By: Derek Havens
After a disappointing loss to the Buffalo Bills last week, the New England Patriots traveled to Oakland to get their third win of the season on Sunday afternoon. While the team did get the victory, this team still has work to do moving forward . Here is my report card for week 3 –
Offense Grade: B+
The Patriots offensive performance was interesting. For starters, Tom Brady was under duress for a good portion of the day. Yes, the offensive line only gave up one sack, but their lack of protection at time led to some inaccurate throws and missed opportunities by the offense.
Andre Carter was brought to New England to get after the QB, but the Patriots pass rush has been nonexistent through four weeks. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Stevan Ridley had his best game a a pro, with 97 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. The LSU product may be starting a running back controversy in New England. While Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead have proven they are serviceable tailbacks for this team, Ridley has shown his potential in the last two weeks.
Defense Grade: C
First and foremost, the Patriots have to learn how to get off the field on third down. Allowing the Raiders to go 8-13 is simply unacceptable. Yes, they did have two interceptions, but there were several plays with miscommunication. I also noticed a lot of mistackling in the game. This kind of lapse in football fundamentals are certainly rare to see on a Bill Belichick team.
I was very impressed with how the defense contained Darren McFadden throughout the afternoon. I am aware that he had 75-yards on 14 carries, but he ran for a 41-yard gain in the second quarter. If you take away the big gain, he average only 2.6 yards per carry throughout the rest of the game. Belichick and the defense obviously focused on the Raiders’ rushing attack coming into the week, and it resulted in another Patriots victory.
The pass rush remains to be almost non-existent and even when the team seemed to blitz more, they were a second too late on several occasions. Devin McCourty seemed play better this week, as the team utilized more zone coverage. I believe there is room for improvement, but the unit needs to step up in Jerod Mayo’s absence; an injury that will reportedly sideline the captain for up to six weeks.
Special Teams Grade: A
Pats kicker Stephen Gostkowski hit a 44-yard field goal at the end of the first half, and Zoltan Mesko had three great punts, averaging 49-yards per attempt. New England’s return coverage continued to play solid as well.
Overall Game Grade: B+
Overall, I thought the Patriots played well, but like I previously mentioned, this team still has work to do moving forward. Never the less, a win is always great to have, and it is certainly nice to get the team’s confidence back before facing the New York Jets next week. I will have further analysis on this game and the Jets game throughout the week. Stay tuned.
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