by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Two different games, two different outcomes generating opposite emotions. Welcome to New England 2010.
We knew the Patriots would experience growing pains, we just didn’t think that awkward stage would happen all at once Sunday at the Jets. They return to friendly Foxboro this week to face the 0-2 Bills, two facts that make us less worried.
Still plenty to fret about, however…
Oh, Faulk: The wait for finely-aged running back Kevin Faulk to finally slow down has ended, as the perennial contributor was diagnosed with a torn ACL. This, of course, makes New England’s third-down offense about as dangerous as a hypoallergenic pillow.
The good news? Well, none. (Seriously: how can this be good news?) But former Jet and fresh-faced Pat Danny Woodhead brings speed and agility as a potential receiving back (check out his pro day numbers at the bottom of this link). Better to have him than not. Which reminds us…
To Half And Half Not: As Mike Reiss pointed out in his blog, the Patriots have been weak in the second half of away games going back to 2009. Though at Gillette this week, the Pats need to demonstrate they can not only hold onto a lead but add to it in the third and fourth quarters. For a change.
Do I sound bitter and tense? Deep green forest, cool blue lake. Okay. Onward!
Welker, Texas Stranger: Whither Wes Welker in the second half in the Meadowlands? Did the helmet-to-helmet hit knock him out of contention, or did the Jets’ coverage prevent him from contributing? If it’s the former, how will that affect him Sunday? And why am I doing nothing but asking questions?
Not Feeling Randy: This team needs Randy Moss, but they need THE Randy Moss, not the guy who knocks footballs in the air or stops running full speed. Tom Brady trusts Moss like no other and throws to him when he’s not open. Moss used to make plays on those passes with the ease of a horsetail shooing flies (see: Pats at Miami, 2007), but no more.
Sure, yes, Moss made a great one-handed catch on his TD at the Jets, but was using one hand necessary?It shows up on highlight reels as a spectacular catch, but would have looked routine if he’d gone about it in a more conventional way.
In other words, Randy? You’ve got two hands. Use ’em when you can.
Regretting The Passed: Why on earth can’t Patriots defensive backs seem to make plays on the football? Darius Butler clutches at receivers like a drowning man reaching for a life raft. Meanwhile, passes whiz by Devin McCourty’s half-turned body. The young New England DBs had opportunities to shut down drives but failed to do so. They helped make Mark Sanchez look less like the goofy kid from “Hard Knocks” and more like the second coming of Joe “Somehow Still Relevant” Namath.
Change For A Bill? Buffalo is making a switch from QB Trent Edwards hoping to improve on last place in points (8.5 per game) total yards (176 pg) and passing yards (89 pg). In his stead comes Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started eight games last year (nine TDs, 10 INTs). Call it a “rags to slightly nicer rags” story.
If the Pats lose this thing at home, “Worry Wart” will just be renamed “I Give Up” or even “Eff It,” depending on how many deep breaths get taken before the next column.
Deep green forest, cool blue lake. Ah.
All About Steve: One for four? Okay, Stephen Gostkowski’s kicking is officially a concern. If Sunday’s game comes down to a field goal, then we’ve got a lot of other issues to deal with (see previous paragraph), but for reasons still unexplained we’ve got an all-star kicker who has failed to perform like one. A nice 40-yarder to wrap-up the waning seconds of the first half would be a thrill for all involved.
I mean, really: a solid effort all around and a well-executed second half. Are we asking too much here? Let’s hope not.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org