The Buffalo Bills always give the Patriots a run for their money. Opening day proved to be no different as rookie quarterback EJ Manuel showed poise in leading his team against Tom Brady. Manuel completed 18 of his 27 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns giving him a total quarterback rating of 105.5. Brady on the other hand went 29 for 52 for 288 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. His total QBR was a low 76.4, his lowest Week One rating since 2003. Not exactly the start the Patriots wanted, but a win is a win.
While Buffalo was busy giving the Patriots every opportunity to bury them, to the tune of 10 penalties for 75 yards, the Pats were not so quick to capitalize. One glaring weakness that cannot be ignored is that this offense, needs some work. The days of Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead and Randy Moss are gone and now we are presented with Shane Vereen, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Unfortunately for the Patriots, these three players seem to be the only valuable and reliable ones.
Danny Amendola came up huge for Tom Brady against the Bills but with his health an issue, the Patriots need to develop more offensively. (FILE:USPresswire)
In his New England debut Amendola caught 10 passes for 104 yards while Edelman scored two touchdowns and had 7 catches for 79 yards. Vereen for his part led the rushing core with 14 carries for 101 yards and he was the third most targeted receiver behind Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins who both had 14 targets. Thompkins, who was a standout during the preseason, failed to meet expectations against the Bills. His footwork was poor and he didn’t seem to be on the same page as Brady. All things that can be fixed but this is a rookie growing pain the Patriots are not used to having. It was difficult to watch someone with such promise struggle so much.
It’s only Week One and there is plenty more football to play, but seeing the offense we have come to rely on crumble against a depleted Buffalo Bills defense, was eye opening to say the least. Luckily the Pats have a two more games against lesser opponents before they meet the Atlanta Falcons in Week Four. Hopefully that is enough time for them to fix this newly found issue with the offense. It’s all about chemistry and we know how hard Brady works to create and maintain it. With Rob Gronkowski working his way back to playing form that should only help this team get back on track.
As for the old habits that reared their ugly heads on Sunday, let’s take a look at the Patriots secondary. Granted Kyle Arrington was considerably better than last season there were still some missed assignments that lead to Bills touchdowns. It seems to be a constant battle the Patriots face with their secondary. They can come up huge and create turnovers but they can leave guys wide open in the end zone. Some solid footage from this week will undoubtedly help the coaching staff correct these mistakes.
With the linebackers, the song about a lack of speed continues to be sung. These guys are great off the line and nobody anticipates a snap like Brandon Spikes, but catch these guys in a lateral motion and the opposition wins every time. The middle of the field is a weakness and allows opposing quarterbacks to look like Hall of Fame talents. It’s time this problem gets corrected and I see that happening with Chandler Jones in his second year, creating more pressure up front and forcing mistakes. This will open up the linebackers to get one step ahead of the opponent.
Week One was unimpressive to say the least. What Bill Belichick gathered from the game was a lot of footage and during this short week, he’s going to need it. There are some new problems and old habits to work on but facing the Jets on Thursday is in their favor. They have time to correct and reset the offense and realign the defense. While we can expect Thursday’s game to look a lot different, make sure you’re prepared for the growing pains that are going to come along with this season. It’s the start of a new era in New England with a fresh crop of offensive talent.