By: Russ Goldman
Each week I am going to look back, and give you six takeaways I got from watching the Patriots game. I want this to be a balanced post so I am going to give you an equal share of the positive and the negative takeaways in this match-up for the Pats.
1. The defense stepping up on third and fourth down is a huge positive. A knock on the Patriots defense the last few seasons was the ability to get off the field on third down. Well, the defense was able to do that pretty well in this game, but took it a step further as they were able to change possession with their success on fourth down.
The Bucs offense was 5-14 on third down, which comes to just over a 35 % per cent conversion rate. On fourth down, the Bucs were 0-4, and again this is a change of possession, which certainly was a factor in a momentum change towards the Patriots in this game.
2. Aqib Talib showed the importance of having a true number one cornerback. Now, Talib by no means is the second coming of Ty Law, but his ability to cover the best receiver on the Bucs, allowed the rest of the Patriots secondary to just do their jobs. Overall, the Patriots defense only gave up 226 yards passing, and Talib had a big part of that small number.
On top of that, Talib made a key interception in the first half that eventually gave the Patriots an additional three points. Talib is becoming a stable presence in the secondary, and the rest of the unit I feel is feeding off of his play.
3. The rookie wide receivers made progress in this game. The Patriots offense was really struggling, until a crucial fourth down catch from Aaron Dobson. After that reception, the Patriots offense started to move, and eventually scored on a touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins.
Dobson ended his day having seven receptions for 52 yards. Thompkins only had three receptions for 42 yards, but it also included two touchdown receptions.
The performance of the rookie wide receivers was a step in the right direction for the offense. They still have much work to do, but a move forward is something that deserves to be put in the positive category.
1. The offensive line had a tough time protecting quarterback Tom Brady. In the beginning of the game, Brady was under consistent pressure from the Bucs pass rush. The offensive line did a better job protecting Brady in the second half, but it still needs to be better moving forward.
The Bucs only sacked Brady three times, but there is no question that Brady was under pressure a good deal in this game. You have to give credit to the Bucs defense, but the offensive line needs to do a better job of pass protection the rest of the season.
2. The Patriots defense needs to do a better job against the run. The Bucs only ran for 99 yards, but their average per carry was 4.4 yards, and the defense needs to lower that number in future games. Doug Martin ran for just 88 yards, but his average was right on 4.4 yards per carry.
3. Tom Brady played a below average game for his standards. His statistics do not look bad as he threw for 225 yards with two touchdowns, and a 69% completion rate.
However, his decision making in this game was not up to his level. He threw a bad pick in the end-zone, and did miss some open receivers, while throwing a few bad passes. I have high standards for Brady, so this was not one of his better games.
In concluding there are positives and negatives to take out of this game that I can look at. However, I think it is obvious that the positives far outweigh the negatives, because the Patriots in the end beat the Bucs 23-3.
The Patriots are a work in progress, but if there is one thing to take out of this game, that would be overall the team is improving on both offense and defense. It is a long season, but the Patriots are heading more in a positive direction right now.
If you are looking for a more extensive analysis of this Patriots victory, I invite you to listen to the Patriots Fourth And Two Post-Game Podcast.