Clint's Corner Archive
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The source for back issues of Clint's Corner. Forget a trade? Were Clint's predictions correct? Here's every edition, verbatim.
What a difference two weeks makes...
When I last wrote in on 9/11, the Pats were 0-2 and everyone from Cranston R.I. to Bangor Maine had something bad to say about the team. Some wanted Bledsoe benched, others wanted Parcells to give Ray Perkins his walking papers, and some even wanted Bob Kraft to give the Tuna his walking papers. Rather than join in on the "fun", I backed off of criticism and advised everyone to see how the team would respond at home. The Pats are now 2-2 and outscored their home opponents a combined 59-25 after being outscored on the road 20-41.
Bledsoe, although he didn't play fantastic, played sound football and made the big plays when he had to win the games. He looked very sharp in the first half of both games, but seemed to wander into never never land along with the rest of the team once the Pats built up a comfortable lead. Jacksonville nearly made them pay for that.
Ray Perkins may have saved some of the play book for home cookin', or maybe he was listening to the talk shows, but against the Cardinals the offense attempted a flea-flicker, a reverse, and a halfback option pass. Only the halfback pass was not successful, but the call still drew a big ovation from the crowd even though Dave Meggett overthrew an open Terry Glenn in the endzone. The Pats attempted a flea-flicker against Jacksonville, but Bledsoe threw the pass incomplete to Jefferson who was triple covered.
Parcells seemingly was the only man in New England who was not panicking after the 0-2 start. He was encouraged by the play of the team in Buffalo, and told the media he was confident the team would rebound at home. He was right.
Ease of Schedule?
There are still those out there who sight the quality of the last two opponents, not the play of the Pats, as the reason the team is now 2-2. Granted Arizona and Jacksonville aren't Kansas City and Green Bay, but this is the NFL and you can't take any game for granted. The Pats did what they were supposed to do, and won both games. Last year's team lost at home to New Orleans and Carolina, and nearly lost to the Jets. This '96 edition seems to remember those games, and doesn't want it to happen again.
Jacksonville opened up the season by pounding Pittsburgh and losing very close games to Houston and Oakland. The Jags are not a "gimme." The Cardinals are not a good team, but they followed up their 31-0 drubbing at Foxboro with a 28-14 victory at New Orleans. Obviously the Saints took the Cards for granted. Parcells and the veteran leaders on this team saw too much of that last year, so let's give the Pats credit for winning the past two games. 2-2 is a hell of a lot better than 0-4 or 1-3!
Spinning their wheels...
Despite the Pats modest 2 game win streak, New England has not gained any ground on 1st place in the AFC East. Although Miami and Buffalo are no longer undefeated, the Colts big victory at Dallas has kept them 4-0 atop the division, two games ahead of the Pats. The Pats can gain ground on all three of these teams, as they have yet to play Miami and Buffalo in Foxboro, or the Colts at all this season.
With all 4 teams enjoying a bye this week, they had all better get ready for what looks like a huge upcoming 5 week stretch which could really shape the AFC East for the home stretch in November and December. This is how the schedule looks after the bye week:
|Pats @ Baltimore
||Pats vs Washington
||Pats @ Colts|
|Colts @ Buffalo
||Colts vs Baltimore
||Bills @ Jets|
|Miami vs Seattle
||Miami @ Buffalo
||Miami @ Phili|
|Pats vs Buffalo (8pm TNT)
||Pats vs Miami|
|Miami vs Dallas (MNF)
||Colts vs San Diego|
|Colts @ Washington
||Bills vs. Washington|
As you can see, each of the next 5 weeks features a game between these 4 AFC East contenders. It will be very interesting to open the Monday paper on November 4th to check the standings. For what it's worth, this is what I think you'll see...
Remember though that speculation isn't worth the paper it is written on (See my weekly picks section), and that even the Jets, who I have omitted from consideration, could make some noise over the next 6 weeks.
On the Road Again...
Even though the Pats have rebounded from their 0-2 start to pull even in the standings, their record away from home remains at 0-2. Until the Pats can prove they can win on the road, this team can win all their home games and still finish 8-8. They not only need a strong showing, but a victory over the Ravens if they truly want to be in the thick of the AFC East race.
There is no doubt that the Pats are a better team than the Ravens, but Baltimore is a "big play" offense and the Pats defense seems prone to giving up the big play. The Pats defense played exceptionally well for 90% of the Jaguars game. It was only a handful of plays which got the Jags back into it to force overtime. Call it luck all you want, but the Pats secondary has got to stop giving up the big game breaker. Ty Law did it against Washington in preseason, Ricky Reynolds did it in Buffalo, and the whole secondary was victimized repeatedly against Jacksonville. Mark Brunell is a good QB, but 400+ yards is a disgrace to the Pats defense.
When these two teams last met, it was the '95 Foxboro home opener. In that game, the Pats defense shut down the run, and controlled the line of scrimmage, but it was two huge Testaverde TD bombs to Michael Jackson that nearly sent the Pats home at 0-1.
The Pats should be looking for the big play, and had better stop it. Bill Belichick is obviously familiar with the Ravens personnel, and that should help. This is a big game for the Pats, who have traditionally not played well after their bye week.
Not only are the Pats going to Baltimore, but so are my buddy Scott and I! We'll be sitting in the lower endzone section 17, row 15. We'll be wearing our Patriots Blue, so keep an eye out for us behind the goal posts!
That's all for this week. Thanks for visiting!