Not The "Patriot" Way

Julian Edelman

Things did not go as planned at Gillette Stadium Sunday. The team on the field did not resemble teams of New England's recent past. Are the Patriots trying too hard to change their style? Contributor Shane Leketa shares what he saw in the Pats 18-20 loss to the Cardinals.

Let's turn the "wayback clock" to last week after the New England Patriots went into Tennessee and handled the Titans with ease.  

Do you remember how it felt after the Patriots won that game?

Throw that feeling out the window because the New England Patriots were upset and took a hit on the chin against the Arizona Cardinals who were visiting Gillette this past Sunday.

In typical fashion we expected a polished and effective product to be placed on the field for the opening game in Foxboro and got nothing even close.  The Patriots looked tired, confused and even out of sync at times.

What are the reasons for this lack of performance?

We need to take a look at a few things that went on in this game …

First of all, the injury to TE Aaron Hernandez early in the game changed the entire game plan for the Patriots.  One might ask why this would throw the game plan off when the typical "Patriot Way" is to plug a replacement in with anyone to fill the void left when a man goes down.  The problem with this is that you don't just "replace" Hernandez.

Hernandez is involved in almost every single offensive scheme that the Patriots run.  He is involved in the running game, the passing game, the blocking game and all other areas of the offense.  Hernandez could remind some people of the recently inducted Troy Brown (Patriots Hall of Fame) in his versatility and ability to do whatever this team asks him to do.  

That is why they had to change their game plan.

Second, we need to take a look at this team and understand that they are currently trying to become the team that most Patriot fans have been asking for a number of years; sideline route runners and a power running game.  Isn't this what a lot of people thought that this team was missing?  That was not the "Patriot Way" for the past 2 years or so since the departure of Randy Moss.  They are trying to transition this team and we, as fans, need to be patient with this process.

Third, when you have a quarterback that is looking at his back and flinching every single time a defensive player comes barreling in the backfield, this will cause him to be tentative and begin forcing things that he shouldn't.  Tom Brady has an offensive line that he might not necessarily trust with the loss of Brian Waters and Matt Light in the offseason.  If Brady is not comfortable or able to move the pocket the way that he does so well, then it could be a recipe for disaster.

Fourth, was the admission from Wes Welker on local television stating that Bill Belichick came out to the team this past week and let them know that this week was full of poor and lackluster practices and that translates onto the field and we saw that on Sunday.  

OL Logan Mankins didn't think highly of the team's performance.
"Yeah. We didn't play very good," Mankins said after the game. "Not scoring a touchdown until the fourth quarter, kicking field goals, penalties, pressures, negative runs – the offense, we didn't bring our best game and it really showed."

Fifth, last but not least was the inability for Cardinals QB, Kevin Kolb to perform at a high level.  If the Patriots were playing an elite quarterback, this game would not have been as close as it ended.  He missed open receivers and made poor decisions at times during the game.

The Patriots offense was given the opportunity to pull a victory our of certain defeat when due to sound defensive play throughout the game.

The defensive unit was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but they were led by Chandler Jones and were able to keep the Arizona offense at bay only gaining a total of 245 yards on the day.

This Patriots team has been looking for a defense that would hold them close in games for the offense to score on and they got that on the past two Sundays.

Last week, this defense held Tennessee RB, Chris Johnson, to 4 yards on the day.  This week, they were able to hold super star WR Larry Fitzgerald to one catch for 4 yards.

The Patriots' defense made the plays needed, while the offense was unable to come through when it mattered most.  At end of the day all three phases came up short.  The defense gave up the lead. The offense had a touchdown called back for a holding call on TE Rob Gronkowski and special teams K Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal to win the game.

The Patriots outperformed the Cardinals in all areas, but could not close it out.  New England outperformed Arizona in total net yards, time of possession and turnovers.

LB Jerod Mayo summed the hit the loss took emotionally on the team.

"It's always a disappointing time around here when you lose a game," Mayo told reporters. "Any time you lose like this it hurts but at the same time it's early in the season and these guys are still hungry and guys will still keep their heads up and continue to work"

Surely there will be some tough practices this week, as the coaches try to put the loss behind them and prepare for the next game.  Now onto the Baltimore Ravens.

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Shane Leketa is a long time Patriots fan who bleeds red, white and blue. Leketa runs the site MyPatsSpace on MySpace. Follow him on Twitter: @MyPatsSpace Recommended Stories

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