January 17, 2011 by Jeffrey A. Lambert
By Jeffrey Lambert
As with most losses in sports, it is often difficult to pick one single reason for a team’s failure to win a big game. In regards to the Patriots’ playoff loss to the Jets yesterday, there are many reasons one could point to that contributed to their defeat. Mental mistakes on both sides of the ball, lack of physical play by the Patriots, or just great defense from the Jets could all be cited.
One seemingly overlooked aspect of the Patriots inability to defeat the Jets was their inability to stretch the field on offense.
This weakness was exploited brilliantly by Rex Ryan and his coaches, as their defensive schemes jammed and slammed around the Pats undersized receivers on short and medium pass routes.
To remedy this and keep the defense from playing up tight on their receivers, most teams would attempt to go over the top, to run some deep routes to persuade the defense to fall back in coverage a bit. This was not a viable option for the Patriots yesterday though, because they no longer had a speedy receiver that can catch the long ball consistently.
The Patriots lost their only deep threat when they traded diva receiver Randy Moss to the Vikings midway through the season. Since that time the Patriots have had no trouble winning games; even without having a bomb-catcher to replace Moss. Despite that regular success without Moss, one can’t help but wonder that void that Moss left finally caught up to the Patriots yesterday.
Would Rex have been able to run his schemes as effectively if Randy had lined up against Revis yesterday, at least keeping the Jets honest about the fact there was a hall of famer who could catch a long fade route with ease? Would Welker have gotten more open looks across the middle if Moss was keeping the safeties back to protect the deep pass? Could Woodhead have burned the Jets with his YACs if the Jets secondary wasn’t able to play as close to the line without fear of a receiver getting behind them?
The fact that the Patriot’s achilles heel on offense caught up to them yesterday can’t be denied. It hurts to know that Rex and his FOOT soldiers (couldn’t resist) solved our game plan before the match even started. If Randy Moss had still been in the lineup, things could have been different. Let me know what you think.