Week 4 – The Mattyoshow Review

In this segment I will provide a weekly review for the previous weekend’s Patriots game, as well as my prediction for next weekend’s game (except for this week because the Pats are on a bye in week 5).

-Right off of the bat, I was surprised with the starting defensive unit.  Tully Banta-Cain didn’t get the starting nod (as we all would have expected) at outside linebacker.  Instead, the two starters were Jermaine Cunningham and Rob Ninkovich.  According to my sources, the coaching staff hasn’t been very happy with Banta-Cain’s performance and work ethic as of late, so giving away his starting spot may have been a ploy to start a fire under him.  Banta-Cain is arguably the team’s best pass rusher, so any less playing time for him will not benefit the Pats’ defense.

-Speaking of Rob Ninkovich, give that man the game ball.  Ninkovich singlehandedly save the game for the New England Patriots.  The 41-14 final score tends to overshadow how easily the Dolphins were moving the ball in the first half.  Ninkovich’s two interceptions came on two drives where the Dolphins looked certain to score.  Combine the interceptions with a sack and Ninkovich was a huge reason that the Patriots won the game.

-Hopefully Belichick brought two balls to give away in the locker room because Patrick Chung deserves a game ball too.  The 20 year old second year player out of Oregon was lights out on Monday night.  His defensive contributions were good.  He only amassed three tackles, but added a late game interception that put the nail in the coffin.  His contributions on special teams were amazing.  I don’t think that I have ever seen a guy block two kicks in one game.  A blocked field goal (which led to a touchdown) and a blocked punt were hugely pivotal plays in the game.  In my opinion, Patrick Chung and Rob Ninkovich were the sole reasons that the Pats won the game.

-I realize that the offense didn’t have the ball for that much time because of the scoring by the special teams and the defense.  That being said, the passing game didn’t look good.  Tom Brady went 19/24, but racked up only 153 yards and one touchdown.  The Patriots had only two offensive touchdowns, one pass to Woodhead and one rush by BJGE.  In order to win the division and make a run in the playoffs, the Patriots need to be able to rely on their offense for at least 28 points per game.  Consider defensive and special teams scores as added bonuses.  The bye week will help build some more chemistry between Brady and all of his targets, hopefully leading to some huge numbers through the air.

-Vince Wilfork played a lot of the game at the end position.  Today on WEEI, Belichick explained that the Dolphins like to run off tackle plays, which led to the switch putting Wilfork out wide.  Mike Wright played the nose to start the game, with Gerard Warren at the other end.  Right now, Vince Wilfork is the Patriots best defensive player.  If moving Wilfork around means that your defense is better, than I’m all for it.  But, let us not forget that this guy weighs 330lbs. after sitting in a sauna for 24 hours, so playing out wide could lead to him being on the bench catching his breath more than if in the middle.  I like the move, but only in limited instances.

-Chad Henne threw for 300 yards, but most came in garbage time.  The Patriots pass defense played probably their best game all season.  Devon Bess killed them, but when you have so much attention paid towards Brandon Marshall and the run game, someone is going to prosper.  Devin McCourty played well again, but surpisingly Kyle Arrington was matched up against Marshall for the majority of the game.  Marshall finished with only 5 catches for 50 yards, which was a positive sign for a young secondary that has struggles against big, physical recievers.

-Randy Moss trade in the works apparently for a third round pick?  No shot in hell.  If Moss gets moved, it can looked at exactly like the Seymour situation a couple of years ago.  The Patriots may realize that Moss, in the final year of his contract, probably won’t be a member of the team next season, so they will look to move him to get value (ex. Seymour to the Raiders for 2011 1st round pick).  But, they will not move Moss unless they get more than enough compensation (think 1st round pick, or 2nd and 3rd, or something along those lines).

-This was a huge road win for a team that desperately needed it.  I actually wish the Patriots had a game this week just to continue to ride this emotional wave, building on their recent success.  But, with the bye week ahead look for Belichick to get the guys focused their week 6 showdown in Gillette against Baltimore.

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