Things to consider while realizing that after 7 months, 2 failed Boston playoff runs, 500 cringe-worthy Red Sox stories, 1 Olympics, 2 political conventions and 10,000 “Call Me Maybe” parodies, football is finally back to give us something we can all care about:
*This week’s Applicable Movie Quote: “I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.” – Red, Shawshank Redemption
*So as good as we should all feel about a 3 touchdown win on the road, I hate to start off on a down note. But I’m putting the world on notice: if Tom Brady’s nose doesn’t go back to the way it was, there’s gonna be trouble. If it’s even one little bit out of whack, there are certain middle-aged Patriots bloggers in this town who’ll take it like middle school girls would if someone pulled an acid attack on One Direction. And you will have made a very powerful enemy, Kamerion Wimbley. A very powerful enemy indeed. So keep your head on a swivel.
*I don’t mean to get ahead of myself on Stevan Ridley. On second thought, getting ahead of myself on Ridley is exactly what I mean to do. Because I’m convinced that this kid is the first legit “factor back” they’ve had since that one great year they got out of Corey Dillon.
*There was nothing not to love about BenJarvus-Green Ellis (save having to type his name), but even at his best, it seemed like his role in the offense was constraint plays. Get a defense overplaying the pass and hand the ball to Benny to keep them honest. But with Ridley, it feels like you can actually gameplan around forcing teams to stop him, then you can tear them to pieces with the pass. It doesn’t exactly make them “run first,” but if I’m right, it’ll be like letting defenses choose between firing squad or lethal injection.
-On their first scoring drive, the Pats lined up with Gronk and Aaron Hernandez in an overload to the left and Brandon Lloyd split wide to the open (weak) side and Wes Welker as an H-back in the slot. They ran a zone with Gronk blocking down on the end and Hernandez kicking out corner Alterraun Verner and Ridley picked up 17 yards. The very next call was a Play Action to Ridley followed by a fake reverse to Welker that left Lloyd as wide open as Snooki’s uterus. (He oddly decided to try to high point the ball instead of running under it, butwhatareyagonnado?)
-The next play they showed a stretch run but instead of Gronk hitting the backside LB, he ran a crossing route for 27.
-Then they came out in their 3-tight end Jumbo look and Tennesse brought a safety up to defend the run, leaving one safety deep. Gronk and Hernandez went to the end zone instead, Brady read the single high safety who went after Gronk and hit Hernandez for the score. The point of all this (and I have one), is how do you defend all that when if need be, they can always hand it to Ridley who can jam it up your prostate? Josh McDaniels must feel like a kid who went from owning a home chemistry set to running Dow.
*Of course what we’ll keep hearing about Ridley is how he needs to hang onto the ball. And there was one play in the 3rd where he was dragging tacklers and wrapped the ball with both arms, which was good. But let’s not obsess on that, alright? He lost two balls last year and people talk about him like he was Frank Drebin in Victor Ludwig’s office. Or worse: Tiki Barber. He wasn’t that bad.
*But does anyone still feel like bitching about them trading the Mark Ingram pick, taking Ridley in the 3rd instead and kinda/sorta turning the pick into Chandler Jones? If so, now would be a good time to speak up.
*I like how when Jim Nantz does a tribute to someone who died like that CBS camera guy or Art Modell, he immediately lapses into his “Hello, friends” Masters Voice. Complete with the tinkly piano music like he’s describing the dogwoods & azaleas in bloom on Amen Corner. When I drop dead, I’d like it very much if Jim could pay tribute using his “Clark, how about this Memphis frontcourt!” March Madness Voice.
*The sight of Wimbley getting leverage on Nate Solder, beating him low with speed and coming in clean on Brady will cost me an erection soon.
*And there was another play where Solder was beat but managed drag Wimbley down by the shirt to avoid Bradyocalypse. But it’s hard to argue the O-line had a great day.
*It’s not a good sign that Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon were switching off seemingly every quarter. It doesn’t say much about the state of Seabass’ back. And philosophically I’m not much of a Right-Tackle-By-Committee guy. But Cannon was solid, as the rushing numbers will bear out.
*As was the interior line. One time Mankins got spun around and his man (it might have been Jurrell Casey but don’t quote me) blew up a running play. Other than that one play, I wouldn’t be lighting the Brian Waters Batlight just yet.
*Speaking of Titans defensive tackles, I’d offer Chris Berman the nickname Sen’derrick “Punctuation” Marks if this was still 1988 and the Chris Berman nickname gag was still funny.
*Did Levi’s think that by running an ad for skinny jeans in the middle of a Patriots-Titans football game at 1:30 in the afternoon that they were reaching their target audience? Hell, half the people watching would have to squeeze Brett Favre’s Relaxed Fit Wranglers under their frums. Someone at Levi’s deserves to get fired.
*The one drop aside, Lloyd looks just as advertised. Acrobatic. Great hands. An almost psychic awareness of the sidelines and the 1st down markers. There’s every reason to be excited. But some people are talking like yesterday puts Welker on the depth chart behind Greg Salas and Air Bud: Golden Receiver. Relax. It’s all about that week’s gameplan and his next 10-for-112 week is imminent.
*I suppose the best thing you can say about the refs is while they blew calls, they blew calls the regular refs do, but for a lot less money. Though it doesn’t instill you with a lot of confidence when the head official’s name is Jerry Frump. What’s in a name, I know. But NASA wouldn’t have let a Jerry Frump be the first man to walk on the moon, you know?
*The stupidest rule in football is the one that says a defensive back has to be looking back at the ball. If Devin McCourty can bat down a pass with his ass cheek, why does it matter where he’s looking?
*The best play of the 2nd quarter wasn’t even the Dont’a Hightower touchdown. Hell, that wasn’t even the best play of the 2nd quarter by Dont’a Hightower. His greatest moment was the play before. 2Nd & 10 from the Tennessee 10, he was up on the line at the “Jack” OLB spot, strongside against a 2TE overload. Hightower came in, took on Steve Hutchinson pulling from the weakside and FB Quinn Johnson AND tackled Chris Johnson for a loss, all at the same time. A feat like that hasn’t been seen in sports since Andre the Giant beat the Hart Foundation in the 20-man Battle Royale at Wrestlemania II.
*The funniest thing was, Hutchinson pulled Hightower’s jersey up like he was about to give him a raspberry, and when he scooped up the fumble on the next play, we were almost looking at the kind of plumber’s crack that gives the league office nightmares. On a less important note, the strip sack was brilliant. Chandler Jones followed a rip move on Michael Roos with a burst to get around the edge of the pocket and the presence to knock the ball free. The Holy Trinity of edge rushing in one play.
*And the very first play of the subsequent drive, Jones stood Roos right up as Johnson tried to bounce a run outside and stoned him. Just an amazing sequence of back-to-back-to-back plays by the rookies. The kind of #PatriotsPriapism might get me that lost erection back.
*Other rookie quick hits: Besides his pick,Tavon Wilson got significant reps as the “Money” back. Nate Ebner was around the ball a few times on the returns teams. And Brandon Bolden had a couple of decent runs as the Human Victory Cigar.
*Am I wrong to ask what that weird spastic tic CJ2K was doing on the sidelines? It looked like a dog shaking himself dry. But someone sent me an interview he gave where he was doing it there too. Is it a weird habit or a medical condition? Because with moves like that you’d think he’d get more than 4 yards.
*The Pats auditioned fullbacks all summer long and settled on Lex Hilliard about five days ago. And every time he was in he looked lost and quite possibly might not have connected on a single block. But there’s no denying he’s got their best porn actor name since Big Willie McGinest.
*Jermaine Cunningham had his best game as a pro and took a lot of snaps away from Rob Ninkovich on the outside as well as moving inside in subpackages where he burned Leroy Harris for a sack. He also drew a big hold from Hutchinson that might have saved Locker’s life. This could be fun.
*I thought Jerod Mayo had an up & down day. Especially tackling. Near the end of the 1st Darius Reynaud gave him them moves like Jagger and left him grabbing air. But then again he broke down Darius Williams in the open field and caused him to commit Self-Tackleization without a glove being laid on him. And that knockout blow he and Pat Chung laid on Williams, brutal though it might have been, wasn’t just clean; it was anti-septic. If the league fines him for that, it’s officially being run by liability insurance lawyers and I’m switching to figure skating, full time.
*Not to be heartless, but just because two Titans players are down in a heap on the field, would it kill someone to tell us whether it’s Patriots ball or not? I mean, Lincoln felt bad for the fallen at Gettysburgh, but didn’t stop him from asking who won the battle.
*That fumbled spike by Gronk proved the media was right: He did party it up too much in the offseason and it finally cost him.