Sunday, December 1, 2013
Sharing some Patriots halftime thoughts
By Mike Reiss
HOUSTON -- Sharing some thoughts at halftime, as the New England Patriots trail the Houston Texans, 17-7:
Letdown comes into play: The Patriots are coming off two prime-time games against top teams, and they have played down to the competition against the 2-9 Texans. They didn't come ready to play in all three phases -- offense, defense and special teams -- and this is the result. Credit the Texans for playing hard, but it's also been uninspiring football from New England.
Struggle to get off blocks and tackle: Haven't seen the Patriots struggle to get off blocks (linebacker Dont'a Hightower on Ben Tate's TD run as one example) and tackle as they have today in some time. Just poor fundamental football.
Defensive plan heavy in zone coverage: The Patriots have played a lot of man coverage this season, but it has been more zone today. Not sure why coach Bill Belichick has opted for the switch, but it hasn't produced the desired results. One would think the Patriots want cornerback Aqib Talib following Andre Johnson all over the field. Quarterback Case Keenum hasn't been flustered much, with one of the few times the Patriots did resulting in a Logan Ryan interception (with pressure from Andre Carter and Rob Ninkovich contributing to the play).
Thompkins injury update: Receiver Kenbrell Thompkins attempted to come back into the game in the second quarter after suffering a hip injury, and was on the field for three snaps, before coming off again. He was seen riding the stationary bike on the sideline, but hasn't played since. Josh Boyce is taking his reps.
Gotskowski's streak comes to an end: Kicker Stpehen Gostkowski missed a 55-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, stopping a streak of 21 straight field goals that began in Week 3 against Tampa. Gostkowski easily had the range in pregame warm-ups, which likely played into the decision to kick it. But the miss was just another part of an overall uninspiring first half for the entire team.
Sopoaga gets a sack: Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga picked up his first sack as a member of the Patriots, which served as a reminder that he still has something left. One of the knocks on Sopoaga in Philadephia when the Patriots acquired him in a trade from the Eagles was that he had little gas left in his tank. That seems to be a bit off the mark.
Working through issue with Brady's helmet: At one point, quarterback Tom Brady was having trouble getting the play-call in his helmet, which was another part of the general struggles/obstacles the Patriots were having. Brady had his helmet replaced after the drive, and the issues didn't seem to resurface.
Patriots get the ball: After losing the opening toss, and with the Texans electing to receive to open the game, the Patriots get the ball to open the second half.