This is not a very good Patriots team.
Yes, I know that I should be happy that they eked out a victory over the hated Jets. And yes, I know that a win is a win. But I cannot ever recall coming away from a W with such a sense of gloom.
Am I just a sore winner? One of those glass-is-half-empty kind of guys? I don’t think so.
It’s just that what I saw on Sunday was enough to tell me that, although there are many worse teams out there, the Pats are not good enough to win consistently, even in this era of mediocrity, aka parity.
So what makes me such a whiner this fine morning? Just two little things—namely, the offense and the defense (oh yes, and maybe also special teams).
The offense, to put it gently, is just not as good as we assumed it would be. The last few years, the feeling has been that even if the defense couldn’t stop anyone, the offense would always put enough points on the board to seal the deal. Today, I don’t feel that way.
Let’s start with Brandon Lloyd. He seems like a nice, articulate and hard-working guy. He’s certainly not a disaster like Ochocinco, but he does not seem to be the answer, either. It’s not as if Tom Brady doesn’t look for him—he was targeted eight times on Sunday. The result: one reception for a grand total of eight yards.
The tight ends, the marvelous two-headed monster, are either so banged up that they cannot recreate last year’s magic or people have started to figure out how to defend them.
Then there’s Tom Brady. Yes, I know it’s sacrilegious to criticize the iconic QB, but there’s an inconsistency about him that I’ve never noticed before.
There are times, like in that last fourth-quarter drive, when he is his old, magnificent self. But then there are times when he seems to get flustered and underthrows open receivers or tosses it away when it seems he still had a second or two to find someone coming free downfield.
Would I rather have someone else back there? Well, I certainly wouldn't want Ryan Mallett or Mark Sanchez. But until the old Tom Brady comes back—the one who was consistently brilliant, not just spotty—we could be in for a long season.
And then there’s the defense—the defense, that in spite of all the draft picks, seems just as sad as it was last season.
The defense can’t get anyone off the field on third down. When the Jets can convert 8-of-15 third downs, sometimes facing 3rd-and-long, something is wrong. When Mark Sanchez, he of the 47-percent completion rate, can hit 10-of-12 passes in the fourth quarter and complete 68 percent of his passes overall, something is seriously wrong.
Unlike Tom Brady, who is inconsistent at his worst, Sanchez is inconsistent at his best. If the Jets had Russell Wilson behind center—for heaven’s sake, even if they had Woodrow Wilson back there—this game would have gone down as an easy Jets win.
Can the defensive backfield be that bad, talent-wise, or is it the schemes? How many long pass plays, wide-open receivers and breakdowns in defensive assignments can we endure?
Would this game be a W if Aaron Rodgers had been the guy tossing the pigskin?
I should be happy with a narrow escape. I should be praising the team for hanging in there and finally coming away with a close win. But in spite of the win, I’m feeling unbelievably pessimistic.
How I hope that I am wrong. Maybe once the starting safeties are back, maybe when Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly are healthy again, maybe…pigs can really fly.
Yes, a part of me still holds out hope. How glad I would be to eat large portions of humble pie at the end of the season.
Nonetheless, for right now, I’m feeling down. I’m thinking that this is just not a very good Patriots team.