Up The Gut Week 10: The Patriots didn’t tank against the Jets; they’re just not good

The Patriots didn’t struggle against the Jets because they were tanking, Shaun Morash says; they struggled against the Jets because their roster is “garbage”

The DA Show
November 12, 2020 - 8:25 am
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By Shaun Morash

Cold Open
   
An overwhelming storyline both heading into and exiting Monday Night Football – the Patriots just got by the JV Jets – was that perhaps Bill Belichick would try, or did try, to tank this game to keep Trevor Lawrence away from New York. Belichick hates the Jets. That much was obvious in the documentary, The Two Bills. He also is aware that the Bills, and now the Dolphins, have finally figured out how to be stable and – dare I say – winning franchises within his division. The division in which Belichick has had no true competition except for a random Jets or Dolphins year in the last 20 seasons.
    
Not wanting Trevor Lawrence to crash that party and perhaps elevate the Jets from being, well, the Jets would be understandable. However, Belichick – knowing the football world is snickering at him losing four straight games ahead of Monday Night – would never let that happen. Sure, it was a juicy debate topic. Sure at times it looked like it was happening. But let's face it: that isn't what happened. 

What happened was we were slapped with the realization that so many keep refusing to admit: The Patriots suck now. The roster is garbage, and Cam Newton, as it turns out, is not the MVP we thought he might be after the first two weeks of the season. The Patriots have a bottom-five roster in football with the best coach in football. That results in them not picking in the first pick or two but in the Top 10, ultimately. Tanking a game against the Jets on purpose wasn't necessary because the Patriots’ roster talent is closer to the Jets in reality than it is to anything resembling a playoff team in the NFL.

Ten Yard Gain

1-The Ravens were a half away from having a major Lamar Jackson question. Had the league figured out last year's MVP? They still may have, and Lamar in the second half versus a good Colts defense rose to the occasion and showed he, too, can adjust. That second may be just what the doctor ordered for the flock.

2-The Falcons have won three of four games since canning Dan Quinn. Each win gets them closer to keeping Matt Ryan next season, but now will Arthur Blank buy into Raheem Morris as a head coach? Maybe he is the answer, but knowing how much this team keeps sliding into irrelevancy, it would behoove Blank to do an extensive search. 

3-I am not fully buying into the idea Jim Harbaugh will be coaching in the NFL again in 2021. Forget never beating Ohio State; Michigan is now losing games to Indiana. Not in basketball. Yes, Michigan is losing to Indiana in football. Harbaugh losing his only Super Bowl trip to his brother cannot sit well with him. The Jets with Trevor Lawrence could be the perfect marriage. 

4-Stephen Jones committing to Andy Dalton when he is healthy to come back makes little sense at this point. Sure, after the shot he took and no teammates having his back a few weeks ago, it would be unfair to Dalton to not get a fair crack at starting games and building his stock back up. But for the Cowboys, they know what Andy Dalton is – we all do – and it isn't pretty. Garrett Gilbert gave them a Shane Falco in The Replacements feel last week and maybe the AAF MVP is the kind of player that took years to develop and may have real juice. A Tommy Maddox comes to mind. The season is lost as it is. Why not see the unknown as opposed to going down with the ugly known? 

5-How many more weeks does anyone in Chicago have to watch an offensive-minded head coach in Matt Nagy have the ugliest, most disgusting-looking offense in an offensive league? The Bears having a winning record is beyond comprehension. There needs to be a total overhaul on that side of the ball and on those sidelines in Chicago. 

6-Tom Brady throwing three interceptions Sunday Night was surprising, considering he had gone 200 passes without an interception. Tom Brady not looking like a great quarterback should not surprise anyone, though. He looked frail against the Giants on Monday Night, and he looked like Ryan Fitzpatrick on the Bengals when he lost to the Bears. Brady has brought professionalism to Tampa, but the wins have been the result of a defense and not turning the ball over. Brady is not ending this season in a Super Bowl, take that to the bank. 

7-Matt Patricia has had 10 defenders on the field three times in the last two weeks. This past week, he had 10 defenders on the field on a play Dalvin Cook ripped off a 70-yard run. Part of being a head coach, a very basic part of being a head coach, is having the right amount of players on the field. Matt Patricia is clearly overwhelmed, and worst of all, he really just had to get this defense playing right. Defense is his specialty, and he has them more lost as a unit now than before he came in. 

8-If the Dolphins finish with nine wins or more, then Brian Flores should be a slam dunk for coach of the year. This team plays hard every week and now after that win in Arizona, I think we can all get to the point where we are no longer surprised by a big Dolphins win. They are frequent now. Tua looks like he can handle anything thrown his way, and the team is more a playoff team now than they were with Fitzpatrick early this season. That is a testament to the head coach.

9-Every week, every season, a major football fan complaint is too many early starts leading into two or three late-window starts. The networks prefer this to get a major game every other week on their channel to most of the country. This week, however, due to the Masters, we get six late-window games. Soak it in NFL fans, your wish is finally granted. 

10-Tony Romo not being on the call of a game on CBS this week because Jim Nantz is on The Masters is a bad look. In the midst of a pandemic where layoffs are a plenty, including in the media industry, having a guy with a salary publicly known around $17 million get one of 17 weeks off is tough to settle. Andrew Marchand in the NY Post has hammered this point this week, and upon further review, let's all realize as humans he is right. 

Five Games to Chew On

5- Eagles @ Giants: The Eagles can basically ice away the NFC East if they continue to do what they have done year in and year out: own the Giants. Believe it or not, the Giants are probably the biggest threat to the Eagles in the terrible NFC East. If Big Blue wins this game, both they and the Eagles will have three wins, with the Eagles’ tie the only thing separating them. The Cowboys and Washington look lost, and at the very least the Giants play hard. The participation trophy playoff spot may be on the line in this game. 

4- Vikings @ Bears: The Vikings have sort of pumped life back into their playoff hopes after a wretched start to the season. They have two straight wins, and a win here would make it three straight. All of those wins would have come in the NFC North, and they would be 5-5. The Bears’ offense cannot move the ball and are collapsing their 5-1 start away. 

3- Ravens @ Patriots: Two straight weeks with the Patriots in primetime, isn't that nice? If the Patriots have any pride left and want a last rock thrown toward AFC East contention, they need an upset win at home. The Ravens’ problems seemed to evaporate in the second half of the game versus the Colts. Have they turned a corner? If so, they can turn this into a laugher. 

2- Bills @ Cardinals: The Cardinals were stunned with their loss at home to the Dolphins. Now the other heavyweight in the AFC East comes in oozing confidence after their win over Seattle. The problem with Josh Allen is his lack of consistency. Two straight big games against great teams – and a potential track meet with another good offense – would help ease concerns. 

1-Seahawks @ Rams: The late-FOX window gives us a doozy, as these two NFC West contenders square off. This rivalry has been a lot of fun since Sean McVay came in with the Rams. These games are usually close and usually full of offense. The Seahawks have to be ticked off after that loss to Buffalo, and finding two straight losses in the Pete Carroll era is tough to come up with. This will be a huge task for the Rams at home to level out this division race. 

My Picks

A bounce-back 2-1 week gets me to 16-11 on the season. 

Dolphins -2.5 vs Chargers: If you can get this game under a field goal, you have to jump. How many heart-breaking games can the Chargers lose before their will is broken? Now they fly across the country to play a Dolphins team that dare I say may be playing as good a football team as anyone right now. Two rookie quarterbacks squaring off for the first of potentially many fun games in the next decade plus. The Chargers’ defense should have trouble chasing Tua around the field, and Brian Flores’ defense now has plenty of tape on Justin Herbert to find enough of an edge. 

Packers -13 vs Jaguars: Much like the previous pick, if this were one point more, I may not love it. The Jaguars had some juice with Jake Luton a week ago in rallying but coming up short against a bad Texans team. Now they go to Green Bay to play a Packers team that can turn it on any game they choose to. I have a hard time imagining the Jaguars defense will have any answer for Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams. This is a mismatch worthy of a 13-point cover. 

Seahawks +1.5 @ Rams: Every trend tells you to bet the Rams here. The Rams are 4-1 in their last five games against the Seahawks. The Rams are coming off a bye week, which followed a loss to Miami. The Seahawks’ offensive line has been a problem, and the Rams’ strength is their defensive line. The Seahawks, though, come off that loss to the Bills, which has to sting, and seeing Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll lose two games in a row is a tough one for me to think will happen. This column is Up The Gut, and I am going with that big old gut against most betting trends here and riding with the Seahawks. 

Football Food of the Week

Buffalo Chicken Sliders. You ever just sit on Facebook scrolling through “Tasty” videos your aunt shared? Yeah, I do that from time to time, and I think I stumbled onto a doozy. Do you like Buffalo Chicken? Do you like melted mozzarella? Do you like a warm dinner roll? My guess is you answered yes to all three of those because you are an American. These may be tense times with people fighting on social media. What better way to bring everyone together than shredded chicken, hot sauce, gooey cheese and toasty bread exploding in everyone’s mouths? Check out the recipe here.

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.