Something has to give. The modern day Patriots are a notoriously slow starting bunch. I’ve been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in previous years but I think we can all agree that this feels less like the beginning of Major League and a lot more like the beginning of World War Z, as in it sucks from the get go but you still have no idea what you’re in for. This kind of uncertain climate brings out a certain side in New Englanders… a stupid one. A really really you can’t believe you’re hearing it and you’re worried for your own sanity by being around it stupid kind of attitude. Well for all you Chicken Littles blowing angry bubbles in your iced Dunkins here’s a breakdown of what is and isn’t reasonable to demand out of the Patriots right here and now.
UNREASONABLE: BENCH BRADY AND “Fahkin Staaah’t Garaaappolo!!”
Just fuck you. Tom F. Brady has given 13 years of legendary football to this franchise, and you know this. I will spot him a slow start and a bad game, and you will too you fucking mouth breather pink hat mongoloid. I don’t care if I sound like a Brady apologist. The fucking T-1000 couldn’t stay cool long enough to make accurate throws consistently with the way this offensive line is laying down and dying. The speed at which the casual Patriots fan goes from throwing rose pedals at Brady’s feet during the good times and calling for his head when he falters makes me want to puke on myself and eat it. I would take the calls for Brady to step down a lot more seriously if this hadn’t been going on for YEARS now. Since returning from his ACL injury in 2009 the local talk radio switch boards have lit up daily with fairweather drama queens begging for Brady to be replaced by a cavalcade of jabronies: Tim Tebow, Ryan Mallet, Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, the wildcat offense to name just a few. In that time, with all that bitching and moaning in the background Brady has only managed a measley 2 AFC Offensive Player of the Years, 5 Pro Bowl selections, 3 Conference Championship appearances, 1 AFC Championship, and 1 NFL MVP. But who’s counting? Exactly how does being a Patriot fan involve the incessant thirst for the demise of the greatest Patriot of all time (that’s right Geno Cappeletti fanboys, I said it) instead of standing by him when he needs the support? I love Jimmy G.. His time will come. It’s not today. Goto hell and die twice if you don’t like it.
REASONABLE: BENCH SHANE VEREEEN
UPDATE (10/6/14): Vereen played hard straight ahead football last night against the Bengals and had no problem dropping the shoulder to get the extra yard. Well done.
People aren’t going to like this, but someone needs to go under the bus and believe me that Vereen deserves it. You’ve probably in denial, and it probably has something to do with the former Cal RB stashed on your fantasy bench waiting for a breakout game. And why not? The 3rd year RB is lightning fast and had over 600 all purpose yards last season. He’s awesome right? Well, he’s had a whole offseason of people telling him he’s the second coming of Larry Centers and forgot how to play Patriots football.
Long story short: Vereen blew 3 separate potential first downs Monday night in Kansas City by inexplicably stopping his motion dead with the line to gain in sight just to make an extra juke move he didn’t need. It’s like he thought the imaginary first down line on TV was covered in barbed wire ebola fire ants and had to do whatever he could to not get there. Couple that with the alligator arm effort that got him benched during the Miami game, and you’ve got a pattern. The Patriots have converted just 21 of 58 third downs and 4 of them belong directly to Vereen. He’s also twice choked on easy passes out of the backfield by failing to turn around and see the ball… and it certainly wasn’t because he was busy blocking.
For all the parallels drawn between Vereen and Kevin Faulk could you EVER imagine Faulk not selling out for a must-convert 3rd down? Faulk might have fumbled it… let’s be real, but he knew where the line to gain was when he walked onto the field and if it took diving or dropping the shoulder to run through somebody he made every effort to get it. That was Kevin Faulk. That’s Patriots football. Think of the effort and sacrifice still being made by guys like Julian Edelman, Vince Wilfork, Matthew Slater and even Stevan Ridley (who is running hard regardless of how little help he’s getting up front) the taxes their putting on their bodies to try and turn this team around. Do you really think it’s right that Vereen should be on the field with the offense hinging on his lackluster efforts? Play rookie RB James White, who is finally healthy, and give Vereen some time to think about how important first downs are from the bench.
UNREASONABLE: FIRE MCDANIELS – HIRE CHARLIE WEISS
I can’t believe I’m hearing this but I am. Really guys? The same Charlie Weiss that just went 6-22 in just over two years as the head coach in at the University of Kansas? Good one. Thanks for calling though. If you’re not satisfied with that consider the fact that NBC Sports ran an hour long feature titled Notre Dame Reborn, which gives you an idea of exactly what the Charlie Weiss years did to the program (they had to die first to be reborn get it?) and how hard they had to work just to recover from his tidal wave of failure.
REASONABLE TIGHTEN THE LEASH ON JOSH MCDANIELS
McD, we love you. 2007, the memories, the glory, the FU touchdowns. We’ll never forget it… but all that is over. Literally. Seven years have passed. Peyton Manning owns all those records now, and this offense sucks… SUCKS.
I don’t know what goes on in the offensive meetings, or the game planning. But watching these games it really seems like the Pats consistently spend the first 2 and a half quarters stubbornly working through a narrow game plan that just doesn’t stand a chance. Why even say “seems like?” That’s exactly what is happening. Case in point the Patriots ran Vereen out of the shotgun on a draw to the right side 3 times in the first half Monday night for a net gain of 2 yards. It doesn’t work. Run someone else somewhere else. I don’t even know how to explain it. The offense just seems dead set on going every which direction but down the field…. Draw. Screen. Slant. PUNT. Draw. Slant. Screen. PUNT. Slant. Draw. Nonsensical 30 yard pass to Edelman in triple coverage. PUNT. Turn the page already.
This isn’t news either. This has been going on consistently since McDaniels was re-hired as offensive coordinator in 2012. That year they started the season 3-3 with a humiliating loss to Arizona. They struggled out of the gate again in 2013, ending Brady’s 52 game touchdown streak in a pointless 13-6 loss to Cincinnati. It took 3 quarters of the 2013 season to get LaGarrette Blount going. The play calling game after game insisted that Blount HAD to run between the tackles: something he had struggled with consistently throughout his career. At this point if McDaniels showed up Sunday night in a tweed blazer and straw hat with a fumblerooski scrawled on a tiny chalkboard I’d have to struggle to feign surprise.
What happened to Danny Amendola running the Welker routes over the middle of the field? What happened to those unstoppable Gronkowski routes down the seam with only some hapless DB waiting to get trucked? What happened to Kenbrell Thompkins, who was a healthy scratch for absolutely no reason, and the back shoulder throw he and Brady spent all last season getting down to a science? Thompkins had 21 first downs with Brady last season. What happened to ALL the red zone plays this team used to thrive off of? Here is a look at where the Patriots have ranked scoring TD’s in the red zone with McDaniels (source: TeamRankings.com):
There is nothing in the current conceivable Patriots playbook that resembles anything they’ve had success with or should scare anyone. Belichick has cracked the whip on his coordinators before with Eric Mangini (who had play calling privileges completely removed at one point) and Bill O’Brien. Both times it landed the Patriots in a conference championship and both coaches took credit for the Hoodie’s hard work and parlayed it into multiple head coaching positions. Tighten it up. Less experimenting. More consistency. Please.
UNREASONABLE: “BLAH BLAH BLAH, THE DRAFT”
The draft is seven months away. This season is now. I can nitpick Belichick’s draft history all day, and I have, but it means nothing right now. Name a team that you think has the draft figured out and can draft a dominant wide receiver without screwing up something else.
- AJ Green in Cincinnati? Their playoff record is what?
- Julio Jones in Atlanta? The team that won 4 games a year ago?
- Dez Bryant in Dallas? The team that’s gone 8-8 three years in a row?
- Jordy Nelson in Green Bay? That’s the only position the Packers can draft for. Their offensive line is almost worse than ours.
- Calvin Johnson in Detroit? Those were “HIRE Matt Millen” banners everywhere that were just typo-ed, right?
- 8th Overall Pick Tavon Austin in St. Louis? The blockbuster slot receiver statistically inferior in every way to Tiquan Underwood playing for the perennial last place Rams?Maybe the lone exception to the rule is Demaryius Thomas in Denver and that was after 2 years of being treated as a bust with our own Josh McDaniels at the helm. Thomas and the Broncos didn’t really become a legit team until Peyton Manning fell into their laps via a freak occurrence aka Jim Irsay’s impulsive stupidity. The draft is a two way street for everybody. Even the returning Super Bowl champion (and still the most dominant team in the league) Seahawks did most of their best work with Percy Harvin on the sidelines. Get over it.REASONABLE GET TIM WRIGHT ON THE FIELD ALREADY
Am I going insane? Are we all going insane together? Did the Patriots not trade away the centerpiece of their offensive line for an insignificant draft pick and a desperately needed pass catching tight end? Rutgers alumn Tim Wright has been literally, figuratively and existentially non-existent as a Patriot. Look at his snap count over the first 4 games. Can you even figure out if he’s gaining ground or losing it?
I get it. It’s a complicated magical offense. It’s hard to learn. However, we’re four weeks deep into the season and I’m still expected to believe that either Tim Wright doesn’t know the offense or that the Patriots are somehow better off without him. Do you know how long Hershel Walker was a Viking before he made debut? One practice. He knew 12 plays and still ran for 148 yards. I know Wright isn’t an ideal blocker, and it’s somehow really important to establish a 1940’s power running game but did I miss something about Aaron Hernandez’s blocking aptitude? Attleboro’s most Wanted wasn’t exactly the hispanic Daniel Graham on the line of scrimmage, but he did what he did and made up for it by catching passes. A lot of them. This WAS the offense that made the two TE set the wave of the future. It made being a tight end cool again. Did you catch that bubble screen Kansas City ran with two TE’s out wide and Charles in the middle? Did it look familiar? That’s because the Patriots invented that play. They ran the same thing with Gronkowski and Hernandez with the screen to Welker against Miami. It was an unstoppable piece of magic that *GASP* worked to the strengths of the personnel on the roster instead of forcing something that isn’t there.
UNREASONABLE: CALL A PLAYERS ONLY MEETING TO GIVE DAVE DEGUGLIELMO A FULL METAL JACKET SOAP BEATING
Hey… I said it’s unreasonable. I didn’t say it was impossible, or for that matter unwarranted… or that I wouldn’t enjoy it. There is no excuse for this offensive line sucking as bad as it does. I don’t care if there are rookies in the middle of the line. A quick skim of the depth charts around the league and I count 8 teams with rookies listed as starting offensive linemen. Is there an obnoxious round table discussion going on somewhere with Steven A. Smith and some jobber third rate NFL retiree turned “broadcaster” talking about why eight different teams’ offensive lines are falling apart before our eyes? No, they’re talking about one team. This team. Rookies and 2nd years don’t explain why all of a sudden veteran Dan Connolly has no idea what he’s doing. They don’t explain why Nate Solder was so late blocking Tamba Hali on his strip sack that he might as well have been blocking Hali’s 2nd grade class picture.
Three months of OTAs, mini-camps, off season workouts. A month of training camp. Four preseason games. Four weeks in the regular season. NINE MONTHS on the job as the Patriots offensive line coach and Dave DeGugliemo has zero coordination from his offensive line. So if you’d like to do something brash and unreasonable let’s compromise on this one.
REASONABLE MAYBE BRING IN A VETERAN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN
It’s borderline unreasonable at this point. The time to get a worthwhile guard is in the offseason. That time was spent trading away the best interior offensive lineman on the roster. What’s done is done. The OG pickings are ironically slim. But the Falcons just worked out former Titan Leroy Harris and former Cowboy Uche Nwaneri who are experienced offensive lineman still in playing shape. In all fairness, I think the plan was to feature 2nd year guard Josh Kline who did not suck last year in limited time, but unfortunately is injured right now. The current line is anchored by veterans Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer both of which have proven skills but are quieter guys lacking your prototypical “Punch Channing Crowder In the Face With His Helmet Off” traits of great New England O-liners. Something is definitely off without a veteran presence around.
Of course we all know the one guy who, no matter how bad of an idea it should seem or would seem to a not-desperate team, deserves to at least be discussed inside Gillette. He’s big. He’s mean. He knows how to single handedly dismantle a locker room through a media distraction so awful you almost can’t even believe there wasn’t a clobbered fiance or sex boat involved. But when he puts his mind to it he can still play some pretty good football. I won’t say his name. I’ll just say he reminds me of an unlikable Chris Farley and everyone knows he’s desperate to play football again.