I’m a Packer fan, born and bred in Cheeseland. You can take me out of Packerland but can’t take Packerland out of me. That’s a blessing and a curse — over the last 6-9 years, I’ve been a very frustrated Packers fan. While watching the Patriots on TV, however, it’s fun and easy to watch them.
I’m no means a Patriots fan, but I actually enjoy watching a well oiled machine and greatness. If you’re into efficiency, competence and results, just watch that team from New England. You can gain a lot of insight about the game, how they gain advantage of exposing their opponents’ weakness, attention to detail and their ability to make adjustments in all phases of their game when necessary.
Before I begin, I’m not a fan of William Stephen Belichick or Thomas Edward Patrick Brady’s personality. They often have something to hide or a hidden agenda; Brady can be moody at some press conferences and Belichick will ridicule reporters and will rarely give them a straight answer. I get it, knowing what they’re trying to accomplish, but what’s the point of a news conference if no valuable information is shared?
Getting back to why I admire, respect and like the Patriots (and watch), I’m going to include several reasons. Kickoff adjustments, clean punt returns, clock management, creating mismatches and good defense. In fact, I don’t even need to rave about the greatness and clutchness of Tom Brady.
Let’s start with kickoff adjustments during a game. The Patriots may kick the ball deep executing a touchback. Often, if they need to swing momentum or gain an additional advantage, Steve Gostkowski, their kickoff specialist, will kick the ball deep but very high around the goal line, forcing the receiving team to return the ball. With these adjustments, their special teams can often pin their opponents inside the 20-yard line. And that is used as a competitive advantage, especially with a good coverage team.
When it comes to punt returns, the Patriots will either signal a fair catch or have actual returns. When’s the last time you saw the Patriots punt return team get called for a block in the back? For Green Bay, it seems like 50% of the time. This has occurred for several years now — an ongoing issue. Why can’t they clean this up? What’s the deal with the Packers’ special team’s coordinator? No accountability? My cynical side would suggest the Packer’s return team doing no blocking whatsoever and let the ball land where it may until they get this cleaned up…
The Patriots typically excel with time management. Against Tennessee in this year’s divisional playoffs, the Patriots had three timeouts remaining with less than 30 seconds in the half. In the AFC Championship game against Jacksonville, they won the game while not using any timeouts in the 2nd half. Because their offense and defense is typically well organized and executes well, they keep those timeouts available for critical moments.
Can the same be said about the Packers? How many Packer fans have read or seen over the last few years the goal on offense was to quickly execute their offensive plays to execute ball control and gain momentum? Let’s not confuse activity with accomplishment — the Packers sometimes can’t get into the swing on offense and let the play clock slowly drain to zero, so, valuable timeouts needed later in each half are squandered. This is not an anomaly. Who’s to blame? When McCarthy is shown on the screen after said timeout, I begin to burn a hole in him in frustration.
The fourth reason the Patriots are an easy watch has to do with their ability to create mismatches, especially on offense. If their opponents take away the run, they’ll throw short passes to running backs or look for open wide receivers. If the opponent takes away the pass, they’ll find liabilities in their opponents run defense. They are constantly analyzing and evaluating what their opponent’s defensive coordinator is trying to accomplish and make adjustments throughout the game.
The final reason I admire and enjoy watching the Patriots is defense oriented. It wasn’t a top 10 defense at the start of the year but has improved throughout the year, much of this was accomplished with little know players. One more thing about their defense, one might say they are a “bend, but don’t break defense.” They give up plenty of yards on defense, but have one of the best defenses in the red zone (within 20 years of their opponent’s end zone). Instead of touchdowns, their opponents often settle for field goals – three instead of seven. With Brady, Gronk, and company, this gives them an immediate advantage in the game.
Can the same be said of the Packers defense? Did they start the ’17 campaign as an average defense and then improve as the season progressed? The fact that their defense could not win many games while Rodgers was injured should answer that question.
One more thing about the Patriots, they pick up players off the waiver wire or through a trade that other teams want to get rid off. Often, the Patriots will determine the strengths of these players and leverage these strengths, putting these players in a position to help their team. Are any other teams as effective at doing the same thing?
I will not cease being a Packer fan as I was born and bred in Cheeseland. Having said that, the Packers are often a difficult watch and not just in ’17. So I found an effective and great team that does so many little things as planned. Indeed, I’m not going to switch allegiance to that team from New England but for the time being, they are my preferred watch and that’s how I want my team (whose home is Lambeau Field) to look like. However, until GB begins to be more effective in all phases of the game, I’ll turn to the Patriots to watch intelligent and beautiful football.