The Patriots week sixteen route of the Ravens came as a surprise too many, me included, but there were several key occurrences I learned a lot from during the game...
Missing The Ravens of Old --- First off I have one of the more obvious points, the Ravens look completely different on defense without Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. Now I know both those players were really showing signs of age last year but the leadership and awareness they had is sorely missed. This was most noticeable to me when the Pats running back got to the second level, if the RB could get passed the D-line the second level of linebackers looked lost, often over pursued, and took poor angles allowing for chunk yardage on the ground. Also while watching Ihedibo play it was all too obvious how much worse he is then Ed Reed was, especially on his missed tackle on Amendola.
The Patriot Defense Relies On The Number 2 --- It cannot be overstated how important the corner playing opposite Talib is for the Patriots. When the number 2 corner plays well the Patriots pass defense is borderline good/great, but when the number two corner is getting torched everything falls apart. Logan Ryan played really well, was extremely opportunistic, and what did the pats do? Held the Ravens to 7
Deep Coverage Much Improved --- We all remember in past years watching the Patriots get burnt deep by Russel Wilson and the Seahawks, Michael Crabtree, Torrey Smith, and everyone else who had hands, but yesterday afternoon against the Ravens the Patriots consistently had a defensive player attached to the hip of any receiver running deep. An improvement I am grateful for, and a trend that needs to continue into the playoffs.
Youth Movement --- It was great to see Harmon making good tackles at the safety position, Wilson get the late pick 6,Logan Ryan playing a great game, and Jaime Collins continuing to fit in more on defense. The young players just keep improving, and will have to keep playing well into the Playoffs.
Injury Bug Strikes Again --- Another tough day of injuries as Hightower and Mccourty both get hurt. These players, especially Mccourty, are key players for the Patriots defense going forward and will need to be monitored.
Dobson is Back --- Only made one catch but I love to see his lank and speed on the field. I'm not gunna lie I have a great liking for Dobson.
The Patriots are Ready for the Playoffs --- The game as a whole showed many many more little improvements as one would expect to see in a team late in the year. The WR look on point with Brady, the run defense is slowly tightening up, Talib looked good, Ridley got good touches (and no fumbles!!!), the O- line looked surprisingly well, the Patriots generated 4 sacks, and played a full 60 minutes. Bring on the Post Season!!!
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