7-Things For The Falcons: Part I.
By Tom Mahoney
1. Patriots O-Line- Last week the Patriots O-line was superb. They controlled the Line Of Scrimmage. They gashed the defense all day long. They kept the D-line off of Mac. He had time to throw. They made everyone on Offense look great. And that wasn’t a chump Defense. The Browns have as talent and productive a Defense as there is in the NFL. They have been rated 1st and 2nd in a lot of Defensive Categories, coming into the game. The Pats Offense burnt that team like marshmallows over an open fire.
“Alright fellas. That’s a great job. That’s really a great job all the way across the board. Good week. Played the game the way we wanted to play it,” BB said after beating the Browns. “Definitely the most physical team. How about three drives over 90 yards? Alright, look. It’s Wednesday night. We’ve got a really short week. We need everybody ready to go. We’re on to Atlanta. We’ve got to put this one in the rear-view mirror quickly. But this is a hell of a job fellas.”
Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn were terrific protecting Mac’s back, and they were facing some serious rushers. The Offensive-Tackles were not great this season, mostly due to injury. But not against the Browns. They helped to give the Big Mac Attack enough time to find receivers all over the field for: 19 of 23 for 198 yards and 3 TDs. He had his best blend of efficiency, winning, and production this season. He had his highest completion percentage and threw for more TDs than any other game this season. His 8.6 Yard Per Throw was his 2nd highest.
“It was a complete offensive effort. You couldn't single anybody out. Browns have a lot of good defensive players, a great corner, a couple good defensive ends,” Belichick said. “You know, a lot of other good players, too and they brought a couple guys back this week defensively but I thought we ran the ball competitively, threw the ball competitively. Finished drives in the red zone with touchdowns. You know, it was a good team offensive effort all the way across the board in every area.”
Time in the pocket is everything for a young QB. The O-line provided that time, and beat the crap out of the Browns Front Seven in the run game. Rhamondre Stevenson was the beneficiary of the O-lines dominance, with 100-Yards on 20 carries. In a game where most of the Patriot’s RBs were injured. This is the type of O-line play that can get the Patriots into the Play Offs… with a rookie QB. The Pats are in a hand-to-hand fight with the Bills for the AFC East. But most impressively they only had six healthy O-Linemen. This was the kind of O-line play that wins Divisions.
“I think Mac's well-prepared. Things come up in the game. Sometimes you have to make adjustments or changes. He adapts to them pretty quickly. There are 11 guys out there, so trying to get everybody to do the right thing, to move the ball productively, that's not the easiest thing to do in this league, but that's what we have to do,” Bill Belichick said.
The rest of the season is all about the Bills. The Pats plans have to be made with the Bills in mind. Can they build an Offensive that can beat the Bills defense? Can they build an Offense, with a rookie QB, that can beat the Bills? They have two games against the Bills coming up in December. It is looking like this entire season is coming down to those two games in December. If the Browns game is any indicator of what the Offense can bring to Buffalo, the answer is Yes.
2. Defense Was No Slouch As Well.- Oh My goodness. The Defense was simply as superb as the Offense. Old and new defenders, free agents, and draft picks on defense, and URFA all conspired on Sunday to destroy the Browns much vaunted Offense. They looked like a Play Off winning Defense against a very good Browns team. The passrushers and Coverage DBs worked perfectly together to hit the QB and intercept the ball. It was as good an example of smart and aggressive team Defense as you will ever see in the NFL.
“We evolved. We saw how we were being attacked and what was happening to our defense. We made an emphasis on stopping that. Pushing the pocket, collapsing the pocket, making QBs throw from a well. When it gets tight in there, footwork gets bad for QBs,” Mat Judon, who is tied for 4th in Sacks in the NFL with 9.5 said, “Our secondary has been disguising and making it tough on QBs. When you do that, the front end working with the back end, it's hard for QBs and you see what it leads to. We have to continue doing that. Get our pass rushers to crush the pocket and our DBs to continue covering tight and make plays because they're making a lot of plays.”
Now I’m not saying the Pats will win the Super Bowl this year. But this Defense is a Super Bowl caliber defense. They have held the last four Offenses they’ve played to a 51% completion percentage and garnered 6 INTs. And, knocked out two starting QBs (Zach Wilson and Baker Mayfield) which ended any chance the Browns and Jets had to win. And each week it seemed the Defense gets better. This week’s incarnation of the Patriots Defense was the best we’ve seen in a very long time. If they continue to get better, the Bills better watch out.
“It's always good, you know, when you can get those bonus points from your defense or special teams. It's hard to count on those. But when you get an interception return like (Adrian) Phillips had in L.A. or J.C.'s return in Carolina or Kyle (Dugger)'s return to, whatever, five-yard line, whatever it was, to set up a quick touchdown,” BB said. “It's hard to count on those. But when you get those, those are, you know, bonus points and certainly if you don't get it all the way to the end zone, then being able to take advantage of it and finish it with the scoring, the offensive scoring drive, good complimentary football, that's what you need. You need the other side of the ball to finish the job, whether it's getting the field position, making the stop, getting the ball in the end zone and we did that today fortunately.”
Again, this all comes down to winning the Division. With the Dolphins and especially the Jets, destroying themselves this season, it all comes down to the Pats Vs Bills in December. J.C. Jackson (5), Adrian Phillips, and Kyle Dugger have combined for 11 Interceptions and 2 Pick-Sixes! That is spectacular. That is as good as it gets. Of course, there are still a ton of unanswered question. Can they do it against the Bills. Can they do it in the Play Offs. And even if they do it the Playoffs? Can they win the Super Bowl with a Rookie QB in the Play Offs?
3. What The Hell Is Going On In Atlanta– For some reason it looked like the Falcons are imploding on themselves. They benched Matty Ice last week and lost. The Falcons are falling apart right before our eyes. This is a game the Pats have to go in an dominate early, and make them quit. They cannot overlook the Falcons. They are in a desperate situation. The Falcons are cunning, at Home, and looked pissed off. They are a wounded animal protecting their burrow. That is really their only real hope. To be honey-badgers protecting their borrow. They are wounded and desperate.
“He’s smart, he’s efficient, He’s doing a really good job for them. Can tell he’s doing what they’re asking them to do,” Falcons HC Arthur Smith said. “If we’re going to write rookie narratives right now? You go ahead and put it in that freezing cold take, and so we can all look at this in two years. Seen it. See the guys that have the good seven-game stretch and they want to put them in Canton, and then the other guys end up emerging later on.”
The Pats have taken some giant steps up by Mac Jones, but rookies can go up and down faster than a yo-yo. But right now? It looks like the Pats have a giant advantage at QB, which I would not have said a few weeks ago. The Falcons’ Defense gave up five TDs last week. The Pats have won four in a row, and the Falcons are 1-3 in the last four. This is an equation for over confidence. But if the Pats O-line and Defense plays as tough and smart as they did last week against the Browns, it’s light out for the Falcons, that just benched their longtime Veteran QB.
"I think the one thing they don't get enough credit for is how physical they are,” Smith said. “They're as physical as any team. And if you go back and look at the defenses he coached with the New York Giants to how they built that Cleveland team, they’re big physical teams. They're physical as hell!"
It’s tough to play your two best games, two games in a row. But the Pats don’t need to be at their best to beat the Falcons. They appear to be falling apart at the Seams. The benching of BC’s own Matty Ice is likely to have devastating consequences for this Team this Season. If the Pats don’t get overconfident, and with a rookie QB I don’t think that’s possible, they should glide to an easy victory. Benching your long time veteran QB is a season ending decision.
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