a blog by La Kifo
After every Patriots game I will put out The Takeaway which I guess you can just call the keys to the game, what I liked, what I didn't like, all that and a little more.
Overall, I would call yesterdays victory in Glendale, Arizona a team win. There was a lot to like about how the Patriots played yesterday on both sides of the ball.
Starting with the offense, the quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo played much better than I anticipated. He was 8-10 for 107 yards and 7 first downs on third down, and if you roll your eyes at that then you must know nothing about football. We learned a little bit about his mobility. Late in the game, Jimmy scrambled out of the pocket and past the line of scrimmage on a third down. When he broke the line of the scrimmage, he ran diagonally towards the right sideline. As he galloped towards the sticks, a defensive back came into frame and broke down to make a tackle. Jimmy did some tip toeing in attempt to shake the defender in one direction. His move was not as athletic as he anticipated, instead of the quick feet, cut and move, the defender wrapped him up as broke to make his cut. He's not agile like Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, or Cam Newton. He can't make those highlight reel juke cuts, nor is he overwhelmingly fast. What he does have is quickness, which helped more than a handful of times while trying to move around or out of the pocket. Jimmy's pocket play was so-so, he got sacked twice. The first sack was important because Jimmy fumbled while getting hit, committing basically the his only mistake of the night. It was a bad fumble on the second play of 2nd half drive which lead to points for the Arizona Cardinals. The only other blatant mistake I remember was a pre-snap read that Jimmy missed. It was a stretch run play late in the game, the X receiver (wide receiver) on the left was lined up close to the line. The offensive line is supposed down block but leave the last man on the defensive side of the line unblocked so that the X receiver can come off the snap and crack down on that defender, pushing him into the grain of the defense causing a road block of sorts. The last guy on the line was a safety who moved down and was clearly lining up to blitz off the edge. Jimmy totally missed it, so when the ball was snapped the safety came down into the backfield hard, not giving the X receiver even a split second of a chance to get his hands on the guy.
Like I said, Jimmy only made those two blatant mistakes. What really impressed me though was his ability to throw off the back foot, moving to his left, and off balance. There was a point in the game early to mid fourth quarter, the Patriots were down 21-20 and had the ball. It was 3rd and 15, deep in our own territory. The snap came, along with the rush and the coverage was good, Jimmy had to hold onto the ball. He then sensed some pressure, scrambled to his left, waited for Amendola to break from the coverage and moving to his left, feet not set, off balance threw a 35 yard dart to Amendola for a first down. That wasn't even the first time he had done that, by far that throw was the most important and impressive but throughout the game he had 3 or 4 off balance throws that were right on target. Usually, you see guys throwing off their back feet or rolling out off balance threw a billion picks and of course they do. It is a million times harder to control precise and velocity when the quarterback is off balance/moving/throwing off the back foot. Not a lot of Quarterbacks can be accurate like that, a couple guys who can make that throw would be Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton. Not comparing Jimmy to either of them, just saying it requires a lot of talent to be throwing the football that way. We would almost never see Tom Brady throwing the football like that if he could help it.
Since its been all cupcakes and rainbows so far, let's talk about LeGarrete Blount. Blount has garnered a somewhat unfair amount of criticism from fans. A lot of people thought his spot on the Patriots roster was no longer available. Going into the season, I was riding behind the big Blount, and I still am. But, he played terribly last night and by terribly I literally mean, he had less than three positive/good plays. There was the third down conversion late in the game to set up the field goal, which was obviously extraordinarily important. The thing was, he gave the Cardinals a chance to win. He fumbled deep in Patriots territory, and wasted plays by cutting before he hit the line of scrimmage. I don't know why he has been making so many cuts, but someone needs to tell him to stop this pussy footing shit. Numerous times I saw Blount have a NFL sized hole, he would make a cut outside to go around the crevice created by the O-line then cut back inside to try and squeeze through. By doing that he only slows himself down by having to stop and start each time he cuts, and not to mention he is cutting into the contain. So there is a defender making sure that the running back has to run towards the inside where the rest of the defense is, instead of the outside where only the defensive backs are. He's making this cuts when the defenders have clear contain, almost like he's cutting towards where defenders are standing, it just made no sense. On the third down run late in the game, he didn't do any of that shit. No hesitation, he went full speed running through the open lanes to get the first down. That is what he needs to do, he's still huge and no one wants to tackle him.
A little more cupcakes coming in before I wrap this up because the Patriots defensive unit played outstanding football. The secondary shut down the Cardinals offense, with the exception of Larry Fitzgerald, he had a monster game. Last season, the Cardinals had the most offensive yards in the NFL. The Patriots held them to 252 yards passing, Jon Brown, the Cardinals deep threat/big play receiver, was held to one catch for 8 yards. Michael Floyd did nothing until late in the third quarter. Finally, the Patriots surrendered 14 points off two turnovers. The Cardinals had to get short fields to score two thirds of their points. Carson Palmer only drove the length of the field to score once. Chris Long got one of the three sacks the Patriots defense earned, on a early third down. If there was anything negative I had to say about the defense it would be that I don't like seeing Chris Long dropping into coverage, the run defense is still questionable, and Duron Harmon needs to improve his tackling. Harmon came from one of Bills favorite prospect parks, Rutgers, but it has taken him a while to make an impact on the defense. Supposedly, he is an important player that is in line for a good sized contract extension, but I don't see that.
Yesterday was a great team win over a talented Arizona team. With a performance like that, who knows how far this team could go under Jimmy Garoppolo, who knows how far they will go once Tom gets back. I do, 4-0 with Jimmy, and Super Bowl 51 Champions with Tom fucking Brady.
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