After the offensive performance the New England Patriots showed against the San Diego Chargers this past weekend. It has not only myself but most of our fans, and all the teams throughout the league asking the same question. Where in the world has our offense gone? True we lost the phenom named Tom Brady very early into this football season, but for crying out loud this is the National Football League you should have the ability to replace any player at any given moment. Now I’m not saying that just anyone can replace Brady, in fact there’s not many quarterbacks in or around the league that even come close to the ability and talent he displays on the field on most Sunday’s. But with all the technology, the scouting around the league and also in the college ranks we or any team should be able to have a viable backup especially at the quarterback position. The loss of Brady has left New England in a crisis searching for an offense. It’s not like we expect to achieve the same level of play as with Brady, but we at the very least expect one that can offer the hope of a victory every week.
Take the performance against the Chargers that quarterback Matt Cassel had on the field. Completing 22 of 38 passes for 203 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. If you minus the last drive of the game where there was defense being played and he ends the game with a stat line of 15 of 31 for 141 yards, no td’s and one interception. I’m sorry but in today’s game that’s not going to cut it, it doesn’t matter who or what level of play your playing at.
Let’s take a look at two key series in the game with the Chargers. First we’ll start with the opening drive for the Pats. Cassel actually had the Patriots moving from the start with pass completions to Wes Welker, Sammy Morris and tight end David Thomas, you include a nice run by Morris and Cassel scrambling for another Patriots first down and the drive has you thinking last week’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers might not of been a fluke. The offense did what was needed on this drive getting the team into field goal range and placing it in the hands of kicker Stephen Gostkowski to tack on their first points of the night. Then what kills us is the old sports announcer jinx. We all know what I’m talking about it, so and so comes on to kick, comes up to the plate it doesn’t matter and the dam announcer makes a statement like “he’s perfect on the year, he’s made 17 straight kicks” and what happens, nada that’s what happens. They miss the kick, strikeout at the plate with bases loaded. They make you want to reach through the screen and smack the announcer around to make yourself feel better. And it happened to Gostkowski as he missed a 48 yarder wide left.
The next series in the game happened when the Patriots take the opening drive of the second half and drive the ball down the field putting themselves in a position to make the game 17-10. But the lack of inexpierence on the part of Cassel showed when you have first and goal at the San Diego one yard line and fail to score. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel’s calls for a run play with Morris that the Chargers Luis Castillo and Ryon Bingham just imploded by stuffing Morris dead in his tracks. Toss in two failed play action plays, the final one which truly proved Cassel just might not be ready to lead this team. Not only this year but also down the road in the future, based upon what happens to Brady in his recovery. He has Ben Watson wide open by at least ten yards in the end zone waving his hands and jumping up and down, and Cassel didn’t allow himself the time or the chance to fully scan the entire field. Cassel panics tries to run the ball and gets sacked by Bingham killing not only a perfect drive but a much needed scoring opportunity.
Not only do we not put seven points up on the board to tighten up the game. Two plays later our defense allows a 59 yard bomb play from Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson. Toss in a pass interference call at the New England one yard line on Ellis Hobbs and that equals another San Diego touchdown as Antonio Gates hauls in a one yard touchdown reception on the next play and basically just reaches in and ripes the hearts out of our still beating chest. San Diego finishes putting the final nails in our coffin as the score and the games now is officially out of reach at 24-3 not even midway through the third quarter. In a matter of a mere few minutes you go from potentially being back in the contest at 17-10 to it’s done and over, stick a fork in us 24-3 deficit.
Not to mention that since we lost Brady the Patriots have been hesitant to allow Cassel the chances to throw the deep threat down the field. Settling for numerous small minimal risk passes, like Welker behind the line of scrimmage, our running backs coming out of the backfield and looking for that short five yarder. Enough is enough we’re going into a key meeting with another rival of ours from the AFC in the Denver Broncos on Monday night. Unless we want to be a .500 team for the first time in years, we need to open it up, push Cassel and the rest of the offense all week in practice and get them ready for the Broncos. It’s not like Denver has a great defense, they easily allow opponents the chance to put up 30 plus points on their defense.
A benefit for them is they have a high powered offense this year and have more than a few weapons on the offensive side of the ball. And no that’s not a good thing for us with the struggles that we are having on the offensive side of the ball. We have a defense that for the most part can stop and keep opponents in check for the majority of the game. But without an offense that has faith and confidence in their abilities to be successful on every drive of each and every game. It just might make for a very long night verse the Broncos and an even longer season with the remaining schedule that we have facing us down the road in the coming weeks.
Our Patriots team that before the season started had the ability to win 14 regular season games if not all 16 of them. Is now facing the possibility of not even getting to 10-6 and having a hope of entering the playoffs. Right now it just might be a reality of them watching the playoffs from the comfort of their own home, instead of participating in them and making another run at the AFC Championship. We enter week seven of the NFL season still with many lingering questions. Only time will tell and answer them down the road in the future. But here’s a few suggestions, let’s get healthy, open the play books up and allow Cassel and the offense the chance to shine. Regain some momentum as well as hope and finish the season strongly on a positive note. Show the world we still have a pulse, we still have heart. Because right now we have them laughing and wondering just how long we’ll be searching for an offensive identity.