Unlike Charlie Weis and Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien has always remained a relatively obscure name around the NFL. At least he had until Sunday afternoon. Getting in a shouting match with Tom Brady tends to blow your cover.
In this case, O’Brien was absolutely, 100 percent, unequivocally right in his decision to step up against Brady, who had the audacity to tell Tiquan Underwood (he of 10 career catches) that he should have tried harder to catch an awful pass that never should have been thrown. Forget the fact that the pass itself was ugly, but the decision was even worse. Up seven with 6:30 left in the game, as a quarterback, your mind-set has to be “guaranteed touchdown or throw it out the back of the end zone.” Take a sack if you have to, because then you’ll take precious time off the clock, and a field goal gets you a two-possession lead. Under no circumstance can you throw a pick — that’s what Jason Campbell would do, not Brady.
But he did, and it was a foolish decision, and O’Brien wasn’t about to let big, bad Brady pick on Underwood.
Brady stepped up after the game and said pretty clearly that he was at fault and deserved to be yelled at, but I’ll tell you, I’d pay a few bucks to know what O’Brien said that prompted Brady to yell, “No [S-word]!”
Let’s get into that a little more, plus all the other leftover thoughts from the Patriots’ 34-27 win over the Redskins.
–The other great part of the O’Brien-Brady spat was the look on Tom’s face when O’Brien first piped up. Brady’s face basically said, “Someone dares yell at me?!”
–What’s great is that thanks to all the mic’d up segments we’ve seen over the years, we don’t need to actually hear Brady say, “Ti, you gotta go get it!” You just watch the video and add in the “Is Plax gonna play defense?!” pitch, and you’ve basically heard it.
–The pick was just Brady being greedy and playing Madden instead of being smart and playing to win an NFL game. It did conjure some memories of Brady’s end-zone pick in Super Bowl XXXVIII and the Champ Bailey Touchback That Wasn’t, which is never good, but when you can count your franchise quarterback’s end-zone interceptions on one hand, you’ve got a pretty good one.
–What impressed me most about O’Brien was that he didn’t have to stick up for Underwood. Brady is tough on all his receivers in order to bring out the best in them, and TU10 probably isn’t allowed to talk back to TB12. But O’Brien still stepped in and talked back to a superstar, which you don’t see often enough in sports these days.
–And Brady agrees with me.
“Actually, I love that he feels that he can coach me,” Brady told Dennis and Callahan early Monday morning. “I think that’s something as a veteran player you maybe don’t get a lot from coaches. Because you’re a veteran, you don’t think, ‘Aw man, I can’t be yelled at.’ But yeah, you can. And you should. We’re all held accountable.”
—Vince Wilfork has two interceptions, which is more than Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung combined (1). Now he has a touchdown, which is more than Chad Ochocinco, Danny Woodhead and Kevin Faulk combined. I’m calling for Wilfork to get a chance to throw for a touchdown against the Bills in Week 17. Come on, Bill Belichick, don’t rob me of this opportunity.
–I missed the first two Redskins plays, which resulted in a grand total of four yards, but I still went online Monday morning to watch them on NFL Game Rewind. Because I have issues.
–You’ve probably heard a million times in your life someone reference the term “internal clock” for quarterbacks, particularly when they’re standing flat-footed in their own end zone. Rex Grossman has never heard that term. Nice pump fake though, Rex! You really fooled the D!
–OK, file this under “Topics that have been discussed ad nauseam for decades,” but I still can’t wrap my head around this team being called the Redskins. In the world of short people being called “vertically challenged,” and where they don’t keep score in youth soccer anymore, it boggles my mind that the PC police haven’t won the battle against the Redskins.
–If it weren’t for NFL stadiums, which of the following cities would be the most obscure: Foxboro, Landover, Green Bay or East Rutherford? I vote for Buffalo.
–I’m not the only one who noticed Dan Dierdorf turn into Alvin And The Chipmunks with 7 minutes left in the first, right? Right?!
–Every week, I have to remind NFL teams that they should cover Wesley Welker. Though 83 dropped one pass on the goal line, this is how the Redskins decided to cover him:
–Serious question: How many players even get up to run on a play like that? More often than anything else, we see guys get up and drop the ball like fools. Instead, Gronkowski got up, carried DeJon Gomes on his back and charged through Reed Doughty before bursting free for another 35 yards. But hey, at least DeAngelo Hall had a nice view of the show. Way to stick your nose in there, D!
–Something tells me Chuck Norris doesn’t play World of Warcraft. Just a hunch.
–I give all the credit in the world to McCourty, who was literally dragging his arm around the field in the second half, when he was much improved and had some strong tackles and a key pass breakup. He’s a tough man, and I can’t really feel good about trying to critique a guy playing through that kind of obvious pain.
–That said, his first half was just brutal. Washington had the ball on its own 8, facing a third-and-18, and Jabar Gaffney ran a quick slant that would have maybe gained 6 yards. McCourty tackled Gaffney before the ball got there, giving the Redskins a free first down. In a season full of them, that may have been the lowest of McCourty lows.
–I’m big on understanding the rules of the game. I’ve always been someone who tries to know every single rule possible in every single sport. Yet for the life of me, I can’t tell you what a defenseless receiver is. If Gronkowski getting the crown of a helmet smashed into his face as he tries to make a catch isn’t the exact scenario described by the rulebook, then I don’t know what is. This troubles me.
—Chad Ochocinco may only have 13 catches, but he has 11 first downs. I guess you could call that sneakily valuable … even if he’s the team’s fifth-leading receiver and appears to have lost his playing time to a guy with a massive hi-top fade. At least Chad has that cool eye-black look going. Brady Quinn would be impressed.
–Someone who (presumably) gets paid money for his job said, “You know, I think the best way to honor our country’s servicemen and women is to have our cheerleaders dress up as kinky sailors and army girls.” And then someone greenlighted it. And then it was put on television. America makes you scratch your head sometimes.
–They need to institute a rule where one player can only be responsible for one injury timeout that forces us to watch 150 seconds of car commercials and Brian Orakpo/caveman ads. Might I suggest “The James Ihedigbo Rule” for a name?
–The penalties on Andre Carter (roughing the passer), London Fletcher (unnecessary roughness) and Wilfork (unnecessary roughness) just make me think football is pretty stupid and the NFL has no idea what’s going on. You have to limit dangerous hits that may lead to serious injury, yes, of course, but it doesn’t mean you have to throw a flag every time soneone gets a boo-boo. Carter dove at a quarterback who was running away from him, so a hit that would have been at the hip turned into a hit below the knees, though that wasn’t Carter’s intention. Fletcher lowered his helmet and stopped looking at Brady, who went into a slide late, and Wilfork just dropped all of his 300-something pounds on poor Evan Royster.
The scary part is, by the rules, all three were the right calls, it’s just … what’s the point? The officials need more discretion — there’s a difference between maliciously trying to injure someone and just playing the game hard. Officials may be terrible most of the time, but I give them the benefit of the doubt that they can differentiate between the two.
–It doesn’t matter if it’s Nick McDonald or Ronald McDonald at center. Tom Brady is going to get a first down on a QB sneak whenever he wants.
–As fun as it is to see Brady’s look at O’Brien, it was the look he gave the Washington defense as part of one of the more intense pump fakes you’ll ever see on Welker’s touchdown that was the best of the day.
–The Patriots’ defense has a lot of problems (obviously), but the most troubling was that they allowed 170 rushing yards and 5 yards per attempt. They’ve allowed an average of 107.3 per game and 4.2 yards per attempt, and it’s particularly worrisome heading into a game against Tim Tebow‘s high school offense next week, which averages an NFL-best 158.9 yards per game.
–The Pats’ D also made Grossman at times look like a superstar, but at the end of the day, Grossman is still the guy who missed a receiver by this much:
–Do you remember the time that Santana Moss scored the game-tying touchdown but was called for offensive pass interference and CBS never showed a replay? Me neither. Thanks to NFL Game Rewind (which is where all of these screenshots come from and if you don’t have it I question you a great deal), you can see that Moss did indeed give Julian Edelman a big shove before breaking free for an easy score. The worst part is (from a Washington perspective), he didn’t need to hit Edelman to beat him on an out route.
–I’m of the belief that the dynasty is over. Only Brady, Faulk and Matt Light remain from all three championship teams, and it’s been seven years since a Super Bowl was won. However, if you wanted to argue against me, you could point out that the Patriots have now won 10 or more games for 10 of the past 11 years for an overall record of 131-42. Sure, they haven’t won in the playoffs for a few years, and they haven’t won a Super Bowl since ’04, and yes, there’s plenty to worry about with this team going forward, but if you’re not enjoying this ride and appreciating what you’re watching each week, then there’s just something wrong with you.