Divisional Playoff Round – The Mattyoshow Review

-I know it hurts, but now isn’t the time to start going through the book to find excuses as to why the Patriots lost.  Yes, they were the best team in the NFL for the 2010 regular season.  That is why playoff spots are so coveted, no matter what the seed is.  In the playoffs, every game is the most important game of the season.  On Sunday the Jets played like that, the Patriots did not.  I don’t want to hear that the offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien should be fired because the Pats only scored 21 points on Sunday.  That’s one of the most ridiculous things notions I may have ever come across.  The Patriots had the highest scoring offense in the entire NFL over a 16 game season, and yet one game in which they underperformed warrants them replacing their offensive coordinator?  Yup, that makes sense.  It’s truly as simple as this: On Sunday the New England Patriots were both outplayed and outcoached by the New York Jets, enough said.

-You may be asking why the run game was used so much towards the end of the game.  There is a very simple answer for that, Tom Brady couldn’t figure out the Jets defense.  All season we have watched Brady read defenses, make an audible at the line of scrimmage, and rip teams for huge yards with either the run or the pass.  The Jets game plan worked perfectly.  Brady was having trouble reading the Jets’ defense because they were playing in their base defense almost the entire game.  They brought 3 or 4 lineman almost every play and dropped everyone else into coverage.  I’m pretty sure that any quarterback in the NFL would check to a run in that situation too.  Sadly, the effectiveness of the run game wasn’t enough to overcome the ineffectiveness of the pass game.  Tom Brady was outsmarted by one of the best defensive minds in the game in Rex Ryan.  These are the things that happen when you play a team three times in one season.  It’s not a revelation that the Jets can lose to the Patriots.  I’m pretty sure that the week 2 game between the two teams had a similar feeling to Sunday’s game.

-For all of you sorrowful fans out there, all is not lost.  Sunday’s loss to the Jets will undoubtedly leave a very sour taste in the mouth of the Patriot players, most importantly in the mouth of the young defensive players on that roster.  I want Devin McCourty, Brandon Spikes, Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung, Jerod Mayo, Brandon Deaderick, Jermaine Cunningham, and the rest of the young players on that team to remember how crappy they felt walking off of that field on Sunday.  From today until September I want all of those guys to remember all of the talking and celebrating that the Jets did after that win.  I want them all to remember that the New York Jets, their biggest rival, outplayed them in every facet of the game on Sunday.  I want this loss to fuel each player’s fire over the next several months and have them come into next season more hungry than ever.  If this defense continues to mature and evolve like they have shown the potential to do, next season with a few more rookies added from the draft this defense will be a unit to be reckoned with.

-Speaking of the draft, Sunday’s game highlighted a couple of positions for me that stood at as areas where additions need to be made.  Jermaine Cunningham came along nicely towards the end of the season, but the Patriots inability to pressure Mark Sanchez the entire game on Sunday make it very clear that a stud outside/rush linebacker is a huge area of need for them.  Luckily, the 2011 draft is littered with college defensive ends that are likely to make the transition to 3-4 OLB.  I also thought that Brandon Tate’s season-long ineffectiveness highlighted the team’s need for a big play wide receiver on the outside.  I understand the Deion Branch revitalized his career with a return to the Pats, but the Patriots still don’t have that homerun threat wide receiver on the outside, which would be a huge weapon in their offense.  Finally, although the Pats are loaded with young cornerbacks (i.e. McCourty, Arrington, Butler), and with Leigh Bodden returning next season from injury, I still think they could use a corner in the draft.  Adding a young corner to play in the nickel or dime could definitely help this pass defense, although it is understandably difficult to cover receivers when your defensive line gets no pressure on the opposing QB.

-I enjoyed giving you my take on the Pats’ games throughout the entire season and I appreciate the 4 ½ of you that read them on a weekly basis.  I am looking forward to the 2011 season already, but we first have to go through my favorite time of the year, the 2011 NFL Draft.  Keep stopping by NTCF and keep an eye out for the newest version of my mock draft within the next few days.

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