Game Day Rear View
Pre-Season Edition, Version 1.0
August 13, 2004
I got to tell you, I’m not happy with my progress at this point.
I mean, there’s only three weeks before the season begins, and the games start to count. If I think I’m just going to turn it on when the bell rings, I’m sadly mistaken, mister. I need to put the time in now to be successful later. Try telling that to me, though. Talking to me is like talking to that wall over there.
My conditioning stinks. Two beers in four quarters? Who am I, John Dennis? That’s pathetic. Pretty soon they’re going to be firing live ammo, and I’m going to need to dig a lot deeper than that. At this rate, I won’t have it when I need it, and then I’d be no better than a Colts fan.
And frankly, I’m not all that impressed with my concentration either. Was that me who wandered over to VH1’s Most Shocking Moments in Rock & Roll late in the fourth quarter? I should have made myself run a lap right there. I think I missed a Quinn Dorsey quarterback pressure! That’s not going to get it done in January, brother.
Let’s face it, even the lead to this column is weak. Fundamentally, I’m a mess. For all I know, I just misspelled fundamentally.
Well, that’s it, I’m taking the weekend to get my head right, and then Monday morning I’m getting to work. If I want the Patriots to be playing ball through January, I can’t be soft. Otherwise, I’ll be watching somebody else’s team in the playoffs, all sour-pussed and resentful, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Other than Miami fans, I mean.
Patriots on Offense
The first pre-season game is like that episode of The Brady Bunch where Robert Reed and Florence Henderson are in the first scene and then they hand it off to Ken Berry and his adopted Rainbow Coalition. Meanwhile, Reed and Henderson spend the rest of the show standing there with towels on their heads, cracking jokes with Christian Fauria. It’s exactly like that.
The best you can hope at this point for is that nothing horrible happens in those brief moments that your first offensive unit is on the field. Point, Patriots. In fact, there were even a few highlights Tom Brady evading a near-sack to hit the returning David Patten in stride for 20 yards, and Corey Dillon lugging three straight for a first down, capped by a promising burst into the secondary for 14. I had to throw away a couple of Antowain Smith wisecracks when that happened. Then there’s Patten again, snagging a 10 yard TD from Brady, reminding us that David Patten ain’t no piker. He re-appeared later to add a wicked sprint up the far sideline on a kick return, which was called back when Adrian Klemm committed a penalty while doing the unthinkable; actually taking the field in uniform. But that didn’t wipe out what Patten had done with his evening; so maybe we ought to hold off on ordering that Chas Gessner authentic for now.
Speaking of Gessner, he and the rest of the NFL Europe all-stars took over for the first teamers in the waning moments of the 1st quarter. For a few moments, they faced the Eagles front-line defensive unit, and the storyline that emerged from that interlude was that Tom Brady is really, really a great quarterback.
A funny thing happened to Rohan Davey on the way to Canton. The funny thing was that we actually saw him play. Now back on American soil, Davey looked ill-suited to pilot the Pats efficient ball-control offense. Where Brady often delivers the ball on three and five step drops, Davey seems to need considerably more steps than that. Thirty, forty, maybe. However many it takes to run around for awhile before delivering a poorly thrown incomplete pass while being hit from several directions.
As the night wore on, Davey improved, probably because Philadelphia let their wives suit up and play defense after awhile. He managed to guide the team to a couple of scores, including a TD pass to Michael Jennings, which was actually a desperation pass to a covered Gessner in the back of the end zone. Nobody told Jennings, who sprinted out of nowhere to grab the pass on a play that wasn’t exactly surgical in its precision.
Before we move on, let’s have a hand for receiver Ricky Bryant, who made me wonder why the hell everybody’s always talking about Chas Gessner (that’s my fourth mention in the last five paragraphs). Bryant made a nice sliding TD catch (Davey’s best throw) and returned punts like Mike Haynes. It probably doesn’t mean a thing in terms of the final roster, but give the kid credit. He did something with his opportunity.
Unlike Chas Gessner. (Five!)
Patriots on Defense
Hey, didn’t I read recently that Johnnie Grier’s crew averages more flags per game than any other officiating team? I don’t know why they’re talking that junk about Johnnie, considering the way he let the guys play last night.
I don’t want to say no one on defense stood out, but when Troy Brown is your big defensive story (a few cameos in the nickel and dime packages), chances are things were pretty unremarkable. But hey, who’s complaining? Beats losing three defensive starters, if you know what I mean.
A few things I noticed: Keith Traylor knifing through a double team and stopping an Eagle running play in the backfield. Rookie SS Guss Scott blasting the bejeesus out of somebody after an incomplete pass. Dan Klecko looking kind of unexceptional at inside linebacker. Ditto d-tackle Vince Wilfork, despite significant time at the nose.
The day was carried by people like Justin Kurpeikas and the aforementioned Dorsey, who were among the most impressive Pats defenders. Which means almost nothing, really. You got to look at the big picture – they got their work in, they got some stuff on film, nobody seemed to get hurt, and they allowed only two field goals and they won. Never count your money when you池e sittin� at the table. Take it and run.
Patriots on Special Teams
I missed the very end did they carry Josh Miller off the field on their shoulders?
Count me as a big fan of the seventy-five yard missles, especially the ones he angles out of bounds at the 15. And it may have been missed, but on the Pats first extra point, Miller scooped a low snap and quickly got it in position for Adam Vinatieri.
If this was the 60’s, he’d be taking a bow from the audience on this Sunday’s Ed Sullivan Show.
Patriots on the Sidelines
What am I am going to say? The coaching staff didn’t have a good game? Jeesh.
Here’s a story I’m watching Sports Plus on NESN before the game, and there’s Nick Cafardo. Somehow, the subject comes around to Damien Woody. Nick says that yeah, Woody wanted more money, and he’d have to go elsewhere to get it, but he was leaving the Pats anyway because he’d had enough of the way they do things down there.
That made me think of Peter King’s line earlier in the week which said the Lions would like their signing of Woody a lot more if his fat ass was anything remotely near being in shape.
So it occurs to me that what Damien had enough of was somebody ragging on him all the time about being such a sloppy load. So he headed out for the land of the perpetual 6-10, where things like conditioning perhaps don’t matter as much. Nick didn’t mention that, though.
Patriots Next Week
Back to where it all began, in Cincinnati. The Queen City, baby, site of the completely disheartening opening game of the 2001 season. Things have certainly changed since then.