by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Yes, yes, I know: we should all take a moment to appreciate Monday night’s 45-3 braising of the Jets. I’ve been picking away at my DVR recording of the game as if it were a Far Eastern delicacy: minutes after partaking, I’m hungry for more.
Not to be too much of a trepidation troll, but, we fear that these young Patriots might feel a little too pleased with themselves. If they keep that contentment with them for the trip to Chicago, they could get into trouble.
More fodder for the coaches’ concern. Ours, too…
A Lump Of Cold In Their Stockings: Latest weather reports say Chicago will be 2 degrees Fahrenheit with 30-mph winds.
No, really, you guys go ahead. I’ll be back here on the couch, sipping cocoa.
Tom Tom Club: Sign us up. Tom Brady has played at an amazing level these past few weeks. Monday night, he threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns against one of the better defenses in the league. We have to wonder (and worry) how he’ll do in the Chicago elements vs. a Bears team ranked third in overall defense.
Assault And Peppers: Chicago’s pass rush gets a huge boost from one Julius Peppers, the monstrous defensive end whom New England showed interest in signing this past off-season. The 6-foot-7, 283-pound behemoth has seven sacks so far this year.
Sharp Cutler, He: When he’s bad, he’s bad. But when he’s good, quarterback Jay Cutler ranks among the best. A quick review of Cutler’s game-by-game stats reveals a recent upswing from a mid-season lull. Can a Patriots’ pass defense that bends like a flexi-straw continue to come up with timely turnovers, or will Cutler slice it up?
Speaking of weapons…
Hard Knox: With speedy receivers like Johnny Knox and Devin Hester on the field, New England’s defense will get stretched more than a track star’s hamstring. The Pats need lots of contact off the line, lots of deep safeties, and lots of pressure on the QB (that third thing’s the charm).
Rushing The Passive: New England managed to get in the face of Jets QB Mark Sanchez a little, but still ended up with the same amount of sacks as Santa’s sleigh (a convoluted way of saying “one”). Cutler has better pocket presence than Sanchez, making him a tough guy to reach.
Tackle Balks: Though we saw very little to upset us on Monday night, the inability to bring Jets runners down during the opening drive of the second half remained a low point. Chicago running back Matt Forte is averaging over four yards a carry for the season and almost seven per tote in the last two games.
Rip Taylor: While pocket-sized running back Danny Woodhead wreaked havoc on his former team (four catches for 104 yards) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis bulldozed his way to a four-yard average (18 for 72), veteran Fred Taylor got mere mop-up work. Is he still recovering from injury? Can he spell the young guys once in a while? It wouldn’t hurt to have him contribute, especially in weather that makes Nanook shiver.
The Philosophy Of Young: With all the neophytes on the roster (23 with two years of experience or less), we have to wonder how success will affect them. (I mean, if I feel proud of myself for taking out the trash, imagine how I’d feel if I played for a 10-2 team.) When in doubt, kids, do what Bill Belichick does: Remember Cleveland.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org