It’s been an interesting start to the 2013 New England Patriots season, with Patriots fans having been given a huge dose of football all crammed in within a four day span, fortunately both of which were victories. Now it will be a quiet Sunday while the team gets a little break before the Buccaneers come into Foxboro one week from today.
There’s obviously going to continue to be some discussion about their current situation, primarily on the offensive side of the ball. On the other side we’ve seen some encouraging signs from the defense, and their streak of 29 straight games having forced a turnover remains intact after recovering a fumble and intecepting Geno Smith 3 times Thursday night. As the season goes on it’s going to be interesting see how big of a story they start to become if they continue to play well.
In the meantime, here are three quick thoughts on what we’ve learned through two games:
1) The offense remains a work in progress, but Julian Edelman has been the biggest surprise: We’ve written ad nauseum about the fact there’s going to need to be some patience at the receiver position, so we won’t go there this morning. However, looking at the first two games it’s been encouraging to see the performances from Julian Edelman, who has certainly been a pleasant surprise so far this season. We saw him take on double coverage on multiple occasions on Thursday night while still being able to catch 13 passes against the Jets. Edelman’s always been considered to be a good 3rd or 4th receiver, but to see him step up with the Jets defense clearly focused on him and still manage to have a big night was impressive. He’s become a go-to target on 3rd down this season, having hauled in all four passes thrown his way from Tom Brady Thursday night, finishing 4-of-4 with 2 first downs. On the season in that situation he’s caught all seven targets, with four first downs and two touchdowns. In the past one knock on Edelman has been he’s got the same label as Danny Amendola in terms of being injury-prone, having suffered a broken forearm and a bone in his foot, the latter of which sidelined him last season. However, he also has the similar sentiment among many that he’s been a victim of bad luck, so hopefully all of that is behind him. Obviously we know about his knack for returning punts but for him to become a reliable third down target is certainly a welcomed addition for him to add to his resume, and it will be fun to see how long he can keep his current streak going.
One interesting note pointed out by Field Yates yesterday, Edelman’s contract has a base salary of $715,000 but he’s off to a good start in terms of reaching the incentives in his deal. According to Yates, here are the incentives should Edelman reach the following milestones: 30 catches ($30,000), 40 catches ($70,000), 50 catches ($120,000), 60 ($180,000) and 70 catches ($250,000). Yates points out that those are not totals, and that he’ll just receive the highest amount he reaches. He has 20 so far this season, so he appears to be on his way to a good payday. The bigger question will be whether or not the Patriots choose to reward him further and keep him after the season.
The Patriots could certainly use Danny Woodhead right about now.
(USA TODAY Images)
2) If there’s one mistake the Patriots made this offseason, letting Danny Woodhead walk would be one that’s questionable: I had this discussion with someone yesterday and it was ironic to see Mike Reiss share a similar thought this morning. Obviously the Patriots had no way of knowing that Shane Vereen would break his wrist in the season opener, but the decision to not bring back Danny Woodhead is one that is definitely a little puzzling. That was obviously a decision that was made early on during the offseason,with Woodhead having signed a two year deal worth up to $3.9 million with incentives with San Diego back in March. One of the issues the Patriots are going to have in the coming weeks will be the lack of a versatile back who can catch the ball out of the backfield, and that’s an area that as we know was one of Woodhead’s strengths. So far he had a relatively quiet week one with the Chargers, having caught 2 passes for 16 yards in a 31-28 loss to the Texans at home Monday night and was in on only 9 offensive plays for the game. San Diego was outscored 17-0 in the final quarter, but an interception on a target to Woodhead from the Chargers 13 yard line loomed large because it was returned for a touchdown that tied the game at 28-28. Looking at the film, it was hardly Woodhead’s fault. On the play he was motioned out and lined up as a receiver, and Philip Rivers made a horrible throw because the Texans’ Brian Cushing was right there to make the play. As we know it’s hard to keep everyone, but with Vereen sidelined Woodhead’s presence is missed and now the Patriots will simply have to figure out a way to deal with that void until he finally returns later this season.
3) The secondary is off to a good start after a rough 2012: One of the topics that was argued talked about all of last season was the play of New England’s secondary, which so far through two games has been one of the bigger positives for their defense. They’re currently ranked 6th in the league in passing yards per game allowed, and are tied with four teams with a league leading 3 interceptions. This is a group that so far has been around the ball a lot more in the early part of the season, and you can tell that there was a focus made this offseason on some of the fundamentals that has paid dividends early on this season. It’s tough not to be a little excited about what the future will hold for this group, and once the offense kicks into gear it’s starting to feel like we’re witnessing something special begin to materialize. We’ve mentioned the turnover streak at the beginning of this morning’s edition that the team currently has going on (29 straight games having forced one). Before you get too excited about the Patriots reaching a milestone here, they’re way off from the NFL record. I caught up with Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network to find out how close they were, and learned that the Philadelphia Eagles have a firm grip on that honor having forced a turnover in 71 straight games since the merger (1985-1990). Either way it will be a fun thing to keep an eye on this season.
ZACH SUDFELD’S BROTHER HAD A SOLID GAME ON SATURDAY:
Christopher Price of WEEI pointed out yesterday morning that Nate Sudfeld, Zach’s brother, was the starting quarterback against Bowling Green on Saturday in what ended up being a 42-10 blowout win for the Hoosiers. On the afternoon Sudfeld finished 17-of-26 for 335 yards and 2 touchdowns and didn’t throw an interception. It was Sudfeld’s first career start, and he also ran for a one yard touchdown. He had thrown for 582 yards and 8 touchdowns coming into the afternoon and hopefully this victory over the Falcons earned him another starting opportunity next week.
PATRIOTS PLAYERS BUSY ON THEIR DAYS OFF:
Yesterday former Scarlet Knight Devin McCourty was among several former players who were at High Point Solutions Stadium to watch their team beat East Michigan 28-10, but more importantly they watched Rutgers retire the jersey of Eric LeGrand, who became the first player in school history to have his number retired. LeGrand was paralyzed in a game against Army at MetLife stadium three years ago, and has become an advocate for spinal cord research. Also reportedly there was Patriots coach Bill Belichick, which was certainly good to see considering his clear admiration for the university given his recent draft history.
Meanwhile Marcus Cannon made his first trip to Fenway Park yesterday to watch Boston’s 5-1 win over the Yankees. Fortunately in this photo Cannon’s wearing a Red Sox hat and he’s not a Yankees fan, which should keep him in the good graces of local fans here in New England. Not that it would really matter considering he already has a lot of love and admiration from fans who have seen him battle through cancer and become a pretty good player on New England’s offensive line, which has made him a terrific story since he joined this football team as a 5th round pick back in 2011.
There was another player who gave some time back Saturday, with Alfonzo Dennard doing some charity work yesterday, spending his morning helping serve over 650 guests at the American Red Cross’ Boston Food Pantry.
SORRY, KEVIN FAULK ISN’T COMING BACK
We’ll end on this note: With Vereen out and no real threat out of the backfield to replace him, fans can’t help but miss Kevin Faulk a little bit considering how well he handled that role for this team during his career. As they say, “Faulk isn’t walking through that door” and unfortunately Faulk posted a tweet yesterday reiterating that his career is over, and that he’s “forever a Patriot”:
GOD haa been great to me my whole career n now, but me on the field again is definitely a wrap, FOREVER A PATRIOT…
— K. Feezy (@feezy_k) September 14, 2013
I knnow I’ve said this the past two days, but we’ll be resuming our normal daily links beginning tomorrow and will likely do something a little different with them on the weekends moving forward. Otherwise hope all of you have a great day and we’ll see you tomorrow.