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Sunday, December 23, 2012
Sharing some halftime thoughts

By Mike Reiss

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Sharing some thoughts at halftime as the Patriots and Jaguars are tied at 13:

After two hyped games against the Texans and 49ers, the Patriots looked uninspired in the first half, raising questions about their ability to get up for a game against a 2-12 opponent.

The way the Jaguars carved up the Patriots’ nickel defense on the opening drive reflected a New England team not ready to play. That’s on the players and the coaching staff. Part of it could be tied to human nature -- it’s a challenge to raise the level of intensity in a situation like this -- but that’s why they are professionals.

Although the score is tied at 13, it's a half the Patriots won't be putting on their highlight reel. The Jaguars took it to them at times.

A few notable storylines have emerged:

Bill Belichick is rotating his defensive personnel more liberally than is the norm. It’s almost as if he’s making sure all players who might be called upon in the playoffs are sharp when it counts. The defense obviously hasn’t been too sharp, but that’s been the approach. An example of this was on the fourth drive when linebacker Jerod Mayo, who is a three-down player and a playing-time leader, wasn’t on the field. We saw a little bit of that on offense as well with tight end Aaron Hernandez getting a short break in the second quarter.

Quarterback Tom Brady hasn’t been on his game. The first-quarter interception to running back Stevan Ridley looked to be underthrown. He’s also had a few miscommunications/misconnections with receiver Brandon Lloyd (third down in the end zone; first-quarter interception).

Part of Brady's struggle has been tied to pass protection not being up to its usual high standard.

Running back Stevan Ridley hasn't seen any notable decrease in playing time after his fumble last week (15 snaps), although the Patriots are working rookie Brandon Bolden (7 snaps) into the mix more than he has been.

Safety Patrick Chung continues to take some bad angles (e.g. on Jordan Shipley’s 36-yard first-quarter catch-and-run) and isn’t seizing his chance to work his way back into the rotation.

Bright spots have been running back Danny Woodhead, receiver Wes Welker and kicker Stephen Gostkowski (49-yard field goal).

The Patriots get the ball to start the second half.