Re-watched the game this morning amidst all the Gronk depression and it was mostly good, but of course the Colts played right into the Patriots hands, and the offense was on for the whole game so it got ugly. But not a lot of new stuff learned.
Here are my random thoughts…
– Tough blow losing Gronk but maybe it will give him a chance to get his ankle and hip finally to 100%. While the Pats will miss him in the red zone I’m interested to see how they go about replacing him tactically.
– At least they have the tight end depth this year to overcome it. If this had happened last year they would be in serious trouble. But Fells, Shiancoe and Hoomanawanui should be able to do a reasonable job stepping in.
– Anyone suggesting it was Belichick’s fault for having Gronk on for the PAT is an idiot. How often to players even get hurt on the PAT? I can’t ever recall one.
– Belichick never plays fearing injuries and the suggestion that you should start subbing the “important” players when the game was already decided it a needless exercise. That’s all I have to say about that.
– Of course the thing no one is talking about is Chandler Jones’ ankle injury which could be an even bigger blow than losing Gronk. Ninkovich and Cunningham did a pretty good job filling in, but missing Jones for any length of time would seriously impact the defense.
– I think McCourty and Gregory is the safety pairing the Pats need going forward. With experience together I think they should really settle the back end of the defense down.
– Dont’a Hightower has had a rough couple of games, especially early on against the Colts. They’re blitzing him some more which is good, but his growth in pass coverage seems to be coming along a little slowly, though he did have a good pass defended yesterday.
– When I left Hightower off the big board this draft season it was because he was too similar to Spikes. I’m starting to feel I wasn’t quite as much of an idiot as I thought, because the Pats continue to struggle when their linebackers are forced to cover. Hard to find a SLB who excels in coverage but the combo of Spikes and Hightower, along with Mayo’s “just a millimeter off” coverage, has made for some big gains in the middle of the field.
– Liked what I saw out of Talib, especially the bit of physicality from him. He should only get better.
– Kyle Arrington might be at the end of the line. They still like him in the slot, but he is getting benched consistently now and Dennard has certainly looked just as good, if not better, than Arrington ever has on the outside.
– Feels like we’ve been waiting for a while to see that kind of all around game from Julian Edelman. He needs to continue to build on this game, especially when it comes to earning Brady’s trust. He came up with some big catches against the Colts, which could really mean more than the long punt returns. Making tough catches is what gets you more playing time here.
– Over the next four weeks I wonder who will have more catches, Daniel Fells or Vinsanthe Shiancoe?
– If you’d have told me the Pats would win the turnover battle 4-0 before the game yesterday I would’ve known it’d be a blowout. 14 points of the first two interceptions was all New England needed.
– There was nothing outstanding about the defense yesterday. Obviously the first two drives were atrocious, but after that it wasn’t like they were suddenly lock down. They do what they always do, give up yards, get turnovers.
– They did throw some more blitzes on third downs which was nice to see. Still, it seems like any time they rush only three they give up a completion. I see that as inexperience, just not having a great feel for the holes in zone coverage.
– Lose both our starting guards? No big deal, the offense doesn’t miss a beat.
– Don’t think it’s that easy without Gronk, but I this is still a very tough offense to defend with Lloyd, Welker, Hernandez and Edelman coming on, along with the three threats in the backfield.
– The problem is that the margin for error is really one game. They can lose one more and that’s about it if they want a shot at a bye. If they lose two more it’s entirely possible they’re headed to the four seed and likely hosting the Ravens or Steelers in the Wild Card round.