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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed Apr 21 | 12:00 AM - 11:55 PM

Nitpicks & Nitwits: Is Brady's hot hand cold-blooded payback?

Man on a mission?  Could be.

This is better than any of those so-called "get ripped" muscle ads you might see on Facebook or Twitter.  Whatever Tom Brady has right now, you can't put in a bottle for a mere $89 a month.  

But if you could put what he's got in a bottle, you'd make a heck of a lot more than just $89 bucks per month.  No way could supply keep up with demand.    See, what Tom Brady has going for him right now is better than muscle builders, protein shakes and lose-your-fat miracle pills.

It's nothing but pure, unadulterated R-E-V-E-N-G-E.  And it's best served, cold.  

Team photographer, Keith Nordstrom, offers his best photos from the Patriots game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday, September 20, 2015.

The phrase apparently originates from French classic novels in the 18th and 19th centuries.  It means, largely, that exacting revenge is best accomplished in a quick, cold-blooded fashion as a kind of a "wild justice."  I also seem to recall the Klingon warlord Khan, of Star Trek movie fame, stating the phrase to Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan.

Point being, the original origin is uncertain.  But we seem to know the origin of TB12's current wrath being unleashed on the National Football League, do we not?

Is it a coincidence that since halftime of the AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium last January, that Brady has completed better than 72% of his passes for more than 1200 yards and 13 touchdowns (with two interceptions)?  Over the past three-and-a-half games, the Patriots have scored 124 points in 14 quarters.  Our friends at Cold, Hard Football Facts were all-too-happy to point this out.

More succinctly, since his release from NFL purgatory, TB12 has unleashed his own particular brand of whoop-a** in a can, completing 69% of his pass attempts for 754 yards with seven TD's and exactly zero interceptions.  Computing these numbers over the course of the season would have his completion percentage, his TD total and his total yards set as new NFL single-season records.

It's a long season, this much we know.  It's also very hard to maintain the kind of production as described above over the course of a 16-week season; injuries, personnel changes and opponent moves always play into changing course over uncharted waters.  But consider the opposition since last January – Colts, Seahawks, Steelers, Bills.  You can make an argument they're four of the best the league has to offer right now.

Each has been surgically dismantled with the precision of a seasoned technician, while being bowled over in some cases by the brute force presence of guys like Rob Gronkowski, LeGarrette Blount and others.  Not for nuthin', but TB12's numbers are already ahead of the pace set through two weeks of that magical season he and the team played back in 2007.  Here is, for all to see, the irresistible force meeting – and blowing past – immovable objects. 

Could be.  Whatever it is that's fueling this fire, Brady and the Patriots hope to stay ripped for a few more weeks on the stuff.  Sign me up for my next 3-month trial.

Learn when to say "when"

It's very hard to come up with nitpicks when an offense pours 40 points over an opponent.  But the primary complaint this week won't come from that side of the ball.

A 37-13 lead over anyone in the 4th quarter should never be vanquished to the point where the opponent has the ball late in the game with a chance to tie it up or take the lead.  But that's largely what happened when Buffalo scored 19 unanswered points against an indifferent Patriots' defense.  

And it's probably not fair to put the 4th quarter doldrums just on defensive indifference.  Buffalo's Jerry Hughes forced a Brady fumble as he was set to pass again, providing a big boost to a Bills' offense that began to think they weren't out of it.

They weren't.  The Patriots came up with a 7-play, 72 yard drive after Buffalo closed to within 37-32 and Stephen Gostkowski buried a 25-yard field goal to all-but-put things away.  It's easy to see the game plan was to spread a tough Bills' front seven out, and not allow them to play to their strengths.

But when you have a guy like LeGarrette Blount in your backfield, and you don't try to shorten the game and run the clock by running the ball more than just 10 times, aren't you playing away from your own strengths?  Just askin'.

Victory without containment

On the second play from scrimmage, Tyrod Taylor broke containment for a 23-yard run to help Buffalo take advantage with a 7-0 lead.  Fortunately for New England, Taylor and his offense never again realized the advantages they had until it was too late.

Absolutely, the Patriots' defense gets credit for the eight sacks they had on Taylor.  Absolutely, the Bills (and Taylor, too) get the blame for allowing NE defenders to reach him.  He did a generally lousy job of moving his pocket, and held onto the ball way too long before the Patriots ever reached him.   And before you say that's because the secondary played well, well, consider this – Taylor finished 23-of-30 for 243 yards with three touchdowns.   And yes, he did have those three picks, too.

Athleticism in diving for tipped passes and picking them off the secondary has.  But containment?  Taylor could have/should have had much more than 43 rushing yards for the game, probably because he was told to stay in the pocket and try to make plays with his arm.  He almost did.  A better, more seasoned quarterback will.

Flags still a' flyin'

Bill Belichick might put it this way:  "This isn't what we're looking for."

Still, 500+ yards of total offense and 40 points in Week Two is a great start for what you're undoubtedly working toward.  How much more could these totals have inflated themselves without 11 penalties for 119 yards?  The Patriots almost needed every yard and every point they could get, after allowing the Bills back into the game.

Sure, sure.  The Patriots were one of the most penalized teams in the league a year ago, leading the NFL in penalty yards, and still won the Super Bowl.  You're right.  But be careful when you play with fire, scarecrow.  Getting burned somewhere down the line is likely to happen.

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Having a panic attack in Houston

It sure seems out of character, considering some key players in the Houston Texans' locker room have resided previously in Foxboro.  But how else do you explain the move made by Bill O'Brien to backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, after erstwhile starter Brian Hoyer got all of three quarters to establish himself?

The move to Mallett was explained away because Mallett provided a spark off of the bench in Week One against Kansas City.  Against a Chiefs' defense that was coasting to an eventual win.

The locker room apparently supported the move away from Hoyer because of the way Mallett threw the ball in that game?  Ok, fine.  But since when do the inmates run the asylum?  O'Brien made the decision in training camp to give Hoyer the nod at QB, based on his pre-season long progression and establishing himself as the Number One Guy.  Either the coach made a startling error in judgment, or he's decided to open his decisions up to a team vote.

This isn't ragging on Mallett.  Although, after learning he was not going to be the opening day starter, he immediately went out and slept through a team meeting.  And Hoyer didn't exactly impress anyone with his play against KC, getting sacked four times, fumbling once and throwing a pick.  So what happened this week?

The Texans lost at Carolina, 24-17, to fall to 0-2.  Mallett finished the game 27-of-58 for 244 yards (46%), one TD and one sack.  Meh.  Now where do you turn, coach?  

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Injuries, disappointment rule the day

Left with two big impressions from Week Two -- injuries are really taking a toll, and there's already plenty of blame being passed around for disappointing play.

In Dallas, the Cowboys are now without the three players that were the backbone for their 12-4, NFC East Division-winning season a year ago that fell one Dez Bryant near-catch short of the NFC title game.  Bryant has a broken foot.  Running back DeMarco Murray was deemed expendable in free agency.  And now, QB Tony Romo has broken his collarbone, again.

The Cowboys are 2-0 after a 20-10 road win over the rather lifeless Philadelphia Eagles, but face a tough road ahead without the primary playmakers that made them pre-season contenders.  The Patriots loom on October 11th, but Dallas has suddenly resurging Atlanta and New Orleans before the Pats get to AT&T Stadium, with Brandon Weeden at quarterback and a 5-16 career record as a starter under center.  

But at least Dallas is 2-0.  Miami is 1-1, after being touted as a possible contender in the AFC East.  The Dolphins lost at Jacksonville in overtime, 23-20, in a game that is certain to get the attention of Bill Belichick and the Patriots this week -- since the Jaguars come to Foxboro next Sunday.  

Ndamukong Suh and the vaunted defensive front of the Dolphins couldn't sack Blake Bortles one time, and the young Jaguar QB was sacked more than any other QB in the NFL a year ago.  Add to this the absolute brain-cramp of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on defensive end Olivier Vernon that allowed Jacksonville to get into position to kick the game-winning field goal, and it's plain to see.

No one in the NFL is going hungry anytime soon.  There's plenty of blame pie to go around.

*John Rooke is an author and award-winning broadcaster, and is in his 23rd year as the Patriots' stadium voice.  Currently serving in several media capacities – which include hosting "Patriots Playbook" on Patriots.com Radio – Rooke has broadcast college football and basketball locally and nationally for 27 seasons and is a member of the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame.  *

Follow him on Twitter - @JRbroadcaster

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