In-season, I’m pumping out content faster than editing can keep up with. I don’t want to hold the recaps for hours waiting on perfection. We will correct errors after the fact, but for now – forgive any of my gaffes. I dictate some of my notes, and the computer software or Siri interpretation can be comical. I try to correct them all before publishing it, but I miss it sometimes…in the 50,000+ words I pen each week during the season (not including all the emails). I’m moving fast, and want to get the product out there ASAP at 98% ‘good’…vs. big delays trying to get to 99.9% craftsmanship. So here you go…
I agree with most people’s analysis of this game – the Patriots dominated. 23-3 at one point before the festival of special team’s gaffes started. Cyrus Jones can’t be long for this football world in New England. How can Belichick trust him in coverage in complicated schemes with any split second decision making? All that aside, this was a pretty solid performance on both sides of the ball by New England.
If Baltimore collapses to the finish, and misses the playoffs…it would be the third time in four years they’ve missed the playoffs.Colin Cowherd opined this week “Is John Harbaugh the new Jeff Fisher?” Ouch. I wouldn’t go that far, but I do not see the Ravens getting a whole lot better year-to-year. Their offense seems stale. Their personnel decisions of late leave me scratching my head. Probably, a lot of this goes on Joe Flacco – he is becoming Jay Cutler East.
In the past four seasons, Flacco has a 28-27 record as a starter. Throwing 77 TDs/58 INTs. That’s a lot of turnovers…and INT+ per game the past four years. The Ravens’ offensive scoring has finished #25, #8, #25, and sit #21 this year. There’s a constant shuffle of offensive coordinators for Flacco, which can be used as an excuse, but I think is more Harbaugh throwing spaghetti, hoping something sticks.
If the Ravens fall down this year, there might be a coaching change and the drafting of a mid-draft Dak Prescott-like hopeful for the future at QB. Tody’s game/offenses are not suited for Flacco’s style anymore. Likely, the Ravens will stick with Flacco a year or two too long. In some respects, he’s earned a long leash.
What can you say about New England? They’re so good that they are beating teams with cast off players left and right. Chris Hogan. Martellus Bennett. Kyle Van Noy. Shea McClellin. Dion Lewis. LeGarrette Blount…among others.
If the Pats go to Denver and stomp them this week — it’s likely smooth sailing to the #1 seed from there, and another trip to the Super Bowl is in their favor.
— There’s only one player worth discussing from this game – the arrival of Kenneth Dixon (11-39-0, 8-42-1/11 targets). He out snapped Terrance West (2-2-0, 4-24-0/4 targets) 42-14 in this game and obviously had a much better stat line, but it was how well Dixon played that stood out.
You knew Dixon could catch the ball top-notch out of the backfield. We’ve been tracking and commenting on that for weeks, and back to the preseason (and back to the NFL Draft). So him having 8 catches in a game is not a shock. What was super-impressive was his running ability on display in this game, whether from handoffs or after the catch. Dixon ran extremely tough. He refused to go down on several touches. He got everyone’s attention with the strong style he displayed. People knew he was nimble and instinctual, but had not seen the powerful side. He ‘arrived’.
I want to bet that Dixon takes command of the backfield situation from here on out, but the Ravens are a fickle group with their RB use. West is not just going to disappear. The first time Dixon has a 2-3 touch stretch without a big play, here comes West. And if West gets hot – he’ll take the majority of the workload. Get excited about Dixon, but be a little wary until you see more commitment…which may not be until 2017.
— I sense that the days of Julian Edelman (7-73-0/15) as ‘the guy’ for Tom Brady, the Wes Welker replacement, might be coming to an end. Not abrupt, but some cracks are showing in the armor. Brady isn’t as precise as he used to be and Edelman is not getting as open and is dropping a few more passes. He works for now, but I wonder if the Pats won’t draft or snatch from another team a future Welker-Edelman?
Candidates they should look at (off the top of my head)…
Michael Campanaro (Ravens)
Daniel Braverman (Chicago)
Cole Beasley, Adam Humphries, and Tyler Lockett won’t be available.
I’m sure they’ll be looking for them in the draft or among the undrafted.
No, D.J. Foster nor Rex Burkhead really fit that role.
— I thought the Patriots were going to go heavy Dion Lewis (3-14-0, 1-5-0/1 target) in this game, but they scaled him back more than any game this season.
James White (2-3-0, 3-81-0/3 targets) had a fairly limited game as well, except he caught a simple screen and no one was around him as he took off for 61 yards. Aside from that one play, the White-Lewis combo combined for 8 touches and 42 yards.
The Pats really didn’t need much from the RB pass-catch duo, but I wonder if the Pats are starting to reduce this out of the offense or what. It hasn’t been as a much ‘a thing’ this season as it was last season. There’s no sense worrying about D.J. Foster in fantasy/dynasty if they’re already moving away from this innovation. I don’t think they are, but I’m not as impressed with this year’s version as I was last years. Could just be me.
This could also be a ‘hide’ or rope-a-dope because the Pats could very well be unleashed as the primary plan versus Denver. It’s the way to beat them — with an RB based pass game.
— Shea McClellin (9 tackles) may be starting to happen. Another cast off player (from Chicago). 9 tackles this week in just 33 snaps (47%). 6 tackles last week. 4.8 tackles per game the past 4 games, and 7.5 tackles per game the last two games.