September 26, 2016

Pats Pregame Points: Game Six vs. Cowboys

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Ah, what a relief to beat the Jets on Sunday, 30-21. Whether the Pats win or lose to those guys can change our personal outlook on life. At least for a week.

New England passed a little, ran a little more, and even defended a little. Not perfect, but we’ll take it.

Now, on to hosting Dallas, a star-studded team with a star’s propensity for self-destruction.

You Better You Bet: As solid as this performance looked vs. the struggling Jets, New England needs to improve on both sides of the ball. The defense seemed sharp but gave up a score that allowed New York to stay in the game late. Did you feel confident that, had the offense been unable to keep possession for six of the final seven minutes, the defense would have held on?

Me neither.

Playing the Sacks: Four sacks of Tom Brady allowed in this one, which makes it seem as though the offense couldn’t accomplish much, except…

Thirtysomething Reruns: New England continued to produce more points than a pencil sharpener. This past week, they reached 30 yet again and had a shot at more if tight end Aaron Hernandez hadn’t allowed a potential touchdown pass through his hands at the end of the first half.

I’m thinking of Brady the same way my father talked about Larry Bird: Enjoy this while it lasts, because we’re watching something special.

BeenRunning Green-Ellis: Wait a sec. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 136 yards rushing? Against the Jets? And 59 of those yards came in the final six minutes, when New York knew the home team wanted to run the ball?

Ooh. We like this development. We like this a lot. Let’s see if it continues against the Cowboys.

What’s A Haynesworth? Not much, apparently. In the preseason game against Jacksonville, on his first play from scrimmage for the Patriots, Albert Haynesworth pushed the pocket and caused general mayhem. Since the season actually began, he’s been injured and, when actually on the field, has provided all the excitement of a lukewarm cup of decaf.

Instead of Albert, we should just start calling him “If,” as in “If Haynesworth gets healthy,” “If Haynesworth gets motivated,” “If Haynesworth can contribute beyond leaning into an offensive lineman nine times a game,” etc.

The Hole Is Greater Than Its Parts: Taking a good look at this defense, it’s not just that there’s a dearth of playmakers (we exclude you, Vince Wilfork), it’s that they’re working more as individuals than as a cohesive unit. For example, when Mark Anderson takes an outside track to get to the QB, he leaves a passing lane wide open for Mark Sanchez to complete yet another inside slant route. If Anderson takes an interior path, he won’t get the sack, but he disrupt a pass. Something to think about against Dallas’ offense.

Oh, and a note to Coach Bill Belichick: We’re available as consultants any time.

Spikes The Punch: He may not always get to the right spot, but when he does, Brandon Spikes knows how to hit people. Between his nasty collisions and Gary Guyton’s knowledge of the D, the Pats survived Sunday without linebacker Jerod Mayo, an impressive feat considering the Jets’ stated desire to run the ball.

Tight Family: Looks like Dan Gronkowski is back to join his brother Rob (also to play football, but you know what we mean). As Dan takes over practice-squad tackle Thomas Welch’s job as blocking tight end, will he also go out for a pass once in a while? Wouldn’t hurt. In fact, it would be Gronkriffic.

Chad Out-of-sync-o: Leave it to Chad Ochocinco to temper our optimism (two catches? Yay!) with a bonehead move (false start penalty? Boo!).

Hey, Chad? Relax. We have no expectations of you anymore. Get a couple receptions each game (no drops, please), keep running pick routes for Wes Welker, stop committing silly penalties, and we’ll be fine.

Well-navigated Waters: The best aspect of guard Brian Waters? We almost never talk about him. Great work for someone who joined the team in early September.

All’s Well That Ends Welker: When a receiver gets “limited” to just five catches for 124 yards, you know he’s having a remarkable season.

Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

Chris Warner can be reached at [email protected]

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