Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jaguars-Patriots Divisional Playoff Thoughts

That was a methodical and consistent game by both teams last night. I think the analogy that the Patriots play football like Tiger Woods plays golf is the closest thing that describes what happens. They play with minimal variance at a very high level that other teams are capable of playing at or above that high level for spurts but can not maintain the low variance needed to win. Here are some of my thoughts from the game.

1) Watching the first half quarterback shoot-out was sick; like watching the classic Larry Bird-Dominique Wilkins 'you did that, now do this' in the 4th quarter in the late 80s. One incomplete pass in the half. I think the Patriots were sitting back in Cover 3 and Cover 4 while keeping their linebackers tight to hold the running game in check which should have produced a massive amount of space on curls, slants and intermediate drags.
2) Randy Moss had a great game --- one catch for fourteen yards, but consistently drawing true double coverage, and some great downfield blocking on Maroney runs.
3) Rodney Harrison is playing stupid. He had two personal foul calls, one of them was a pure stupidity move (the late hit in the 4th quarter) as that reciever was already destroyed by three tacklers, and after the interception, he should have gone straight to the ground. The Patriots were the recent recipients of the interception on 4th down conversion to the first down against the Chargers last year. Picking the ball off kills the game, take no risk and move onto next week.
4) Okay, the Patriots can run the ball when they want to.
5) Okay, the Patriots can stop the run when they want to.
6) Garrad reminds me a lot of Roethlesberger in the combination of his escapability, and his ability to stay under control and shrug off a hit. The first touchdown was an amazing play. I think his knee was down, but the house full of Jags fans where I watched the game last night thought his knee was up and would be up for one or two more frames when he released the ball.
7) At the house party, we debated on the best way to beat the Patriots. The common argument was to do what Jacksonville did --- limit the total number of possessions and hope the games turns out to be 24-21, one way or another. Is this really the best way as the Patriots scored 5 times on 7 effective possessions (1 missed FG, 1 punt) and a kneeldown. The Patriots have an absurd expected points value per possesion. Limiting possessions for the Patriots, unless you are surprise on-side kicking every opportunity AND recovering the kick, means limiting possessions for your less efficient offense also. Excluding the Colts where both sides want to play a limited possession game, is a track meet a better strategy as the odds of something bizarre happening increases versus putting pressure on your team to average a bit more than a field goal per possession.
8) Babies are excellent anti-cat toys. One of the couples brought their 7 week old to the house, and our friends' cats were scampering as far away from the baby as possible. At this point she almost looks human instead of an alien lifeform.
9) As a football fan, I want Patriots-Colts, as a Patriots' fan, I want Patriots-Chargers next week. Let's go Colts.

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