Things to consider while working to take control of the Hostess snack cake Black Market:
*After all we’ve been through this season I’ll take my blowout wins where I can get them. But beating these Colts isn’t the same as it was say, 7 years ago when their quarterback was a thumb-headed goober who always played his worst against New England and the coach was the preachy, self-appointed moral compass of the NFL. Now that the QB is the fresh-faced Future of Football and the coach is heroically beating cancer, it doesn’t give me quite the same pants party. But given that the Buffalo game gave me an aneurysm that left me paralyzed on the left half of my body, I appreciate a nice laugher.
*We don’t know how long long a broken forearm will keep Gronk off the field. But we do know the next few weeks it’ll be strictly “Girl on Top” for him.
*This was the kind of defensive scheme that Belichick used to draw up in his sleep against rookie quarterbacks. Mixed coverages. Disguised blitzes. Showing blitz but then flooding the zones with 8. All designed to confuse and unravel a noob like Andrew Luck and give him his “Welcome to the Majors, Mr. Hobbs” moment. That kind of gameplan has been conspicuously absent against the likes of Russell Wilson the last few years, and it’s good to know the Master still has it.
*They clearly came out of the locker room playing it conservatively on D. They rushed 4, played their base Cover-2 with a mix of man and zone underneath. And not surprisingly they got eviscerated on the first two Indy possessions. But by the third Colts drive Belichick began letting them off the leash and the whole tone of the game changed. He sent extra rushers. Brandon Spikes began anticipating snap counts and attacking the LOS. Luck had to get the ball out faster and the Pats, not uncoincidentally, defended more passes than they have all year.
*That third Colts possession produced a 3 & out on a pass defensed by Dont’a Hightower and a batted pass on 3rd & 10 by Vince Wilfork. The 4th possession was the Aqib Talib Pick-6, and even that was caused by pressure. Spikes came up the middle but got stoned by Samson Satele. Still it created a numbers game the Pats won. Jermaine Cunningham came from the outside, drew a double team off of VW, who got up in Luck’s grill and forced the overthrow. Like I said all through the second half of last year, this is an entirely different defense when Spikes is attacking the line.
*It was kind of a mixed bag for Talib, giving up two TD’s but redeeming himself with that interception return. So he should feel good about his debut. As should Foxboro area cab drivers, who can breathe a little easier knowing Talib is in a good mood.
*Some of the media in town treat Julian Edelman like he’s some low paid illegal migrant worker here to steal Wes Welker’s job. (Or has everyone forgotten the hysteria over Welker’s Week 1 “benching”?) So there’s resentment any time Edelman contributes. And yesterday was without a doubt his career game. His highlights:
–The bubble screen where Darius Butler had him dead-to-rights in the backfield but he broke free and picked up the 1st.
–The WR screen off a fake backside handoff to Danny Woodhead (the fake sold by Nick McDonald pulling) where Edelman got behind Sebastian Vollmer for a huge gain.
– Forcing a fumble (along with Mathew Slater) on punt coverage
–The TD catch. The Pats were in Posse (1 TE, 1 RB, 3 WR) and the Colts had 8 in the box with single coverage on the wideouts. Edelman was the X-receiver to the “open” side, opposite the TE. Gronk scraped across the LOS drawing Jerrell Freeman, which left Edelman 1-on-1 against Cassius Vaughn. Vaughn was actually playing him with inside technique, but Edelman was quick enough to get position inside and make the catch.
–The end around where he was the Z-receiver, tight to the left outside Gronk and Michael Hoomanawanui. Hoosawhatsie pulled to sell the inside run fake to Ridley, the Colts took the cheese and Edelman followed him for 47.
*But Edelman’s Magnum Opus was that punt return for a score. In a way it was one of the weirdest returns I can ever remember because he barely changed direction. He ran up the sidelines while guys came at him one at a time. The whole run was oddly 2-dimensional, like he was running through a level of “Mortal Kombat.”
*Gronk’s little end zone jig after his first TD was great and all, but it got completely upstaged by Brady’s Triple Snot Rocket celebration. I want to see State Farm turn that into an ad campaign.
*Speaking of which, I just want the Discount Double Check guy to know that when his morbid obesity finally kills him, we’ll all remember him fondly.
*Seriously, how is it that Obama can bail out the automakers but then let the spongy, yellow, delicious snack industry die like this? He really does hate America.
*Henry Kissinger has never sat down with a man that wielded the kind of power Mr. Kraft does.
*Looking ahead to next week, that decision to hang onto Visanthe Shiancoe despite the fact he was hurt all training camp is looking pretty good right now. Although there’s no way of telling what kind of production they can get out of him. Yesterday he was at his best as a decoy, lining up outside Gronk, running a parallel route and drawing coverage away from him. He did it on Gronk’s long completion in the 1st and again on his second touchdown when he drew Vaughn off him and Tom Zbikowski, who was the Single High Safety, was late coming over. Barring Aaron Hernandez coming back, either Shiancoe has to step up to be more than a decoy or we’re all going to have to learn to say “Hoomanawanui.” Poor Phil Simms will be out 4-6 weeks after trying to pronounce it.
*I like history and I like Spielberg, so I want to see “Lincoln.” But I know me. And if the last line of the movie isn’t “Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes!” I’m coming away disappointed.
*A couple of defensive players who got off to awful starts and bounced back nicely: Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Arrington. Both were awful on those first couple of drives. Hightower especially. Coming off his worst game of the season against Buffalo he got repeatedly snowplowed on running plays, mainly by the tight ends, Dwayne Allen and Weslye Sanders. But he had a couple of passes defensed when the defense stepped up. Same with Arrington. He was dreadful in the 1st quarter, but rebounded to get his hands on few balls, most notably the Tavon Wilson INT. And he blitzed into Luck’s face forcing a long overthrow that for some reason Jim Nantz and Simms made into the most celebrated throw since Washington chucked a silver dollar across the Potomac.
*You can’t say enough about the pass protection. I doubt Brady even had to throw his uniform in the laundry hamper after the game.
*This week’s Applicable Movie Line: “There’s a box of Twinkies in that grocery store. Not just any box of Twinkies, the last box of Twinkies that anyone will enjoy in the whole universe. Believe it or not, Twinkies have an expiration date. Some day very soon, Life’s little Twinkie gauge is gonna go…empty.” – Tallahassee, “Zombieland”
*Of course the only dark lining in this particular silver cloud is the Gronk injury and the “Why was Belichick still playing his starters?!” demogoguery that’s sure to dominate the landscape all week. By all accounts he got hurt blocking on the extra point. Anyone who wants to argue there should be an 11-man backup extra point unit on your 53 man roster isn’t just a demogogue; they’re bad at math.
*I think there was an element here of Brady sticking it to The Next Big Quarterbacking Thing and showing him who’s boss. Just like he did last year to Tim Tebow twice. He’ll say all the right things all week, but there’s no doubt in my mind he gets sick of hearing the hype about a guy like Luck walks on water and loves nothing more than to humble him. Calling a time out on the Indy 4 up 28 points was the football equivalent of putting his cigar out on the back of Luck’s hand and walking away.
*Thursday couldn’t have worked out any better. There’s nothing in my life I’m more thankful for than the New York Jets.