By: Russ Goldman
After a 30-21 home victory against the New York Jets, the Patriots are now facing the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
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 Jets, along with my thoughts on the upcoming game against the Cowboys.
1. The inconsistent play of Mark Sanchez is holding back the Jets. Everytime I think Sanchez is ready to raise his game to the next level, he starts off the season slow. He did this last season as well.
However, Sanchez has stepped up in the play-offs for 2 consecutive seasons, and that needs to be mentioned. For the Jets to really compete for a Super Bowl, they need their quarterback to show up each and every week.
Sanchez did not play well against the Patriots, and really seems to be struggling at this moment. It will be interesting to see which week he raises his game this season.
2. Benjarvus Green-Ellis continues to step up when needed. Just when I was singing the praises of Steven Ridley, up steps Green-Ellis to put the game away against the Jets. He ended up running for 136 yards, and he got a huge chunk of that in the fourth quarter.
You know what you get with this running back, and that is actually a good thing. He gives you consistency, and also gets you the hard yardage when you need it. Green-Ellis is definitely a valuable asset for this offense.
Defenses need to make sure Deion Branch doesn’t catch them sleeping. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
3. Defenses better not forget about Deion Branch. When you have weapons like Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, it is easy for defenses to not pay as much attention to another receiver.
However, Branch still has incredible timing with Brady, and that cannot be overlooked. Branch had 7 receptions for 74 yards, and 1 touchdown last week. If I was Dallas, I wouldn’t sleep on Mr. Branch.
4. The Patriots defense continues to take away a player from the opposing offense. For all the criticisms I have heard about this unit, you have to give them some praise as well.
Last week, they took Dustin Keller completely out of the game for the Jets limiting him to one reception. The week before they really contained Darren McFadden, and against the Chargers, they took away Antonio Gates.
Taking away these players shows me improvement, and something you can really build on. The defense is still not putting great pressure on the quarterback, but they are taking away an offensive weapon most weeks. That is a step in the right direction.
5. The “Three Step Drop” passing lanes were not available for Mark Sanchez. Building on my last thought, Sanchez killed the Patriots in the play-off game with these quick three step drop passes back in January. The Patriots made a huge correction for this game as those short passing lanes were not open. Again, more proof of improvement from the defense.
6. Gary Guyton is suspect against the run. When Jerod Mayo went down with an injury, I knew his replacement might struggle against the run. Guyton is valuable in passing downs, but is a liability against the run.
He continued to show his struggles stopping the run as he was often pushed back. Stopping the run could be somewhat of an issue until Mayo returns.
7. A special teams breakdown can change a game. After the Patriots scored a touchdown to start the second half, Joe McKnight took a kick-off 88 yards to the Patriots 20 yard line. This set up a touchdown for the Jets.
The Patriots had the momentum, and a special teams breakdown gave it right back to the Jets. I am sure the Patriots will be working on this in practice. I hope we never see a return like that again this season.
8. The offensive line needs to get back to an elite level at protecting Tom Brady. I know it is just one game, but Brady was sacked 4 times, and was harrassed a good portion of the game.
The Patriots will face another defensive line this week that can get after the quarterback. The offensive line needs to step up their game to the level they were at in the beginning of the season.
9. Will Dallas defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan be able to frustrate Tom Brady? Last season, Ryan did a nice job against Brady. Reportedly they had two separate game plans, and changed them at half-time to frustrate the Patriots.
Will Ryan be able to do it again this week? He is definitely a concern in this game. One thing he did last season was have his players “walk around”, and make it difficult for the offensive line to know who to block.
Ryan showed this defense in the very first game against the Jets. He is a defensive coordinator that deserves respect, and I am sure the Patriots will give it to him with their preparation.
10. Which Tony Romo will show up against the Patriots? Romo has all the physical talent in the world to be an elite quarterback. However, I still have doubts about his decision-making ability as he still makes key mistakes in huge situations.
He could throw for 400 yards, and three touchdowns, but then throw 3 interceptions. Until he can learn to limit his mistakes, he won’t make that jump up in class. I am just curious, which Romo will show up in Foxboro on Sunday?
Those are my 10 thoughts for week 6, but feel free to leave some of your thoughts or concerns on this upcoming game in the comment section below.