Culture of Hoops

NFL Breakdown: Patriots vs Jaguars

Image courtesy of Todd Wickersty/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Todd Wickersty/Flickr.

Wow!

What an offensive showing in Buffalo last week. Especially the play of the offensive line for New England. Tom Brady dropped back to throw the ball 61 times and was only sacked once against the highest paid defensive line in the league, with the Patriots having three rookies in the interior of the line. That means in two games with this young line Brady has been sacked only three times. Three! Very impressive for a young line that won’t see a tougher front than Buffalo’s the rest of the season. We also discovered the mindset of the team.

If there was any doubt that the New England Patriots are on a “screw the league” tour, Sunday put any whispers of it to rest. The Pats never took their foot off the gas during the week one game against Pittsburgh and they were going for it on 4th and 6 with a 20-point advantage against Buffalo. It’s clear, the Patriots are trying to put up a 40 spot against whoever they face this season. So far they have been successful; against a considerably soft defense in the Steelers and one of the better of the league, by crushing Buffalo Sunday. I do not believe this will be the week that their foot comes off the gas pedal.

Although the Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off of a gigantic win in the “Florida Bowl” against the Miami Dolphins, it means nothing to the Patriots. Yes the AFC East has become substantially better, which is a good thing considering the stranglehold the Patriots have had on the division for a decade and a half but the Dolphins were supposed to be better. They spent millions on both sides of the ball in the off season, yet still could not manage to get by the Jags?

I am not trying to take anything away from the Jaguars because they have certainly come a long way since the Jack Del Rio days. Head coach Gus Bradley is the former defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks and is attempting a culture change there. Combine that with all those top-ten picks in the last eight years they must be getting better. Right? They tote a few sure-handed speedsters on offense with Allen “squared”, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The two might be known by more than fantasy players, but they are both bright young prospects who just carved up a secondary that is much better than New England’s. Along with the positive development of Blake Bortles the Jags seem to be a few seasons and key players away from being a serious team.

Only problem for an almost serious team is, this week, they are playing the MOST serious team. The “do your job,” take no crap, bust you in the mouth, throw all over you, dare you to stop Brady,  Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman, revenge fueled, New England Patriots. That is no Miami Team led by soft Joe Philbin, no. This is a big boy team, led by Bill Belichick. Can you hang Jacksonville?

Key Matchup: Malcolm Butler vs Allen Robinson

After Week 1 the hardcore of the hardcore (which are plentiful New England) were already questioning the playing ability of Patriots new number one cornerback, Malcolm Butler. He was assigned to shadow the best wide receiver in the NFL, Antonio Brown, in his first game as a starter. That’s a tall task for any player let alone one in such a big situation. No question he let up some big plays but it was only one game and it was Antonio Brown.

In the Patriots smashing of Buffalo this past Sunday Butler was given the task of the deep threat for Buffalo, Sammy Watkins. On eight targets Sunday Watkins had six catches for sixty yards and a touchdown. The score was a meaningless garbage time touchdown that did nothing other than please Watkins fantasy owners. Butler did very well against a tall speedy wideout, one very similarly built to Allen Robinson.

As for Robinson, he is coming off of a career game against an above average cornerback in Brent Grimes. He was targeted 12 times and hauled in six of those for 155 yards and two scores. A massive game for the second year Oklahoma transfer, who had an underwhelming season opener of one catch. He will undoubtedly look to build of of the best game of his career while continuing to gain the trust of his big armed quarterback, Blake Bortles. Butler will be trying to set back development both players even if it for one game. Makes for an interesting matchup of young NFL talent.

Player to watch: Scott Chandler

After catching a touchdown in the red zone against the Steelers, the Patriots went right back to him at the goal line against his former team last week. The formation he has been targeted most out of starts off looking run heavy. Once the D is set, Chandler and Rob Gronkowski split out wide allowing them the mismatch that is a linebacker on either tight-end. On consecutive plays against the Bills, Brady targeted Chandler in the end zone. Once on a skinny fade and another on a quick out, unfortunately Chandler couldn’t come down with either due to fantastic defense. You can guarantee the Pats will continue to improve that formation in the red zone against Jacksonville.

A second tight-end with great catching capabilities is something Belichick and the Patriots have wanted since Aaron Hernandez.

Game Prediction:

Okay, now that I have taken care of the formalities we can talk football.

THE PATRIOTS OFFENSE IS UNSTOPPABLE.

As long as the big three on the Patriots offense (Brady, Edelman and Gronkowski) can stay healthy, their numbers will exceed that of the record breaking offense of the 2007 Patriots team that went 16-0 in the regular season. Seriously, this offense has a chance to be better. As good as that ’07 team was, they took the top off of a lot of defenses. If you could somehow stop that they would throw underneath to Wes Welker until you were sucked in enough to have the top blown off by Moss again. Belichick admitted in interviews recently how easy it would have been to stop their offense that year. This season is totally different.

Julian Edelman is Welker 2.0. Faster, quicker, smarter, longer, and far more athletic. He has proved time and time again he can beat you underneath with his route-running capabilities or just out run his defender down the field. As for Rob Gronkowski, well I think Rex Ryan evaluated him best: “You need someone who looks like King Kong to cover him one-on-one.”

Thanks, Rex. Well said.

The combination of those two guys along with the sensational play of Tom Brady early on will be close to impossible for any team to stop this year. Jacksonville will just be the third team in the Patriots way on their revenge path.

The Pats will jump on them early and often through the air. As will become a pattern this season. En route to another blow out of another team Brady will explode piling on to his seven touchdown to zero interception ratio this season. None of this due to lack of effort by Jacksonville. Jags will just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Third up, third down.

Patriots 42 Jaguars 17

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