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What's been happening with the Patriots for the last three or four years?
January 30, 2012 5:21 PM   Subscribe

My father and I have had a rocky relationship, but this year he asked me to come watch the Superbowl with him and I said I would. I'm just realizing now that I have no idea what has been going on with the Patriots since, oh, Teddy Bruschi retired. I don't know who's in the backfield, what kind of secondary we have, whether we're running the old five-and-out pass plays or if our running game has developed. Can you guys fill me in on what I need to know in order to be able to talk with my dad during the game? Thanks.
posted by jwhite1979 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
This season has seen a seismic shift in the role of tight ends throughout the league, and Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are two of the people making it happen. But Gronkowski might not play! But Belichick likes to list people as Probable and Questionable, it's one of his things!

Also, Wes Welker has had one of the best seasons in the history of wide receivers (and guys on my fantasy team). But is he just that amazing, or have the league's new rules gone too far to protect quarterbacks and favor the passing game?

And is this just a remake of the SB from four years ago, or are these not the same teams? Can Eli come out of his big brother's shadow? Are the Giants still the underdog? Is this year's 3-point spread about right?

Lots more, but that's a start.
posted by box at 5:50 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


"So, what's going on with the team this year, Dad?"

Ask him questions and let him teach you a little. Having that as a built-in icebreaker may make your conversation a little easier, especially at first.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:14 PM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


No D.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:19 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can you watch ESPN for an hour? That should help!
posted by katypickle at 6:27 PM on January 30, 2012


I bet if your relationship is rocky, conversation might be a little slow going. It is always nice to have something like sport to fall back on. I would read all the advice posted here so that you have talking points to bring out, but I would also feign ignorance at times and let your dad fill you in, even if you know the answer to your own question.
posted by Nightman at 6:39 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


No D.

True dat. Advanced NFL Stats' metrics show the Pats' defence to be in the bottom 5 against the pass and bottom 10 against the run. They were the 2nd ranked offence in the NFL, which coupled with a very soft schedule has been their saving grace this season.

What's wrong with their defence? Their secondary was gutted; Leigh Bodden and Darius Butler (as under-performing as they were, they had experience) were released and Darius McCourty regressed from being a pro bowler in 2011 to exploitable in 2012. Kyle Arrington had an OK year, but a revolving door at nickel back and at safety really hurt them all season long. A number of their main defensive playmakers (Patrick Chung, Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes) missed significant time and the defence has been soft. They struck gold by picking up scrap-heap veterans like Andre Carter and Mark Anderson, who combined for 20 sacks, but they just don't get enough pressure on the quarterback to really help their weak secondary. They tried out Albert Haynesworth but he was useless.

Vince Wilfork, however, has been playing out of his god damned mind all year long; sacks, hurries, stuffing the run and even intercepting two passes, he's been the only thing really holding the D together.

On offence, the story is the same as 2010; two great tight-ends, Wes Welker and the occasional burst from the rest. Nothing particularly to note here. They still run to offset the pass. Their offensive line was hurt for a lot of the year but guys like Brian Waters, Dan Connolly and rookie Nate Solder really stepped their game up. They picked up Chad Ochocinco but he's hardly contributed.

What struck me as particularly odd this season was how impotent Bill Bellichek's drafting was; despite every pundit suggesting they needed pass rush, pass rush, pass rush, the Pats with all their picks chose a very good offensive tackle in Nate Solder, a defensive back who missed the entire season, two running backs who contributed marginally (especially in an offense which has BJGE and isn't heavy run, it seemed unnecessary), a QB that's doubtful for the future and a number of players who hardly contributed.

It was an absolute dud class, and one that really didn't address any of the pressing issues the team had. I wouldn't say that the drafting a couple of rookies on D would've made them that much better, however given how soft their defence was and how many personnel issues they've had on defence, some hope for the future there would've been nice.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 6:45 PM on January 30, 2012


I'd read the ESPN Patriots blog for anything by Mike Reiss. Type 'reiss' into the search box and read what he wrote for January. Of note: positional groupings and offensive snaps analysis from the AFC championship game might give some idea of what they'll do if Gronkowski is limited. As well as what's changed since the Patriots loss to the Giants in Week 9.

Didjaknow?: Deion Branch is back on the team. Josh McDaniels is also back as an offensive assistant coach. Julian Edelman is the team's new Troy Brown in that he's a receiver, occaisionally plays defense, and returns punts. Myra Kraft, wife of owner Robert Kraft died, and the season is dedicated to her, hence the MHK patches on their uniforms. The Patriots didn't beat a team with a winning record during the regular season and miraculously squeaked by the Ravens to get to the Superbowl.
posted by zix at 7:06 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


While you're listening to SportsCenter, read a few things on Grantland, Deadspin, Sportsfilter, etc.

And if you have time to read one book, make it Michael Holley's 'War Room.'
posted by box at 7:54 PM on January 30, 2012


"Hey dad, great to see you. I haven't been following the Pats lately, but I wanted to spend time with you and think watching together is a great idea. Before I drink too much beer and eat too many wings rendering me incapable of comprehension, would you tell me what you think are the keys to the Pats winning?"

"Do you think losing to the Giants in week 9 means anything?"

"Can we stop that awesome pass rush of the Giants. JPP (Jean Pierre-Paul) is a beast. Do you know he can do ten back flips in a row with his pads on?"

"I think that Cruz guy is a little overrated. He is really just a rookie and no way the Pats let him run wild like the Jets did."

"Pass the chips."

"I am going to the kitchen, anyone need an orange whip?"

"It is amazing how Brady can still play at such a high level 10 years after his first SB."

"Gronks ankle looks healed to me. Or, the shot of pain meds is working like a charm."
posted by AugustWest at 8:16 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Other specific questions you might ask:

Does Belichick know what he's doing when it comes to the draft?
Was it worth it gambling on Haynesworth and Ochocinco?
Should Edelman be playing defense at all?
If you had to pick one, would you take Hernandez or Gronkowski?
What gameplan gives us the best chance?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:22 PM on January 30, 2012


Seconding the Grantland suggestion. In fact, you can find Bill Simmons podcasts through there or the ESPN site, and have a listen to them. Simmons is a huge Pats fan, and the NFL podcasts can be pretty entertaining, though could be dated (as he's usually discussing previous/upcoming games).
posted by Metro Gnome at 8:27 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Simmons also Tweets @sportsguy33. He will likely Tweet the game too so if you look down at your phone you might have something to say or ask.
posted by AugustWest at 8:32 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can watch the highlight reel from basically every game this season on NFL.com. It's been surprisingly useful for helping my son follow the narrative of the season.
posted by anastasiav at 4:37 AM on January 31, 2012


I'd go into it blind. Try and set it up so that you can go in before the game, for whatever reason, to catch up, or whathaveyou (catching up is the real reason, right?), and use lulls in conversation as a way to ask about the team. It gives you something to talk about, it puts your dad into a comfort role (parent/teacher) that might make things easier for the two of you to get back on decent terms. It's just a start, but it's neutral ground, which is a good place to start.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:02 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


A note on Pats' defense: It's bad in terms of yards allowed, but not half as bad in terms of points allowed (18th in league). Could make for an interesting hypothesis, which we could pretend will be proved or disproved by the game. Pats are second in the league in total offense, second-to-last in total defense. Giants are eighth in total offense, 27th in yards allowed.

Also: When the Pats beat the Ravens to get to the Super Bowl, it was the their first win over a team that finished the season with a winning record.

Also: Pats favored by 3. Here in New York, they can't understand that. A Pats fan, I tend to agree with them. Think Vegas either is too caught up in Pats' being top seed in AFC and Giants being fourth seed in NFC, forgetting that NFC was much better this year, or is trolling for dollars, knowing the many New Yorkers and Giants fans will find the three points less resistable.

As well: Giants have great pass rush just with their front four, so it'll be interesting to see whether Tommy, who won't have to deal with raw weather, can get rid of the ball quickly enough. Meanwhile, Pats' pass rush is hit-or-miss, while Giants' offensive line isn't elite-level. But Eli is pretty teriffic at playing well in the face of a great pass rush. Tommy, if you didn't know, is a genius at stepping up in the pocket to avoid the rush.
posted by troywestfield at 6:19 AM on January 31, 2012


Wow. I kinda wish I had a television so I could have followed the season. I feel like I've got a pretty good handle on what's been happening. Sounds interesting. Thanks MeFites.
posted by jwhite1979 at 7:16 AM on January 31, 2012


If you ever need to use the nuclear option ask him about 18 and 1.
posted by just sayin at 11:33 AM on January 31, 2012


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