Since their bye week, the Patriots have been on the fast track offensively and are exactly where they should be given their opponents. And that is the key, the Patriots have not had a challenge in their past three games. Buffalo was tough but the Patriots got their focus back and have since beaten the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets handedly. But what exactly can we take away from this? How hard has it really been for the Patriots this second half and what will happen when tougher opponents take the field against them?
Bill Belichick still has work to do even though the Patriots have been unstoppable in back to back games. (FILE:USPresswire)
Offensively there are some big injuries plaguing the Patriots that could come back to haunt them. Logan Mankins has been battling a hip injury and Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer have also missed some time recently. Obviously the Rob Gronkowski injury was a big blow to the offense but the Patriots do have one element on their side, time. There was a quick turnaround from Sunday to Thursday this past week and Bill Belichick made some smart moves with personnel. Against Indianapolis Aaron Hernandez sat out and that gave his ankle more time to heal. After Gronk went down, that move by Belichick proved even more important. Hernandez didn’t rack up the receptions with only two grabs on three targets, but he was back in the game and that is an improvement. With Miami this week the Patriots should be able to afford another week of rest for players like Mankins with lingering injuries before they face the Texans and 49ers in back to back weeks.
Defensively the linebackers have been struggling. It started in the game against Buffalo when Brandon Spikes was too aggressive for his own good and now they’ve shown their inability to catch a running back on the move. The Patriots linebackers are big and when their timing is right, they can blitz an offense with great success, but when they need to make a tackle, a quick route on an angle has proven to be their demise.
Obviously there is a lot of positive to take out of these last three games. The Patriots have been doing exactly what was expected of them and have beaten lesser opponents by huge margins. They took advantage of every Jet mistake on Thanksgiving and made them look like a high school team going up against a bunch of pros. Andrew Luck was able to have a big passing day but ultimately the defense adjusted and picked him off three times. What’s important here is to keep perspective. The Patriots have done nothing they shouldn’t have done. Their real challenge is in two weeks when they face the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. Their schedule has been favorable, and given their injury situation, the coaching has been spot on. In order to keep their success going they’ll have to take each win in name only and continue to correct mistakes that have hurt them all season long. With the playoffs inching closer this is just the time for the Patriots to come out and get some character building wins under their belts.