Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Big Game

As promised, here's an analysis of Sunday's game in Jacksonville. I'll keep it brief -

Let's start with how the two teams fared against their common big name opponent - the Steelers.

Both teams lost - the Eagles were reasonably healthy and had TO at 100%. They could only score 3.
The Patriots didn't have their starting running back, lost their pro-bowl corner early, didn't have Deion Branch, a starting receiver, and lost both of their offensive tackles early. They still put up 20.

The Eagles secondary is somewhat overrated - sure Lito Sheppard intercepted 6 passes, but he also got burned for more than 800 yards worth of completions (opponents seem to like testing him). Not exactly a shutdown corner.
Like the Pats, their D-line makes the secondary better, but the Eagles linebackers aren't as talented or deep a group as the Patriots have.

Other than TO, most of the Eagles receivers struggle against physical secondaries. Backs like Westbrook, who often is compared to Marshall Faulk, don't pose as much of a matchup problem for the Pats as the so-called experts like to think (they seem to have forgotten just how effective Faulk was in the '01 game). The Patriots are going to force McNabb to have to win the game and he doesn't have the horses to do it.
The Pats front three mauled Pittsburgh's O-line two weeks ago. The Eagles line isn't as good.

This game is going to be a cross between the two AFC games the Pats played to get here - both scheme and the team's abilities to raise the intensity of their physicality will play factors.

The bottom line, however, will be the fact that, based on watching the AFC and NFC postseason games, none of the NFC teams was playing as good, hard, or mistake-free football as the Patriots, and that includes the Eagles.

To borrow a Belichickism, the Eagles were leaving too many points on the field to beat a quality team.

Patriots 30, Eagles 13

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Talk of Dynasty, the Bills and my training

Okay, let's get this question of the Patriots Dynasty out of the way...many sports writers are speculating on whether or not the Pats are a dynasty, and what makes a dynasty. They compare them to teams like the Steelers of the 70's and the Dolphins of the 70's (already as many titles as they had), the 49ers of the 80's and the Cowboys of the 90's.
A number of the writers are saying they don't stack up because they don't have the pro-bowlers, or haven't put the numbers up for long enough a period, but they're all looking at when Belichick took over the reigns - that doesn't paint the big picture is as follows - Since 1996 (and including this season) the Patriots will have appeared in four of the last nine Super Bowls, winning at least two of them. They have won the AFC East five times, made the playoffs six times and had a losing record once in that span. Their record over that period is 91 - 53.
To put that in perspective, the nine-season period leading up to the Cowboys last title looks like this - 78 - 65, four NFC East division titles, three NFC Championships and five playoff appearances.
Granted, if you take their success from the 11-5 wild card season, you're looking at eight playoff appearances, six division titles, three NFC and Super Bowl Championships to go along with an overall 96 - 47 - 1 and two .500 records. Overall, I gotta say that the Pats numbers compare favorably.

Belichick and Parcells - another subject that writers are trying to put into historical context, but not many are looking at the full history. Only time will tell if the Patriots coach is better than his former boss, but right now most of the numbers are in his favor - one of the issues that needs to be addressed in this debate is what Parcells record is with little Bill and what it is without him, and, quite frankly, that handfull of seasons the Tuna has been on his own amount to a record that coaches with lesser pedigrees would get fired for. For your consideration:
Bill Belichick
Overall - 89W - 71L, 9 - 1 post season, 61 - 27 with current team 3 Division Titles, 2 Lombardi Trophies, 10 seasons as a head coach.

Bill Parcells
Overall - 159W-113L-1, 10 - 5 post season, 16 - 16 with current team 5 division titles, 2 Lombardi Trophies, 16 seasons as a head coach

With Belichick
Overall - 110W-51L-1,10 - 3 post season, 5 division titles, 2 Lombardi Trophies, one losing season.

Without Belichick as either D-coordinator or assistant Head Coach -
Overall - 49W - 62L, 0 - 2 post season, no division titles, three winning seasons to go with four losing seasons.

Do the math.

Well, other than that, the training is slogging along. Have got my three mile time near 25 minutes and am going almost six and a half in an hour and five. Ideally I would like to get over seven minutes per mile - would like to finish the marathon in under 3:30, but that might be a pipe dream.
I've been looking over the Marathon course and have determined that it was designed by a sadist. Mile seventeen crosses the finish line, runs about 4.5 miles out and then the runners double back to the end - what sort of sick mo'fo' tempts you by putting the finish line in the middle of the course? Worst tease ever.

Tomorrow I will do my Super Bowl breakdown. Peace.