Once upon a time, a man named Bill Belichick told a group of reporters that “stats are for losers” and that “the final score is for winners” and “that’s really what it’s all about.” It was funny, and some folks chuckled.
But he wasn’t joking.
The man is in charge of a defensive unit that employs Antwaun Molden, Sterling Moore and Julian Edelman, a unit that allows more passing yards than any other football team, and a unit that allowed a godawful Vince Young to throw for 400 yards on Sunday. Yet, he’s in charge of a team that’s won three games in a row and outscored opponents 109-39 in the process.
It’s incredible, really, and even if it isn’t a squad good enough to win a Super Bowl, it’s got enough people in New England feeling like maybe, if a few things go right, they might be able to pull it off. That’s certainly a change from a few weeks ago.
We’ll try to analyze that some more plus get into all the other leftover thoughts from the Patriots’ 38-20 blowout of the Eagles.
–Sure, Wes Welker catches the ball when he’s wide open for a surefire touchdown, but does he have a sweet hi-top fade? Nope! Score one for Tiquan Underwood, who might be looking for a job by the time your eyes read these words.
–I know for a fact that I couldn’t be a defensive coordinator in the NFL, but, I know that I’d have the sense to tell my players that they should cover Wesley Welker. Just cover Wes Welker. If you do nothing else, cover Wes Welker. Maybe he beats you, but at least try to cover him. It can’t be that complicated.
That is to say, don’t let this happen:
–When LeSean McCoy scored the game’s first touchdown, I was waiting for him to lateral it backward to nobody, Ronnie Brown style, but I guess the Eagles only give one of those gifts per year.
–I had just finished explaining how terrible Young was to my bride-to-be (not a huge football fan) as the quarterback unleashed a 176-yard bomb to Riley Cooper. The instant response, of course: “Well he looked pretty good there.”
–Remember when Rob Gronkowski left the game for one play due to injury? Neither does Gronkowski.
–I thought about this game a lot all week long, but one scenario I never imagined was the BenJarvus Green-Ellis show on the Pats’ first scoring drive. Of the 12 plays on the 75-yard drive, eight were handoffs to Green-Ellis. It was particularly curious because they were trailing 10-0, so credit Bill O’Brien for sticking with the game plan that he thought would work.
–The other four plays were passes, and as you can imagine, they were all completions for Tom Brady.
–Brady’s mysterious elbow ailment has become the other storyline (in addition to the mysterious defense) that won’t ever really go away. I still think his elbow is affecting his accuracy on certain throws, but I still think he’s significantly better than most every quarterback in football, so he can still make plays and put up numbers and win games. Mystery solved. You’re welcome.
–At one point, CBS color commentator Dan Dierdorf told us that Brady got hit hard. Then he said, essentially, “Oh, that wasn’t Tom Brady.” I know people make mistakes, but I literally cannot understand how anyone makes that one.
–It was sad, almost, to see Gronkowski begrudgingly spike the ball. He knew the Patriots were up by 75 points so he didn’t want to overcelebrate, but it’s become his thing. Cursed by the monster spike, that Gronkowski.
–What was the deal with the Eagles’ cheerleader outfits? Were those cardigans? They looked comfy.
–Vince Young used to tiptoe his way into end zones like it was nothing. Now, he gets tackled in the open field by a former quarterback who became a slot receiver/punt returner who became an emergency defensive back who still weighs just 198 pounds. The days of this happening are long gone, clearly.
–All kidding aside, Edelman is more than halfway decent on defense. He had the open-field tackle on 232-pound Young, he laid a solid hit to the quarterback’s midsection after blitzing off the edge and even though he got turned around on an out-and-up, he was aggressive in trying to jump the out route to make a pick. You have to appreciate that he’s going all in on defense.
–How does Chas Henry look at himself in the mirror as he wears No. 8 while Alex Henery wears No. 6? Maybe Henery never sang “I’m Henry The VIII I Am” back in Omaha.
–If you clicked that link and listened to the song and have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day, then I’m sorry. Except I’m totally not.
–There are a lot of Patriots reporters out there, and it tells you how irrelevant Chad Ochocinco has become when none of them went out of their way to find out any details of his “injury” that prevented him from playing Sunday. When did he get hurt? How serious is it? How long will he be out? The answer to all those questions is simply that nobody not named Tiquan cares.
—Deion Branch definitely doesn’t own himself in fantasy football, as he clearly decided to put his head down and barrel over an Eagle rather than just score a touchdown.
He’s an incredible guy, because even when he looks old, gimpy and slow, he busts out 63-yard catches and 125-yard days.
–I simply love games when Jerome Boger is the ref. Just endless Ladies Man impressions from the couch.
–I can’t remember the official injury announcement for a player being “wind knocked out of him” like it was for Jason Avant after he was wrecked by Kyle Arrington, but then again, I suppose that’s more specific than just saying “everything hurts inside this man.”
–In my picks column, I rhetorically asked who would cover DeSean Jackson while dismissively suggesting names like Antwaun Molden and Philip Adams. Molden answered my rhetorical question pretty well with his second-quarter interception. I’ll accept that I was wrong, but if Young weren’t the only person on earth who’s unaware that Jackson is faster than everyone else, then the ball might not have been underthrown by 12 yards.
–I also picked the Eagles to win because I thought Michael Vick and Nnamdi Asomugha would play, and I still think they’d have made a major difference. But even though Vick didn’t dress and Asomugha barely played, the game still could have been changed by Jackson, if he felt like showing up. A guy playing for a contract for a team fighting for its playoff life was a no-show and dropped a pass in the end zone because he heard the daunting footsteps of Tracy White. Sort of gives you an indication of how the Dream Team is 4-7 and won’t make the postseason.
–I’ll never forgive the guy who got in the way of Brady’s profanity-laced tirade. The guy is so composed when he talks to the media and he never says the wrong thing to anybody, so to see the actual human side of him is always interesting. (If you missed it, lucky for you, this is the Internet, where you can watch it on loop for as long as you like.)
–I also wasn’t prepared for Tom Brady: Speedster. How about that 13-yard scamper that ended with a divot that I only usually see when I bust out my 9 iron?
–Those 28 rushing yards made for the second-best rushing total Brady’s ever had in an NFL game. The 13-yarder was his longest run since 2007, too.
–There was also this little tidbit from Peter King: “All-time wins, playoffs included: [Joe] Montana 133, Brady 133.” Brady also reached the win total in 14 fewer games and he’s four years younger than Montana was when he won No. 133. That’s not bad.
–It’s kind of sad that I didn’t know Kevin Faulk was active until he recovered that onside kick. I’m sure the staff is taking it easy on his old, damaged knee after it was overworked in his first game back, but seeing Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead and Green-Ellis get carries with Faulk on the sidelines is weird.
–OK, back to the defense. I said after the loss to Pittsburgh that “as the weeks go on, you may see reports of the defense showing improvement.” You certainly will, and you have to appreciate what those players are doing … but you can’t just discount who it is they’re doing it against. Vince Young is terrible, Tyler Palko is worse than terrible and Mark Sanchez is mostly terrible. It’s still the same defense that struggles to stop good teams, but the good part is you won’t have to worry about that until January, when you can just pray for some fortunate breaks and opportune plays.
–With all that understood, it’s hard not to like this group. They seem to enjoy having “no names” and “Edelmans” cover top-flight wide receivers on the way to winning football games. They figure to be a good deal better, too, when Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty return to the field.
–Where the “stats are for losers” mantra really comes into play is in the yardage allowed. The Pats still rank dead last with 409.8 yards allowed per game, and they’re dead last by almost a full 20 yards in passing yards allowed per game (307.5), and they allowed the Eagles to gain 466 yards on Sunday. But they only allowed 20 points, and only 13 of them came when there was still a competitive football game going on. They’re in the top 10 in points allowed, and they’re 8-3. Those, really, are the only stats that matter. Just ask Bill.