Patriots-Chargers: Notes On a Shellacking

Mike DussaultSenior Analyst IOctober 13, 2008

I didn't want to admit it before this weekend but I knew that the Chargers needed a win much more than the Patriots did. Throw in the added motivation of the Pats ending San Diego's season the past two years, and I knew deep down there was a strong chance it wasn't going to be pretty.

The Pats sit at 3-2, which is a whole lot better than they looked on the field last night. I drink the Bill Belichick Kool-Aid as readily as anyone, but now even I have to admit this team has concerns that run far deeper than just Matt Cassel keeping Tom Brady's spot warm.

My Notes On What Was Still a Fun Day In So Cal:

There was an excellent contingent of Pats fans that congregated together in the parking lot. This is one of the best parts of attending an away game: getting to meet fellow fans from all parts of the country. We went 2-1 in the bean bag toss.

For all those who asked me at the tailgate, you can get the bean bag toss game here.

Thanks to the sister Mary and the BF-in-law Geno for giving me the single seat down close. I was happy until a guy in a Brady jersey sat down next to me and I found out he was a) from New York and b) did not shut up the entire game.

Props to the knowledgeable Chargers fans who were sitting in front of me. I had to feel for the two guys who had been in New England for the 2007 week two massacre. I enjoyed talking to football fans who knew what they were talking about.

Pats Observations:

The Pats opened up with four down lineman, two linebackers, two cornerbacks, and three safeties. Meriweather and Sanders were the deep safeties and Rodney played down close, mostly on Gates.

It looked like the Chargers went after O'Neal. Rodney was a target in coverage as well.

Cassel took another four sacks and had to throw the ball nearly 40 times. He's been fairly consistent in that he completes a good portion of his passes, takes a couple sacks, and is good for one interception at least per game. That's not a good thing. Now, if Moss can just hold on to the ball we might've made a game of it...

From Michael Lombardi: New England QB Matt Cassel does not make very quick decisions and his accuracy on some easy throws is a concern.  He looks like he cannot process the decisions with any real conviction. 

I'm not in the crowd calling for Kevin O'Connell, but I'm starting to wonder how high Cassel's ceiling really is. I still think it will be early December before we see a quarterback switch made. O'Connell was far from ready coming out of college, where he took the majority of snaps in the shotgun. Though now that I think of it, why can't he just do that with Moss/Welker and company?

Right now the word that comes to mind for Cassel is: Stop—Gap.

The Pats need Maroney and Jordan back now. Sammie Morris isn't the same runner as he was last year. I'm not enough of an expert to know how much that has to do with the O-line play, but the Pats were unable to produce any kind of consistent run game.

Brady or no Brady, I don't think this team would be going anywhere with the current state of the defense. Where's the pressure? Even against the 49ers when they were collapsing the pocket, they were unable to get sacks.

What I'll be researching this week is where the Pats' rank in number of offensive third downs and where they rank in sacks.

I never thought I'd say it, but I think we miss Asante. I don't know if Deltha O'Neal is still learning the defense or if he stinks, but it seems like teams are consistently attacking him.

Meriweather looks really good to me. He has been one of the few bright spots. Ellis Hobbs has been good as well, despite the PI call.

Nick Kazcur and Jarvis Green were both carted off yesterday. I used to get so depressed when guys got hurt, but after seeing Brady go down everyone else just pales in comparison. Hopefully, they aren't out too long, but come on, how bad can their replacements be? Not getting a single sack? Not allowing more than four sacks?

Today is a day to mourn the loss, but I can't help but have a sick feeling in my stomach with the Jay Cutler and Bronco passing attack coming into Foxboro next Monday. Sure Denver's defense sucks, but not as bad as the Patriots offense stunk last night. The Broncos are a much harder bounce back test than the 49ers were. Let's see the blue jerseys and get this thing turned around.