Driving from Michigan to Massachusetts this past Sunday put me in an unfamiliar situation as I missed the Patriots-Eagles game. Luckily, I subscribe to NFL Game Rewind, which allows subscribers to watch every NFL game from the previous week (or weeks) in full HD. Earlier tonight, I finally had a chance to watch the game, and it didn’t disappoint from the highlights I saw on ESPN and NFL Network Monday. While the Patriots were very impressive in some facets and won the game 38-20, there were some things that gave me pause.
Here are my quick hit thoughts from the game (if you haven’t checked out staff writer Ryan Hannable’s full recap, go HERE):
- Welcome back, Tom Brady. Tom Brady had been a little “off” the past few weeks, missing wide open receivers and looking rattled at times. What’s amazing is how Brady can look off and still turn out game-winning performances. Against the Eagles though, he looked like the Tom Brady we’ve all come to know and love. He was stellar, going 24 of 34 for 361 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no picks. He was sacked only once, and much of that was due to his ability to slide around the pocket away from pressure and deliver the ball. His redirecting of Deion Branch on their 63-yard connection in the first quarter was a thing of beauty. And where did this scrambling ability come from? Brady ran 5 times for 28 yards, good for second on the team (which isn’t really a great thing). If this is what we can expect from Brady for the rest of the season, the Pats could run the table. However, there is that pesky defense…
- 54%. I feel that 54% is the key stat from the game. That number reflects Eagle QB Vince Young’s completion percentage. He didn’t go over 50% in completion percentage until late in the 4th quarter. Despite that number, he threw for 400 yards. He hit some big plays early on (passes of 58 and 44 yards) but then became wild in his throws. There were several, and I mean SEVERAL, wide open receivers that he just flat out missed. There were some drops as well, none bigger than DeSean Jackson’s drop in the end zone that would have been a touchdown. The game would have been much closer, and possibly turned out differently, had Young completed 60% or more of his passes.
- Fire Andy? I think the “Fire Andy” chants directed at Eagles head coach Andy Reid were a little unnecessary from Eagles fans. I understand their frustrations, but did Andy Reid miss wide open receivers? Did Andy Reid drop a touchdown pass? He certainly deserves some share of the blame for the Eagles disappointing season, but I don’t think he should be fired. He was given a roster of veteran players without the offseason program to try and get them all on the same page. That’s not his fault. I say give him one more season, with a full offseason program, with this roster and then make a determination.
- Pass defense still worries me. As I mentioned earlier, the Pats were aided by Vince Young’s inaccuracy. However, he did throw for 400 yards, something he’s not really known for. The Patriots are playing teams with lesser quarterbacks, for the most part, for the remainder of the season. If they give up more 300+ passing yard games to essentially backup quarterbacks, even if they win those games, I can’t be confident in them come January. Heck, if they give up more than 250 yards passing to Tim Tebow in a couple of weeks, I’ll be VERY concerned.
- Julian Edelman, the every-man. I’m liking Julian Edelman in his new role(s) as the Patriots’ ultimate utility player, playing offense, defense, and special teams. Check out my piece yesterday on Edelman and his various roles.
- Change in philosophy? It was interesting to see Brian Hoyer in the game for Brady with more than 2 minutes left in the game. The Pats were up 38-13 when Hoyer was put in for Brady and the game was well in hand. However, we’re accustomed to seeing Bill Belichick leave all of his starters in the game to the very end, Brady included. With all of the injuries this year, is Belichick afraid of the injury bug? It will be interesting to see if he takes this approach moving forward, especially if the Patriots’ seeding in the playoffs is locked up the last week or so in the season.
- Bye week in playoffs in the forecast. Given how the offense looked in the game Sunday and the Patriots’ remaining schedule, you have to like them capturing the #1 or #2 seed in the AFC. They are currently the #2 seed if the season ended today, and only the Houston Texans are above them. The Texans are now down to their third QB of the season and signed Jake Delhomme for depth and to possibly carry them to the finish line. You have to like the Pats’ chances to get the #1 seed.