By: Ian Logue
Changing it up a little on this Saturday morning and following yesterday’s format a bit for another abbreviated edition before we resume the normal format on Monday. So here a few thoughts following the over reactions that happened Friday after New England’s win over the Jets:
Tom Brady’s going to have to help the rookies through their growing pains this season.
(USA TODAY Images)
1) There certainly is quite a bit of panic over the receiver position: For the past several seasons, Wes Welker and the tight ends aside, the receiver position has been one that has been lacking in speed and talent in recent years. As a result that’s one of the main reasons why the team opted to address it during the offseason when they selected Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce in the draft, as well as bringing in Kenbrell Thompkins as an undrafted free agent. Each went through the preseason and showed enough to make the active roster, and now it’s just a matter of trying to get them acclimated through real life game situations. It hasn’t exactly been perfect, but it’s amazing how many people can’t see the forest through the trees and have missed the fact that these guys have been so close on a lot of plays early on already through two games. Thompkins has had his moments and was close on a couple of plays Thursday night, including a diving touchdown catch that was called back because the rookie missed getting his hands under the football by mere inches as he went to the ground on what would have been a tremendous play. This is a game that relies on those inches for success, and it’s hard not to realize that they’re already making progress. Once those plays start connecting, this offense is going to be exciting to watch.
2) Aaron Dobson struggled in his first NFL game, but what we saw is not who he is: Things started off with a bang for Dobson after his first NFL reception was a touchdown thanks to a play-action pass that fooled absolutely everyone on the Jets defense and allowed the rookie to head off to the races for a 39 yard touchdown. From there he struggled a bit, doing something he didn’t do in his final season at Marshall by experiencing a few drops, one of which was on a deep pass play that he did a fantastic job getting to but couldn’t quite haul in as he went to the ground. It was a very uncharacteristic night for a guy who was selected because of how sure-handed he was, and for anyone who watched him play in college, they know that’s not the case. Instead, it’s amazing how many people – fans and media included – who think they’re being clever by calling him “Drop-son” and it’s just ridiculous, especially if you’ve seen this play. This is a guy who is known for his ability to catch the football and actually has an interesting parallel with former Patriot Troy Brown after Dobson finished his collegiate career with 24 touchdown receptions, tying the former Marshall standout and Patriots receiver for fourth in the school’s all-time records. He’s going to be a contributor in this offense, but for those who are criticizing him already, they need to understand that one game should definitely not define him as a player and that he’s going to get better.
3) This transition was done due to a plan that looks significantly different now than it did in April: When the Patriots drafted Dobson and Boyce, the idea behind it was to infuse two talented players in with an offense that would have had Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez, which are three dynamic players who on their own would have been able to carry the load for Tom Brady. Had Belichick known that Gronkowski was going to need back surgery and that Hernandez would be in jail, it’s probably safe to say they would have handled the initial free agency period a little differently. Amendola’s current situation “is what it is” primarily because of the gutsy performance he put in during week one. His need to tough out the second half to help them win the game exacerbated an injury that probably wouldn’t have been as bad as it now is had he been able to sit out the second half after re-aggravating it. Instead he’s now going to miss some time, which further thrusts this younger trio into the forefront.
4) For the benefit of their long-term success, the Patriots need to stick to their current plan, not bring in another veteran receiver: For anyone who has watched this team closely over the past several seasons, the thing that has killed this offense come playoff time has been the lack of an explosive presence on the perimeter to compliment all the talent they have on the inside offensively. They’ve spent the past several seasons relying on old veterans who were able to carry them during the season, but the moment they lost one of their key players, those guys no longer had the ability to get open. It’s a plan that hasn’t worked, and that’s one of the primary reasons why Belichick and his staff obviously decided to move in another direction. Part of the thing that’s hinging on this to be successful is going to be the level of commitment they put forth in sticking to it and allowing these guys to grow in this offense. They can’t learn from film or from being on the sideline, and it has to come from being on the field and getting reps. Schedule-wise they’re matched up against the right teams to be able to make it through this transition. They just need to hang in there and stick with it.
BOYCE SEES A REDUCED ROLE IN GAME TWO:
Looking at the Patriots win Thursday night and it was tough not to notice that Josh Boyce appeared to be a little scarce, and looking at the stat sheet he definitely was. The rookie played on just two plays all night, down from his total last week against the Bills where he was in on 14 of them. Belichick said yesterday when asked if it was part of the game plan or just the way it unfolded, Belichick said that, “I’d say that’s definitely the way it unfolded.” It appears Boyce still has some work to do to earn additional time on the field in their offense.
STEVAN RIDLEY’S RETURN A TOUGH ONE:
Ridley had a rough night against the Jets defense, which did an incredibly good job of getting penetration and keeping the Patriots running back in check for most of the night, especially on first down and that put them in longer yardage situations for most of the evening. Looking at the numbers of Ridley’s 16 carries, 10 of them were on first down which saw him gain just 18 yards (1.8 avg). Overall they also stopped him for a loss four times Thursday night, the highest total for Ridley during the regular seasaon since week one against the Titans last season when he was also stopped for a loss the same number of times.
CONTRARY TO REPORTS, THE PATRIOTS HAVEN’T DIRECTLY CONTACTED BRANDON LLOYD:
Interesting tidbit from Greg Bedard’s notes column on MMQB.com yesterday. According to Bedard, the Patriots didn’t inquire about former receiver Brandon Lloyd. Bedard writes that, “If anything, they called him to set up their emergency list like they do at every position to see who might be available should the worst happen.” He believes ‘the ship has sailed on Lloyd and the Patriots’, although he points out that “desperation makes people do all sorts of things,” but that, “the Patriots aren’t that desperate yet.”
No links this morning, we’ll resume those on Monday but for now can find the latest news on our Patriots News page.