With one-fourth of the season in their rearview, the Patriots have cruised along with four wins and zero losses.

It really didn’t have to be like this. They could have had a drop-off from last year, an exhausting odyssey through NFL competition both on-field and off. Letting go of most of their defensive backfield while laying off draft picks of need could have been seen as signs of, hey, let’s feel satisfied with a fourth Lombardi Trophy. Let’s rebuild. But, nope.

Instead, while playoff foes Baltimore (1-4) and Seattle (2-3) strive for .500 football, and the Colts fight to stay above that line, the Patriots cruise along at 4-0.

New England opened up at home with a 28-21 takedown of a gritty Steelers team. They then traveled up to Buffalo – this year’s Rex Ryan entry into the Patriots’ annual King of the Mountain contest – and settled for a 40-32 victory where they took off most of the fourth quarter. They played rude hosts to the Jaguars (51-17) and toppled the Cowboys 30-6. The most important aspect of these wins involved the overall learning experience.

Pretty Sneaky, Sis: In the future, New England should have Tom Brady sneak the ball on fourth and short. It remains their best option. We saw too many instances where LeGarrette Blount runs (vs. Dallas) or Brady bombs (vs. Buffalo) failed to convert. The thing is, now they know, and they didn’t have to lose a game to learn a lesson.

Lippy The Lineman, Hardy Har-Har: (and if you get this reference, I’m impressed.) Defensive lineman/tone-deaf hump Greg Hardy, who suffers from elephantiasis of the ego, did New England a favor by playing as well as advertised and exposing weaknesses along the line. Left tackle Nate Solder did little to prevent Hardy from harassing Brady, but any complaints that may have come up about him this week are lost due to his placement on IR. Now, there’s renewed appreciation of how much this team needs him anchoring that spot. His replacement Marcus Cannon failed to fare any better.

Hey, it’s adjustment time. It’s not like they can go out and buy a top-tier left tackle this week. Instead, they’ll set up their linemen for success, helping out up front when necessary and having Brady get rid of the ball like it’s a flaming bag of Hardy. Definitely adds to their degree of difficulty, though.

At Their Beck And Collins: Sure, I thought Jamie Collins could help this team when the Pats drafted him. A quick review of his combine numbers reveals a 4.64 40-yard dash, a 41.5-inch vertical leap, and an 11-foot, 7-inch broad jump. (For comparison, stand with your feet together and jump. Now look forward several feet to where 11-7 is. Laugh.) But this guy can do anything, just about anywhere on the field. In four games, he has 32 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. After two full seasons, he’s gone from a commendable athlete to a leader, and that I did not see that coming.

To Aaron Is Human: So… What’s up with Aaron Dobson, do you think? Seems like he’s run out of excuses. He’s not hurt. He’s not a rookie. There’s no other receiver on the roster with his body type, so it’s not like he should be sharing reps. Back in August 2011, we discussed Chad Ochocinco and the JG Scale, which came down to this: receivers (and I meant free agents, but it counts with rookies, too) either pick up the offense quickly (Jabar Gaffney) or not at all (Joey Galloway).

A seventh-round pick named Julian Edelman can start Game One of his rookie season and contribute. Chad Jackson, a second-round pick, can struggle with the offense and catch 13 passes for his two-year Pats career. The fact that Keshawn Martin can come over from Houston and nab five passes in two games after catching six all year for the Texans does not bode well for Dobson. Brady likes Martin. Interesting to see what will happen there. We’re rooting for him, but it doesn’t look good.

Onto a more optimistic outlook.

Feeling Good, Lewis: Know whom else Brady likes? This Dion Lewis fella. He can start-stop like a squirrel on a tree, or duck and dive like an otter on an ice floe. We had some hope for him this summer, but he has delivered far more than expected. He’s got a high school sophomore build at 5-8, 195 pounds, and has taken on the bulk of the halfback workload, with 36 carries for 180 yards (5.0 avg) and 23 receptions for 238 yards. And he got cut by Cleveland and the Colts, for Heaven’s sake.

I know fans of other teams must get tired of hearing about guys who start their careers elsewhere and end up reaching another level in Foxboro (The Mike Vrabel Rule? The Wes Welker Corollary?), but Lewis has staked his place atop the list for 2015.

Hoo, Man, That Was Rough: Very sorry to see Michael Hoomanawanui get traded, but it’s understandable given the current roster makeup. Between Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, and Michael Williams, the Pats boast over 800 pounds of tight end. Plenty of blocking to be had here, and enough receiving to make even a solid fan favorite like Hoo-man seem expendable. In four games, Gronkowski has 20 grabs for 375 yards (18.8 avg) and four touchdowns. Looking forward to watching the non-Gronks get more involved with the offense and the downfield rumbling that could ensue.

I did not make this up: there’s now a twitter hashtag and urban dictionary definition for “RiGronkulous.” We live in a wonderful era.

Lots Of Hicks In Indy: In exchange for Hoomanawanui, New England brought in defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, adding to the team’s list of DL’s who have disappointed other teams (Alan Branch also resides on that list). At roughly the size of a bank vault at 6-5, 324 pounds, Hicks won’t run down backs or get to the QB that often, but – even though he didn’t register a tackle – he contributed in Dallas by clogging lanes and freeing up linebackers to make plays. If he gets on board like Branch seems to have done, this could become a positive trade for the Patriots.

Sheard And Sheard Alike: Look how far we’ve gotten in this column without even talking about Jabaal Sheard. Four sacks in four games? Sure. Stout against the run? We’ll take it. Potentially giving Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich occasional breathers? Why not? Sheard seems to have lived up to expectations in Foxboro and could provide more help given greater playing time.

Another Cleveland castaway. Weird.

Ghost Is The Machine: I’ve used this pun before. Like the album after it’s named, it still holds up, because Stephen Gostkowski continues to make kicks. This past Sunday he set a personal record with a 57-yarder in Dallas.

Seems simple enough. Trot onto the field, mark off some steps, give your holder a nod, and boot away. Yeah. Went to the Patriots Hall of Fame museum a few years ago and tried a kick. Almost pulled my hamstring while sending the ball knee-high into the wall. Bad look. In a year where kickers seem to have the accuracy

Two Questions About The League

One: What the hell is up with Houston? You’d figure a defense with J. J. Watt, JaDeveon Clowney, and Vince Wilfork would be able to get something done. Watt has four sacks in five games, a mere mortal number, while Clowney has zero. I mean, it makes sense that the offense isn’t exactly Air Coryell, but for them to sit at 1-4 with a loss to the Colts filled with about as much enthusiasm as a pediatric dentist’s waiting room? Did not expect that.

At this point, anybody agreeing to appear on “Hard Knocks” must not be paying attention.

Two: How long will it take for the NFL to outlaw pick plays? New England showcased the effectiveness of so-called “rub” or “pick” plays in the second half at Dallas, with a Danny Amendola screen freeing up Edelman for a long TD. (CSNNE.com’s Phil Perry does a nice job describing the play here.) All of a sudden it seems like New England is getting credit (or, as usual blame) for conceiving this play. It works, and it frustrates defenses, and officials aren’t always sure how to call it, so look for the NFL to take a hard look at it soon. But don’t forget that other teams do it, and have done it for years.

Case in point: Denver’s Wes Welker taking out New England’s Aqib Talib in the AFC Championship two seasons ago (clip here). Welker never even looked for the ball. No call, and it’s not even close.

Second Quarter Preview

At the Colts Sunday night, hosting the Jets the following Sunday afternoon, the Dolphins on Thursday (10/29), then hosting the Nacotchtanks (see, Dan Snyder? Not that hard).

The Colts, Dolphins, and Redskins have six wins between them, with the Indyhorsies riding high at 3-2. All three wins have come against the AFC South, which is a bit like reigning as thumb-wrestling champion in a league of six-year-olds. Just adorable.

The Jets game looks like the toughest, with a focused 3-1 squad coached by a guy who manages to stay under the radar. The Patriots could go 3-1 over the second quarter, but barring any major setbacks, 4-0 looks more likely.

Seriously, predicting games for New England feels like working as a weatherman in San Diego. Occasional storms, but sunny skies most of the way.

Chris Warner can be tweeted: @cwarn89 

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41 thoughts on “Patriots 2015 First-Quarter Review

  1. Went to the Patriots Hall of Fame museum a few years ago and tried a
    kick. Almost pulled my hamstring while sending the ball knee-high into
    the wall. Bad look. In a year where kickers seem to have the accuracy

    You want to know why, Chris? It’s because you weren’t using one of the special “K” balls JJ prepares on gameday!

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        1. They finally took down that Tweet, right? I mean, I think it took them six or seven months, but they did take it down — at least I hope so!

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  2. D/C/M continue to go wall to wall with the Alex Guerrero crap. Christ, so does Ordway and Lou/Christian. It’s f**king tiresome. You have to wait until 2pm to hear actual football talk on WEEI this week. Hell, FELGER AND MAZZ are talking more about the game. I’m so sick of this garbage.

    And as far as the actual interviews go, Dino and Kirk are good but Gerry is like f’ing Tanguay. Constantly cutting them off and talking over guests.

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    1. I have been listening to D/C/M a lot lately. I have been enjoying the show for the first time ever. I wasn’t really a fan in their hay day with Meter, but over the last year or so I find myself listening longer and longer and actually enjoying it, except of course when they have Gary fill in.
      But I heard 3 seconds this morning and realized they were still on this BS and turned it off. Over it.

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        1. And yet the interview with the guy who produced the Infomercial for Simply Green was riveting. I find this whole topic almost as fascinating at Deflategate. I don’t need a breakdown of the game on Sunday especially when most if not all of the pundits think the Pats are going to roll Indy.

          To me, the fact that Brady has now alienated Coca-cola and Kelloggs is part and parcel why I did not understand why he was financial partners with Alex Guerrero. Brady defends his partnership, in doing so he innocently makes enemies of two large corporations. There is no good that can come of this and Brady did not see it. He lived in his own little bubble. We love the guy. We were willing to storm NYC and the NFL offices for him. But he brought this on himself. D/C&M are chasing the right story…Guerrero and his life as a charlatan. It is only a story because Brady is in bed with the guy. But he is in bed with him…so watching how he handles this and how it effects him is fascinating to me. This is all about me and what makes me happy isn’t it?

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          1. I agree this story is valid, but it is probably reaching its relevant shelf life. But that means it will go on for three more weeks.
            I don’t think Brady cares about alienating those companies. He is pretty selective in his endorsement deals. In addition to the current Under Armour spots, i only remember Uggs, VitaminWater and an ad for MasterCard that he did with his linemen in 2002. Maybe part of the selectivity is that he only endorses products he uses, so he may stay away from unhealthy items like fast food, soda and calorie-laden sports drinks. So maybe he actually practices what he preaches in promotional deals. Unlike Payton, who shills for terrible pizza and gatorade.

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          2. I think he only endorses company when he gets a percentage ownership stake. I think his wife’s business manager or whoever is guiding him is exceptionally shrewd there. I also think that like his wife he can afford to be highly selective in what he endorses…not because he practices what he preaches, but by limiting his exposure he becomes more valuable.

            As for alienating the companies…I agree he does not care because he does not see himself endorsing them. However I think Brady is concerned with his image and he does not want to come off as some new age California Hippy…especially since he has tried to come off as a moderate republican for the past 15 years.

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          3. I find this interesting. There is nothing I can recall that gives any indication as to TB’s political leanings. The only item I know of is his attendance at Bush’s State of the Union. As he said then, if the President invites you, you go. My take is TB is a very private person. People don’t like him because he seems “stuck up”, but really he just doesn’t put himself out there like Peyton does. Therefore people make judgments on him based on extremely superficial criteria.

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          4. There have been some rumors, although not in a few years, that he was interested in politics after retirement. Most former football players run for office as Republicans, like Jack Kemp, Heath Schuler, Steve Largent, JC Watts, etc. So i think that’s where the Republican label comes from, since he’s pretty much been apolitical in public.

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          5. I actually thought it sucked. It was three guys (Barrett, Kirk, and Gerry) just throwing insults at each other and talking over one another. “Yeah? Well…no, YOU are!”

            It’s also misleading to say he’s BRADY’S guy. Edleman uses him. So does Amendola and Gronk. Fauria did. Curran did. Chandler Jones and Dante Hightower do too. Zolack said Guerrero is on the sidelines during games, home and road. He talks with Kraft and Belichick every day.

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          6. As far as we know Brady is his business partner…none of the others are. The clinic he works at is named TB12 Sports Therapy Center. I think that puts Brady on a different level with Guerrero than any of the other athletes you named.

            As for the interview…I thought it was fascinating if only because this con artist willingly went on the radio to “explain” his role in the infomercials. It was fascinating to me that Barrett is so delusional that he thinks he did nothing wrong, that Tony Robbins is somehow to blame and that because he did not write a script he is absolved. I never thought someone like him would be dumb enough to go on the record.

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          7. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. I just think it’s much ado about nothing. If I had to guess,Tom meets AG and they hit it off because they share some of the same ideas
            about how to treat the body. They go along for a while and start working together and Brady genuinely likes the guy. At some point someone points out to Tom that AG has a shady past but by this point they’re friends so Tom says, I don’t care what he did in the past, I like the guy and I like what he’s doing for me. I think loyalty is important to Tom (know idea if this is true, just a feeling I get) and AG has been good to him so he stands up for his friend. Even if the guy did some really crappy things in the past.

            Jay-Z is a self-proclaimed former drug dealer. Nobody bats an eye about doing business with him. He’s started his own sports management firm and the President of the United States thinks he’s cool. Where are all the people crying about Jay-Z praying on the weakness of individuals and their horrible addictions? Aaron Rodgers went out on a limb for Ryan Braun and defended him publicly and said they were friends. Should I then infer that Rodgers is on PED’s because of his association with Braun? I don’t go for the whole guilt by association thing. I need proof.

            Again I just don’t understand why this is worth getting upset about. There is no proof of anything except for the fact that AG WAS a shady person. So what, Tom’s decision making process should be called into question? Is that a joke? He’s one of the best QB’s to ever play the game because of the decisions he makes.Can you imagine if we looked into all the people that were associated with players in the NFL? I shudder to think what that would turn up. But as long as the player themselves are not breaking any laws/rules then it’s a subject I’m not interested in.

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          8. Yes we will have to agree to disagree 🙂

            My issue with the relationship is Guerrero does not appear at least not publicly, contrite. Brady by aligning himself with him endorses the behavior. They sell supplements, herbal remedies and electrolyte infused water drinks at the treatment center…meaning he is still peddling scientifically unproven remedies. Unlike your Jay-Z example…Jay-Z moved into completely different businesses. If he were looking to get a marijuana dispensary license I think there would be an out cry.

            Finally I do not think anyone (other than Minihane) is up. I think we are disappointed in Brady choice of business associates. We will get over it.

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  3. They need to scrap the midday show and just bring back The Big Show as it was. Intro music, rotating co-hosts, Whiner Line, etc. Let Glen do his thing and stop trying to shoe-horn him into whatever it is they want 10-2 to be. Get Troy Brown in studio. Maybe Rodney or Tedy for a day. Picard. Curran. I REALLY want to like the show but it’s a chore to listen to. Tailor the offense to the veteran QB you brought in.

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    1. I know Finn said it’s not a lock, but it seems like it’s almost confirmed Lou gets the P-b-P job on the radio. I figured that they’d use this as the impetus to basically morph 10-2 back into BS and let Ordway have more freedom. I missed him doing this when BSUNF was alive.

      It’s not going to make everyone happy but it’s about the safest move possible.

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      1. I’d like to believe that but I think we’re more likely to see the permanent return of Gary the Buffoon if and when Merloni leaves.

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        1. There is an interesting question. Why the f-ck he keeps getting ‘fill-in” duty is seriously beyond me (uhh, PZ, wtf?). You’ve got Villani, Arcand.. who, in my opinion, are going to be hosting shows someday in this market.. and you put GearBear on? I get it. interesting radio. Troll the fans. Can’t do that forever (remember Salk and Benz?)

          Just my opinion, and I could be wrong.

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          1. My only guess is that he serves as the court jester, someone the other hosts can poke fun at. Similar to the role that Meter and Sheppard used to fill.

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  4. For those who like either D+C or Richard Deitsch (yeah, I doubt there are many within that union), their producer Chris Curtis was on his weekly podcast:

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  5. Slightly off-topic… but did Simmons say anything interesting on T&R this morning? Was that even a new interview?

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    1. I read excerpts. He basically repeated the main theme of the “Outside The Lines” hit piece last month, indicating that Goodell’s overzealousness in pursuing/punishing the Pats and Brady over Frame-Gate was because the owners were pushing him to give them a “make-up call” for Spygate. That may be true, but it’s still astonishing to me that there actually are people in NFL circles who believe that a make-up call was necessary for a faux scandal that inspired what was, at the time, the single biggest penalty ever handed down against any team, coach, or player. They lost a freakin’ 2008 first round draft pick, and BB/Kraft lost a combined $750K over a misdemeanor rules violation (that part is still in dispute, in fact) that had been a common practice in the league prior to 2007. The NFL power structure is utterly insane.

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    2. I thought the interview was fascinating and I generally don’t like Simmons. He touched on his issues with WEEI prior to 98.5’s appearance on the scene. He gave an interesting insider’s perspective on how ESPN works and that he had bought in…enough to stay 13 years. He talked about how incompetent Goodell is, how awesome Gronk is and how slanted ESPN’s coverage of the Pats has been.

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      1. I got off the Simmons train a few years ago myself and I never listen to T&R just because I can’t stand Fred, but I admit I listened to the whole interview online (almost 40 min) and I thought it was pretty interesting too.
        The stuff between him and Ordway is nothing new, those two have gone back and forth for a while.

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    3. The only unique thing is him taking shots at WEEI/Ordway. If you like Simmons and/or hate WEEI/Ordway, it’s for you; otherwise, it’s nothing not said with other interviews (VanityFair).

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    1. It surprises me that the numbers are as close as they are. Outside of NY and LA I wonder who was watching that game. The Cubs/Mets series I think will draw. But the NFL should be averaging 20+ for a thursday night game on two networks.

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    1. Apparently the folks in Bristol think that deliberately alienating the pro football fans in an entire five-and-a-half state region is good business. They likely think they’re impregnable to failure, just like other colossus’s of the past, such as GM, Gimbal’s, Bear Stearns, etc. The comeuppance is out there, though. It’s lurking down the road; too far to see it right now, but it’s there. It will come down on them eventually, and hard. Cable is a dying media, and the bozos at ESPN know that, which is why they’re going out of their way to kiss Goodell’s ring. It keeps those badly needed NFL dollars flowing in….for now. It’s really too bad that BB and the team can’t just ban ESPN personnel from Gillette. I’d like to see them try it. It would be worth the fines and penalties just to send the message. I mean, what more can the league do to them that they haven’t already done? Take away all of their picks for the next two years? Sure, go ahead — the Pats, in that case, will just do what fans and media around here have always wanted them to do anyway: “load up in free agency to take advantage of Brady’s last few prime seasons.”

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