This season of Patriot football has been a roller coaster ride for fans, but with all of its ups and downs it still provided me with one of the best viewing experiences and brightest water cooler talk. With the Season over it's time to look at what exactly went wrong in the Denver game that ultimately left fans unsatisfied.
- The Secondary --- When Aqib Talib went down with his knee/hip injury early on in the Patriots - Broncos game I knew it would be tough to stop Manning.... What I didn't know was how poorly the rest of the secondary would play. Logan Ryan was consistently a step behind his man, and Dennard looked slow and like he was four feet tall. Yes Talib is important to this Patriot defense but the Patriot's inability to get off the field on defense was inexcusable.
- No Wide Receivers --- Julian Edelman has turned into quite the bright slot receiver, but that's all he is. As a slot receiver he is not going to make plays one on one down field. Amendola was a non-factor and Austen Collie should never be on the field for a team of the Patriots stature. The same need for a big outside receiver is back after yet another season ending with short crafty receivers under performing.
- No Player Maker --- When the Patriots won their three Super Bowls in the early 2000's they always had a handful of players that could make something out of nothing. Whether it was Bruschi sniffing out a screen, Ty Law making an insane pick, or Kevin Faulk falling forward for a key third down conversion. The Patriot Football these day seems to be lacking that sort of play making ability. This is most notable in the Pass rush where Manning was clean all game, and when the Broncos ran draw plays. If one player could step up and make a play on a few key plays whether it's sacking Manning or stopping a draw play on third down then the Patriots could get off the field much easier.
- The O-line --- The offensive line going into Denver had been talked about all week as "dominant" in the run game, but they completely laid an egg against Denver. In a game when the Patriots needed to control the clock and Tempo the Patriot O-line couldn't open a single hole for the running back. Also in a costly fourth down scenario Guard Logan Mankins was cleanly beat by Knighton who sacked Brady and essentially killed all Patriot momentum. The Patriots cannot survive with a weak and aging interior line.
The Patriot football season may be over, but for now Patriots fans can rest assured knowing Brady and the Boys will get another crack at it next year.
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