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Old 09-16-2012, 10:27 PM   #1
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5 takeaways from the game...

By Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots' loss to the Arizona Cardinals highlighted a number of evolving issues with this team, from Wes Welker's role and the offensive line's struggles to the team's offensive execution, and Ras-I Dowling's place on the defense.

Let's get right to it.

1) The offensive line had a tough time -- Nate Solder appeared to fix any problems from last week against the Titans in a solid effort. But the Patriots' interior linemen were having a difficult day dealing with the likes of Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. Campbell had 10 tackles and two sacks, manhandling guards Donald Thomas and Logan Mankins at times. Cardinals lineman Sam Acho also got loose for a 10-yard sack and had a tackle for a loss. Afterward, Thomas was obviously not happy with his performance.

"I mean, the game plan was to control those guys up front," Thomas said. "They got a good line. We just had to execute really better. They played well today. I can't take anything from them.

"At the end of the day, we just didn't execute well enough to win the game ... I'm my hardest critic. So you know, I look at all the plays I had. I'm gonna go back and take a look at them. Since I've been playing football I've never been satisfied with the way I've played. I'm certainly not satisfied today. I'll go back and just try to get better each week."

2) With Aaron Hernandez's injury, Wes Welker filled the vacuum -- Welker was looking at another down day after Julian Edelman started and Welker stood on the sideline in the team's base offense. It wasn't until Aaron Hernandez went down with a right ankle injury that Welker's snaps picked up. He ended up being targeted 11 times, catching five passes for 95 yards. He took the franchise lead in receptions. When Tom Brady needed a huge pickup, he was looking in Welker's and Rob Gronkowski's direction. It's safe to say that Hernandez would've picked up some of those plays. It's also safe to say that Edelman, who had a terrific offseason, deserves some increased playing time. But it's befuddling that Welker was initially minimized.

"Aaron is in there almost every play, so [the offense] changes quite a bit," Welker said. "You have to go to a different attack and go out there and play the way we need to and execute the way we need to and today just wasn't enough."

3) The Patriots had trouble getting their hurry-up offense going -- Again, when the Patriots go to their hurry-up offense, they have good rhythm and tend to pick up yards in chunks. But Sunday's offensive blunders stemmed from an inability to stay in a hurry-up offense, either because of penalties or disruptive plays. The Patriots were penalized eight times Sunday for 60 yards. But what's more, when the team did get going in the third quarter in its hurry-up offense, it had running plays for losses. Both Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead were hit in the backfield. They have to do a better job.

"We just didn't come out firing," said Welker. "We didn't have a great week of practice and coach made a point of that, that we needed to almost play some catch-up. We really didn't do things necessary to come away with a win, especially early. We have to start faster than that and come out and play from ahead and do things the way we need to."

4) What's up with Ras-I Dowling? -- As players come back from injury, others will have their roles shifted. That can't be any more apparent than it is with Ras-I Dowling, who didn't play one snap Sunday, wasn't listed on the injury report, and wasn't one of the team's eight inactive players. Last week, he was the Patriots' third cornerback off the bench as Sterling Moore was nursing a knee injury. Moore returned today, playing in the team's nickel and dime packages as the team's right cornerback, with Kyle Arrington shifting inside to the star and Tavon Wilson playing a hybrid safety and linebacker. There's no telling if this could change going forward.

5) Another solid day for the youngsters -- Stevan Ridley had another good game (18 carries, 71 yards) and rookies Chandler Jones (five tackles, tackle for a loss, quarterback hit), Dont'a Hightower (five tackles, tackle for a loss), and Wilson (fumble recovery) are all doing a good job. Jones in particular was a bright spot for the Patriots defense. He was chasing Kevin Kolb around quite a bit. You can tell that, given a few seconds, he can snuff out any quarterback.


Ok....whats going on with welker, and why is he not starting...I am not sure what the issue is, but freaking fix it coaches....either trade him or freaking use him, because we need him..

That is how it did look, the pats would get going and then have some stops in the run game, but I still thought runs were used at strange times....I am almost glad to hear they had a bad week of practice because it explains some things.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:52 AM   #2
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I thought I might have missed something since I do not post as frequently as I once did, but I'm incredibly confused as to why Welker was the #3 WR.
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Old 09-17-2012, 04:27 AM   #3
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This game boils down to our interior OL vs their DL. They had their way with Donald Thomas and Wendell who couldn't stop penetration on runs and couldn't protect Brady. Combine that with the fine job their DBs did on our receivers along with the schizophrenic play calling and the loss is understandable. Credit our D that we were in the game at all.

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It didn’t take long for [Mankins] to offer his typically blunt opinion on the defeat.

“The defense kept us in the game all day; they played really well. The offense and special teams let the team down today,” he said quietly. “[The offense] didn’t play very good. Not scoring a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Kicking field goals. Penalties, pressures. Negative runs. [On] offense, we didn’t bring our best game, and it really showed.”

As usual, Mankins was spot on. The New England offense struggled for three-plus quarters: the Patriots ran five plays in Arizona territory in the first quarter and had just one series of eight plays or more until late in the third quarter. The Patriots converted just two third downs in the second half. Quarterback Tom Brady was sacked four times. And eight of New England’s 78 plays from scrimmage went for negative yards.

“[We were] just too inconsistent throughout the day to really put enough points on the board,” agreed Tom Brady.

Meanwhile, special teams was equally culpable: Zoltan Mesko had a punt blocked for the first time in his NFL career after rookie Nate Ebner couldn’t deliver on a block. Mesko averaged a pedestrian 34.4 average on his five punts. And despite the fact that he connected on his first four field-goal attempts, with six seconds left and in position to win the game, kicker Stephen Gostkowski went wide left from 42 yards out.

With a rematch of the AFC title game with the Ravens looming on the horizon next Sunday night in Baltimore, it seems a bit dramatic to suggest this week represents a character-defining moment for this club. But we’ll know more about its backbone in the days to come, particularly how the team responds in a hostile environment like Baltimore.
“We’ll get back to work [Monday],” Mankins said. “I think everyone is taking the loss pretty hard, since we played so bad and didn’t have a chance to win. We didn’t get it done. But we’ll come in [Monday], watch that game, try to make corrections and get back after it Wednesday. We have a tough opponent coming up.”

Here are nine other things we learned on Sunday:


LIKE THE REST OF THE PATRIOTS’ OFFENSE, TOM BRADY WAS TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE



THERE ARE STILL ISSUES WITH THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE OFFENSIVE LINE



AARON HERNANDEZ IS A HUGE PART OF THE OFFENSE
(Yes, but why is the offense so dependent on any 1 player other than Brady? Alternatives abound; make better use of them)

RIGHT NOW, JULIAN EDELMAN IS THE NO. 2 RECEIVER
Welker, who broke Troy Brown’s record for most receptions with his first catch of the day, said after the game that you “never know” when it comes to how many snaps you might play.

(It's time to put WW back in the spotlight. Edelman doesn't carry the same fear factor for defenses.)

LARRY FITZGERALD CAN BE STOPPED

THERE ARE TIMES WHERE THE HURRY UP JUST DOESN’T GEL
Some of this could ultimately be tied to the fact that there were some puzzling play calls on the offensive side of the ball for New England and some could be tied to the loss of Hernandez. But for the Patriots on Sunday, the offense struggled to find a rhythm, and that was particularly true when they tried to go no huddle.


IT WASN’T A GOOD WEEK OF PRACTICE FOR THE PATRIOTS
“It started in the week in practice,” said cornerback Kyle Arrington. “Everybody will probably tell you that everybody knew what they were doing and we still couldn’t even get it done in some instances on the practice field: blown calls, lack of communication, or whatever the case is, and it showed up today in the game.”

“We didn’t have a good practice there toward the end of the week, and I think it showed up today,” Mankins said. “We didn’t play very well, and when you’re playing a good team -- like we said all week, they’re good -- if you don’t play good against a good team, you’ll lose.”



THIS WEEK WILL BE ANOTHER NEW EXPERIENCE FOR THE ROOKIES

Despite the fact that it appears Nate Ebner was the one who missed the block that led to the blocked punt, it was another good individual week for most of New England’s rookie class. However, despite the nice numbers, they will learn that in the Patriots universe, personal stats mean very little unless you bring home the W.

•Defensive end Chandler Jones had five tackles (three solo), as well as one tackle for loss (a nifty takedown of Arizona’s Ryan Williams five yards behind the line of scrimmage in the second quarter) one quarterback hit and one forced fumble. After a slow start, he consistently got the better of Arizona left tackle D’Anthony Batiste. Jones frequently flushed Kolb out of the pocket and was able to make him uncomfortable for much of the afternoon. (One of the reasons that Larry Fitzgerald only finished with one catch for four yards was because Kolb was frequently running for his life.)

•Linebacker Dont’a Hightower also had five tackles (three solo) and one tackle for loss, an impressive stop of Arizona’s Beanie Wells that came two yards in the backfield. And safety Tavon Wilson was able to come away with a turnover for the second straight week, picking up a fumble midway through the second quarter after a Jones hit on Kolb.

(I expected more from Jones b/c of the Cards weak LT. He did ok but I expected more in this game)


STEVAN RIDLEY GOT OFF TO A GOOD START

After a terrific effort in Week One against the Titans (21 carries, 125 yards, one touchdown), the running back out of LSU followed that up with an equally impressive first half against the Cardinals. Ridley rushed for 54 yards on 11 carries over the first two quarters -- including a game-high 20-yarder at the end of the first quarter -- and generally looked like the most impressive skill position player on the field for New England.

The second half? Not so much. Whether it was game planning or schemes or whatever, Ridley wasn’t utilized as much in the third and fourth quarter -- he had seven carries for 17 yards in the second half. He ended up with 18 carries for 71 yards. (Not just Ridley, but the first half/second half splits for the New England running game are jarring. The Patriots had 71 rushing yards and a 4.4 yards per carry average in the first two quarters, and in the second half, New England had 19 yards on the ground and a 1.6 yards per carry average.)
http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/fo...-offense-it-wa

There is more discussion after each of the points made.
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:38 AM   #4
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I wondered why Ridley disappeared in the 2nd half, and NE went with Woodhead instead. This game had too many head-scratching moments, mostly due to poor execution. I wished more than once that Branch was available as an option.
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:45 AM   #5
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I wondered why Ridley disappeared in the 2nd half, and NE went with Woodhead instead. This game had too many head-scratching moments, mostly due to poor execution. I wished more than once that Branch was available as an option.
They played a lot of no huddle and Woodhead seams to be the running back in those situations. That's my guess...
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:06 AM   #6
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Plenty of head scratching moments for me in this game but the biggest one was why the Pats didn't try to move the ball closer for Ghost's kick at the end?
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:23 AM   #7
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Plenty of head scratching moments for me in this game but the biggest one was why the Pats didn't try to move the ball closer for Ghost's kick at the end?
They were well within his range, so they decided to just get the ball into the middle of the field (rather than on the edge of the hash marks).
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:41 AM   #8
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Plenty of head scratching moments for me in this game but the biggest one was why the Pats didn't try to move the ball closer for Ghost's kick at the end?
with no timeouts, and already within Gostkowski's range (especially yesterday, kicking in that direction), it seemed like a no-brainer.

strange game. when I thought they were going to pull it out, just before that missed FG, my takeaway would have been that it was as though the Patriots were trying to figure out what rules the refs were going to call.

Arizona looked pretty good. I am surprised the spread was as high as it was (I thought gamblers were more informed about relative strengths of teams).

I thought the play of the game was that deflection the Cardinal rookie CB made on the back-shoulder pass to Brandon Lloyd.

Really not as close a game as the score. Kolb was pretty awful. Should have been more of a lopsided victory.

Dick Stockton was horrible.

Right from the start, reminded me of the loss to the Jets in the playoffs a couple of years ago, and I didn't even know Welker wasn't starting until after the game. Weird.
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:43 AM   #9
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Plenty of head scratching moments for me in this game but the biggest one was why the Pats didn't try to move the ball closer for Ghost's kick at the end?
They did...several times....remember, they ran for a td that got called back and they also ran twice....after two penalties I think they were scared they were going to be put out of fg range. 41 yards is not some horrible long fg...
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:00 AM   #10
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Unless I watched a different game than you guys did I saw the Pats have a 1st down at the 25 yard line with 46 seconds left in the game. On the next 2 plays Brady took a knee and spiked the ball.

I understand having faith in your choker kicker and all, but why go all chickenshit there? This is supposedly 1 of the best offenses in the NFL, manned by arguably the GOAT QB.
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:18 AM   #11
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Unless I watched a different game than you guys did I saw the Pats have a 1st down at the 25 yard line with 46 seconds left in the game. On the next 2 plays Brady took a knee and spiked the ball.

I understand having faith in your choker kicker and all, but why go all chickenshit there? This is supposedly 1 of the best offenses in the NFL, manned by arguably the GOAT QB.
yeah you missed quite a bit....the pats got the ball, brady had an incomplete pass, then they had a td run, then that was called back, then he hit welker for a first down with a pass, then they took two knees...one of which was a false start on gronk.
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:24 AM   #12
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yeah you missed quite a bit....the pats got the ball, brady had an incomplete pass, then they had a td run, then that was called back, then he hit welker for a first down with a pass, then they took two knees...one of which was a false start on gronk.
I'm talking about the last 46 seconds of the game. The Pats had it 1st and 15 at the 24 yard line. The next 2 plays were a kneel down followed by an intentional spike.

You have 1 of the greatest QB's of all time at the helm and an offense chalk full of skill players and BB trusts his PK over them? It's not like this was Vinatieri trotting out there.
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:26 AM   #13
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I'm talking about the last 46 seconds of the game. The Pats had it 1st and 15 at the 24 yard line. The next 2 plays were a kneel down followed by an intentional spike.

You have 1 of the greatest QB's of all time at the helm and an offense chalk full of skill players and BB trusts his PK over them? It's not like this was Vinatieri trotting out there.
I am just saying, they tried all that when they got the ball, they tried to score, but penalties were making that tough...the play at that point was to take the time off and kick....If 41 yards is so horrible for him to make, then maybe we need a new kicker. Thats not a tough kick, and it was the play at that point. With 46 seconds, you have no timeouts and you are behind, the play is to line up in the middle and kick.
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:36 AM   #14
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I'm talking about the last 46 seconds of the game. The Pats had it 1st and 15 at the 24 yard line. The next 2 plays were a kneel down followed by an intentional spike.

You have 1 of the greatest QB's of all time at the helm and an offense chalk full of skill players and BB trusts his PK over them? It's not like this was Vinatieri trotting out there.
Or, your offense has been putrid the whole game, and your PK is 4/4. The offense has lost yardage or been penalized on 2/3 plays at least, and iirc, 3/4. So do you risk penalties or negative yardage plays that could hurt your PK, or trust him with a 41 yard bunny that he hit 9/11 times in 2011 (that's 40-49 even...41 is on the short side but they didn't break it down farther)?
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:43 AM   #15
Pneumonic
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Originally Posted by midgar8784 View Post
I am just saying, they tried all that when they got the ball, they tried to score, but penalties were making that tough...the play at that point was to take the time off and kick....If 41 yards is so horrible for him to make, then maybe we need a new kicker. Thats not a tough kick, and it was the play at that point. With 46 seconds, you have no timeouts and you are behind, the play is to line up in the middle and kick.
Why not make the kick easier for your FG kicker? They had plenty of time to do so. And they had the QB and skill players to do so.
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