by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
The Patriots looked pretty good beating the Raiders 31-19 on the West Coast. Pretty good.
Whether they can take the good and improve on the bad in time to beat the Jets, we’ll find out this Sunday.
That gives us plenty to think about this week.
99 Yards Drives You Near Up A Wall: The Pats ruined a 31-13 comfy game by a) failing to score on four straight running plays near the goal line and b) giving up an ensuing five-play, 99-yard scoring drive in the final minutes.
Sure, we can say the drive didn’t matter, but does that mean the defense shouldn’t make any kind of play whatsoever? And hey, we love Dane Fletcher at linebacker, but at fullback? Should the Pats invest in a blocking back who can clear a path for BenJarvus Green-Ellis? Is tackle/college tight end/low-roster guy Thomas Welch the answer?
See? Even this decisive victory conjured up a lot of questions.
Spare Jerod, Spoil The Defense: Amidst the overkill of condiment-pun headlines, we find news that Jerod Mayo has hurt his MCL. Will Gary Guyton, Brandon Spikes or Fletcher be able to take his place? Our respective predictions say no, nope, and nunh-unh.
The Pats have what’s called a “lottery” defense, giving up big numbers every week. Can’t see it improving without one of its most reliable players.
That Guyton Looks Bushed: While Guyton does okay in certain (read: passing) defenses, he’s not a run-stopper. Poor play by him on the TD run by Oakland’s Michael Bush. Instead of tackling Bush for a two-yard loss, Guyton ran outside of him and pulled a Carl Crawford (whiffed in a big situation; and yes, we’re still bitter). That play gave the home team a 10-7 lead. Tough to expect Guyton to do much vs. the Jets’ run game.
Dopeland Raiders: Another thing New England should not rely on next week is the Raider-like propensity for foolish penalties. Richard Seymour aided the Pats’ opening TD drive with 30 yards’ worth of idiocy on two unsportsmanlike calls. You can’t count on the Jets to be such nitwits (on the field, at least).
And, ah, hey, Oakland? We know you’ve got a certain reputation to uphold, but maybe it hurts you more than you realize.
More With Wes: It continues to amaze us that opponents fail to double-team Wes Welker, who added another nine receptions and 158 yards to his season total (40 catches, 616 yards, five TDs in four games. Yikes). How can defensive coordinators leave covering Welker off their to-do lists? Expect him to attract a lot of attention Sunday, meaning that other receivers will have to make up some of that production. If they’re open, Tom Brady will find them. Now let’s see if they can get open.
Ooh Chad (Things Are Gonna Get Easier): Was that Chad Ochocinco we saw seeming to appear out of nowhere to catch two passes (three if you include one taken back by penalty)? Number 85 was the second-leading pass-catcher on the Pats Sunday. Does that mean he’s ready to contribute on a more regular basis and stop disappearing during games?
Sure. Why not?
Campbell’s Oops: Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell is another opposing passer who rose from mediocrity to respectability vs. New England (25 for 39, 344 yards). The difference came down to his ridiculous interceptions, one a toss directly into Patrick Chung’s hands (with no Oakland receiver within 10 yards), the other right at defensive tackle/tract of land Vince Wilfork.
If New York’s Mark Sanchez can recover from his bout of incompetence in Baltimore, he should find some success against the Pats’ pass D.
Opponents Wilfork It Over: The fun statistic? Wilfork has two interceptions this season, the first two of his career. The not-so-fun statistic? He now has two more picks than cornerbacks Devin McCourty and Leigh Bodden combined. That, dear readers, is 2011 in Foxboro.
Saint Stevan He Arose, Right Into the End Zone He Goes: Rookie Stevan Ridley has surprised many with elusiveness and speed, both of which were on display during his 22-yard touchdown run. While many (myself included) though the Pats drafted Ridley too high in the third, he has shown promise as an addition to New England’s offense.
Pats-Jets. Sunday afternoon. What else can we say?
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org