Pats Nation: Week 3 vs. Texans Recap
Two words: Special Teams. No coach in the NFL puts as much emphasis on Special Teams as Bill Belichick. If you've ever heard Bill during a Press Conference either after a game or previewing a game for next week, he will mention Special Teams 11 times out of 10. It is the third and sometimes forgotten phase of the game, often taking a backseat to the sexier phases "offense" and "defense". But as a Head Coach that got his start in the National Football League as an assistant Special Teams coach, Belichick knows that the "forgotten phase" can single handedly win you games. That's exactly what it did this past Thursday against the Texans.
I'm not even really going to speak on the Texans' offense, because to be blunt there really wasn't any at all. Coming off a second half against the Dolphins in which it looked like Tom Brady was wearing a Ryan Tannehill mask, the Pats' defense was motivated to right the ship. You can't do much better than a shutout on National TV. The Texans offense didn't even pass the 50 yard line until I was about 6 beers in, and even then it still wasn't even in field goal range. Lamar Miller was unheard of for the most part, and the only thing I saw that didn't lull me to sleep was a couple of highlight reel catches from Nuk. Osweiler looked awful and the entire Texans team looked uninspired.
On the other side of the ball, Josh McDaniels proved once again why he will be highly sought after by teams with Head coaching vacancies next Spring. Jacoby Brissett wasn't asked to do too much (I believe he only had 119 yards passing), but he was great at what was asked of him. Belichick said after the game that Brissett's Touchdown run had never been practiced before; it was a play they installed in walk-through at the last minute. To not only execute it without practice, but to fight for extra yards as opposed to run out of bounds like he easily could have shows why his teammates and coaches hold him to such a high regard. His reads in the passing game were simple and similar to the 2nd half of the Miami game: screens and short crossing routes that depended on YAC for extra yardage. But how about LeGarrette Blount? After a dismal rushing attack in 2015, all he's done is become the league's leading rusher through 3 games and carried this team on his back. He's one person who I know is elated to have OL Coach Dante Scarnnechia back. Blount put the nail in the coffin with a huge 4th quarter TD run led by a "throw you out of the club" block by Julian Edelman.
But this game was won far before that TD run, and it was all about field position and Special Teams. Patriots punter Ryan Allen showed firsthand how valuable a talented punter is, with 6 punts forcing Houston to start drives inside their own 20 (and more often than not, at the 10 yard line). It's pretty discouraging as an offense to have to come out and think about driving 90 yards to score EVERY drive, especially against a tough defense. Mix that in with two fumble recoveries on kickoff returns, and the game within the game known as "field position" was heavily in favor of New England. Jacoby did come out of the game with an injured thumb, which is probably the one negative we can take from it. But there's only one more game until TB12 returns and the Revenge Tour of 2016 commences. Besides, my guy Jimmy G will probably make a return to the field next week for the Bills. Belichick would want nothing more than to come out of these Tom Brady-less games 4-0 as a big "fuck you" to Roger Goodell, and there's a good chance he gets his wish. We're on the Buffalo.