Clint's Corner Archive
Clint's Corner Archive
The source for back issues of Clint's Corner. Forget a trade? Were Clint's predictions correct? Here's every edition, verbatim.
Editor's Note: Look for the GoPats.com crew in Section 504 at the Superdome in New Orleans on October 4! Mike will be there, however due to diaper duty, Clint will be missed.
When the schedule was released late last spring, we all looked at October 4th and chalked up the automatic "W" down in the big easy. Not so fast. Week 5 approaches and the Saints have yet to lose a game. They are among 7 teams in the NFL who are undefeated, and the other 6 were all playoff teams in 1997.
You can point to the schedule as perhaps the biggest reason the Saints are 3-0, but who has Miami beaten? The Dolphins are getting all the press, while the Saints are being virtually ignored by the national media. The Saints have road wins at Indianapolis and St. Louis and beat the Carolina Panthers at home. To me, that’s more impressive than what the Dolphins have done, who also beat Indianapolis on the road, barely beat the 0-3 Bills at home, and then won ugly, again at home, over a Steeler team whose offense is as distant a memory as Pittsburgh’s last snowfall. If we are to respect and praise the undefeated Miami Dolphins, then we must pay the same homage to the New Orleans Saints. Check the Stats…
New Orleans Defense
Case closed. If Dolphins fans are just in saying their team is primed to take the division crown away from the Patriots, against whom they went 0-3 last season, then Saints fans have every right to believe they can take on San Francisco. The early line in Vegas has the Patriots giving up 6 points, whereas the Pats would undoubtedly be getting points if they were facing the Dolphins in Miami. Apparently the Saints are still the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL. The Pats should be leery of a 3-0 team still with something to prove.
The Saints, despite their early season success, are still a team New England should beat, even on the road. "Should" is perhaps the most dangerous word in the NFL, because as soon as a team believes they won the game simply by getting off the team bus, it’s over. (Green Bay @ Indianapolis last season). The Patriots are the 3rd youngest team in the NFL. It will be up to the veterans like Bruce Armstrong, Hank Thomas, Drew Bledsoe, and Willie McGinest to remind the rest of the team that there is no such thing as a sure thing in the National Football League. You would hope that that won’t be necessary coming off a bye week to face an undefeated team, but a few players may already be looking ahead to the Kansas City showdown at home the following week.
Moving the chains...
To take a simple morning sports section glance at Robert Edwards' statistics, one would see 178 yards on 43 carries in 3 games. That’s an average of just 59 yards per game. To glance at these numbers and assume the Pats are missing Curtis Martin would be just as insane as casually analyzing Mo Vaughn’s stats and determining he is worth $12 Million per year. You really need to read between the lines, and understand the numbers, before you can make the call.
In two games this season, against the Broncos and Oilers, Edwards did not have a single carry go for negative yardage. In fact, to my recollection, only 3 carries this season, all coming against the Colts, have lost yardage. Every one of Edwards other carries, whether they gained 1 yard or 10 yards, saw Edwards falling forward for more positive yardage as he was tackled.
Already this is a vast improvement over last years overall running game, where we became accustomed to the negative rushing play and the resulting 3rd and 13. You can point to the 50 yard rush at the end of the Oilers game as a reason Edwards’ overall numbers are high, but Martin made a career in New England out of the big run to pad the stats. We all loved Curtis, but Pats fans I’m sure will all agree that he could never get the tough yardage when we needed him too, and he finished off way too many runs heading sideways or back peddling. This may have been the fault of the offensive line, but Edwards is running behind the same 5 guys this season that Martin did last season.
In last year’s home game against the Bears, Martin had around 85 yards rushing on 15 or so carries for a nifty 5.7-yard average. (Forgive me if these stats aren’t dead on - I’m going from memory here). No doubt this stat looks great to Jets fans. What they don’t know is that 70 yards came on one play at the end of the game, when the Pats were already way ahead in a blowout. Critics point to Edwards 36 yards on 18 carries against the Colts, but would a 65 yard run with 1:00 left in the 31-6 win have made him a Pro Bowler all of a sudden?
You can’t just take the numbers on their face value. What Edwards did do in the Colts game, just as he did in the Denver and Oilers games as well, was score a rushing touchdown in the red zone. All three of Edwards TD’s this season have come from inside the 10-yard line, including a very nifty run against Tennessee on 2nd and goal from the 7. The Tennessee defense and 60,000 fans in the stands were expecting a throw. After all, in 1997, it would take 8 carries to get in from the 7, and that was on a good day. This team is different. The attitude is different. When the Pats have 1st and goal, Robert Edwards is getting the ball, period. Where was this attitude last year? Larry Kennan is taking a year off, and Curtis Martin is still looking for his first touchdown as a Jet.
The Jets and their fans can relish in "stealing" Curtis Martin away from the Pats all they want, and Martin’s 144 yards in his last game against the Colts has them thinking playoffs. I’ll take the draft picks and the cap room, thanks very much, and when it’s 3rd and 1, I’m glad Martin is wearing green this year.
P.S. Believe it or not, 3rd and 2 may actually be a running down this year as well!
See you next week!