By: Russ Goldman
After a 31-19 road victory at the Black Hole in Oakland, the Patriots are facing their AFC east rivals, with the New York Jets set to visit Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
There’s certainly plenty to talk about, so here are some thoughts for this week ranging from comments on some of the players performances against the Raiders, along with my thoughts on the upcoming game against the Jets.
1. Jason Campbell is the reason the Raiders will not be an elite team in the AFC. After watching the Patriots play the Raiders, I left thinking the home team has improved but they have one fatal flaw, and that is at quarterback.
He certainly at times had his way with a Patriots pass defense which is struggling. However, his decision-making is sub-par, and it leads to crucial mistakes that can change games. His two interceptions were huge. When you watch Campbell, it can’t help but make you just appreciate a little more what an advantage the Patriots have at quarterback with Brady.
2. Richard Seymour really hurt the Raiders on Sunday. It might have only been on the opening drive, but his two penalties really helped the Patriots get their first touchdown.
The rest of the game the Patriots really neutralized Seymour with double teams. Unfortunately, I think he was too excited for this game, and might have lost his cool. Seymour will always be a Patriots player for me, and I hope someday he thinks of himself that way as well.
It would be nice if Shaun Ellis could be as disruptive against New York as he was against Brady back in January. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
3. Shaun Ellis has been a disappointment so far for the Patriots. In four games, he only has 3 tackles with no sacks. I am starting to feel that we need to give him some more time to adjust and be healthy.
Before coming to the Patriots he had hip surgery, and he just might not be all the way back yet. He is also entering a new system, and that can be an adjustment as well. It is too early to rule him out as a factor this season.
4. The Patriots run defense could be a strength this season. I thought the Patriots did a nice job in containing Darren McFadden in holding him only to 75 yards. You take away that one run of 41 yards, and the Patriots really neutralized him.
If you can contain the leading rusher in the NFL, I am encouraged by what the defense can do against the run the rest of the season. The run defense has been pretty good for the most part this season. When we get into the colder months of the season, and into the play-offs stopping the run could be a bigger factor. It is good to know that at least this part of the defense could be strong.
5. Brandon Spikes is starting to play every well. There were some questions about this player before the season began. Well, Spikes is starting to be active in the Patriots defense. Against the Bills, he had 5 tackles, and last week against the Raiders he finished with 6.
Spikes has been impressive in stopping the run, and his emergence could be part of the reason we have seen some improvement in the Patriots rush defense. The question will be, can he be a three down linebacker? I think he can, and his emergence with the linebacker crew could help with the potential loss of Jerod Mayo over an extended period of time.
6. Dane Fletcher might be the option to take the place of Jerod Mayo. The conventional wisdom by some in the media is that Gary Guyton will be taking the place of Mayo while he is out.
I disagree as I am seeing the emergence of Dane Fletcher that started in the pre-season. He has the potential to be a complete linebacker where I see Guyton used more in passing situations. Fletcher had 4 tackles against the Raiders, and his improvement has been impressive. I have also seen him drop back into coverage, and also stop the run. You shouldn’t assume that Guyton has the position, because Fletcher in my opinion has more upside.
7. Sergio Brown has really struggled the last couple of game at safety. I thought his play in the Chargers game was encouraging, but back to back bad games has me concerned.
He is often seen out of position or taking bad angles to the ball. Brown unfortunately is reminding me of Brandon Meriweather without the hitting ability, which is not good at all. I will give him more time, but right now his play overall has been terrible.
8. Steven Ridley might be the complete running back the Patriots have been looking for. Before Ridley came to the Patriots, the scouting reports I read made me feel he was a similar running back to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. However, I think he might have more to offer the Patriots than 4 yards and a cloud of dust.
Ridley against the Raiders ran for 97 yards on 10 carries which is impressive. However, he showed me something that I did not know he possessed which is “breakaway ability” against the Raiders. He had a run for 33 yards and a touchdown and ran away from the defense. If he has that threat in his game, the Patriots might have found their complete running back for the future.
9. The Jets offensive line right now is in tough shape. Against the Ravens, the Jets offensive line really struggled, and the Patriots need to take advantage of this weakness this Sunday. If Nick Mangold can’t play at center, I hope Vince Wilfork or Albert Haynseworth if healthy can take advantage of this issue.
The Patriots defensive line has had an issue so far in getting after the quarterback. There is no excuse against the Jets that they can’t put pressure on Sanchez.
10. Sunday’s game believe it or not is crucial for both teams. I have been hearing in the media that this game is more important to the Jets because they have 2 losses. I disagree as I see this game just as important for the Patriots. They can really distance themselves from the Jets early in the season with a victory.
If the Patriots lose this game, it will definitely be a lost opportunity to really put themselves in the driver’s seat in the AFC East. Honestly, I don’t see the Bills being there in the end, and the Jets are the real threat for the division.
Those are my 10 thoughts for week 5, but feel free to leave some of your thoughts or concerns on this upcoming game in the comment section below.