mean, there is no way they can trade up for Jordan, right? Or is there? Everybody and there brother believes that Cleveland is sitting pretty on the perfect trade down perch. If one of the big three or Milliner has to be on the board when they pick. There are a couple of teams who have to get an OLT (Chargers) and/or a starting CB (Miami), or their season could be ruined before they start. However, Cleveland is not afraid to make radical trade downs for wild compensation. So what if the Pats package their 1st and 2nd, and Ryan Mallet. Whatever you and I think of Mallet is irrelevant. What Lombardi and BB think of Mallet is what matters. If Mike wants Mallet enough he has the ammo to get him. BB has said his value to the team, as Brady insurance, starts at a 1st or 2nd. This could work out. I also thought of this when they had their 3rd hanging in the wind in Pittsburgh. Because I though it would be funny if BB traded all his picks before the 7th Round. Completely distaining the Draft and the draft process this year. But, the Steelers match and ruined by whimsical whims. 

Tommy Kelly- "2010 to 2011 (46 hurries, 17 hits and 15 sacks, got pressure on 12.4 percent of rush attempts), he definitely has a spot on this team."

Also, this looks like a nice spot for a team to trade for a QB, like Barkley.   

Barkley is a terrific talent. He has the traits that QB's who succeed in the NFL have. He has the accuracy. He has that computer mind that knows what everyone is doing on the field. He has the leadership qualities that QBs need. But most importantly, he is constantly working to improve his game. The one trait that all successful QBs have is that they are obsessed with getting better. Barkley improved statistically each season, and during his senior season, until his O-Line fell apart. His Junior seaosn was his beast season, where he garnered 3,528 yards and 39 TDs, with a 69% completion percentage. I just keep picturing him playing left D-End for the Pats. Strongside baby! BB like to switch in and out of Odd and Even fronts. Hunt could D-End in either front for the Pats. When when they go into their two man front, which they went into a ton in the Playoffs, he could be a terrific inside rusher next to Wilfork. Having the Mighty Margus with Ninkovich outside of him on one side, and Jones with Hightower lined up outside of him could give the Pats some of the best edge defense in the game. Plus, I don't think he is an OLB. However, his agility and balance are so stunning. He is not a 3-4 OLB, but I have never seen a guy his size with the feet of Mercury before. his feet are truly amazing. Their is just no way a 6-8 guy can play on the edge in a 3-4. Unless? He is the Mighty Margus! I will be doing his Tape against Fresno very soon. Hopefully being snowbound over the next few days will help (now that this wretched Mock is finally done;-).  

 

WR.

By TOM- 4/12

 

I might be crazy, but I still think the Pats go WR here. I thought they needed another WR when they still had Wes and Lloyd. I don't think either of the three pick ups are better than Wes or Lloyd. You could argue that Amendola is a better player than Lloyd, but he certainly hasn't been the past two seasons. 

So did they fill their glaring need at WR, and more importantly an outside WR who can get open deep. I say no. I think Donald Jones has a chance to be that guy. However, when a team doesn't even make an offer to a young player that will Restrict him, you have to be weary of letting your imagination turn him into anything other than a JAG. 

I liked Jenkins coming out of Ohio ST, but he is not a deep threat. He might be a good 3rd WR, but you really can't expect more than that. So that leaves again without a number one WR, or rather a Slot Receiver as our Number One. If you combine out two TE offense without a deep guy, you have Gronk left as the guy trying to take the top off the defense. 

However, there are some guys available who can take the top off the defense. Right here. Right now. Terrence Williams ran a disappointing time at the Combine, but he was the best deep threat in college football last season. He is an X-WR, on Brady's right. Justin Hunter has that knack for getting open deep, and he has similar size to Williams, but his hands are not the best in the world. Marcus Wheaton might be the best WR at getting open deep in the NFL. The problem is that he is smaller, and not as well thought of. You can get him in the 2nd. Maybe at 59. 

I think the WR who fits the Pats offense the best is Woods. He should be available at 59. However, with 4.44 speed, I'm sure he is the deep outside guy who can really open things up inside for everyone else. He certainly wasn't that in college. What he is, is a great precision timing WR, who will have the best chance to develop a rapport with Brady like he did with Barkley. 

I'm not a Homer-3/22: Okay, I've climbed back in off the ledge. I've made a sacrifice (read this;-) to the football gods. I've made my peace with my Wes Welker withdrawal. It is what is it. Just don't tell me you guys wanted him back. They decided in the preseason last year that they were not going to welcome him back. Even with all the obvious Owner tampering keeping the prices down, they low balled him with obvious insulting intent. 

I say they were wrong. They believe they were right. Neither really matters now. The Pats are Wes-less, and lamenting over the lives millionaires is a waste of space in my soul. What matters now is can they pick up Brady's poor broken heart, and find the path back to the Super Bowl?

I say no, with an obvious homer caveat. Defense. If losing Wes (and this is another homer stretch;-), allowed them to sign Talib and Wilson, then I can relax a little. I won't include Amendola in that equations, because despite the sad pathetic attempt at obvious propaganda, if they wanted Wes he would have been signed before he came close to FA, two years for 16 Mil is not a franchise heartbreaker (it wasn't the attempt I objected to, it was the quality of the lie, or lack there of, that offended me. Okay so that is my pathetic attempt at propaganda, as nothing offends me except the NRA;-). Amendola was their first and only choice, or Wes would have gotten 31 Mil. He was seen as the key to keeping the offense going smoothly at record pace. Whether we agree or not the deed is done. 

The only question left is, does the loss of Wes allow them to sign one of the big three veteran passrushers (and yes not giving Wes 8 Mil a year will allow them to sign 20 Mil in defenders, and I am not a homer;-). I like Abraham the most of the big three. 

I have been his biggest critic since he left the Jets. He was so talented that he was overused. So he kept getting injured. He can't stand up to the run without getting injured. I don't know if he is predisposed to injury or injury prone (that is a PFW joke;-). However, I know he can't be a full time player because he can't take the beating in run defense that the big slow O-Linemen love to give to the speedy little rushers. However, as a designated rusher, he is still a force on the edge. The Falcons figured that out three years ago, and used him as little as possible. The less you use him the more you need him. With Ninkovich and Jones starting on the outside, with a little Hightower thrown in for fun, their is not need for him to ever be on the field in obvious running downs. In fact, there is no need for him to be on the field in other than obvious passing down, as the obvious pure designated passer (I seem to writing obvious at an obviously annoying rate in this rant;-) .

Freeney is now pretty much in the same category as Abraham. Though I think he has less left. He also didn't seem to adjust well to standing up in the 3-4 last year. However, if that is who they can get, it will be fun watching him rush the passer for us rather than against us for a change. 

Dumervil is the youngest and likely best of the three. However, he is likely to get the biggest bucks, and he hasn't been the same since he hurt his knee. Will he ever get to 17 Sacks again? I don't think so. However, he is the most likely to have multiple double digit Sack seasons of the big three. 

So the signing of the three DBs makes me much more comfortable with our chances to get back to get the elusive 4th for Brady. If they can get one veteran passrusher, you have to favor them again to take the AFC. Their defense is set to take another big step forward this year, just with the experience all the young defenders got last year. The Pats offense is not going to lead them to the Promised land. It is going to be their defense that gets them over the jinx.

Because once a QB loses a Super Bowl, he never wins a Super Bowl after that. The only time it has been done is by Elway, and that was because of defense and the best running game in the NFL for two seasons. Elway was not the catalyst that propelled them to victory. He was the veteran leader who road the wave, and held them together. They certainly wouldn't have won it without him, but it was the Salary Cap shenanigans that allowed them to keep Terrell Davis and Elway on the Roster that was the real reason (Okay that might have been too much of a cheapshot, even for me;-). 

However, the plan stands. Brady is in old Elway territory now. He cannot win it by himself, as his skills and ability to take hits are now diminishing each year. BB needs to find a way of taking some if not most of the offensive responsibilities off of Brady's back. In the age of the fear flight in football, he has to go old school. Defense and running game are the Pats all out priorities now. They have to study the Shanahan blueprint he created so artfully in Denver that give old Elway two rings. Old QB's have to be protected with an all out commitment to run, backed by a stout defense. If either fails the old QB will have to drop back in coverage too much.

In case you missed it, BB's philosophy has changed. Last years off season, and even the one before, was a clear change in philosophy. He no longer is concerned with five years from now. He has to win now. They have a three season window to snag the elusive 4th. So they need to win now. It started a couple of Drafts ago when he used two Day Two picks on RBs. It wasn't a huge change and certainly not obvious, but it was the first sign of the new win now philosophy. Last years Draft was an easy opportunity to keep the trade down philosophy going, because the 2017 season was as important as the 2012 season. Only an odd thing happened on the way to the 2017 season. BB traded up. He scarified future help for immediate impact defenders (And yes, that includes Tavon Wilson! And no, I am not a Homer;-). 

They also started trading away picks to help the 2017 season to acquire impact veterans to help win now. Granted, Haynesworth, Ellis, and Ocho did not produce the optimal results we envisioned. However, the obvious intent was there. We do not have a 4th, 5th, and 6th Round picks in this Draft because of the trades for impact veterans (okay, so only Talib has worked out so far, so what;-). I'm not praising the results, I'm revealing the philosophy. 

Right here right now, BB knows he has three years, even if Brady and Krafty don't. Though he should clearly trade down in this Draft and take a couple of shots at a young outside WR, he will stick at 29 and take the top impact defender he can find. Or, take a RB. Is it just me or is the hit Ridley took in the Raven's game a career changer? That is the kind of hit the RBs never really recover from. I would not argue with Lacy at 29. Anything that propels us towards the Old Elway Blueprint to win the Super Bowl. 

I'd jump for joy with an O-Linemen (Fluker, if they can't sign Vollmer, and of course Barrett Jones, whose Tape just needs to be edited), Lacy, or any impact defender at 29. Remember also, Cleveland used their 2nd Round pick on the Supplemental Draft, and New Orleans lost theirs for cheating (how come when all other teams lose Draft Picks for breaking the rules: San Fran, Denver, Saints;  it's just one of those things? But when it happens to the Pats is it immoral cheating of epic proportion? I'm not a homer;-). So, the Pats 2nd Round pick went from 61 to 59, so a WR here is a stronger possibility than in the 1st. 

The 59th pick is the prime example of why I think the Pats should trade down. I saw a lot of Justin Hunter (which will never happen), Terrence Williams, and DeAndre Hopkins going to the Pats in the 1st Round. Why would they do that when one of those guys is likely to be available at 59. Plus, Wheaton, Woods, and Chris Harper are almost guaranteed to be on the board at 59. Sitting at 29 players likely to still be on the board who could help with the Old Elway Blueprint are: Hunt, Collins, Reid, Lacy, Fluker, Barrett Jones, Elam, Jesse Williams, Tank Carradine, Datone Jones, Okafor, and Montgomery (though I think Alex and Sam are more 4-3 DEs). Plus, the six WRs I just showed. If ever there was an opportunity to trade down with a team that wants to lock up one of the QBs to a five year contract this is the year. If ever there was a year where teams would be desperate for that extra year to decided if they want to give their young QB billions, it is this year. Especially, when you consider you can trade down 12 spots and still be guaranteed a shot at one of the 11 players, and one of the six WRs at 59.

However, with the obvious switch in philosophy, I'm not sure BB will do that. If he sees an impact defender on the board, he will just take him. He won't risk losing him two picks later. Even though I have over a dozens guys rated about even at 29 who can help win next year, doesn't mean he does. So hold onto you hats Pat's Fans, this is going to be a crazy couple of months. 

4/14: I hate this Draft. My computer crashed last Friday, and I'm finally things on back on board. We sent the kids to my Mother's house this past weekend, so the damn wife said I couldn't do any football stuff on Saturday and Sunday, because it was date night. I went to basketball Sunday morning anyway. However, the massive reconstruction didn't really start until Monday. I redid three Tapes. Found most of the missing files. The biggest problem I'm have is reconnecting to the web server. I had forgotten how I had done it on my old computer. I don't have the nifty system I had installed yet (their server has decided is doesn't like my new computer;-). However, I can load one file at time with a bit of backdoor BS program. So not much else to say, other than I called the Tavon not possibly going to New England. Is there not anyway the Vikings pass on him at 25? I just don't see it. 

Poison Pill.

By TOM- 4/12

The Pats have been busy. Just as I was 100% certain they grab a D-End to pair with Wilfork and Deaderick or Love, they sign Tommy Kelly. So I reassess and see the giant hole at WR as the most dire situation. I focus in on Justin Hunter. He reminds me a little of Demaryius Thomas. Not an exact match, but both are/were more freak athlete with the most vast untapped potential in their respective Drafts. Both could have a mystery fan called Josh. So they go out and make two signing that seem to solve the situation. 

The first, is Edelman, who solves nothing. The second is Sanders, who is not technically on the team yet. He is an interesting signing that could go a long way to help this team, but one year at 2.5? Why go there? The trap seems a little wanting to say the least. Waste of time comes to mind instantly. 

Well, that is the subtlety of trap in the signing. Pittsburgh gave him an offer of 1.3, which goes on their Cap. They have Cap issues and have to clear room off their Cap to use their Draft Picks. It used to be 110 thousand for each pick, but I don't know what it is now. If they match, 1.2 gets added to their Cap. If they don't match 1.3 comes off their Cap, and they can use their Draft picks without further losses. So the offer is not as silly as it seems at first glance. It actually has an interesting Cap incentive for Pittsburgh not to match, as well as a Cap disincentive if they do match. 

The NFL took out the "poison pill" option in contracts. So a new one was found. You can't give free agents outrageous bonuses that they are assured to meet if they stay with the team you are trying to steal them from, and assured not to meet if they go with the new team. However, BB found a way around it by offering a less than acceptable option, rather than more. The poison pill is the "one-year" of the contract. Pittsburgh will have trouble agreeing to give Sanders another 1.2 million dollars off their Cap this year, with no grantee of future service. He has demonstrated that he is ready to leave the team. Plus, after next season, because of the poison pill, he will be an unrestricted free agent. He will be gone.

So Pitt has to decide if they want him to have Sanders for one season, with more Cap trouble than it seems worth for one season without any long term security. Or, Take the 1.3 Mil off their Cap for their Draft picks. They will acquire the Pats 3rd. Which will become a cheap four-year contract, and could easily Draft a similarly talented WR with different traits to develop that they don't have with their current crew (Stills-speed, Chris Harper-power, Aaron Dobson-length). Sanders has a lot of similar traits as Antonio Brown. Both are more Slot receivers than outside speed guys. Suddenly, signing Sanders doesn't seem like such a slam dunk.  

The advantage it gives the Pats is that you know their is some wink-wink nod-nod plan for a future contract with the Pats. They may not be able to guarantee he will back with a new contract after next season. But I can guarantee that they are ten times more secure in resigning Sanders after next season. This is the wink-wink nod-nod clause of BB's new and improved "poison pill" contract. 

It's About Money.

By TOM-3/22

 

This is such a frustrating Draft. All the top players in this Draft have obvious talents that could make them stars. They also have obvious question that could cause them to bolt to bust city: Jordan has the shoulder, Lotulelei has the heart, Jones has the neck, Ansah the complete lack of production, Mingo matched Ansah with 4.5 Sacks last season, Warmack is a tragically terrible athlete, and Geno Smith can look as good as Luck and worse than JaMarcus Russell all on the same Tape. Except, the three Tackles and Dee Milliner. 

You could argue the four best prospects, certainly the prospects with the least amount of warts, are the three OLTs and Milliner. Joeckel is looks the best moving backwards and is the best pass blocker right now. Fisher is much more physical, and a better run blocker. Johnson is the best athlete of the three, and has the most upside. You could easily see the top three picks in this Draft be OLT. Yet you could also see none of the three OLT go in the first three picks. The problem is that the top three teams have solid OLT already on their teams. All three team also have massive gaps at ORT. I have trouble believing that you take an ORT with a top three pick. I know the NFL has changed radically over the past five years, but I can't believe that two or three teams will take a Right Tackle with the top two or three picks in the Draft. 

The excuse could be for KC that they have Albert on a Franchise tag for one year. They could play Joeckel or Fisher at ORT for one year, and then move him over to OLT. But again, the Number One Pick in the draft is a huge asset. To use it to reinforce a position you are already set at seems a waste. Especially when you used your 2nd and 3rd Round picks on O-Tackles in last years Draft. 

The same for the Jags. They could take OLT sloppy seconds from KC, and move Monroe over to ORT. Monroe is a bigger guy. Traditionally the ORT has to be more of a road grader. He has to play a little tougher and stronger on the strongside. It could be justified because, as I said in my Mock a few years ago, Gabbert's feet panic when he gets pressure. If they are going to continue to place the Franchise on his panicky feet, then having two terrific Tackles is a must. Also changing the system to more shorter patterns, with West Coast Principles wouldn't hurt either. When you have a QB who isn't comfortable in the pocket, maybe you should scrap the deep throwing vertical offense? 

The problem is that both picks are not an upgrade to OLT, even if both rookies start at ORT this season or next. Taking Fisher or Joeckel first and/or second is an upgrade to the Right Tackle position. The same holds true for the Raiders. They have an exciting you OLT Veldheer. So taking an OLT here would be an upgrade to the ORT position. With two of the top ORT to come around in a while in Fluker and Menelik Watson likely to be around at the top of Round Two, and Aboushi, Bakhtiari, Nixon likely available to start the 3rd, taking Fisher or Joeckel to upgrade the ORT position seems a waste of such a valuable asset to me. Plus, Day Three should start with Emmet Cleary, Brennan Williams, and Rick Wagner still on the board as decent ORT prospects. 

Even the most adamant Joeckel guys have to admit that he is an awkward fit for KC. I would have no trouble with a team that has a hole at OLT, like KC has a hole at ORT, taking Joeckel Number One overall in this Draft. But that is not the case here. Albert's gave up one Sack last season. The hope of Joeckel is that he develops into an OLT that gives up one Sack a year. They already have that. I keep coming back to the idea that you have to use the Top Pick in the draft to upgrade a top value position. Right Tackle is not seen as a top value position.

Okay, so the flaw in my logic is that Albert's has a bad back, and missed games at the end of the year last year. Albert is not the type of O-Tackle Reid usually likes. But, it looks like they will be stick to the Zone Blocking scheme. So the two O-Tackles they took last year should still have a spot on the line. My problem is that KC doesn't need an O-Linemen. They have Albert at OLT, with Allen and Stephenson battling it out for Swing Tackle and ORT (Fisher would surely be an upgrade to one of those two players). At OG they just signed Geoff Schwartz, and already have Asamoah, and Lilja. They Drafted Hudson a few years ago out of Florida St, and he won the starting OC position before getting injured. When he was out Lilja stepped in at Center, and played well. That is a nice young developing O-Line. 

Would Joeckel be an upgrade at ORT, or even OLT, most likely. Is that worth the top pick in the Draft, no. However, they have a lot of trouble on the D-Line getting any kind of pressure on the QB. 

The Chiefs are just a cursed Franchise. It is just unbelievable. All the injuries they have suffered. Then comes Draft time and it just seems to get worse. They have the top pick, but who do they take? Geno Smith is the best QB, but just because a guy is the top rated QB in the Draft doesn't mean he is the Number One overall pick. Is it little wonder they are trying to trade for Alex Smith. The top rated player in this Draft Jarvis Jones has stenosis in his neck, and you just can't take him with the first pick. They need help on the D-Line and the top D-Tackle in the Draft Lotulelei shows up at the Combine with a heart problem. So you can't take him. That leaves Joeckel as the default pick, but he did not look any thing at all like the top overall pick at the Combine. Try to think back to what Matt Kallil looked like last year. Kalil looked athletically like the top non-QB in the Draft. Joeckel looked athletically like a mid-1st Round pick at best. I think both Fisher and Lane Johnson will end up being better OLT. Plus, Brandon Albert has finally turned into the player they thought he would be, allowing only one Sack last year. You can't use the Number One Pick in the Draft to down-ground that position. They need to resign Albert. Of course, Albert isn't the prototype for a Reid O-Linemen. But KC has to keep what little talent they have acquired. Letting Bowe, Albert and/or Dorsey go would be another disaster for this Franchise. They need to add a viable option at Quarterback, not lose talent. KC bad luck just starlets me every year. Ironically, they gave up the first pick in the second round for Alex Smith, just like they did for Matt Cassel. This Draft is going to be impossible to forecast. I can't even get by the first pick. When you there are ten options for the first pick, it is going to be a long March. 

The Chiefs had a total breakdown last season. They need a reboot, and their is no QB worth the top pick in the Draft. The closest is Matt Barkley, who throws amazingly like Drew Brees. Brees dropped from top five pick to the first pick in the 2nd Round. Their offense fell apart because of injury, and their defense looked terrible. With Glenn Dorsey a FA, Tyson Jackson looking like the next to be put on the unemployment line, and their inability to stop the run, I just don't see Star falling. They hired Andy Reid to run things, and he likes to take the big uglies first. ďWe have been blessed with the No. 1 pick in the draft,Ē New HC in charge Andy Reid said. ďAnd you want to make sure you do the right thing and pick the right guy, not necessarily a quarterback, it has to be the right thing.Ē If there is one guy in the NFL who will take a big O-Tackle with the first pick in the Draft it is Parcells. I mean, Andy Reid. 

 

 

I cannot believe that Jarvis Jones struggled to run under a 5.0. He is one of those guys that flashes all over the field with speed and quickness. He will drop precipitously because of his forty. The forty time is often controversial, and misunderstood. It is not just a measurement of speed. It is a measurement of understanding. It is not about football. It is about money. 

Speed matters in the NFL. People are already talking about a 174 pound WR in the top ten. In a game of giants you cannot take a gnome in the top ten! So why? Speed. pure, simple, and unstoppable speed. Also, the dirty little secret of the forty time? It is a stat that all Owners can understand. 

There are two things the GMs want more than anything else in the world. First, to improve the talent on their team so they can win a Super Bowl. Second, they want to keep their jobs. If you take a PR with 4.5 speed and he busts, you won't get the owner to start thinking about firing you. If you pick up a passrusher in the top ten with 4.9 speed, and he busts? The seeds of firing will be planted.  

Look at what is happening down in Jet's-ville. Two simple questions: Is Sexy Rexy the best choice for coach this year? No. Why are the Jets considering trading the best player they've had on their team for the past few decades, for Draft picks in 2014? The GM doesn't want to add talent this year. The reason is the same, job security. 

The Jets have destroyed their Salary Cap. The purge of their roster is designed specifically to ensure they have some flexibility back in 2014 and 2015. However, in order to do that they have sacrifice the 2013 season to the Salary Cap Gods. The Jets are set to be in the Bridgewater sweepstakes. The top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is not going to be Clowney, it is going to be the QB from Louisville who was the best QB prospect in college football last year. The Jets GM know this. 

His problem is that he has to survive the Salary Cap renovation without a blemish on his job performance. He has to find a way that the disastrous season he has set them up for the team, does not reflect on him at all. How does he do that? Sexy Rexy of course. He will sacrifice Sexy Rexy at the Owner's alter at the end of next seaosn. Whispers in the Owner's ear about all the mistakes Rexy makes. Whisper to a reporter or two how incompetent Rexy has been. Then last season's failings fall on Tannenbaum, and next season's failings fall squarely on Rexy. And if things go as planned, he then has the Pick to pick up Bridgewater, and another 1st and two 2nds from the Reeves trade to parlay into sudden talent input. 

Now, before you feel bad for Rexy, this is not news. Rexy knows that unless he wins it all the sacrifice has begun, and winning will be impossible with their dearth of talent, and the GM working against him. He knows he gets to play his dream job for one more year and then "off with his head". The reporters who leak the backstabbing stories know they are sticking in the first knife in the blood sacrifice, but they also the new GM will owe them other whispers that will advance their careers. Heck, the Owners likely knows as well. This well worn strategy has been portrayed as fooling the Owner for years, though he is more likely complicit. And Rexy knows that all the other GMs and HCs know what is happening, and by taking the hit and playing the good solder will ensure him a DC job in 2014.  

So the Jets will keep GM, QB, and HC killing Tebow for one more season (who was the cause of the demise of Tannenbaum, Sanchez, and Rexy, and not so much Tebow as the Tebowites, who can't stop sticking daggers into anyone who pretends Tebow is anything less then Jesus;-). Then the new GM won't be able to get rid of his ass fast enough. Armed with two 1st and two 2nds in 2014, he won't be able to blame that horrible team destroying ogre Sexy Rexy fast enough, while secretly thanking him for doing a super job covering his ass. If he is lucky they will have the 1st or 2nd pick in the Draft (obviously I'm routing against that;-) to snag Bridgewater (because in the unlikelihood that a team with no QB issues has the 1st pick, they will gleefully snag Clowney). Then all will be good in Jet's-ville.   

So how far does Jones fall? I don't know. But will not be a top ten pick. He is the best passrusher in this Draft, but a GM with absolute job security, like BB, is the only guy who could take him with 4.9 speed in the top 20. My Draftnic instincts are telling me it will be the Steelers at 17. 

You have to think that Jones' agent has him on a track this morning with a track coach to teach him how to run track. The good news is that he looked absolutely terrible running that forty. I don't know if you saw him run it, but he was a mess. He usually runs so low with such explosion. But he ran so high and without that explosion on the track. He usually runs with such intense focus on the ball. But he looked lost and almost confused running on the track. He had virtually no track form at all when he ran. 

Remember, we are only talking about two or three tenths of a second. He gets to 4.7 or under and he is a lock as the first passrusher taken. A little more focus, better technique on the starting block, getting a great blast off the starting block (like a QB was in front of him rather than a tape;-), staying low for longer, keeping his upper body tighter, and pumping his arms. I know it seems silly, but all those little techniques really work. I see the best sprinters do the same techniques ever year at the Combine. 

If he has a decent agent he will have another chance. Mayock interviewed him after the forty, and he seemed to have no idea the importance of the forty time he just ran. Jobs are on the line. His agent has to make him understand he importance of what just happened, and get him to focus on the forty before the Draft. Get him on a fast track, with a guy who can teach him how to run a forty. Because every week that time stands costs him hundreds of thousands of dollars. His agent has to make him understand, what too many football fans and alleged annalist don't understand: that a forty time is not about football. It's about money. 

Austin Is Not Coming to the Pats.

By TOM- 3/10

 

I don't know much, but I do know that BB will never take the guy everybody thinks he should draft. I don't know what the date is, but I do know BB will not take Austin here now that everybody and his brother has Austin going here. I can't sing to save my life, but I can tell you this is the mighty Magnus's floor. He will not fall past the Pats. Now that the Welker contract looks like it is close and they still haven't cut Lloyd, it looks like the need to take a WR here is lessoning a little. We all know how much BB loves value, especially in the Draft. The clear value in this Draft is going to be WRs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Rounds. There is more than enough interesting talent to go around. However, there is not enough freakish athletes to go around. I think the mighty Margus is a top ten pick. I kept trying to fit him into teams before this pick and couldn't. He is not a D-Tackle, so you have to take the 4-3 teams out of the equation. I think he was born to play the 5-technique. Plus, did you see his feet in the bag drills at the Combine. I was shocked. He has the feet of an All-Pro 3-4 OLB. He might not get by the Jets at 9. I think he will be their before April arrives in my Mock. If Jarvis Jones and Dion Jordan are gone when the Jets are up, they will not pass on the mighty Margus. If sexy Rexy has any say left in the process. He very well may not however. That being said, I just don't see him fitting as well in 4-3 teams. I think the same could be said for Jones and Jordan as well. It is scary to think what twisted defensive minds like BB and Rex could do with this super freak. 

 

Before the Crash Part I.

By TOM

 

From before the Crash Part I: I really hate this Draft. It is just for to convoluted to forecast. I just finish my first March Mock, and naively think it isnít too bad. I felt I finally figured out who KC was going to take: Sharrif Floyd, because they have two legit starting tackles. Then I go online to read the last Free Agent news, and they had just released Eric Winston. If you canít figure out the first pick in the draft, how do you do a mock draft? 

The two players in this Draft are easily Jarvis Jones and Star Lotulelei. However, nothing scares NFL types more than neck injuries. One bad snap and it is over. However, at the Combine we discovered one type of physical problem that is more troublesome than a neck problem, a heart problem. So you canít take Jarvis Jones number one overall, and you might not be able to take Star at all. When was the last time you saw a Draft where top two players in the Draft were being taken off boards? 

Then I take Tavon Austin off the Pats pick, and stick in the slipping super star waiting to happen Margus Hunt. Then like clockwork the latest news is a disaster to my analysis. Now Wes wants to test the market. You canít blame him. Because he knows as well as every one else that the Pats are facing the Lloyd bonus deadline. Which makes him more valuable each day. As the nebulous deadline approaches Wes looks better and better in Foxboro. Is it March 16th? Is it March 18th? Is it March 31st? We donít know, because, all three dates have been reported by credible reporters. The Pats will be desperately watching the deadline as Wes is wined and dined by our top rivals. All to try save a few bucks. 

This value savings chart is doubly dangerous this time. Because you cannot release Lloyd until Wes is signed sealed and delivered. If Wes leaves, you then cannot release Lloyd over a nebulous 1.9 Mil. Again we donít know what the Cap savings will be if they release him. The reports of the demise of his Cap hit has been greatly exaggerated. The true Cap saving is less than two Mil this year. They cannot even contemplate releasing him if Wes isnít signed. 

It startles me that people are so eager to release him. Upon further review, they are bereft of WRs. If they release Lloyd and Wes doesnít sign, then they have no viable option at WR. That would end Bradyís attempt for the all-important Forth. They have roster fillers at wide receiver on the roster now, and Lloyd. That is a disaster waiting to happened. Cutting Lloyd under these conditions the disaster. 

I know Pats fanís delusions of glory are overwhelming reason right now. I know weíre going to sign Dwayne Bowe, even though he just signed with KC. I know weíre going to sign Donald Driver, even though he officially retired. I know weíre going to sign Greg Jennings, even though everyone knows he is going to Miami. I know that when we sign Brain Hartline all our troubles will be over, even though he had only one TD reception last year. 

Sometimes you have to take the Romney out of the equation and deal with facts. The fact is that we have a dangerous dearth of WRs on the roster. And BB better get on the ball and sign Welker for a few years at least. Now I know we have a unique situation here with our unique Tight Ends. But you have to have at least two or three viable options at WR 

Or maybe thatís BB plan. I can see it now. Opening Day. Brady in the Shotgun. They go into the 5-TE set. Hernandez in the backfield. Gronk will go out wide on the right, and Hoos-ur-mama-nui out wide on the left. With Ballard in the slot, and Fells on the Line. We can all it the Big TEat Offense. So just as I take WR off the shelf for the Pats 1st Round pick, WRs starts to overwhelm all other needs again. I hate this Draft. I am forecasting right now, that my forecasting of this Draft will be my worst ever. Itís gotten so bad that Iím already forecasting a 5-TE offense for the Pats;-)

 

I Hate This Draft Part II.

By TOM

 

From before the Crash Part II: I hate this Draft. Have said the yet? There is not top pick in this Draft. As all Draftnics know, once you miss a pick the Mock falls to pieces. When there are a dozen players who you say are relatively rated even at the top of the Draft, how do you choose? So the talent tends to even out after that. If the top of the crop is too troublesome to take, then the next tier steps up. Only the next tier is really eight players: Sharrif, Milliner, Fisher, Joeckel, Jordan, Geno, Lane, and you have to include Jarvis. Then you have the problem of Lotulelei, Ansah, Patterson, and Hunt. Then there are three players who are as talented as the top seven, but have issues that has to drag them down further. Star is either going to be a top five pick, or out of the 1st Round. He has a problem with his left ventricle that if not cleared up, makes him undraftable. Ansah hasnít put it all together yet. Patterson is the most dynamic offensive player in the Draft (so you have to include him in the conversation, even though he shouldn't be a top ten pick). However, he has not come close to anything resembling consistency. Which makes him a buyer beware player, and a one year wonder. Hunt looks like he has put is all together. But he is over 6-8, which has become a cut off for linemen. Old school GMs donít want guys over 6-8. Plus, he is such an unusual talent that I donít think most people know what to do with him. Most have Joeckel as the top pick. I disagree. That is the very heart of the problem with this Draft. There is no top pick. Only a convoluted top dozen players. There are a dozen guys who could or should be the top pick in the Draft. I have studied the Draft for a long time and one of the things I have learned is that when there is such an equality of talent, team needs become even more important. This Draft is more extreme than Iíve ever seen, but such equality of talent has been seen before. So when a team comes up to pick they will see five to ten players who rated about the same on their board. So they will tend to try and fill a hole more than normal. With the need for top player on the board verse top need. Talent can overwhelm need. That will happen less in this years Draft. Players will catch a coachís or GMís eye and they will be picking all over the board. Look later on in the Draft. After the top dozen, how many players are rated about even after that? Twenty? Twenty-five? The equality of players after the top group is staggering. Look at the D-Tackles. Is there a real talent difference between: Hankins, Richardson, Sylvester Williams, Jenkins, Short, and Jesse Williams. They do different things and will be more attractive to different teams. But the team that takes Hankins or Richardson early isnít going to get a more talented prospect then the D-Tackles in the late twenties and maybe early thirties. The third tier is even worst. The third tier will go through the 2nd Round and into the 3rd. I have 9.5 flowing into the 50s, and still have about twenty players I need to add that could go in the 2nd Round.

 

I Hate This Draft Part I.

By TOM

Rant alert: I HATE THIS DRAFT. No matter what I do or what I say it is all wrong. I pick this guy it doesn't fit. I pick that guy that cut a veteran who needs desperately to be replaced. Then, just for fun, my computer crashes. I mean, it was an old piece of crap. I bought a shell a while ago, and an OS, and was planning on piecing it together as cheaply as I can. I just had it set up to an old monitor, and boom on Friday the old piece of crap dies an ugly death. But no need to fear faithful followers, I have my 20-year old Frontpage disk in hand and loaded. So changes will come soon. I have somehow figured out who to upload files again, even though I lost every single file on my old piece of crap. Lucky I have been mostly working on my laptop, and have been scuttling files back and forth with my little thumb (They don't call thumb-drive thumb-drives any more do they;-). So the only file I really lost so far has was the damn file that had the Hunt, Austin, and Patterson Tapes on it. I had down the video break downs for those three players, and most of Collins tape. That was what I was working on when the damn piece of crap dies on him finger tips. I HATE THIS DRAFT. I also had to two little articles on the Pats, which I might get up today, on that file; But I had notes and was able to recreate them well enough. Magnus, Austin, and most of Patterson have been recreated, but I haven't started the little article I like to write before the Tape work. Collins is long gone, and it may take me a while to calm down enough to get his done. I HATE THIS DRAFT! Now I'm thinking about hitting three or four WRs that are likely to be around when the Pats pick in the 2nd and 3rd Round. So we will see about Collins, and I also did some extensive film study of Cornelius Washington. He is a hard guy to spot as he didn't play a lot. he was primarily the designated rusher at the 5-Technique for Georgia. I think he would be very hard for BB to apses in the 2nd Round. Okay, I have too much crap to do to finish this Rant...

Star Lotulelei should be the pick here. I purposely left him out of my February Draft, because if he has a heart condition he is out of the 1st Round. However, the news seems to be good so far for him. He is a top five pick, or out of the 1st Round. He makes this Draft even harder to forecast. He fits the 3-4 system the best. He can play the Nose, especially in passing situations. Plus, he could be a Richard Seymour like right D-End. They are desperately waiting for the heart evaluation in early April. Until then, I'm not sure you can even put him in the 1st Round. I think I have this straight now. His left ventricle was working at 45%, when the normal rate is 55-65%. However, that can be cause by several temporary minor things, like a virus. So if his, I don't know, rate in his left ventricle is at 55% or better he should go here with ease. So it comes down to Sharrif and Geno. They just Franchised Albert, and took two O-Tackles on Day Two in last years Draft. And, they have Eric Winston manning ORT. Could someone please tell me where the hell Joeckel is going to play if they take him with the First Pick in the Draft. We aren't talking about a mid round pick here, this is the First Pick in the Draft. I would still seriously consider Geno Smith here. Their QB situation has been so god awful for so long, that doubling up on QBs couldn't hurt. Alex Smith is not going to the Pro Bowl any time soon. Geno at least has a chance in four or five years. However, the D-line needs some attention. Dorsey is likely gone. Pitoitua is a keeper. As is Poe. Jackson has been a disappointment since he arrived. Plus, none of them are real passrusher. Poe might cause the pressure on QBs of them all. That is not good. Sharrif is not a perfect fit for a two-gap defense, but he can put pressure on the QB. He plays with great hands, hips, feet, and leverage in combination. I just re-watched the Georgia-Florida game. He was grabbing O-Linemen's shoulders, and tossing them aside like they were laundry. He has the ability too two-gap. However, it is his burst up the gut to hit the QB that this team really needs. Also, I'm not sure the Chiefs are really going to stick to a 3-4. Andy Reid is not known for his 3-4 defensive schemes. He has been an attacking 4-3 guy his whole career. Grabbing the guy who should be the best 3-technique in this Draft could be a nice start in transitioning to a 4-3. This is easily the most difficult First Pick in the Draft to forecast I have ever seen. You could easily see five or more different guys go here. 

 

 

Livin' On A Prayer.

By TOM

 

BB better be prayin'. He just gave up the crux of the offense for a Mil a year, for two lousy years. "For god sakes! Let us sit upon the ground/ and tell said stories of Kings." This deal is too reminiscent of the Seymour and Assante deals to make me comfortable. It will cost the king another Super Bowl or two.  How does any Pats fan get by two years for 12 Mil. How does any Pats fan get by losing the guy who was Brady's binky for Danny Amen-dough ah la

I may be nuts, but how is Wes Welker not worth 12 Mil, while Amen-dough ah, la is worth 31? I don't think so. If he stays on the field, he is worth it. ďI think thereís a certain amount of what Danny does that he drew from Wesí example as a player, certainly,Ē said Leach, now the coach at Washington State. ďWes came through there first, and [Amendola] had the opportunity to watch the example Wes set, how Wes ran plays, responded to coverages and things like that, so Iím sure that was beneficial. I think their styles of play are similar. Theyíre both just tough, gritty people, and everything they do is full effort.Ē But I just don't see him staying healthy. 

They won't give Wes 12 Mil, but they'll give some guy who has average less than 500 yards a season in his NFL career 31 Mil. Wes has had more receptions since he joined the Pats six years ago, than any other WR in the NFL, by far. I know Amendola had 85 catches in one season, and 18 receptions in one game, by those anomalies do not define the receiver. 

Amendola can't stay on the field. Amendo la ain't no Wes Welker. He's played twelve games in the past two years. Anybody else scared by that stat. The good news is that his injuries were a little fluky, and shouldn't hurt his future performance like a bum knee or bad back. However, we don't know the long term consequences are for a broken clavicle.  

My problem with Amendola is that he is Julian Edelman. He is not a short squat Slot receiver. He is a hair under 6-foot, like Edelman. He runs under a 4.5, like Edelman. He can't stay on the field, like Edelman. He has missed 20 games in the past two season. 

Plus, let's not forget the Pats have a bit of Diva here at QB. If you don't run patterns the way Brady thinks you should run patterns, he'll snap his fingers in front of his face. Then snap his hand over his head, and say "uh-ah boyfriend." Then he'll have a little snit and won't share the ball with you. 

Kurt Warner said it best, "Wes sees the game the way Brady sees the game." We have no idea if Amendola sees the game the way Brady sees the game. We know Lloyd doesn't, but he seems to be learning. You have to minimally see the coverages like Brady sees the coverages if you want him to keep throwing the ball to you.  

My biggest problem is that Wes does two things better than anyone in the NFL. First, he stays on the field. Through bumps and bruises, pain and injury, he stays on the field. He does everything possible to keep himself on the field. He runs out of bounds when he has no room left to run. He dives into the dirt when he has a triangle of defenders in front of him. One things that Edelman/Amendola don't do is dive into the dirt. so they can play in the next game. When you turn up field and you have a CB to your left, a Safety to your right, and Linebacker right in front of you, or any other mix of a triangle of defenders about to kill you, dive into the dirt. What makes players like Edelman and Amendola so exciting it that they will lower their heads and attack the triangle, and sometimes break free for the spectacular play. However, they are then out the next game. Edelman has never started through three games in a row. You have to duck out of bounds when you are a little guy. You have to make guys miss and not take that big hit. You have to dive into the dirt to avoid getting crush by a triangle of defenders, and you never lower your helmet, except to dive into the dirt. 

The other thing that Wes does is he gets open at the line quicker than anyone in the NFL. Brady knows he can throw to him quicker then any WR he has played with. As the run game gets taken out of the NFL more and more, D-Coordinators are calling up the blitz more and more. Which means QBs have less and less time to throw before they get hit. Passrushers are exploding with Sacks and hits over the past few years, and it is only getting worse. When D-Ends and OLB don't have to worry about the run, they are twice as effective blasting off the line and rocketing into the QB. Last season Brady led the NFL in throwing the quickest. He averaged a little more then two seconds from snap to throw (I heard two different results, but is is between 2.17 second and 2.5 second). There are reason for that, not the least of which they run an offense with a lot of West Coast principles, which is a lot of short crossing and inside patterns. They run a lot of Screens. Brady will throw to the RB slipping out of the backfield. They don't have a legit deep threat. 

One of the major reasons is the second thing Wes does better than anyone else. Nobody wins at the LOS quicker than Wes. His cuts are so quick on short patterns that he burst open almost as soon as he cuts. They read blitz. Wes cuts off the pattern the way Brady wants him to. He burst open quicker than anyone on the team. Brady hits him before he gets hit himself. How many times have we seen that over the past six years? hundreds? That is now gone. 

Now, Brady will have to hold onto the ball longer, just because his binky is gone. ďYeah. That was definitely probably the hardest part, leaving Tom,Ē Wes said. ďHeís a great competitor, great player, great friend across the board. I wish the best for him.Ē Aw, I'll miss you too Sparky. Brady will also have to hold onto the ball longer because his binky won at the LOS quicker than anyone in the NFL. That means Brady will get hit more. So it's not just replacing Welker's production, it is replacing his blitz pickups as well. It is his ability to see the defense like Brady sees the defense, and get to where Brady needs him to be when he is in trouble. 

Just at the age when we need Brady to get hit less, BB rids himself of the WR who gets open quicker than anyone else in the NFL. So you better be prayin'. Because Brady will be holding onto the ball a little longer this year. Which means he will be hit a little more this year. AS the passrusher will be unleashed a little more this year. He will be getting hit a little more just because of that. Long live the King. Hello Mr. Mallet. 

 

Tavon Austin to Pats.

By TOM

 

I thought the idea of Tavon Austin in the 1st was a joke. However, after his combine performance I don't see how they could pass on him, if they don't sign Wes. He is as dynamic with the ball in his hands as Harvin. Now we are learning that BB wanted Harvin in the Chung Draft. He likely traded out of the 1st Round because he thought Harvin was his guy. Now, we don't know if Austin can take the beating he will have to in the NFL. At 174 pounds that is a very scary question. We also don't know if he has that quick thinking mind, like Wes. If he wants to play in the Slot with Brady, he needs to have that computer like quickness in his head to process everything he sees, before it happens, like Wes and Brady. However, when players start seeing 4.2's after their names, 1st Round usually starts appearing before their names. 

My problem is that his game has been misrepresented a bit from what I saw. He is not a traditional Slot guy like Wes. He is not a deep burner like Patton. He is a half RB, half Wildcat QB, and half Slot receiver like Percy Harven. He actually did not start as the outside WR at WVU. That was Bailey's and JD Wood's jobs, when they were in the 3-Wide sets. So he played in the Slot, backfield, and lined up next to Geno to run Options. We was a guy they had to scheme for to get the ball into his hands. He is likely to be that type of player in the NFL as well. The question is can he develop into an outside deep threat like David Patton, or is his speed used just when he has the ball in his hands?

This years draft is seriously bereft of star talent. However, speed and stars usually go hand in hand. The speed we saw at the Combine has changed the complexion of this Draft immeasurably. The Pats need some speed on the outside whether Wes is back or not. If Wes is gone, they need to replace his inhuman quickness in the Slot, and his ability to win at the LOS quicker than anyone else in the NFL. Tavon Austin looks like the only guy who can provide both and deep outside speed. He won't last to their second pick. 

His 4.25/4.31 forty is a remarkable stat. I think a lot of people are missing how impressive that stat was. I was shocked at his forty time. When I watched him he was an all-quickness guy at UWV. I saw him as a pure make you miss with quickness guy. You add that speed to his quickness and you have something special. If he can stay healthy, because you have to factor in that 174 stat as well.  

He was more of the jack of all trades guy at UWV. He wasn't the guy outside flying down the sideline. He didn't even start UWV Bowl game at the Flanker or the Split End. He started in Wes' Slot role in that game. So we will see what happens. March 31st will go a long way towards decided this pick. Are both Wes and Lloyd on the team? Maybe neither? But that worry keeps bringing me back to Wide Receivers for the Pats. Then of course comes the odd what so we do with Ryan Mallett question?

I can't believe that the Pats could get a 2nd Round pick for Mallett. I think the worth of Mallet has been greatly exaggerated in Patriot's land. Like me, Mike Lombardi was a big Mallet guy. He also ragged on Weeden a lot. He thought Mallett was twice the prospect Weeden was, like me. So there is a GM who doesn't want to stake his career on the starting QB he inherited, and when he was a TV with nothing really invested, he said he would stake his career on that Mallett guy. If he wasn't just shilling for BB, he should call BB and talk to him right this second. BB would say yes to the Browns 2nd as quick as Wes wins at the LOS. The Pats could take Elam here, and grab two WR in the 2nd who can fly. They could easily grab Austin, Goodwin (4.27), or Justin Hunter (4.44) with Cleveland's pick. Then take Woods (4.44 unofficial), Stills (4.38), or Terrence Williams (4.46 unofficial), or Ryan Swope (4.34) with the second 2nd. BB would even have to think about a 3rd. That won't be an automatic yes. However, with Brain Hoyer a free agent? If the Pats sign Hoyer, it might be a yes. 

Oops:

I made a couple of mistakes. First, Cleveland does not have a 2nd Round pick. They used it in the Supplemental Draft last year to pick up their starting WR Josh Gordan, who has an excellent season last year. But the premise still stands. Especially since the Pats have a giant hole in the middle of their draft. If it takes a 3rd, 4th, and 5th, then BB would have to think about it. He would have to decide if filling the middle of his draft is worth the risk of Brady, gulp, you know. It would make for some interesting moves in the 3rd and 4th.The depth for this Draft is so perfect for the Pats. The way things are going you know some 3rd WRs or DBs are going to drop into the 4th. Cleveland's pick in the 4th would be very early. Maybe Stills drops into the 3rd or even 4th. With the extra picks maybe you can take a shot at a small speed guy like Austin or Goodwin, and grab a bigger WR at the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th, like: Tavarres King (Who I really like. He is a smart WR, and run great patterns. Which are musts for Pats), Chris Harper (Who is David Givens on steroids), Kenny Still (Slot WR whose 4.3 probably put him in the 3rd Round), or, Aaron Mallette (small school wunderkind who can play). The other interesting news is the New Orleans 2nd pick was forfeited. So the Pats pick at 61, has moved up to 59.    

 

Pet Peeves.

By TOM

I hate to give depressing Dan any pub, but this whole Houston sucks controversy bothered me. It wasnít his negative spin, that goes without saying. It was his completely incompetent analysis. There was not a rational thought in the whole article. His whole analysis was that we won the last time we meet. Therefore, they suck and the game will go the exact same way as the last time. Which everybody knows games are like snowflakes, no two are ever alike. I donít mind bad analysis, but I canít stand this new trend of having a complete lack of respect for your opponent.

I give the last game the minimum analysis. Houston was on the road for three straight games in the first game. NFL teams never win the last road game when they are on a brutal three game road trip. The NFL should take out the three straight road option, because it is an automatic loss on the schedule. The other thing about depressing Dan diatribe was it showed such a lack of respect for the Patís opponents. Their opponents are good too. They have players who can make plays too.

Arian Foster is the best RB in the NFL. When he is healthy he is going to make plays. Andre Johnson is an All-Pro WR, and if he were on the Pats weíd be crying if anyone implied he wasnít the best WR in the NFL. When Andre Johnson makes plays, it is not a sign that our defense sucks. Jonathon Joseph shutdown AJ Green on Wildcard Weekend, does that mean he sucks? Shaun Cody was the starting Nose Tackle on Alabama ís Championship team. So he must suck. Kareem Jackson also started on that team, so we know for sure that he sucks. Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed are two passrusher I was all but begging BB to take in the Draft in the 2nd Round. So obviously I think they suck.

Now I know this is going to make me sound like a Patriot apologist suck-up, but we now know that Danieal Manning can make plays in special teams. Now I know he still sucks on defense, but if you ignore him on Kick Returns, he can run past you. Also, Houston has some guy called J.J.. He just happens to be the best defensive player in the NFL. When he makes plays, does that mean the Pats Suck? Call me Captain Suck-Up, but players of J.J. Watts immense talent are going to make play no matter what you do.

This complete lack of respect of your teams opponent is the clearest way to losing. You have to respect your opponent is you want to win. I was listening to a post game show driving home form the game last night. I know commenting on the dumbest talk show callers is as dumb as Depressing Danís analysis. In case you didn't know it, talk shows give more minutes to the dumb-asses than anyone making a coregent point for a reason. So normal rational fan will get so upset that they will call in. Well, I have had two throat surgeries and have the worst phone personality in the world, so I can't call in. However, this dumbass said he was not impressed with the Patriots in this game, or some dumb crap. If you were not impressed with that win then you should stop watching football. Any Playoff win is an impressive win. I... can't... rant... that dumbass.

This week we got the Ravens. They clearly suck, because we beat them in the Championship Game last year. They choked last year. Therefore, they are a bunch of chokers who donít deserve to be on the field with our immaculate Patriots.

The problem? They are a very team on mission to defeated their most hated Patriots. It is going to be a slugfest. If the Pats donít respect the Ravens like Depressing Dan didnít respect the talent of the Houston team, the Pats will lose. 

Five Things For Sunday Night.

By TOM

I still am unsure of going into Houston in January and walking off with a victory. There were so many factors form this game that went the Pats way. First, Houston will be at home, and not playing in their third straight road game. They will get the Bye, and then have played one game at Home.

Second, the two turnovers the Pats almost had, might not bounce their way. Both fumbles took long odd bounces that allowed an offensive player to grab them. Normally, those go to the defense. Third, their defense is very beat up. A lot of football guys have been dismissing the Houston offense; because Brady tore it up they must really suck. Well, the Houston defense does not suck, Brady was just that good. It was just another sign of how spoiled we Pat fans have it with Brady and BB.

Which brings us to the San Fran. Houston ís defense is every bit as good as San Fran's Defense. Only San Franís defense is healthy. Here are five things that will be different this week:

1. The Houston offense is much better than San Franís offense. However, San Franís offense is a power running team that specialize in punching defenses in the mouth. The Houston offense is a lot more finesse. They have an offense like the Pats, if you blink you can be down three touchdowns. The 49ers offense just keeps assaulting you play after play. Their offense line might be the toughest, nastiest, and meanest run blocking team in the NFL. The will pound and pound, and Frank Gore will average near five YPC, and everyone will talk about how good Gore is. Gore is good, but the O-lines ability to make defense submit is great.

2. The Houston Linebacker were beat up pretty bad. The 49ers Linebackers are a lean mean killing machine. Plus, they have some versatility that gives them a better advantage of sticking with the Patís multiple offense. What the Patís do better than anyone in the NFL, is their ability to run and pass from any formation and speed. A lot of teams can fastbreak up to the line, but not a lot of teams can run repeated in their fastbreak offense. The advantage the 49ers have over every defense weíve faced this season is that they have three starting Linebackers who do not come off the field in passing situation: Willis, Bowman, and some guy named Aldon Smith. They will be on the field the whole game. They can stop the run, and play in the passing game. So the defense doesnít have to scramble players in and out of the game when the Pats fastbreak up to the line. Those three guys give them a lot of versatility in regard to defending the Pats specific defense.

3. The 49ers didnít just spend three quarters of a month on the road. Houston was obviously tired and out of sorts from the beginning to the end of the game. The offense looked uncoordinated, and the defense slow. Both units will not play as bad as they did last game if we meet them again, and I can guarantee you that neither of the 49ers units will play as bad tonight.

4. Weather was not an issue at all with Houston . However, weather will be a factor tonight. I think the Pats have the advantage at home. However, if there was a team that was built to win on the road in the bad weather better than this team, I havenít seen it. Defense and running game is what you need to win on the road. This is a top five defense in the NFL, and a top five running game.

5. Their defense can punch you in the mouth jus as hard as their offensive line. Harbaugh obvious wants the most physical team in the NFL. He just might have achieved that with this defense. The defensive line is terrific against the run, and Justin Smith has that knack for hitting the quarterback. This is going to be a slugfest from first whistle to last. So buckle up your superstitions and your lucky charms, because San Fran is coming.

 

The Coldest Winter.

By TOM

A month ago I could foresee no reasonable way they could beat San Fran, especially once Kaepernick was inserted into the starting lineup (Iím just not an Alex Smith guy). However, the way the defense has been playing lately gives me hope. The defense has finally been whipped into shape again. Ever since Dennard and Talib have been pushed into the starting lineup, the defense has played itís best football since the playoffs last year.

The terrifying news is that Dennard, Arrington, and Talib were injured against Houston , just as the defense finally came together. To me, the four moves in the secondary is what brought this defense together: moving McCourty to Safety, Arrington into the Slot, and have Dennard and Talib go straight up man on the two outside receivers. The ability of Dennard and Talib to go most of the game straight up on the outside receivers without help makes this defense ten times more deadly. This allows the other nine defenders to work on stuffing the run, or more importantly confusing the quarterback. In the old NFL, if you consistently stuffed the run you won most of the time. In the new NFL, if you can consistently confuse the quarterback you win most of the time.

It also allowed Arrington to play Nickel, which he seems to have really taken to. Plus, having McCourty, who can play centerfield sideline to sideline, allows even more freedom for the other safety to come up and play in the box. Which helps to stuff the run, unleash different blitzes, and covering the tight end. McCourtyís range at Safety has been a big help. Which is also cause for more concern. If, gulp, both Dennard and Talib canít play, then McCourty has to move back to Corner. This really hurts the coverage ability of the secondary. Not just at Corner but at the Safety position as well, as McCourty is the best cover safety on the team. McCourty is terrific manning up on the outside receiver. But as we have all seen, he struggles when he has no help over the top.

The good news is that both Dennard and Talib were at the walkthrough. When I hear hamstring with a DB or WR I worry. They are facing maybe their biggest challenge on the season, and maybe foreshadowing the Super Bowl match up. They need Talib and Dennard against this team. The good news is that San Fran is more offensively challenged than Houston . They run a great scheme, but they donít have near the weapons as Houston .

We caught Houston at the perfect time, and the defense played a near perfect game. The problem is that the 49ers have spent the past three weeks on the road, and you never play your best game two weeks in a row. But what worries me the most is the decimation of the secondary. And we wonít know how bad it is until game time. Right now it looks like Talib and Dennard will play. If they donít, that leaves McCourty and a small car full of clowns at the other Corner: Marquice Cole, Steve Gregory, or some guy named Derrick Martin. Although, I though Cole was very impressive in the preseason. That is not really a strong recommendation.

Iím not the biggest fan of San Franís receivers. It might be the weak link in their team, but they do have some scary speed outside. They have three speed guys who can do damage deep down the field: AJ Jenkins, Ted Ginn Jr., and Mario Manning ham.

The good news is that it likes like both Dennard and Talib will play, but play but likely as well as they played against Houston . The 49ers have to travel across the country, which is always an advantage for the home team. Plus, they are playing at night. Now I know the coldest winter Mark Twain ever spent was a summer in San Fran. However, San Fran is not really a cold weather climate, and it is not summer. And as all New Englanders know, there is a huge difference between a sunny afternoon in December, and a cold snowy night in December. Even though San Fran in based on a strong defense and a strong run game, which is the best defense for a road game and bad weather, you have to favor Brady and the Pats in those elements.

 

Five Things For Sunday.

By TOM

1. Defense- Am I the only one who was petrified watching the statue of Joe Flacco standing in the pocket with a mocking target on his back. Fitzpatrick is not the best QB in the NFL, but if you donít hit him, and give him minutes instead of seconds to throw, he can sure look like the best QB in the NFL. Early last season he looked like he was on his way to the Pro Bowl. However, as he got more and more beat up the worse he played. The Patís defense needs to beat him up a little to slow him down. If he can do an imitation on the Flacco statue in the pocket, it is going to be a long season.

2. Ridley- The time to worry about carries is over, for right now. Not is the time to get him back on track. 20 carries for 100 yards would be a perfect 5.0 YPC. Until Hernandez gets back, they may have to over-run Ridley. At this point there is nothing that can be done about it. It's 1 and 2 and what else are you going to do. However, there is no need to panic Patís fans, because in the first three seasons where the Pats went to the Super Bowl, they started off not so well. In 1985, they started off 2 and 1, then 2 and 3, and went 11 and 5. In 1996, they were 1 and 2, then 3 and 2, and finished at 11 and 5. In 2001, they were 1-2, then 2 and 3, and finished 11 and 5. So starting off 1 and 2, or even (yikes!) 1 and 3 is no reason to panic, and place the Pats in Pigskin Purgatory for all eternity (I like it so much I wrote it twice;-). The Symmetry is interesting, and if it continues they will be 2 and 3, end up 11 and 5, and go to the Super Bowl and win.

3. Mankins- It has been reported that Mankins did not travel to Buffalo. That could very well be the game right there. They are trying to get some cohesion on the O-Line. Now it is even worse. Mankins hasn't been at his best himself, but his replacement is not going to be near as good. Facing D-Tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams is a daunting task, even with a healthy O-line. I just don't see good things happening tomorrow. The Pat's defense had better have a good day, or this could get real ugly real fast.

4. Stevie Johnson- He killed us in Buffalo last year. He is a bit of a wingnut, but he can play. If they let him look like, gulp, Torrey Smith from last week, we could be in a world of hurt. They have to slow him down, by any means necessary. They canít let him bust open deep all over the field. He is a Patriots killer looking to do some business.

5. Fred Jackson- Another Patriotís killer looking to do some business. He might not be all the way ready, but when he is on he can kill the Pats quickly. The Pats run defense was terrific in the preseason and the first two games. They fell apart last week, against the Ravenís big line and great RB. They have to have a comeback this week. The Pats get might get lucky with the super dynamic Spiller, who is averaging almost 10 yards per carry likely out. But the Buffalo doctors said suddenly Jackson is miraculously after they declared Spiller out. So hereís hoping my silly conspiracy is true, and Jackson isnít ready.

 

Email me if you have any questions or comments:

TOM@Crowmar.com

 

Three For Thursday: LSU Vs. Auburn.

By TOM

Okay, call me obsessed, but am I the only one who thinks the Pats have a giant hole opposite Mr. Jones in the passrush? Last weeks game against the Ravens was an insult to Passrushers everywhere. They couldnít have hit Flacco if they had a crossbow and a pike. The loss of Mr. Car-ter could come back to haunt them. This is exactly what I feared when I heard they lost Anderson and werenít going to resign Carter.

Cunningham has been a huge find as an inside rusher. However, as he develops as an inside rusher, I donít think they should what heís so far with a move outside. If they just had someone on the other edge to get any kind of pressure. Ninkovich has been a disaster in the passrush so far. Getting Jake Bequette, Trevor Scott, or Justin Frances going on the other side on passing downs is a must. The good news is that they have time to develop another rusher before the Playoffs.

The better news is that they will have opportunities to take another passrusher in the first round next year. On Sunday there was a great game between Auburn and LSU. That included three guys who BB could not pass on when they pick. Of Course, they are all likely to be gone come pick 32.

The twin rushers on LSU are both Patriots type players. They are both smart kids who seem to get it on the field. They take run responsibilities seriously. The can Set the edge, and rush the QB with passion. I have always like Montgomery a little better. However, Mingo looks like he might be a little more explosive, and more of a quick twitch pure passrusher, which is usually what teams want in the 1st (read: Bruce Irvin;-). So Mingo will like go first, and I canít really argue with that even though I might take Montgomery first.

This was my first real look at Lemonier. I thought he was a little troubling at first. He got blown off the line a few time, gets turned on run plays too easily, and missed a few tackles. But as the game wore on, he seemed to get better. He made a few plays in the run game, and showed that he could be a pure Passrushing OLB. When he was unleashed to just go after the QB, I thought he showed a great blast off the line. He also seemed to make the big plays at the big times, which is a common trait of big time rushers.

Here are some notes form the game:

Cory Lemonier #55 DE/OLB 6-4, 240- Looks a little bigger than listed, but can get pushed back. Needs to play aggressively and attack constantly. The second he starts thinking he gets in trouble. Does a good job on the run when he gets his hands on the O-Tackle first. He can beat in space. Terrific inside burst. He will burst himself out of the run play sometimes. He can get blown off the line when they run at him. He might be better off outside a little. Needs to use his hands better. Very QB aware, but needs to read other keys better. Gets Sealed on the edge too easily. To willing to go and be shoved out wide. But he makes big plays, One mistake by the OLT and he is at the QB quick. He uses his speed nicely to get the Corner, and has a nice Dip an Rip around the Corner. Terrific athleticism. He has that knack for getting to the Quarterback in big places. Not real good when Stunting inside. Seems to play better as the game goes on. Played the run better in the 2nd half against LSU.

Barkevious Mingo #49 DE/OLB 6-4, 240- I like ho when bulls into the ORT, and then gives a little extra shove and gains the shoulder. He is better at using speed to power to gain a Tacklesí inside shoulder. Explosive blast off the snap. His first three yards off the snap is as quick as there is in college. Smart, holds backside contain and doesnít try to over pursue or burst to QB on every single play. He is so quick up field, that when he stops and cuts back. Even when he is doubled by RBs, they donít have the quickness to react. Does a nice job protecting the Edge. He sure looks like an OLB to me. He is so good at shoving the ORT past the QB, and then cutting inside of him to the QB. He likes to use his speed to get blockers off balance, and then shove him back. Smart player who knows enough to go for the ball when the RB is caught up by a teammate.

Sam Montgomery #99 DE/OLB 6-4, 250- He uses his long arms so well in the Bull-Rush. He has excellent size and burst off the snap, but he has to get a little slippier. Sometimes lines up a yard off the LOS. Reads the play well. Both him and Mingo play like smart guys. When he reads it quick, he can get into the backfield in a flash. He does get suckered by Screens a little too easily. However, Iíll take that over-aggressiveness every game. He can blast past the OLT on run plays in a flash. When he sees the handoff he can into the backfield and make the tackle.

Email me if you have any questions or comments:

TOM@Crowmar.com

 

Upon Further Review.

By TOM

My biggest question with the game was where was Ridley. I though they would pound him into the Ravens feathers at will in the 2nd Half. To me, the biggest thing the Pats coaches had to do was to figure out how to limit the beating Ridley has been taking in the first two game. I thought they played it perfect in the 1st Half, giving Woody all those carries. That would allow them to give Ridley a ton of carries the 2nd Half. 

Upon further review, I like what they did with Ridley last week. They have to figure out a way to win without giving Ridley the ball 20 times or more every week. It is much more important to get him 20 or more carries a game in every Playoff game, then any regular season game. The question is how do you do it without taking away his impressive 5-yard per carry average, which is what makes him special. If he averages under 4-yards per carry, it doesnít matter how good he looks, they will have to find another Runningback.

I was going crazy when they kept running Woodhead on Draws in the Spread. Upon further review it was a wise decision. BB runs a scheme team. He studies opponentsí strength and weaknesses, and acts accordingly. The fact is you donít want to power run at the Ravens huge D-Line, and Ray Lewis. They have been terrible in pass defense so far this year. So they used the brain of Brady to fastbreak the Ravenís defense into near submission.

Plus as I wrote earlier, a large part of this game plan was the result of the loss of Hernandez. This offense has been designed to use the unmatchable versatility of Hernandez and Gronk. No other team in the NFL has the scheme versatility to match what the Pats can do with Gronk and Hernandez on the field. This almost pure Spread offense is what we were left with when Hernandez went down. And not just because of Hernandez: Fells has been disappointing. Visanthe Shiancoe canít get on the field. Winslow is not ready for Primetime yet. Hoomanawanui is still more blocker than H-Back. The final 9-minutes of that Raven game were the result of the devastation of the Tight End position they planned to be their kryptonite for NFL defenses. So their offense looked like it was cut in half last week. Plus, the plan was worked.

Yes, I know they lost the game. The game plan gave them a 9-point lead halfway through the 4th Quarter, after a huge momentum stealing stop on 4th and 1, while resting Ridleyís valuable knees. They win that game 99 times out of 100. Iíll take that, everyday of the week and twice on Sunday. It was just one of those things. Sometimes you play your best and lose, and sometimes you play your worst and win. And sometime you do everything right for 80-90% of the game, and then canít seem to do anything right after that, but that doesnít mean they should be cast into Pigskin Purgatory for all eternity.

It just sports. Crazy things happen every week. Ironically you could argue that their failings in the 4-minute drill where a result on not using the power running game through out the game to soften up the defense. It was the Spread game plan that they created that got them to the 9-Minute mark with a 9-point lead, and the failings of the Spread offence that didnít allow them to pound the Raves into submission at the end.

This week, against the Bills you are going to see Ridley get more carries against the improving Bills defense. They are going to need him, especially with Bradyís shoulder acting up again. Last week the Bills run defense had what was likely their best game of the season. They wonít be as effective this week. You should see Winslow on the field in more Hernandez like circumstances this week. That should help add some of the versatility that they were missing last week. Plus, Fells and Hoomanawanui should be improving as well.

So think of last weeks loss as saving a few Ridley carries for the Playoffs, and the loss falls into the shit happens category. Upon further review, I can live with a tough loss in the first half of the season, especially if it rests Ridley's valuable tread for a few extra carries in the Playoffs. 

Email me if you have any questions or comments:

TOM@Crowmar.com

 

No Versatility In Losing.

By TOM

Iíd like to see a little more power running. Is this going to be the tragic consequence of the Hernandez injury? With Welker stepping into the Hernandez role, they have to pass more. Welker is still a better receiver then Hernandez, who was playing WR and FB and H-Back and Tight End. Which is something Welker just canít do. He canít step out of the Slot, and put a hand on the ground and line up next to a Tackle as a Tight End. While Hernandez is not the most important player on the Patriots, he is the player that allows the Patís offence to do things that no other team in the NFL can do. Hernandez is the rarest of players whose versatility allows him do things that no other player in the NFL can do.

Welker adds a steady dimension in the receiving game for Brady. But Hernandezís unusual versatility was easy for every fan to see. Sometimes BBís infamous versatility is not so easy to see. Sometimes being able to be a dominate blocker on the edge in three different Special Teams units is hard for us fans to really see and appreciate. Do we really care how many special teams units Edelman, Tavon Wilson, and Eugene Chung can play on?

However, with Hernandez it is right there in your face. One play he is like up outside as a Split End. The next play he lines up in the Slot and Motions across the field like an H-Back. Then Brady is in the shotgun, and Hernandez is lined up like a FB ready to pick up the blitz or sneak out into the Flat. You donít have to be Bill Belichick to see the herculean advantages Hernandez gave McDaniel.

He has also been running the ball, returning kicks, and blocking well. He was not a good blocker when he arrived at the Razor. He has really worked effortless on that aspect of his game, and it is that aspect of his game that was so obviously missing this week. I donít think there is another player in the NFL who can line up wide one play, in the Slot on the next play, then take a hand off on a Power Dive, and then line up inline and block down on the D-End like a Tight End on the next. That gives the Pats such an advantage scheme wise to be able to go from a Power Two-TE formation to 4-Wide without a change in personnel.

The biggest problem they had with the Ravens was that they could go Power to Spread at will in the 2nd Half. They were able to put the defense on their heels in the 1st Half, by using the Fastbreak offense. But like BB said, you can only do that for so many snaps as it puts as much pressure on the offensive players as it does the defensive players.

Welker is still a better player than Hernandez. However, Hernandez gives the Pats offense something that no other team has. When Gronk and Hernandez are on the field together (I think you have to include Gronk in this equation), D-Coordinators canít anticipate their calls based on personnel, which is the primary way the have to base their calls. Sure there are a hundred other reasons for each call, but if you donít know if they are going to go Power, Spread, or anywhere in-between, it makes things near impossible for opponents to scheme against.

The good news is that they have a guy on the roster now who may be able to take short stint in that role. Winslow used to have the athleticism to take over the Hernandez role, at least part time anyway. The question is how much rubber does he still have in those knees, and does he have the mental acumen to step into that role as well. If he could do it for a few weeks, that might give Hernandez a little extra time to heal that bad ankle that has been bothering him since August. Welker can step into the Slot role, and maybe Winslow can step into the second TE/H-B/Slot-Receiver role that Hernandez does so seamlessly.

Email me if you have any questions or comments:

TOM@Crowmar.com

 

Five Things for Sunday Night.

By TOM

Brady-

Look for Brady to have a bust out game. He has been below average this season, and now with injuries forcing Hernandez off the field, the Pats coaching staff will be forced to stick Welker back into the game plan. He has been Brady's booby for too long. The Raven shave been giving up over 275 passing yard per game. Plus, the Ravens have been giving up three yards more than the Pats average of 126 yards rushing per game. Those are some extremely favorable numbers for the Pats. Plus, Brady always at his best games after his worst games.

Run Game

The number were not as big last week as in week one for Ridley. Look for Ridley to go over 20 carries in this game. Maybe the plan is to go every other game with an overload of carries for Ridley. He had 18 carries last week and 21 in week One. Look for him to have over a hundred yards rushing again this week, and over 20 carries.

Defense-

The Ravens have actually been the Pats biggest non-division rival since 2007. The games have turned into vicious grudge matches. However, it is starting to look like the Pats will finally have the advantage on defense. The Ravens defense has been beating up the Pats offense for a while. It will be nice to see the Patís defense beat up on the Raven for a while. Their run defense has been one of the best in the league, if not the best. Allowing only 62 yard rushing per game is a big number even if it is for only two games. Plus, I was really worried about the defense that seemed to come together in the Playoffs last year. Losing Carter and Anderson is 20 Sacks they couldnít afford to lose. I like how they have overcome those tough numbers. I look for Cunningham to have a good game hitting Flacco from the inside. As he gets more and more comfortable rushing inside in the Dime and Nickel, he should cause more and more problems.

O-Line-

The one fly in the ointment is of course the Patís O-Line. I cannot say if they will be good or bad. If they can open some holes for Ridley, and give Brady some time to hit his receivers, this game could be a blow out. I donít think you can plan on that happening in this game. They need this O-line to jell, and jell real soon. The Ravens interior D-line and of Course Lewis can do a lot of damage if not properly blocked.

1 aní 2-

Come Monday morning, one of these teams will be 1 and 2. With both teams playing so physically in the AFC Championship game, I donít think any rational mind could have predicted that. If it is the Pats it will be a tough hole to dig out of. However if you watched the Dolphins hand the game over to the Disorganized Jets, you have to say it would still be hard for another team take the AFC East crown away from the Pats this year. However in Baltimore , that is a much different story. If they lose tonight things could get desperate real fast. They might have to beat Pittsburgh twice to take the Division, and that is not a goal that I would want for my team. So in the end, allís I can say, is the two best team from the AFC last year are both in desperation mode. This should be one hell of a fight. Go Pats! And I must say not a bad article considering I started it after 7:PM.

 

Cal Vs Ohio ST.

By TOM

If your a Pat's fan another interesting team to watch is Ohio St. They have two 3-4 beasts on their hands. Simon looks like he could be an effective versatile player in a 3-4/4-3. He is an outside guy, a DE/OLB, who rushes like a D-Tackle. Reminds me a little of Fanene in the Tape I did of him. He blast off the line so low and quick that I have trouble not seeing him as a good NFL passrusher.

However, he does not rush in the normal way. Or should I say he does not look like a normal top Passrushing prospect. He's a little squat looking. He doesn't look pretty getting to the QB. He's more of a scrapper than a speed rusher. But he sure has some interesting gifts.

Another interesting guy the Pats have to be looking at is Keenan Allen. He is considered the top WR by some in the Draft. I'd like to see a forty time before I say that. However, he is an extremely skilled WR, and ran a lot of similar patterns as Wes Welker. He was running all the underneath Slot stuff, as he had two little speedy guys attacking Deep. I don't think he went down field once against Ohio ST. 

However, that doesn't mean he wasn't effective. He had hands down the best catch of the season so far. He consistently caught the ball at the biggest times. He punished the DBs who tried to tackle him short. He's big, strong, and quick. The only thing left for me to see to call him a First Round talent is his deep speed. 

Here are some of my notes from the Cal-Ohio St game.

Keenan Allen-  #21, WR, 6-3 200- Coming into the game against Ohio Keenan Allen, had a TD on a punt return, a run, and a catch. Plus, when it counted the most, the hapless Cal QB went to him on 3rd down almost every time.

He is a very willing blocker. He can hold the CB out on the Boundary, and line up inside as well. He uses his size and quickness to get in the way nicely. He doesnít sustain blocks well, but he doesnít give up. He had two successive blocks on the edge to give the Bigelow a lane down the sideline for his 80-yard TD run. He hit the CB covering him, and was tossed aside. However, that gave the RB just enough time to scoot past him. Then Allen regained his balance and smashed into the safety, which allow the RB to cut outside that block and use his 4.3 speed to gallop down the sideline.

He is so big on the line that he canít get out muscled on the Jam. However, if you donít Jam him at the LOS, he is just too deadly on a free release. He is a beast on short patterns. He can catch the 5 yard pass, and turn it into a deadly punt return. Reminds me of Dez Bryant. He is such a tall WR, but does the quick things that usually only the little guys can do.

Give me the big Receivers who have the little man skills. And I keep thinking about what position the Pats are going to be looking at in next years Draft? I keep coming back to WR. Does that sound crazy? O-Guard? Definitely another Passrusher to put opposite Mr. Jones. How much would a big WR/Punt-Returner help the Pats next year? Because right now it sure looks like Wes Welker is not coming back. I still think taking a Passrusher to put opposite Mr. Jones would be a nice choice, but man would Keenan Allen look good lined up outside opposite Lloyd.

Smart guy, who knows where he is on the field, and has that knack for finding the First Down marker. Iíd like to see him go deep a time or two. So far it is all underneath patterns, which means he doesnít have the deep speed, the QB doesnít have the arm, or the coach doesnít trust the O-line enough to run long patterns.

He has terrific hands. He just caught a first down pass on 1st and 10. He was tackle by the Facemask and spun around and down into the ground, as he was catching the ball. He held on to the ball. As the DB hit from behind right as the ball arrived. The DB took a swipe at the ball, and grabbed and yanked his facemask instead of the ball. As Allen caught the ball, his neck was spun around and his body followed in mid air, by the DB ripping his face mask back from behind. That is as good a catch as you are going to see. I donít know how he held on. Plus, he took the additional 15, stayed in the game, and made a nice block out on the edge on the ensuing running play.

He catches so many balls right in the middle of the field in front of the Linebackers. They do have two WRs who seem to have better speed and run the deeper patterns. It looks like he is forced to run the underneath stuff, because it is best for the team. However, I sure would like to see him catch some deep stuff before I call him a First Round pick. He has shown it all so far this season, except the deep speed you like in a WR. And Iím not saying he doesnít have the deep speed, Iím just saying I havenít seen it yet.

However, he continues to help his teammates, Bigelow Just ran for an 81-yard TD, and it was a result of speed and Allen blocking on the edge.

Allen made two blocks out on the edge. He can really punish DBs who come up and try and hit him. He continues to make the big plays. On 3rd and 4 in the forth, he makes the big catch that give Cal a 1st down inside the 15-yard line. Then he makes the throw back to the QB, after a lateral pass to him, that almost is a TD. But it gives them the ball inside the Five, and allows Cal to run the ball in to take the lead.

John Simon #54 DE/OLB 6-2, 260- He can come off the line low like he is bursting out of a cannon. Granted, Calís O-line is as bad as Iíve seen in a while. But I was shocked at how low he comes off the snap, and his blast off the line.

Not the stoutest against the run. He gets put on skates too easily. His best position as a Pro might be as a situational passrusher. Because he just got knocked about seven yards down field by at Cal's O-Line that had looked terrible up to that point. Now maybe it was his worst play of the game, but maybe not.

He will also burst himself out of the play sometimes on run downs. Which is probably better than going nose to nose with a Tackle or guard. He does a nice job gaining the O-Linemanís shoulder, and that is when he wins. When he allows the O-Lineman to square up on him, he is done.

He shows some nice hustle and ability to read the play. He will also Zone-Drop in coverage, and looks like a Ninkovich-type D-End/OLB. Not bad setting the edge. He can stand up to the ORT when he is on the move. He is very adept at keeping moving, because the second he stops the bigger guys will get him. He is a bit of a pinball rusher. He can smash into the ORT, bounce off, and hit the QB. Relentlessness is part of his game. 

The further out from the middle of the line he lines up the better he looks. Making him  a Natural in a Wide-9, or OLB in a 3-4. Although, he doesnít look like a thinker. He looks like a guy who is at his best just charging up field without having to think about responsibilities. 

3rd and 10 in the 3rd Quarter, with all the momentum going Calís way, and he just Blasts off the Line. He stays low, and Dips and Rips around the OLT to Sack the QB and force the punt. It might be the play that saved the game for Ohio ST, now up only six.

Hankins DE/DT #92, 6-4, 345- He continues to show more freakish ability than production. In one play he lined up at D-End, in an Odd Front. He lined up way out wide outside the TE, like he was playing in a 4-3 wide-9. He burst up field and they ran a Draw right up the gut. He some how stopped, turned completely around, and charged into the middle of the Cal O-line and jumped on top of the poor RB right at the LOS. I have never seen any thing like that from a 345 pound man, that is 20 pounds over Wilforkís listed weight.

On 2nd and 9, in the 2nd Quarter, he burst up field and knocked the ORG back about two yards, and the Center tried to come over and double him, but he had already burst past him. He knocked the ORG to the ground and headed towards the QB. The QB naturally panicked (I mean who wouldnít;-), and took off. He was sacked just before he could reach the LOS, by a rusher stuck at the LOS. No stat, but that Sack and QB Panic was caused by Hankins.

He just took on the double team and tackled the QB at the LOS. Although I am watching this on DVR (and I think the game is over;-). He keeps lining up more and more at D-End. Ohio ST looks like they are going into a 3-4 more this game than the last. He is making more of a mark as a D-End than a D-Tackle. There will be a 3-4 team very in early in next years Draft that just wonít be able to pass on him.

He is playing with better leverage inside this week. He is also showing better agility moving sideways. He just followed the play all the way outside, moving sideways and hand fighting all the way to the other side of the field, and made the tackle on the small Back. That would be impressive agility for a 290 pounder, never mind a 245 pounder. Hankins continue to play better in the 2nd Half than the 1st. He is just killing the Cal O-line from five different positions on the D-Line.

A Pair of Passrushers.

By TOM

 

If you are interested in the NFL Draft, you might want to watch a Texas game or two. They have a pair of passrushers that are going to get a lot of attention in April. I was very impressed with Okafor last season, and have no recollection of Jeff coat at all. This weeks Texas-Mississippi game was my first shot to see them play. I could not have been more impressed.

They are very different type players. I understand why Draftnics are going crazy over Jeffcoat. He is the type of explosive athlete with all the flash and dash that makes him jump out on film. He looks like he could be a Jared Allen type passrusher. However, he is not there yet. Okafor is a better player than Jeffcoat, but lacks the explosive potential of Jeffcoat. This is what make the Draft so interesting. Potential Vs steady production. 

Both could be great and both could be busts, but their differences are obvious. Here are some of my notes during that game:

Jackson Jeffcoat #44, 6-5, 245, Jr DE/PR- He has a nice burst off the line. However, he will run himself behind the QB a little to much. Locks onto the QB as he blast off the line, forgets about the RB a little too much. Why would a team trying to throw leave him unblocked? Takes off up field on every snap. Very adept at avoiding contact. What he does best is not the Big Uglies get and keep their hands on him. Very slippery. Drops in coverage sometimes. Extremely nice feet moving backwards. He really shows his exceptional athleticism when he is dropping. He is built like a long tall OLB, and he clearly can drop. I donít know if he can make a play on the ball, but he bounces back in coverage with impressive agility, quickness, and speed. Plus, he chased the 4.3 Scatback 50-yards down field. He always plays with great heart and hustle, even in coverage. TMIWTMIL. Doesnít always bend as well as Iíd like. He can look so smooth, and sometimes just show a little stiffness (or at least I saw it once, but it might have been an illusion of the play;-). When the big Tackles get there hands on him, he can be easily taken out of running plays. Especially when he just tries to get up field as the RB is going the other way, and he really is taking himself out of the play. Not a lot of power to move the OLT in the run defense. he can look a little stiff sometimes TTC. 

Alex Okafor- #80, DE/PR- Shows some nice push Stunting inside. Does a nice job occupying two blockers inside, which helps free up the other Stunter outside, and still getting some push on the pocket. He has the quickness to zip around the ORT blocking down on the DT, and hit the RB behind the LOS on the Dive. It is that kind of quickness, agility, and bend that he shows in the rush as well. One of those guys who looks better as the game goes on. A stand up rusher. Texas plays an odd front with two down DTs, and two stand up DE. It looks he is being trained to play OLB in an NFL 3-4. Nice inside move on the ORT. He can flash up field and spot the ball carrier with nice quickness. He can flash and inside and up field and get to the QB fast. The more I watch him the more I like him. He doesnít have Jeffcoat's shocking athletic ability, on field flash, and isnít as pretty, but he is a better football player. His back to back Sacks in the 2nd Quarter against Old Miss were so impressive. He burst inside on the first, using his quickness to go virtually untouched. Then burst outside, used his long arms and power, and Bulled his way to the QB. Smart rusher can make make a move, and then a counter move. He is bigger than Jeffcoat and plays with more power. However, he doesnít have as good a blast off the line. He is still a force as a rusher however. Likes to use his speed to get the ORT off balance and then try and Bull him into the QB a little to much. Needs to get a little more slippery.

Moncrief- WR- Another big WR, 6-3. Needs to show speed to be taken early. He has some downfield ability. Tough kid. He will go up in the air and take the ball. Strong guy who can catch the and run through the DBs. He has the speed when he has the ball in his hands. Should be a better blocker.

CJ Johnson- DE/OLB- Gets overwhelmed at the Point sometimes. He has to convert to DE because Moss had no one to play there. Played well. In the first snap against Texas he got blown off the line by a double team. Then he made three straight plays on the ball carrier. He has nice speed around the corner. He is so quick it is tough for big linemen to stay in front of him. He just flies by TE in the rush.  They rotate him a lot, and he seems to get winded. He is clearly Old Miss best defensive player, by far. But he plays only about half the snaps. As the game wore on you could tell when he was on and off the field. This kid looks undersized, but is a real force on defense. The More I watch him the more I like him. Not sure if he is eligible for next years draft. 

 

Running Hard, and Hardly Running.

By TOM

Ridleyís performance on Sunday scared the crap out of me. He was so good, it was like waking up on Christmas morning and finding a Ford Hybrid under the Christmas tree (like totally not paying for gas anymore;-). 

However, the overload carries are troublesome. His running style is what made him look so special on Sunday, and what worries me. ďIn my position man, you canít play the position being scared,Ē Ridley said. ďYouíre gonna take a lot of contact, but as a runner if you can try and deliver the blow instead of taking the hit, I think that your career might last a little bit longer. So thatís kind-ah my philosophy running the ball: I'm trying to get downhill man, just deliver the punches, instead of taking all the beatings.Ē BB has to manage his carries much better, and more importantly manage BBís old school desire to have a RB who can rush 20-25 times a game.

He has such nice size and power. He has lost about 20 pounds since he played at LSU as a senior, and that loss of weight has really added to his burst, quickness, and speed. ďAt LSU it was just a little bit of a different weight program,Ē Ridley said on WEEI. ďI think, I was weight in at about 237. Somewhere around there. Knocking on 240. I get here and Bill and the coaching staff said I had to cut down on some weight. I think thatís helping meÖ. Iím sitting right know at about 220. So I lost about 20 pounds.Ē

With Shane Vereen on the bench, it revealed a troublesome lack of depth on the roster. They had to put Bolden in to close out the game, because Ridley already had 21 carries. Lucky the game was not in doubt. But Bolden garnered a scary 11 yards on 5 carries for an awful 2.2 YPC. Now Iím not saying he sucks. I like Bolden, and I think itís safe to say he reminds a lot of Patís fans of The Law Firm. Iím saying heís a rookie, and he clearly isnít ready for Primetime. Which left the bench looking not very healthy with only Woodhead as a veteran to help Ridley.

Ridley canít keep this pace up. ďI donít think thatís going to change my running style to much just a little bit of weight difference,Ē Ridley said about going form 237 to 220. ďIím trying to get downhill and make the positive yards.Ē There is a lot to like about what Ridley did on Sunday, but he still has to prove he can keep the pace up. Plus, when backs start to get worn down is when they start to fumble.

Getting over 300 carries and gaining over 1,800 yards in the NFL has destroyed a lot of Runningbacks, from Jamal Anderson (410 carries for 1,846 yard in 1998, 256 carries for 1,273 yards the rest of his career) to Chris Anderson (he has dropped from 1,300 to 1,000 last season after having 358 rushes in 2009, and clearly did not have 4.3 speed last Sunday, never mind sub-4.3 like before he ran for 2,000 yards). 21 times 16 equals 336 carries. 125 times 16 equals 2,000 yards. Now I know this is a specious argument, as last week might well be his best game of the season. He is hardly likely to average 21 carries a game the rest of the season. It is always folly to judge how good or bad a season a player is going to have after Week One.

The problem is what if Vereen canít stay healthy? What if Woodhead canít regain the form he had as a rookie? That leaves a developing Bolden to try and keep Ridleyís career alive. I think that is a bit of a risky plan. If Vereen can take some of the main rushing load off of Ridleyís knees, it looks like Ridley is going to be something special. He has averaged almost exactly five yards a carry so far. His 6 YPC average was spectacular last week. If he can continue to average 5 YPC for a few more years, Brady could get his elusive 4th Super Bowl victory. Especially, if they keep improving the defense like it looks they have so far this season and preseason.

In the first game, of the first week of Ridleyís second season, it looks like we have a rookie Curtis Martin on our hands. Now I know it is a long way from Tipperary to the Hall Of Fame, so calm yourself. Iím not so much comparing style, but a young RB who looks like he could be special, like in Martinís rookie season. Ridley has a to prove he has anything close to Martinís freakish ability to take a beating and keep on ticking. He does however, have the burst, bounce, and cut back visions that all the great ones have, and that was what made Martin my favorite Patriot even after he left for the hated J-E-T-S, sucks-sucks-sucks.

However, it was a different world back then. Martin was consistently listed at 204 pounds, while Ridley has been consistent listed at 220 since the Pats drafted him. He doesnít have Martinís long speed, but he does have a little more of a physical style. His question will be durability, and does his fumbling problems come back after he has been beaten up for half a season. I thinks it's impossible to say right now that he has Martin's freakish Hall of Fame durability. 

I worry about him taking such a beating week in and week out, and it suddenly looks like the Pats have no depth at RB. However, Vereen was back practicing this week. Vereen also has a stunningly different style than Ridley. He likes to hop backwards, which as spectacularly fun as it is to watch, is going to come back and haunt him. While Ridley likes to fall forward. Vereen has the speed to get to the house if he gets that long seam, while Ridley has yet to show that skill in college or the NFL. Vereen is 210 and runs like a scatback, while Ridley is 220, and punches like a 240 lb fullback. Ridley stays on the field, Vereen has to learn how to stay on the field. The good news is that Vereen did practice this week and is listed as questionable for tomorrow's game against Arizona. They will likely hold him out for the Ravens next week, but he will be on the field soon

Being a Draft guy I love to watch to the young guys develop, and I think we have a nice tandem here. However, Ridley has to learn how to protect himself just a little better, if that is possible. His averaging 5 YPC is so good, that I hate to imply he should do anything differently. It is too much a risk to his great production. So it is up to Josh and BB to limit their temptations to go old school on opponent's asses. Unless, Vereen can stay healthy for say ten carries a game or so. Woodhead can sneak in 4 or 5 touches in special situations. And maybe just maybe, they can keep Ridley under 20 carries a game. And then maybe just maybe, he can average 5 yard per carry for a long time around here.

Email me if you'd like a question blogged:

PatsFanMock12@yahoo.com

 

Mr. Jones, The Steal of the Draft.

By TOM

Chandler Jones is showing himself to be the guy BB thought he was. Plus, he seems to be who Madden thought he was, LOL. ďEvery time someone mentions me on twitter I read it, I read it all the time,Ē Mr. Jones said. ďOne of the fans had mentioned, Ďyou know Iím playing Madden, and you got a Strip-Sack Fumble and Hightower picked it up for a touchdown.í That was right before the game. You know, I was reading it. For it to happen in real life, that was great. It was like a dream come true, and it was pretty funny that that guy predicted it.Ē My favorite story of the Draft was Mike Mayock. Mayock was pretty quiet in regards to Jones. Then all of a sudden about a week before the Draft he starts saying he thinks Jones will end up being the best defensive player in this years Draft. That is a big statement.

So who cares? Well, Pats fans. Mayock, famously, has lunch with BB on a regular basis. So he walks a thin line come draft time, between retwitting BBís opinions loud and proud, and betraying his trust. He clearly was walking a thin line the week of the Draft, when he let those comments fly. He clearly looked uncomfortable saying them as well. Which allows me to speculate that he didnít completely agree with BBís assessment of Jones, or he was nervous of BB taking offense. Either way, they sure look like they were right on in the preseason and the first game of the season.

Jones has been a force on the QBís blindside. He has been making OLTs look foolish. He has shown to be such a smart player and person. ďMy expectations, to be honest with you, was to get respect of the veterans,Ē Mr. Jones said. ďYou got Vince Wilfork over here to my right. Just earn his respect. For him to be out there, and to trust in me to do my job is just my goal. For me to go out there and to say, ĎI donít want Vince to have to worry about what Iím doing. I want him to have trust in me that Iím dong my job.Ē He just gets it. He dominated the first half of Preseason games with surprising efficiency. Plus, his ability to redirect after running past the QB is astounding.

The only time he really struggled was when he went against Dunlap. Dunlap is a huge man, he is the only guy heís faced that can match Jonesí arm length. Which shows he over relies on using his arms and strong hands to gain the advantage on the OLT.

He has to start working on more counter moves. While watching the game last week, My main man Keith and I agreed that he had to find a counter move to his Push-Pull, a Swim, and to just trying to Dip aní Rip around the Corner. But now I think we were wrong. He has to find more than one counter move, starting with an Inside Rip.

His long gangly legs and arms make him look a little awkward rushing the passer, but he has that knack for hitting the Quarterback. His long stride make the OLT look slow sometimes. ďMy being a passrusher, you basically take what they give you,Ē Mr. Jones said about his Strip-Sack. ďWhen you rush the passer you look at the offensive lineman, and the stature, and what heís doing. [and] base it on what move your going to do. And thatís what he gave me, and I took it.Ē Plus, he is so good with his hands, especially in the run game. He is so adept at holding off blockers and setting the edge. Last week, before the Strip-Sack, he was more dominant in the run game then rushing.

Jones is quickly looking like the steal of the Draft. He looks more and more like a star every week. The only question is can he hold up for the season. We have all seen rookies hit the wall. Plus, he was not as effective in the second half. He didnít play in the second half of any game in the preseason. I thought that really showed in he second half of the first game of the regular season. Plus, I worry that as teams get more film of him they will shutdown his favorite move.

The story of his rookie season will be how he plays in the Second Half of games, the second half of the season, and the Playoffs. If he can play in the Second Half of games the way he has played in the First Half of his first five NFL games, then he will be deemed the steal of the Draft.

I Got Me A Hankins for a Defensive End.

By TOM

Hankins comes off the line low, with nice leverage and arms extended. He does have some speed in the open field, and can get over in front of the runningback when they run away from him.

He has a terrific shoulder punch. When he pulls with his inside hand and punches with his outside hand, he jolts O-linemen in terms of yards. When he comes off lower then the O-Guard in the rush, he can knock that Guard back 5 yards in a flash.

He is built like a Nose Tackle. Oddly, he plays RDE in Even front sometimes. He looks like Red Bryant out their at D-End in a 4-3. However, he still does his best business inside at D-Tackle. He will also line up at D-Tackle and Zone Drop. I havenít seen him make a play on the ball, but he doesnít look out of place dropping in coverage. He actually shows amazing agility and hop for a 325 plus pound man.

He has that size, speed, and agility matrix that every GM wants. However, I donít think he is a better football player than Lotulelei. He is bigger and fatter, and plays better out on the edge. It really is shocking how much they line him up outside. Teams still have to double him when he rushing from the Left D-End spot. Both Tackle and ROG pay a lot of attention to him.

Does a nice job dominating, then he got tired at the end of the first half, which worried me. When he gets tired he gets too high. When he gets too high he gets pushed back and twisted terribly, which you wouldnít believe when you see him play low and mean. However, he had some of his best pressure at the end of the second half, when he didn't look tired at all.

Started to look in the second half outside as a power D-End, where he canít get power under him by squat O-Guards. However, the problem is that teams can run away from him too easily. He also plays D-End when Ohio ST goes into an Odd set. There are going to be a lot of 3-4 coaches watching that tape. There will not be a lot of it, but it looked good to me. He will also line up on the Nose in odd fronts. But he has trouble taking on the double team blocks by a squat Center and OGs. He looks more and more like an NFL D-End to me. However, when he sees it and reads it, he can burst past the OGís like they are standing still.

I d like how he consistently gets penetrations on the Tackles when at D-End. Plus, he plays all over the D-Line for Ohio St , which shows his smarts and versatility. Then he Zone-Drops again, and looks like a MLB in coverage in the Paint. Amazing agility for a man with his size and power.

 

Wow! A Star Is Born.

By TOM

Have you ever seen Star Lotulelei play? I just watched the Utah at Utah St game, and this kid is a monster. I know, a lot of Draftnics have him going in the top ten, but I havenít really watched him before. His size-speed ratio is only outdone by his leverage-power ratio. I donít know much, but I know a top five D-Tackle when I see one.

According to one of the TV announcers, he was the 2nd rated D-Tackle according to Mel and McShay, well allís I have to say is who is the first, Merlin Olsen? He might be their 2nd rated DT, but he is already my top 3-4 D-End. Hold onto your hats Patís Fan, this kid is a faster Richard Seymour. Mel has Jarvis Jones as his top D-Tackle. Well I just watch Jones play, and he is not as good as Star. McShay actually had Lotulelei as the top pick in the Draft. I would agree with that

His ability to get into an O-Linemenís shirt, and then toss him aside is as impressive as I seen since Suh. He controls the O-Linemen his leverage and hands, and can shed him to either side with impressive two-gap technique. Plus, he plays with impressive smarts and hustle. Utah St was vigilant attacking the corners and staying away from the middle, so he didnít have nearly the stats as his play demonstrated. He lined up primarily at LDT. Utah also went into an odd front regularly. He lined up at NT and LDE in the 3-4.

When he was singled he destroyed the blocker. Utah St started doubling and tripling him consistently, which is the ultimate compliment to a D-Tackle when all three interior O-Linemen give him a shove, block, or punch on one play.

He has such a great burst off the line and is known for his disruption. He is a very smart player who also has that knack for guessing the snap count. He does some odd things as well. He is also very adept at covering the RB sneaking out of the backfield on the Screen. Three times in the first half he came off the rush and covered the RB like he was in the Post. His ability to instantly diagnose the play is going to endear him to the NFL HC who has the privilege to coach this kid next year. I thought those plays were so impressive not just mentally, but physically as well. He is 320 pounds, and running stride for stride with the sub-200 pound Scatback out of the backfield.

He also plays the LOS spy a lot. The Utah ST QB was a fast kid who scrambled a lot. So whenever Lotulelei felt like he wasn't going to make it to the QB, he stopped his rush and got in the QBís passing and running lanes. Another impressive skill. He also will draw false starts and Holds seemingly two or three times a game.

It comes from his great hands and feet. I have not seen all the top D-Tackle in this years Draft yet, but I have seen Hankins and Jones. I have trouble believing that any D-Tackle plays better in balance and power with his hands and feet. Plus, he has a nasty shoulder punch. His signature play is getting his hands on the O-Linemanís shoulder pads, and being able to shove him aside at will. He has more right handed power, meaning he likes to toss the O-Lineman to his left as he goes right. When he makes a mistake two-gapping he is always bursting into his right-handed gap.

He gets fooled some times (of course who doesnít;-). Not so much by play-action, but misdirection. He is so adept at reading the blocks of the O-Linemen, that he attacks up field in the direction they are blocking with such flash that misdirection will cause him to burst himself out of the play sometimes. Which is the only weakness I have seen so far (I wish that was my only weakness;-). Just in case you havenít figured it out yet, this guy ainít going outside my top five anytime soon.

He also takes some bad angles in the backfield. But itís one of those things. He often gets into the backfield so fast that the little guys can run away from him.

Two Interesting Prospects.

By TOM

Boise ST played Michigan St on Saturday. I can't believe the college football season in upon us already. There were two Juniors on Mich ST I was very interested in watching: D-End William Gholston, and the RB, who had 19 TDs last year, Leíveon Bell. I was interested in them for different reasons. Gholston, because he was dominate at the end of last year, and I wanted to see how he looked without Worthy lined up next to him. The second was Bell, who I don't really remember from last year, but heard a lot of good things about him. He is a big Big Ten Back, and like all big Big Ten backs, his speed at the Combine will do more to determine were he goes in the Draft more then this season, as long as he has similar production as last year. He has a nice quick burst after he changes direction. when he Stunts inside.

At the end of last season William Gholston was as impressive, if not more so, then Jerel Worthy. He has some buyer beware in him, but he seemed to clean himself up last season. If he can spend another year playing hard and without Character Concerns creeping up, he could be the first D-End taken in next year Draft.

He was killing Boise St early. He switched sides to rush from the QBís blindside for most of the game. He seemed to run past Boise ís young OLT on every play in the 1st quarter. He also lined up at D-End in an odd front when Michigan ST went into a Nickel. He has the size to maybe play 5-Technique. Heís listed at over 6-5 and 280 pounds. He has nice strong hands, and has that knack for shedding blockers. He uses his hands so well in the Push-Pull. He also shows some nice short area burst for such a big kid. He plays with great balance. he has some nice speed, but can't sustain for long. he does a nice job varying his speed to help that out. Runs a little high sometimes. He is 245 pounds, and shows some nifty feet when cutting back at the LOS. However, he does not display the long speed I hoped.  

Excellent athlete out of the backfield. He can adjust to the tipped ball in the air, which again, for a 245 pound Back is freakishly impressive. Plus, he is a load to bring down. One of those guys that runs by falling DBs like they are flies. He also takes the direct snap in the Wildcat. I cannot be more impressed with everything about this kid on the field, except the flash. He does not appear to have the break away speed just yet. When he gets low he does have nice power.  Shows some spark on Power Tosses, but needs to follow his blocker a little better. Moves the pile on short yardage. He does do a nice job running at different speed. 

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Alabama Vs Michigan.

By TOM

I just watched two of the best players in college football play today. Two players who are the best at their position in college football. However, because they both play less valuable positions, they are not on any big-time lists. They were the two best players on the field in the Alabama At Michigan game, and I bet you canít guess their names. If you don't believe me they are replaying the game on 286 ESPNU Sunday at 7:PM. 

The first is of course Barrett Jones from Alabama. I first noticed him when he played OLT for the Tide last season. He was so impressive he won the Outland Trophy last year as the best o-Linemen in college football. What he does better than any linemen I saw last year was when he gets his big mitts on a guy it is done, the movement ends. He defines stalemating an opponent. He doesnít always get good push, and he rarely gets knocked backwards. Plus he has started at two different positions in two BS Championship Games. Last year he started at OLT, and against Texas (two years ago-three years ago) he started at ORG. Now he is the best Center in college football, and I'm saying right now I would take him over either Pouncey Brother. 

What he does is strange and remarkable. Once he engages with an D-Linemen, the movement just stops, itís over. Itís not pretty. Itís not exciting. Itís not normal. ItÖ is what it is. I wish I could explain it better, other then he was probably the most efficient O-Linemen I watched last year. He reminds me of Dwight Stephenson. he might not knock out two guys on every play, but he dominates every one-on-one assignment you give him. 

This year he seemed to be missing. I couldnít find him on the first series on Bama's O-Line. I remember him as the OLT, but he usually is listed as an O-guard. Then I spotted number 75 getting up from the bottom of the pile. He walked back to the huddle and lineup at Center? I thought, okay best player, most important position on the O-line. The got two Tackles, so why not line up the veteran at Center. Then he was better. He played OG, and the OLT last year, and now Center, and he was better.

In back to back plays on the second series of the game (Alabamaís first scoring series) he made the two best blocks of the year. I know, itís only the first week of the season (so what the hell am I talking about;-). The first was 2nd and 5 from the 9. He fired off the snap, and turned the DT like he was a turnstile. The ORG stepped in and grabbed him, but he was done. Jones then slipped off and popped the MLB. He wasnít able to eliminate him from the play like he normally does, but he pushed him past the First Down marker. You can really see his strong hands as he grabs the MLB shirt in an underhand grip and doesnít let go. The part that is hard to explain about him is that you usually donít see his hands inside on the defender. On this play you could.

I donít know how you could watch that last play and not be impressed. When he hit the DT on the inside shoulder, the DT jolted sideways like he just hit the 3rd rail. However, the next play was even more impressive, and I donít say that lightly. First and goal from the five, and I kept looking at the play to see if I was seeing what I was seeing. Michigan lines up a NT right in front of him and a 3-Technique to his right. Jones pops between the two, and drives a shoulder pads into each D-Tackle. He holds off the guy on his left with one hand, and pops a hand into the chest of the guy on his right. The guy on his right falls down, Jones falls down on top of him, and he drags down the NT with one hand as he falls. I swear he single handedly took out the two D-Tackles by him on a run of Lacy up the middle. 

After watching it about ten times it looks like the ORG Chance Womack (who was very impressive as well) might have helped on the 3-Technique, before he slide off to hit the MLB, but it still was one of the most impressive blocks Iíve ever seen by a college Lineman. Could be a BB special pick at pick 32 next year? We have seen how terrible this O-Line with Brain Waters gone. If he plays this year, I donít think you can count on him for next year. Would BB pull the trigger on an O-Guard in the first round who can play any position on the O-Line? I canít remember the last five-tool player on O-Line?

The other guys is D.J Fluker, and he is no fluke. He popped out on film for me last year, when I was looking at Brockers from LSU. Brockers didnít always get up field as much as youíd like, but nobody knocked him backwards. I taped both the LSU-Alabama games (I mean, who didnít;-). Brockers was so big and strong for such a young player that I had to jump on his bandwagon. He jolted guys backwards, and just never got jolted himself. Then I put on the tape of the first Alabama game, and it was a simple running play where the ORG engages the LDT, and the R-Tackle blocks down on him. It happens 5 to 10 times a game in most college games, and is particularly effect when you are facing a disruptive DT. Well, Fluker blocks down on Brockers, and knocks him 5-yards sideways. He hit this man on his shoulder with such force I saw him move in the opposite direction further on that one play then most other against non-Alabama teams all season. He was the hardest hitting O-Linemen in college last year.

Now, for those who donít give a crap about college football until Draft time, he plays ORT. He is not going to be a Left Tackle in the NFL. He is a bit plodding and doesnít always look like he has the best feet. He is however, huge. And the best hitter in college football nobody knows about because he is an O-Linemen, and O-Linemen never get to hit as much as they like.

Then I started watching him against Michigan, and he looked to me like he was moving better. He moved backwards nicely in pass protection. Much smoother than I remembered. He looks like he has finally grown into his size. He had a tough first series, but he really looked good after that. Because he plays ORT, he likely wonít go as early as say, Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) and Chris Faulk (LSU), two Junior OLTs. However, I think he is a better prospect than both. Would BB take a chance on an ORT, again, in the 1st Round? What if Cannon continues to play like he did in the Preseason rather than last year, and my man Vollmer canít stay healthy again this year? Fluker looks like he is going to make some Left Defensive Ends cry this year.

Also, Alabama CB Dee Milliner is the real deal. He has amazing coverage at the beginning of the route, and a knack for getting his hand on the ball at the end of the route. As good as anyone saw I last season. He showed great recover ability on short patterns in the First Quarter. His question is only speed. Does he have the long speed to stay with NFL WRs. Because he dominated the Flanker against Michigan. He had also had a nice INT as well. He shoved the WR out of bounds and down to the ground with one hand, and then ran the pattern and made the easy INT. 

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