Monday, October 22, 2012
Beware the Patriots, better than their record
By Steve Kallas (posted by Rick Morris)
NOTE: This column was written prior to the Jets game.
One of the most quoted sayings (to this day) in NFL history comes from the great Bill Parcells: “You are what your record says you are.” Truer words were never spoken, right?
But it says here that Parcells’ famous saying isn’t necessarily true this season.
THE GREEN BAY PACKERS
Everybody by now knows that the brutal call on the last play of the Packers-Seahawks game cost the Packers a victory. Confused replacement officials, lack of knowledge of the rules, a call so bad that even the “my way or the highway” NFL had to buckle to public pressure and compromise with the real officials to get them back on the field.
But what does that mean vis-à-vis the great quote from Bill Parcells?
Well, it says, to this writer, that the Packers really are not a 3-3 team. They are better than that and, just because of a brutal, game-ending, you-lose call, it’s hard to regard them as a .500 team.
WHICH BRINGS US TO THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
As many of you New York Jet fans know, the AFC East is now being painted as a toss-up. You know, the Jets are tied for first with the hated Patriots (and with the Bills and the Dolphins, for that matter). Everybody is 3-3. Anything can happen. Blah, blah, blah.
But are the Patriots, like the Packers, really a 3-3 team? Well, from a standings perspective (and to the disgrace of the NFL, who locked out the good officials over chump change), both the Packers and the Patriots are 3-3. But not one, but two Patriots games, neither of which got near the attention received by the Packers-Seahawks game, could have (and says here should have) been wins for the Patriots.
In week two, the Arizona Cardinals outplayed the Patriots in New England, leading 20-18 vey late in the game. But Arizona fumbled and the Patriots recovered on the Arizona 30 with 1:01 to play in the game. Danny Woodhead then goes 30 yards untouched to the end zone, seemingly wrapping up a win for the Patriots.
But a holding call on Rob Gronkowski nullified the TD and, eventually, the Patriots would miss a field goal and lose the game.
But Mike Pereira, the well respected former NFL Vice-President of Officiating, who now does rules analysis for Fox, speaking to Mike Francesa on WFAN, said that was the call of an inexperienced official (read: replacement official). Pereira said that should have been a touchdown and, although it was not the last play of the game, it would have put the Patriots up five with less than a minute to play in the game.
A week later, against the Ravens, the Patriots, on the road, had outplayed the Ravens for most of the game. Ravens placekicker Justin Tucker lines up for what will be a game-winning 27-yard field goal. He kicks it off to the right and, according to the officials, the kick is good and cannot be reviewed because it went directly over the right goal post (at a minimum, the play should have been reviewed to see if it actually went right over the goal post).
A review of the kick clearly shows that the ball was moving quickly to the right as it went off the right-footed kicker’s foot. Assuming it would have hit the right goal post, there is virtually no way that the kick would have been good. It either would have grazed the right goal post on the outside or missed it right all together. That would have been another Patriots win.
WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN FOR JETS-PATRIOTS?
Well, what it means is that the Jets and Patriots, with identical records, are simply not identical as quality football teams. The Patriots, quietly, are changing the way the NFL game is played. They’ve reincorporated the running game, making their offense even more dangerous than it has been in the last few years (hard to believe that’s possible). Call that the “throwback” aspect of the new Patriots.
But, in addition, and more importantly, the Patriots have perfected the no-huddle offense. The future is now for the no-huddle and the Patriots are the leaders of the new “movement.” The no-huddle is becoming a common offense, not just something you do late in the game when the clock is against you.
So, the Jets’ defense really has their work cut out for it. And it says here that stopping the Pats will be virtually impossible for the Jets.
On the other side of the ball, most haven’t seen the improvement of the Patriots’ defense. Rebuilding the defense, the Patriots have a vey good front seven, which is excellent against the run (6th in the NFL). It will be strength against strength as the Jets have reverted to ground and pound with Shonn Greene putting up impressive numbers.
Wile the Patriots weakness is clearly their secondary, the Jets don’t seem to have the firepower to do a lot of damage in that regard. Whether it’s the offensive line’s fault or the inability of Mark Sanchez to progress, nobody fears the Jet passing attack. Even if they do some good, it says here that they can’t stay with the Patriots (and, no, this is not being written by a Patriots’ fan).
CAN TIM TEBOW CHANGE THE GAME?
Well, Tebow has shown flashes of helping the Jets’ offense. You have to think that the Patriots will be ready for Tebow, but he can be a difference-maker.
Enough to help the Jets win? Unlikely, it says here.
Unfortunately, there simply doesn’t seem to be any team in the AFC East that can seriously challenge the Patriots. The Jets haven’t moved forward offensively, the Bills are too up and down and Miami is playing a rookie QB who is also up and down. You have to think, because of the coaching staff, that the New England defense will only improve as the season gets longer.
As for the Jets, they still don’t have an identity.
And that bodes poorly for them this season.