By Aaron Jackson
Here are some quotes from Saturday’s Patriots’ win, courtesy of members of The Drive during the game…
Sterling Pingree: “I’m going to be sick.” This was second quarter, I believe after Dion Lewis fumbled a kickoff.
Jim Churchill: “Bill, take the damn hood off down and put on a hat for goodness sake.”
Jim Churchill: “I’m concerned. The razor ain’t so sharp.”
Jeff Solari: “Foghorn.”
Some were more insightful than others…but all showed a level of concern that Pats fans didn’t think they’d be dealing with against the lowly Houston Texans. So what went wrong? And what can we really take away from this game? Here are five thoughts I have looking back over the win:
#1. Dion Lewis can win, and conversely lose, you a game.
He’s explosive and can make plays that change games. We saw this Saturday with his catch, run and kickoff return for touchdown. But he’s also injury prone, and also coughs it up more than you’d like. His fumble, against a better team, would likely have been incredibly costly given where it happened on the field. In 12 career Patriots starts he has 5 fumbles. That number means a lot more to me than the “Patriots’ haven’t lost when Dion Lewis plays” meme that’s all over social media.
#2. LeGarrette Blount is becoming an afterthought in the Patriots’ offense.
This fact has been developing for weeks. He has slowly been phased out, and while the excuses for his removal range (return of Lewis, getting him rest, illness) I’m thinking it’s simply a matter of him being overworked earlier this year and is not as effective at this point in the season. A running back’s shelf life is short in the NFL, and Blount, at age 30, may be approaching his expiration date, at least for this season. You certainly can’t blame him, just look around the league at how many 30 year old running backs there are that have carried the load for their team all season long and remained effective. The answer is 0.
#3. The Patriots’ defense can create turnovers when needed.
Earlier this year the Patriots defense was the worst at creating turnovers in the NFL. But as the season has progressed they’ve slowly turned that number around, and while part of it has to do with their mediocre to bad competition, part of it is also a secondary that has become better at jumping routes and taking chances. 3 interceptions helped the Patriots seal the win Saturday.
#4. The book on Tom Brady is still the same; Pressure throws him off.
To be fair, this is the same issue almost all quarterbacks face. Very few guys in the NFL deal well with 300 pound men running full speed at them. It’s what makes Aaron Rodgers so incredible to watch, he seems to get better when the pocket collapses. That’s not the case for Brady, who needs a clean pocket to be effective. The Texans had some major talent up front, which enabled them to get to Brady early and often, causing him to force throws. The Patriots offense relies on his pinpoint accuracy and that is something the offense loses when pressured. Against Houston he was able to connect on a few deep balls that were floated up there: against a better secondary those won’t work.
#5. The Patriots had the least impressive win over the weekend…but who cares? Another AFC title game is a week away.
They beat a mediocre to bad opponent, while every other team remaining faced a potential Super Bowl contender. Pittsburgh and Green Bay made incredible plays to survive, while Atlanta looked like a buzz saw that can’t be stopped. I’m not sure you can say with any certainty at all that one of the four teams remaining is better than any of the other ones. That’s what makes this coming weekend so great!
Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.