Patriots - Panthers What we Learned
Being a Patriots fan I was extremely disappointing in the loss against the Panthers, but I have to admit it was a fantastic game and must have been great to watch for all non-Patriot fans. Nonetheless the week eleven match up between the Patriots and Panthers revealed a lot about the Patriots, here's what I saw...
Aqib Talib Doesn't Like Steve Smith ---- In case you missed last nights game I can fill you in that Aqib Talib and Steve Smith are not friends. I can also tell you that both players looked like big babies on the field fighting and jeopardizing their teams chance of winning. Don't get me wrong I love scrappy players especially at corner where a player needs a certain swagger to succeed, but I would much rather see Talib shut down Steve Smith than get in a fight.
Offensive Line Woes --- The Patriots went into last nights game knowing how good the Panthers D-line is, the Patriots also had two whole weeks to prepare for the challenge. If the O- line could just give Brady a little better pass protection then he could have carved up a weak secondary. Numerous times Brady was forced to quickly throw short because of a pass rush in his face, and on the final drive Brady had practically no chance the way the line was protecting.
No Regression Here --- Despite the line not holding up in front of him Brady was borderline sensational. Up until the final drive Brady's completion percentage was over 85 percent. Brady was excellent working through his reads and making good quick decisions and accurate throws to receivers all over the field. In my book his most notable throw was the drop from Vereen on the final drive. Brady put perfect touch and arc on that pass and it should have been caught. This pass to me showed that Brady can still make every throw in the book. No regression here.
Major Competition at Running Back --- Shane Vereen played exceptional for his first game back and between the tackles Blount ran very well and made better decisions this week. With both Vereen and Blount playing well and Ridley fumbling in a situation that may have lost the game, it will be interesting to see who gets reps at RB going forward.
The Patriots Need Talib AND Dennard --- When the Patriots have both Talib and Dennard playing they have one of the best secondaries in the league this season, but when either one doesn't play it leaves Arrington outside and he simply cannot tackle in space. The Game winning scoring play in last nights game was a mirror image of the game winning catch and run by Michael Crabtree on who? you guessed it Kyle Arrington. He is a great slot corner but the Patriots need 2 outside corners so Arrington isn't on the outside.
Barely any holding calls --- Lastly I have more of an odd thing than anything. I didn't see many holding calls at all in last nights game. I'm not talking about the defensive backs holding receivers I'm talking about offensive linemen holding D- linemen and blitzers. I'm not trying to sound like I'm complaining the Patriots should have won because of a holding call, the Patriots simply were outplayed, but I was surprised that with Chandler Jones, Kawann Short, Greg Hardy, and Charles Johnson all playing neither offensive line was called for much holding.