Week 14 Risers and Fallers: Not much to cheer about despite a win

Perhaps nothing exemplifies the Patriots defense more than the four-lettered words dropped by Tom Brady during his sideline scuffle with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.

*&#* Frustration  *#*##

Outside of Brady’s careless endzone interception, the offense continued on its torrid scoring pace – dropping 34 points on a solid Redskins defense.

The problem however was the Redskins scored 27 themselves, including an embarrassing trick play where receiver Brandon Banks threw a TD to receiver Santana Moss with receiver-turned-safety Matt Slater trailing in coverage.

Without Pat Chung, the secondary has been stretched dangerously thin, and even an average quarterback like Rex Grossman moved the ball with ease.

While I’m not dismissing the fact the Patriots picked up their 10th win, this victory gave little to cheer about.

Let’s take a look at this week’s risers and fallers.

 

Risers

1. Rob Gronkowski: No explanation necessary.

2. Jerod Mayo: On a defense full of question marks, Mayo is the one constant. While he isn’t in the class of Patrick Willis as an all-around playmaker or intimidator, Mayo is still one of the better linebackers in the league. The 2010 All-Pro led the team with nine tackles and chipped in with a quarterback hit and pass defended. However, it was his game-sealing interception that earned him a spot on the list.

 

Fallers

1. Entire defense: Giving up 293 passing yards is a given every week. But surrendering 170 yards on the ground is unacceptable. Redskins rookie Roy Helu looked like a young LaDanian Tomlinson on Sunday, making some impressive jump cuts and flashing excellent speed and quickness. With starting left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Fred Davis out of the lineup, the Redskins were short on playmakers…at least on paper. Instead, Grossman and the Skins exploited the soft zone defense between the linebackers and safeties. Not a good day to be a Patriot defender.

2. Devin McCourty: Boy has he fallen off a cliff. A year after being named a Pro Bowler as a rookie, McCourty can’t cover anyone. Donte Stallworth, who entered the game with a 10/111/1 stat line, burned McCourty for four catches, 96 yards and a score. DMC looks a step slower this year and hasn’t been a consistent tackler either. If he’s not on his game, this team has no shot when it comes playoff time.

3. Running game: Despite drafting two backs in the early rounds, the Patriots haven’t made much of an effort to get them on the field. And it’s not because BenJarvus Green-Ellis or Danny Woodhead are tearing it up either. While Washington ran the ball 34 times for 170 yards, New England managed just 79 yards on 20 carries including four scrambles by Brady. The adage about defense and a running game winning championships definitely doesn’t look realistic when it comes to the Patriots. Can they beat the odds?

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