By: Derek Havens
What I loved:
- I loved the focus and intensity shown by Tom Brady. He was very crisp all day, completing 21 of 27 passes and 3 touchdowns. His decision-making and execution was exceptional.
- The offense’s second half woes were halted this week, as the Patriots seemed to be efficient throughout the game. I loved to see the no-huddle play calling as the half began, along with the fact that the play calling was much better overall this week.
- The running game came up huge in this game. Many people talk about balance, and the Patriots had it Sunday. A team that has averaged 85 yards per game so far this season ran for 200 yards on 38 attempts. This balance and rushing potency could help next week against a very stout Miami defense.
- Young players continuing to step up. Aaron Hernandez has developed a solid chemistry with Brady, showing how versatile he can be in this offense. His progression and dynamic abilities have been fun to watch. While Devin McCourty has been taken advantage of at times in the redzone, he is playing very well for a rookie corner. He is one of the best open-field tacklers on this defense already, and has played very good man coverage so far in his first 3 games. With continued practice in coverage techniques, he could have a chance to make some plays and stop a few of those touchdown receptions.
What I was concerned about:
- 30 points. How do you give up 30 points to the Buffalo Bills? That question will puzzle and haunt me for the next week but that is this team’s harsh reality. The Patriots need the offense to show up in all of their remaining 13 games. This young defense will struggle all year until these players grow.
- Poor tackling. The entire defense seemed to have a problem-wrapping guys up during the game. James Sanders, one of the teams better tacklers, also seemed to struggle to highlight the issue. This will need to be resolved before next week, when the team faces a very good running game against the Miami Dolphins.
- Lack of pressure. Even though the Patriots seemed to get to Ryan Fitzpatrick when they brought a heavy blitz, the defense could not get much, if any penetration against a Bills offensive line that is terrible. The team needs to be able to put pressure on opposing QBs with 4 players at least every once in awhile.
Overall, it’s definitely great to get a win against a division rival, but it’s also nothing to celebrate about. More positives than negatives in the game this week, but still some concerns for the whole team. As the Patriots go on the road against a tough Miami Dolphins team next week on Monday night, it’s another early divisional game that could have serious implications in the latter part of the season. Hopefully the team can put together a solid week of practice and execute in Florida next week.
What were your thoughts after this week’s game? Drop me a comment on your own reactions to Sunday’s win over Buffalo.