FOXBORO, Mass. — Things are getting pretty chaotic around Gillette Stadium. The Patriots have lost two in a row and given up their two-game lead on the Jets, who are preparing to host New England this week. And then there was the surprising-but-not-surprising release of Albert Haynesworth.
It's certainly not a dull time in Foxboro these days, so let's run through a number of topics surrounding the team in this week's Two-Minute Drill.
1. The Patriots' offense has been held to 20 points or less in three consecutive games started by Tom Brady for the first time since 2003. The difference? The Patriots went 3-0 in that stretch eight years ago, and they're in the midst of a 1-2 slide right now, including, obviously, a two-game skid.
2. Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien even said Tuesday, "We have to improve, and we believe, obviously, that we have to improve at a more rapid pace."
3. The Patriots have four turnovers in three of their last six games. Before that, the last time a Brady-led team had four turnovers in a single regular-season game was against the Dolphins in Week 16 in 2007. The last season in which the Patriots had a trio of four-turnover games happened in 1999, so this is a first for Bill Belichick in New England.
4. The Patriots are trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2002, when they dropped four in a row. Amazingly, this is only their third two-game losing streak since then.
5. Albert Haynesworth's last game with the Patriots showcased a perfect snapshot of his brief stint with the team, and it was dominated by inconsistency, both at practice and during games. He was on the field for nine snaps (seven official plays after two were negated by penalties), and there were eight grade-able plays.
6. Haynesworth was dominant on two of those plays, drawing a holding penalty and then beating a double-team, which included pancaking left tackle Will Beatty with his right arm while he was still engaged with left guard David Diehl. It showed, when Haynesworth wanted to be right, he can still be a force.
7. He had five really bad plays, though, capped off by getting blown out of his gap on Brandon Jacobs' 10-yard touchdown run, which served as the final play of Haynesworth's Patriots career. Aside from getting physically controlled by Diehl, it was egregious for Haynesworth to lose his gap on a run blitz where he was responsible for that very one thing — so much so that no one was there to back him up.
8. The other four negative plays involved misreading a draw play, getting pancaked before allowing D.J. Ware to run through his gap for 10 yards, and then finding himself on the ground two other times — the last three plays all happened immediately after drawing the holding penalty. You can read a full breakdown of Haynesworth's nine reps here, along with the rest of my thoughts on his tenure with the Patriots.
9. Also, while I wouldn't expect Belichick to call out Haynesworth to the media, even a day before releasing him, nothing was more symbolic of his benching Sunday than seeing him on the sideline during the three plays at the end of the game when they used a goal-line formation with four defensive tackles — Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, Gerard Warren and Ron Brace. Haynesworth helped that formation play some dominant snaps earlier in the season.
10. Even when defensive end Shaun Ellis returns from a rib injury, I think Brandon Deaderick should hold onto the starting job at left defensive end. Deaderick played very well against the Giants, and he was more noticeable in that game than Ellis was in the previous seven. Plus, it was just Deaderick's first full game of the season.
11. I spoke with Deaderick for a little while Monday and asked him if he thought he was ready to take on the starting role on a full-time basis.
"Whatever they ask me to do, that's what I'm going to do," Deaderick said. "Right now, I'll just deal with that issue when it comes up. Right now, just prepare every week like I'm going to play and play to the best of my ability."
12. I thought the Patriots' dedication to man coverage against the Giants was a very positive step in the right direction. They were more aggressive, and they were clearly more physical than they played the week before against the Steelers. Credit linebacker Jerod Mayo for helping lock down the middle of the field, and linebacker Brandon Spikes played a much better game, too, compared to the week before against Pittsburgh.
13. The loss of Spikes, for any period of time, would be a tough one. He's been inconsistent, no doubt, but the Patriots' depth at linebacker is a concern. Gary Guyton has struggled, though he made a big play on the Giants' second-to-last play at the goal line. But when Guyton came out of the game on that final series, the Giants picked on Tracy White, who is a core special teamer, for a 28-yard pass to Jake Ballard and the one-yard touchdown to Ballard. It's also worth mentioning that Dane Fletcher has missed the last two games with a thumb injury.
14. If you like strong quotes from former players who rip current players for being lazy, check out my interview with Warren Sapp, who just smoked Haynesworth. My favorite part came at the end when I asked Sapp if he's ever spoken to Haynesworth or hung out with him in any capacity.
"No, because normally I'm at Pro Bowls and Super Bowls," Sapp said. "You have to be on a certain level to be around. Bill Russell said it best. Champions like to hang around with other champions."
What. A. Burn.
15. It's time to update the Ross Ventrone meter. He was cut by the Patriots last Thursday for the seventh time since August 2010, and it was the 17th time he has been involved in a roster transaction with the team. Ventrone has never signed with another team, either.
16. Even worse, the Patriots team photo happened Saturday. It's a pretty cruel twist of fate that Ventrone wasn't part of it, and Haynesworth was.
17. It was pretty entertaining to see former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson walk in midway through Belichick's Friday news conference. Belichick perked up, paused for a moment and welcomed Johnson into the room. They've got seven total Super Bowl wins between them, and five as head coaches.
18. A lot of people want to know what has happened to Jermaine Cunningham, the 2010 second-round pick who was a healthy scratch for the last two games. Truth is, I really don't know how he's fallen off as far as he has. He had a decent rookie year and looked like he could play a promising role this season. It's got to sting a little more knowing Carlos Dunlap — who played defensive end opposite of Cunningham at Florida and was taken one pick later in the draft — has been killing it for the Bengals.
19. If you follow me on Twitter, sorry for clogging up your timeline about the Joe Paterno stuff in recent days. I know I don't cover Penn State, but it's a topic I've felt very strongly about pursuing. For my full thoughts on why I believe he should be fired, check out my column on the matter.
20. It's pretty disturbing to hear people blindly defend Paterno for not properly reporting an allegation of child rape. The argument to "let the facts come out" is a joke, too, because Paterno could have allowed the facts to properly surface in 2002 by alerting the police of the allegations.
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