EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 15, 2012

Hector Longo's Two-Minute Drill

By Hector Longo hlongo@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BIG SHOWS

1. Chandler Jones – The rookie had a strip sack and tied Devin McCourty with the team lead for solos with four. He’s hitting people and playing complete football, not just pass rushing.

2. Wes Welker – Pay this man his money. He took a couple of true knockout shots and continued to catch footballs, elude coverage and move the chains. Finishes with 10 more catches for 138 yards and a TD.

3. Aaron Hernandez – Welcomed back to the lineup, he caught six balls for 30 yards and a TD.

4. Brandon Lloyd – The catch, ruled an incompletion late, was the prettiest incompletion I’ve ever seen. However, it might have cost him a separated shoulder. He landed hard, jamming his left shoulder into the turf. Solid, caught 6 balls for 80 yards.

NO SHOWS

1. Tavon Wilson – He was left on an island, thanks to the strangest of pass-offs from Devin McCourty, then showed his unreadiness for prime time when Sidney Rice spun him into the ground for the game-winning TD.

2. Kyle Arrington – Spent the day covering nobody, just like everyone else.

3. Devin McCourty – The ring-leader of the NCC (that is “no cover crew”). You can feel him on the field, begging for zone defense calls.

4. Nate Solder – Struggled with Chris Clemons’ bull rush all day. When Tom Brady tried to escape left on the final play of the first half, he was walled off by Solder, who had been pushed backwards. Finally, on the last possession, Solder actually took Brady down to kill the drive before it started. Not strong enough to play left tackle in the NFL.

5. Tom Brady – When you essentially turn it over twice in the red zone and come up with one TD in six trips, the QB gets the blame. Had a 79 QB rating on a day he flung it 58 times.

6. Stevan Ridley – Sixteen carries for 34 yards? Way to put that fumble behind you, big guy.

7. Jerod Mayo – The inconsequential Mayo made his 2012 debut. Only two solo tackles, one embarrassing open-field miss on Russell Wilson.

8. Brandon Spikes – Still getting abused in coverage. He’s dynamite coming forward. He stuffs the run. But he’s extremely one-dimensional. And he took an ugly 15-yard roughing the QB penalty.

GRADING THE GROUPS

OFFENSE

Line (C) … Brady dropped to pass 59 times and was only sacked once, which would normally be pretty good. Seattle heaped the heat on the QB, though, and he buckled because of it. When this team needed to run, with a 13-point lead, they opened nothing against a good, stout defense.

Running Backs (D) … Violently inconsistent from week to week. Just didn’t see Stevan Ridley run hard in a 16-for-34 night. Brandon Bolden had just six touches. Why Danny Woodhead continues to see much playing time, when this team needs to run out the clock, is beyond me. He’s a 3-to-4 touch change of pace, that’s all. Anything else brings on diminishing returns.

Tight ends (B+) … Still waiting for the breakout game from Gronk, who caught six for 61 yards. A rare 35-yard Daniel Fells grab helped the cause.

Wide Receivers (A-) … Wes Welker’s courage bumps this up a full grade. He was spectacular, and Brandon Lloyd was solid, too. Deion Branch has flowed down to the level that he can’t match many decent nickel corners. Sad, I love the guy personally and professionally, but his days are over. Aaron Hernandez makes this group better, despite being limited by injury.

Quarterback (C-) … He’s seeing more heat, and he knows it. That in turn has affected his mechanics, and yesterday it hurt his accuracy. Missed a handful of throws in the second half. The misses weren’t Joe Flacco bad, but it takes away from Brady’s level of greatness.

DEFENSE

Line (C) … Sure, they are stout up front, and Chandler Jones is the impact guy at end. But, with this secondary as bad as it is, can you afford to plug Kyle Love and Vince Wilfork in there for the bulk of the downs when all they do is lockup and bear hug the guy in front of them? Zero solo tackles from those two for the second straight week. No noise at all from Wilfork and Love, it’s happening too often.

Linebackers (C-) … The high points were two Brandon Spikes backfield penetrations and Rob Ninkovich pouncing on a loose ball. Other than that, they were quietly mediocre against a pathetic Seattle offense.

Secondary (F) … After games of 153, 151, 130, 160 and 221 yards through the air, the immortal rookie Russell Wilson comes through for 293 yards. Enough said.

Special Teams (C-) … Would it be illegal for this team to run back a kick or punt ever?

Coaching (D) … Coaching greed at the end of the first half cost this team three points. That was the difference between winning and losing.

THE TURNING POINT

Six seconds left in the first half, the Patriots are in position to, if not knock out the Seahawks, at least take serious control. Instead of taking the sure 3 points, Bill Belichick tries to run a play.

Nate Solder gets collapsed at left tackle. Tom Brady then can’t escape the pocket. And he is called for grounding, ending the half with a 10-second runoff.

All Seattle, down 7 at the time, wanted there was a life. The Pats gave it to the Seahawks with awful clock management and a dreadful decision.

WHY BELICHICK IS BETTER

Well, he wasn’t on this day. I have to admit it.

Pete Carroll, the lightning rod for mediocre NFL coaches, had his way with Bill Belichick and his boys yesterday.

I can’t explain it. It just happened.

But I’ll tell you now. There is no way that the Seahawks make the playoffs with Carroll in 2012. Not going to happen.

A BULLY UNMASKED

What did we learn on Sunday, people?

The Patriots offensively are just a bunch of bullies. They got handed small defenses with little defensive backs everywhere, and shoved them around like little brothers.

Back to back 200-yard rushing weeks for the first time!

How about the hurry-up running game!

Is it too late to run Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden on the independent ticket for the presidency? They can’t be stopped.

The truth is, against a real defense, the Pats are the same old Pats running the football.

Ridley isn’t Arian Foster, he’s a third-round pick with issues.

When this team needs to run, it can’t. So don’t feed me all the stories about how much of a threat this offense is as a running team.

They go as far as Tom Brady takes them, and not a step further.

FIVE THOUGHTS AS WE LOOK AHEAD AT 3-3

1. The bad news is that they’ve faced Jake Locker, Kevin Kolb, Joe Flacco, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson and the Pats have still managed to be a bottom three defense against the pass.

2. The good news is that Mark Sanchez twice, Sam Bradford, Andrew Luck and Fitzpatrick again are the five QBs they will face in the next five.

3. I’d be scouring the wires for defensive backs, expending every second I could to find some relief from these pretenders.

4. Tom Brady’s problems with feeling the heat in the pocket have grown to extremely concerning.

5. I know it’s sacrilege to speak like this around these parts, but the Pats’ defensive issues are more than just a bad secondary.

Follow Eagle-Tribune Sports Reporter Hector Longo on Twitter under the screen name @MVcreature.