Clint's Corner Archive

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The source for back issues of Clint's Corner. Forget a trade? Were Clint's predictions correct? Here's every edition, verbatim.

For 10/20/98

Apocalypse...

Perhaps the Kansas City Chiefs aren’t that good after all. One week after what at the time was deemed a "big" win over an "elite" team, the Pats let down their fans, their owner, and worst of all themselves. They played by far their worst game of the season. Bledsoe looked more comfortable with the Zampese system in week one visiting the World Champions than he did in his sixth game, at home, against a 2-3 opponent whose defense was shredded the previous week by Tony Banks.

I have been sick all day long following this loss. I got home from the game at 1:00 a.m., and could not fall asleep. I was too sick this morning at 6:00 a.m. to eat my cereal as I read the sports section. As I write this, the game is nearly 24 hours old, and I still feel as though I washed down an uncooked hamburger with 4-month old milk. I can only hope that each and every member of the Patriots organization is as disgusted and disappointed as I am.

There is no excuse for losing this game whatsoever. I don’t want to hear about the officiating. I don’t want to hear about Tuna’s intricate knowledge of the Pats’ weaknesses. I don’t want to hear the Jets wanted it more. Least of all, I don’t want to hear about how good the Jets really are. The Pats choked in this one, and they should all be disgusted with themselves. Awful, awful, awful!

Drew Bledsoe would like us to believe that this was a big game for three reasons and three reasons only. It was Monday Night, the Pats were at home, and they were playing a divisional opponent. The Tuna and Curtis Martin sideshow was not a factor. Come on Drew. When the schedule was announced last Spring, every football fan in New York and New England circled October 19, and not because it was a division game. We play 4 of those at home every year. This was a bigger game than Denver, and bigger than Kansas City. Tuna Bowl III was perhaps the biggest regular season game the Patriots will play all year, including upcoming dates with Miami, San Fran, and Pittsburgh.

If there was one game, just one game, that we Pats fans could not bear to lose, it was this one. The game is over, and it’s in the books forever more; 24-14, Jets. This was worse than losing to the Steelers last year at home, worse than losing in the Meadowlands last year, and yes, it’s even worse than the loss at Tampa Bay. This was a game that Patriots fans had their hearts set on, and today those hearts, and their spirits, are broken. This was not supposed to happen. Even if the Pats finish 14-2 and win the Super Bowl, we’ll never forget the day Bill Parcells, Curtis Martin, and the Jets came into Foxboro Stadium and kicked the Pats butts on Monday Night Football.

If it’s not broken...

Then why fix it? The Pats were 4-1, with their only loss being a 6 point defeat in Denver, which looking back is as close to a win as any team may get playing the Broncos this year. The Pats were clicking on offense. They were explosive, and punishing. The defense was pure hustle, and was making at least one big play in each game while confusing, sacking, and frustrating the opposing quarterback. This all came to a head last week against the Chiefs before halftime. According to many of the players, the Pats were so dominant that the Chiefs just gave up. The Pats stepped on the field each week knowing they could win the game, and played to win the game. Last Monday Night, at home, with the entire country watching, the 4-1 Pats played not to lose, and we’re all too familiar with the effectiveness of that game plan.

The Pats opened the game trying to hit a 4-yard crossing pattern. Huh? Their second play was a post route that was well covered, and on 3rd down Bledsoe was sacked. Where was Robert "4 or more" Edwards? Ben Coates? The deep ball? This series of downs really set the tone, and immediately gave the Jets confidence that they could win the game. It’s not the 3-and-punt that bothers me, it was the attitude. Had the Pats slammed the ball up the middle twice for no yardage, or thrown 3 incomplete deep balls down the sideline, that would be fine.

The play calling was more imaginative when Scott Zolak and Sedrick Shaw were running1 out the 4th quarter against Kansas City. Sure the Pats had the lead at halftime, but when else this season have you seen the Pats unwilling to run the ball on 3rd and short or throw the deep ball on 1st down? The Pats came out against the Chiefs and went for the jugular. They came out against the Jets and covered up their throats. I’d prefer the former approach next week in Miami.

Blue Thunder?

Or was that just a truck backfiring on Route 1? What in the name of God happened to the defense in this game? In my mind, if we have to pin this loss on someone, it’s the defense. Sure Drew threw a big interception that could have turned the game around, but when your defense follows that up by allowing the Jets to hold the ball for the first 8 minutes of the 4th quarter on a 17 play touchdown drive, that’s pathetic. Vinny Testaverde was made to look like Joe Montana out there. Forget Curtis Martin’s quiet 100 yards, this game was won by Vinny and the passing game.

The Pats D could not get off the field on 3rd down, and Bledsoe and Edwards cannot score points while they are watching Vinny put on a QB clinic. Yes the Jets are better than the team that lost by 20 points to the Rams, but they are NOT this good folks. The Pats defensive leaders Lawyer Milloy, Willie Clay, Ty Law, Chris Slade, Ted Johnson, and Willie McGinest have been talking since training camp about getting respect around the league as a dominating defense. With the other 28 NFL teams watching at home, allowing Interceptaverde and Kyle Brady to pick you apart is not the way to impress.

Perspective...

OK. That’s enough doom and gloom. The players have a short week of preparation in front of them, and they had better put this loss behind them quickly in order to prepare for their visit to Pro Player Stadium. The Dolphins are also in 1st place at 4-2, the game is on their turf, and the Fish are favored to win. Coming off an embarrassing loss like this one, the Pats need not look through any Vince Lombardi speech archives to find motivation.

Coming home from the win at New Orleans at 3-1, if you were told the Pats would travel to Indianapolis on November 1st at 5-2 after facing the Chiefs, Jets, and Dolphins, you’d be happy. Despite the carnage left behind by this loss, the Pats will find themselves once again in sole possession of the AFC East penthouse if they can regain their form of the first 5 games of the season.

The Pats are not a bad team. They are a great team who played like crap last Monday. This loss has not changed my overall perspective that the Pats are among the top 3 teams in the entire AFC. Who’s better? Yes Denver, but you’d have to make a strong argument for me after that. If that really is the case, the Pats will be itching to get back onto the field, no matter whom the opponent or where the game is played. If the Pats return to Foxboro in a few weeks to face the Atlanta Falcons at 6-2, the Jets game will be forgiven, if not forgotten, and perhaps we can take out our red pens and circle December 27th on our calendars.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda...

So is Bill Parcells the super GM he thought he could be? The numbers after 6 games without question indicate that Parcells could have saved himself $36 Million, and used his 1st round pick to select Robert Edwards. The self-anointed draft wizard would also have been left with a 3rd-round selection with which to work his magic.

Bill Parcells dumped Neil O’Donnell and made Glenn Foley his starting quarterback back in June. Foley has not won a game this year, and with Vinny’s 3-0 record as a starter, Tuna’s wonder boy will be relegated to clipboard duty the rest of the season barring injury to Testaverde. O’Donnell’s numbers with the Bengals over 6 games are very impressive, and he had a game two weeks ago in beating the Steelers more impressive than Vinny’s effort against New England.

What if the Jets had held onto Adrian Murrell and drafted Vonnie Holiday at #18? Randy Moss? The guessing games are endless. The Jets are 3-3, and are a good team, but I’ll go to my grave saying that the Jets would have been better off using the picks themselves and keeping Adrian Murrell. The Pats have found themselves a touchdown machine and a 4.4 average courtesy of the Jets #18 selection, and Robert Edwards will cost the Pats less money through the 2002 season than the Jets will pay Curtis Martin in one year.

Curtis Martin’s 107 yards were a nice stat, but they did not win the game over New England, and he averaged just 3.8 per carry. Take away a 15-yard run on 3rd and 27, and the average drops to just 3.4. Martin could not find the end zone despite numerous red zone carries, and he has just 1 touchdown this season. He also missed the 30-10 loss to the Rams with an injury, and is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry on the season. Vinny and Kyle Brady bailed out Martin this time with two 1-yard scoring passes, but anyone who watched Martin and the Pats last season knows that if you can’t run the ball into the endzone, it’s going to catch up with you sooner or later.

Thanks for reading this week. Believe me, it took a lot to sit down and write this edition. I’ll still be talking about this loss to the Jets when my daughter Alyson is bringing me chocolate chip cookies at Shady Pines in 2065.

Squish the Fish!