Friday, September 11, 2015

Patriots-Steelers Random Thoughts (September 11, 2015)

Really, Mike Tomlin?

I know it's open season on connecting the Patriots to cheating.  People never let the facts get in the way of a good story so hearing, and believing, that there is wrong doing in the Halls of Belichick makes it easier for opponents and their fans to understand the brilliance of the Patriots in the 21st Century.

However, in a game in which he was out coached by Belichick, Tomlin decided against taking responsibility for decisions like his kicker missing two field goals in the first half, his defense not covering Rob Gronkowski on the Patriots first touchdown, or his offense not being able to score a touchdown that would have cut the Patriots lead to three points when they had a first-and-goal situation starting at the one-yard line at the beginning of the fourth quarter and instead settling for a field goal.

Tomlin decided to take the route of excuse maker, claiming that the headset communication malfunction - that was a problem for both teams - hurt his team because the coaches had trouble communicating and that this is a problem every time his team plays in New England.

The Steelers will reportedly file a complaint with the NFL today.

Belichick said in his postgame press conference about the headsets that, "We have to deal with that it seems like weekly."

After the game, NFL vice president of football communications, Michael Signora, issued this statement:

"In the first quarter of tonight’s game, the Pittsburgh coaches experienced interference in their headsets caused by a stadium power infrastructure issue, which was exacerbated by the inclement weather. The coaches’ communications equipment, including the headsets, is provided by the NFL for both clubs use on game day. Once the power issue was addressed, the equipment functioned properly with no additional issues."
Remember that it is the NFL and not the home team that controls the communications during the game.

Despite the NFL's statement and the fact that the Patriots dealt with the same problems, people will continue to associate the franchise with cheating.  It's an unfair assessment of a franchise that once was a laughingstock that became respected when Robert Kraft bought the team and became a juggernaut when Belichick became the coach.

This reminds me of the contemporary explanations of the Black Death in 14th Century Europe.  Not understanding the basic science of disease, people attributed the plague to religion, earthquakes, and astrology.

Today, small minded people like Mike Tomlin do not want to admit that they were beaten by a more talented and better coached team so they resort to whining about headset communications.

I wonder if Tomlin worries about the Boogeyman late at night when he's laying in his bed.


I assume it was the lack of headset communication that caused Steelers tight ends coach James Daniel to allegedly assault a Patriots fan at halftime.

Stay classy, Pittsburgh.


The Patriots passing game looked excellent at times last night.

Tom Brady was surgical in picking apart a young Pittsburgh secondary.  At one point Brady completed a franchise record 19 consecutive passes and finished 25-for-32 with 288 yards and four touchdowns.

Rob Gronkowski had 5 catches for 94 yards and 3 touchdowns while Julian Edelman hauled in 11 Brady passes for 97 yards.

Can you imagine how deadly this attack will be once Brandon LaFell returns at midseason?

The running game was solid as well, with Dion Lewis looking like a keeper as a rusher (69 yards on 15 carries) and as a receiver (4 catches for 51 yards).


How about the goal line formation of having Rob Gronkowski split wide to the left with fellow tight end Scott Chandler lining up in the left slot?

The combination of the 6-6, 265-pound Gronk and the 6-7, 260-pound Chandler on the same side of the field in the Red Zone will frustrate opponents all season.  They started off last night by each grabbing a touchdown pass from Brady in that formation.


Malcolm Butler made the play of his life in intercepting Russell Wilson to seal the Patriots victory over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.  Go ahead, watch it for the 1,098,375 time.  I'll wait.

He has had an excellent training camp amid dealing with the pressure of not only living up to his championship play but also replacing Darrelle Revis as the team's top cornerback.

Last night he started the year going against one of the game's great receivers, Antonio Brown.

While Brown had a very good night, grabbing nine passes for 133 yards and a touchdown, I really didn't think Butler played too bad of a game.

Covering Brown, a three-time Pro Bowler and 2014 1st Team All-Pro, is not an easy task for any cornerback.  Actually, it's damn near impossible.

What I liked from Butler was that he was right on top of Brown the entire night and never seemed to let a play made by Brown at his expense get him down.

I'd still like to see the Patriots upgrade at cornerback next to Butler but going forward I'm comfortable with him being the team's top player in his group.


After an injury plagued college career at Florida and rookie season with the Patriots, 2014 first round pick Dominique Easley was primed for a big season in 2015.

It looks like an injury might get in the way of that again.

Following a very good preseason, Easley played just eight snaps last night before leaving with what looks like a serious hip injury.  The Patriots are notorious for being tight lipped about injuries - hey Tomlin, complain about that while you're at it you schmuck - but the sight of Easley gingerly limping off the field was not a good sign.


On to Buffalo.

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