Now before we begin and you accused me of clutching at straws in some desperate attempt to try and find some positives when my football team is 0-2 and looking like they simply don't know how to win games, let me explain the purpose of this blog. Because I do have one.
What I'm setting out to do is clutch at straws in a desperate attempt to try and find some positives when my football team is 0-2 and looking like they simply don't know how to win games.
That's what's happening here. What's it to you? You cope with it your way, I'll cope with it mine. Which is to look at this through rose colored glasses and a glass of Kentucky bourbon until it all seems OK. Because what I don't need right now is King Reality walking me to the window asking my advice on the current ... situation:
So instead, please allow me to jingle keys in front of my own eyes as a distraction from the state we're in. Let's look at the rookie cornerback who was given perhaps the toughest task on the entire roster save for probably Mac Jones.
It's early still. Only 11.76% of the precincts have reported in (that's 2 games of 17). But the returns on Christian Gonzalez are very, very positive so far.
Here's how he fared last night, according to Pro Football Focus:
vs. Tyreek Hill: 2 targets, 0 receptions, 0 yards, 1 interception
vs. Jaylen Waddle: 1 target, 1 receptions, 15 yards
vs. Durham Smythe: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 17 yards
That's covering two wideouts who between them topped 3,000 yards last year.
After last week's game, going up against AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith and Kenneth Gainwell, that gives him a coverage stat line through two games of:
15 targets, 10 receptions, 103 yards, 10.3 YPR, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, 1 pass broken up, 58.5 passer rating against
That's taking on a group that has nine Pro Bowl appearances and four All Pro berths among them, with many more still to come. Where do these numbers put Gonzalez?
Well for starters, that passer rating is 10th best among all corners in the league with more than 78 snaps. In that same group, he's got the third highest PFF Overall grade and their fifth highest Coverage grade.
That Overall grade is helped too by the fact that he's tied for seventh most tackles, has a sack to his credit, as well as a tackle for loss.
Though measuring Gonzalez by cumulative stats is almost unfair. But I'm going to bring them up anyway because, in case I glossed over this earlier, I repeat the Patriots are 0-2 and I need this. I say almost unfair because Gonzalez is always on the field. Quite literally. His 129 total snaps might not put him in the Top 30 among all corners, but that's just because the defense he anchors has been forcing turnovers and 3 & outs. He's taken 100% of New England's snaps. Something that's rare on this team that rotates guys through, even at boundary corner. For a rookie it's unheard of.
And the coach sees what we're seeing:
It's going to be fun to track Gonzalez' progress this year as he faces more tough wideouts (Garrett Wilson Sunday, CeeDee Lamb the following week), gains experience and gets more comfortable in Belichick's defense. And, one can only hope, builds confidence as he proves he belongs in this league.
Which is mission critical not only to help save this season, but to stop the Belichick is On the Hot Seat drivel. The Gateway to "Bill Might Get Fired" talk is "Bill Might Get His GM Duties Taken Away" claptrap. Nothing will help take a hose to that fire before it spreads like producing the next great Patriots cornerback - which is a proud tradition around these parts - with the No. 17 pick, while adding another pick in a trade down.
Gonzalez' continued elite play, plus a win or two, plus getting missing players healthy again is all it will take to get this ship back on course. I mean, I love seeing a young player develop and all that. But if it's all we have, is life even worth living?
Sorry. That was grimmer than was expecting to end this on. Instead I'll just say focusing on Gonzo's remarkable play is helping.