By now, Gisele, you should have cooled off some. By now you should have studied the films of the game. Thus, you should have come to realize that Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, and Deion Branch are all and all arguably pretty good receivers. Perhaps, you still feel that they should have caught every pass near them. No argument! The truth, however, is that nary a receiver in the NFL is quite so good. So rather than summarily cut them in the off-season, let’s first examine why they fell considerably short of your high standards.
Let’s look at Gronk Gronkowski. He’s great! As you know, Gronk didn’t drop a single pass in the game. Why is this? The odds were in his favor, Tom threw only three passes his way. Why wasn’t he thrown to more often? The reason, as you know, he was playing hurt.
Gisele, why did Gronk play at all? Why did he play one single play? Had he been tackled again like he was tackled once before – in the Ravens game when his fibula nearly snapped in two – perhaps he would not walk again without a limp, let alone play football again. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-6z3TG0RFo)
As great a player as Gronk is, his bones are not made out of casehardened steel. In 2009, his third and final year at the University of Arizona, he missed the whole season owing to a spinal injury. But his personal well-being, as well as his future value to the team, aside, why was he playing? Is a lame Gronk so good or a healthy replacement so comparatively bad that he had to play? Of course not!
Were the Pats’ so used to playing with two tight ends that going with just one tight end was out of the question? Evidently, coach Belichick felt this way. There is no question about it. Evidently, he thought it was wiser to go with the disabled Gronk, even if the receiver had but one leg, rather than switch to a different offensive set. Hence, by inference the presence of Aaron Hernandez, the other tight end in the lineup, must be considered indispensable too.
Why then, Gisele, was not a third tight end on the depth chart?
Clearly, Belichick was remiss. One cannot ignore his egregious lack of preparedness. Moreover, all season long there was a need to spell the gifted receiver whenever possible.
Gronkowski is too valuable to play when victory is a fait accompli or a when a playoff berth has been clinched. In this past season, only his second year as a pro, Gronk has already set numerous tight-end pass-catching records. Besides, his massive size coupled with blazing speed makes him much more injury prone than receivers of average heft. On a catch during the regular season, he landed in the end zone with all his weight coming down on the side of his helmet and almost broke his neck. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni8o-4ZB-Qk.) He got up after a long moment and characteristically spiked the ball, ‘though he spiked it as hard as a football has ever been spiked. However, that’s neither here nor there. Notwithstanding, such potentially career-ending “collateral damage” could be mitigated substantially. To make it happen, just a few strokes of a pen would be necessary.
If Gronk had been his normal agile self, the defense would have keyed on him, leaving the other receivers abler to get open. In which case, Tom would have completed more passes and have a higher completion average than he did. In addition, that pass thrown too short to Gronk would more than likely not have been intercepted, but rather knocked down or caught.
Gisele, just think how much better both Tom’s passing rating and the team’s win-loss record would be if the Patriots had a balanced offense! Ranked among the 32 teams in the NFL on offense, the Pats are 2nd in passing, which is excellent; but they are 20th in rushing, which is scarcely middling.
On defense, the Pat’s are ranked next to the bottom at 31st against the pass, and, they are ranked just above the median at 17th against the rush.
In a typical game, the Patriot offense gains 428 yards, while the defense allows just 17 fewer yards. Hardly impressive!
Any coach worth his mufti-million-dollar salary should know that these statistics are undesirable. Moreover, these stats are most definitely not those of a powerful team. One would expect a team with a 9-7 or 10-6 record to have such paltry stats. A team with a 13-3 record must be lucky! Indeed it was – four of the Pats’ regular season wins were by seven points or less.
With these out-of-kilter stats, even a man with severe myopia can see that by over emphasizing the passing game all of the other main components have been weakened or comparatively ignored.
Obviously, Belichick is overwrought!
Even though the passing game was compromised by Gronk’s weakened ankle, Belichick failed to do anything about it. Let alone switching to a different offensive set as we already discussed, he could have resorted to the running game much more than he did. However, he relied on it much less than in any other game of the season. A stronger running game would have enabled your Tom to get even higher statistics.
Gisele, if you want to point to the primary reason, the underlying reason, that the Pats lost, point to Belichick; however, don’t be angry with him. Undoubtedly, the man is grossly overwrought!
Let’s enumerate all the costly errors, real and potential, that Belichick has made. One, playing Gronk injured and too much throughout the year. Two, being blasé or indifferent as to Gronk’s long-term worth to the team. Three, failing to have any depth at tight end. Four, failing to develop a balanced offense. Five, failing to develop a formidable defense.
Belichick has had eleven years to develop a premiere passing attack. This he has done admirably, but in that same time span he has failed to devote sufficient time and money on the rest of the game’s constituent parts.
In fairness to Belichick, there are few men, if any, who can coach and assume the duties of general manager concurrently. Regrettably, Belichick has proven he is not one so gifted.
It cannot be gainsaid, the Pats need a general manager desperately.
Gisele, you ought to discuss this pressing matter with the Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft. Certainly, you must have heard by now that the Indiana Colts Owner Jim Irsay has fired his Vice Chairman along with his General Manager, father and son respectively, Bill and Chris Polian. Perhaps you should learn of their suitability. Whomever you pick, he (or she) should be able to handle public relations with both the local and national press, as well as handle personnel affairs. Perhaps you should find a general manager closer to home. Perhaps, that general manager should be a woman!
Please keep an open mind! The future of the Patriots rests with you!