The days of relying on Tom Brady’s arm to lead the Patriots to victory seem to be over, at least for the short term. With a group of rookie receivers and a depleted running game, this offense looks a lot different than in years past. Once known for explosive drives and the ability to score in a matter of minutes, they’re now struggling to find consistency. With dropped passes and missed assignments, at times it can be difficult to watch. Kenbrell Thompkins looked great in training camp but has struggled so far this season and Aaron Dobson showed promise with his first NFL catch going for a touchdown against the Jets, but he fell off quickly after that. Julian Edelman is leading the offense now with the injuries to Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen but he can’t do it alone. Luckily for him, and for the rest of the offense, there seems to be a new hero in town.
Chandler Jones and the defense have stepped up their game as the offense continues to struggle.
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The bright spot in the Patriots not so pretty win over the Jets on Thursday night was the defense. The Jets had four turnovers in the game and rookie quarterback Geno Smith was sacked four times for a loss of 25 yards. Aqib Talib for his part forced a fumble and had two interceptions while Alfonzo Dennard also had an interception. Overall the secondary came to play. Kyle Arrington had another impressive performance and it seems all he needed was a new number to play at a higher level. If he can keep this up and Dennard can continue to improve, the hole that has become all too familiar in the Patriots secondary, might be closing up for good. That would be a huge improvement for this team who needs to keep opposing quarterbacks at bay. By shutting down the passing game they’re doing a big service to the team as a whole.
In addition to the secondary showing some growth so far this season, the linebackers and defensive line have also stepped up their game. As the offense struggles the defense has clearly taken it upon themselves to be the “next man up” as Bill Belichick likes to say. We’re more accustomed to seeing the offense bail out the defense but at least for the start of this season, it appears as though the tables have turned. Luckily, they’re up to the challenge. Chandler Jones is performing at the level we all expected him to be at. Against the Jets he had two sacks and two tackles for a loss. It’s too early to tell if we finally have the outside pass rusher that we have been craving, but his performance in the first two weeks of the season is promising.
But it’s not only the defense that has been stepping up, rookie punter Ryan Allen has also been doing his part. While we never like to see a 3 and out from the Patriots or a punt in general, Allen so far has proven why he won the job. He has punted for a league high 750 yards with players averaging 3.5 return yards. He’s also forced a league high 3 touchbacks. If he can continue at this pace that’ll only help the defense.
While we wait for the offense to find their stride, the Pats need to continue to be as shutdown as possible in all other facets of the game. As with years past, this team will continue to improve as the season goes on. Brady is one of the greatest to ever play the game and there should be no doubt that he’ll get these rookie receivers running in the right direction. It’s just going to take some time. This season has already proven to be a lot different than we’re used to but sometimes a change of pace is just what the doctor ordered.