Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Patriots Protect BCS Ranking

Coming into this season, I was a fan of the New England Patriots. I found it fun to watch the cerebral-style of football played by Bill Belichick and his crew. Every week the game plan was new, completely tailored to the weaknesses of the opponent.

While I still enjoy watching those aspects of the Patriots game, the way they've run up the score as if they were playing for a BCS bowl game has been disheartening.

Throwing deep from the shotgun formation while up 38-0 with 13 minutes left to play. Going for it on fourth down while up 45-0 with 7 minutes remaining.

As Yahoo! Sports commentator Andy Behrens noted about Tom Brady accounting for his fifth touchdown of the game mid-way through the 4th quarter, shortly after converting it on fourth down: "They elected not to go for the two-point conversion, which was classy."

The most interesting commentary on this trend, however, comes from EPSN's Gregg Easterbrook, who wonders why so many teams have largely taken the late-game pounding from the Patriots without a fight.

According to Easterbrook:
If it were 38-0 in the fourth quarter and the other side still had its starting quarterback on the field throwing deep, I would have called a double safety blitz and slammed Brady to the ground; Belichick immediately would have taken the starters out, and the mockery of sportsmanship would have ended. After the game, Colvin and other Patriots players said that in the pros, you should play full-tilt no matter how lopsided the score. If that's true, no one from New England could have complained if [Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg] Williams had called an all-out blitz to hammer Brady.
I wouldn't be surprised if defenses start heeding Easterbrook's advice if the Patriots continue their ways down the stretch.

And, heck, let's be honest, Randy Moss is going to catch the ball regardless of whether the safeties are in coverage.

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SIDE-NOTE: Also check out Easterbrook's extensive commentary, which is at the beginning of the column cited above, on the NFL Network and the Sunday Ticket option that allows viewers to pick between every game on Sunday. He provides some interesting background info on the tension between the NFL and the cable networks.

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