MORSE: Further Analysis on Patriots Game 1 as We Get Set For Seattle
I know this is coming in a little later than most analysis, but I wanted a chance to review and watch the game again. When its live I’m watching as a fan, when I review the game, I am watching for those little things that make a difference. Hopefully I won’t repeat too much that has already been written about or said on local media outlets.
Considering they had no Pre-season I thought the discipline shown by the Patriots was remarkable. Limited to 3 PI penalties for 47 yards. Two of those were pass interference on Stephon Gilmore. On the other side Miami had 4 for 37 yards. Jerome Baker has 2 of those. The first was an obvious late hit out of bounds on Julian Edelman and the 2nd an unsportsmanlike conduct of not allowing Newton to get up from the bottom of the pile. On that play, Baker tried to stomp on Newton’s arm.
Newton ran the ball 15 times in the game for 75 yards and 2 TDs. Zone reads, QB draws, QB sweep or RPOs, that is the most Newton has run since his MVP season. Did he need to establish himself again, prove he was healthy? He made those reads and decided to keep the ball. Was this Miami’s plan? Allow Newton to run and then punish him when he did? This relates back to the Baker stomp (that just missed Newton’s arm). We also had that flare up at the end of the game. Could be interesting the next time we play Miami down there! Newton running 15 times a game is not going to be sustainable.
Miami was a different team once DeVante Parker left the game with an aggravated hamstring. The Dolphins O line with two rookies starting did very well limiting the Patriots to 2 sacks. Is this the Patriots D line not being able to take advantage of the inexperienced Miami lineman. We will surely see for ourselves this weekend against Seattle!
Special teams play … punt coverage was outstanding. Pretty tough when you are doubling Slater and leaving Bethel in single coverage. Bethel easily beat his man, caused the PR to reverse his field and 5 Patriots players engulfed him at the 6. That was a 55 yd punt and – 5 return. Typical of Belichick playing starters on ST as Bentley, Copeland and Winovich were part of the core special teamers. Byrd’s muffed punt was caused by JC Jackson being pushed into him by the defender. Jackson redeemed himself by pouncing on the ball. Interesting that JC Jackson got the game ball from Belichick after the game! I don’t have a problem using Edelman on punts that won’t be returned. Like those inside the 15 yard line. On those plays you need sure hands and make a judgement call to catch it or let it go into the end zone. Byrd returned to PR duties later. Why haven’t they used Kyle Dugger? He was prolific at the D2 level. Don’t give me the old line “he played against inferior competition”. Last year’s NFC Pro Bowl punt returner was Deonte Harris (Saints) from nearby Assumption University (D2) in Worcester. I had the pleasure of watching Harris play many times over his 4 year career and he holds the record for PR TD’s in a career in D2.
The Patriots have to find a new kicker, Folk just ain’t answering the mail. I would like to see either Stephen Hauschka or Cole Tracy (Assumption University via LSU) given the chance.
Bill Belichick held back his rookies. Josh Uche and Dalton Keene were held out as inactives and most others had limited reps. Michael Onwenu led the rookies with 22 plays. He did not look out of place, especially as an extra TE. Here are the other Rookies playing time:
JJ “Dynomite” Taylor surprised me (and himself). He ran the ball very well (4-28 7 ypc) and had a good catch on a swing pass that was tipped. Taylor made an 8 yd run and then looked over to the sideline, expecting to be subbed out! He wasn’t and showed what he could do over the next few plays. I had Taylor making the final 53, and there is no way he gets through waivers now that people have film on him. I liked the way he hit the hole hard. Note these were runs between the tackles too!
Devin Asiasi made a good block on the 1st pass attempt by Newton (dropped by Edelman). It was a 2 TE set with Izzo on the left wing and Asiasi on the right wing. Zone blocking left off play action. Asiasi left the defensive end (Ogbah) uncovered. Izzo scraped down from the left wing opposite the zone blocking direction and picked up Ogbah. Asiasi seeing Izzo was having trouble containing Ogbah, peeled back from the O line and took Ogbah right out of the play.
I liked that after establishing the run in the 1st half that the coaching staff adjusted in the 2nd half and started throwing. Miami was loading the box and selling out to stop the run. A little play action held the LBs and it was all one on one. I thought Newton’s ball handling was terrific. I was kind of worried about his play action fakes, but they were magnificent. Newton was 15 for 19 (78%) had two knocked down at the LOS and another dropped by Edelman. On that play, Newton could have thrown it a bit earlier and it would have been a reception. Edelman had to stop his route to try and catch the high throw. The hard knock by the defender separated the ball from Edelman.
1st Quarter 0-0
Izzo made a nice adjustment to his route, sat down and made a nice catch downfield. I would like to see more of this. Byrd had some nice downfield blocking on a Burkhead run. However this was the only time we saw Byrd (other than PR). He was invisible most of the game despite having the most plays for all the WR’s. Zero targets for Byrd. Disappointed that N’Keal Harry could get taken down so easy by a DB. He got pancaked.
Edelman had his 600th career reception. Newton’s 1st TD was so easy with nice kick out block by Elumanor. Cowart had a partial block on the Miami FG. The ball still managed to get through for the 3 points. Phillips had a strong game as a hybrid LB/SS and dropped into coverage nicely for his INT. Can anyone explain how the Patriots got an extra timeout in the 1st half? The announcers were clueless! Did you realize the Dolphins outgained the Pats in the 1st half? Halftime score 7- 3 Patriots.
Brilliant play calling on the Patriots opening drive using play action. Coaching staff made a good adjustment to Miami loading the box. Williams shut down Gresecki starting in the 3rd Qtr. This is something to watch going forward since the Patriots will face a boatload of good TE’s this year. Dynomite Taylor had a good pass block pick up on Ogbah. Great recognition on his part picking up the inside man when he had two defenders flying at him. Taylor got knocked to the ground, but stopped Ogbah from advancing. Newton had changed the play at the LOS, one of the few times he did all game. That needs work and will come with more familiarity. On the Harry fumble at the goal line it looked as if Harry tried to change the ball from his right outside hand to his left inside. It was too bad he fumbled because he had a great series up to that point. That was a 15 point swing, it should have made the score 24-3 (missed FG) and we would be talking about a blowout. Time of Possession for the 3rd Qtr was 12:34 to 2:30 with 20 plays for Patriots to 6 for Phins. 14-3 patriots
Phins score on a long drive and make 2 point conversion. Newton needs to do a better job at LOS making the play changes and recognition of defense. Williams had great coverage of Gesecki allowing Jackson to make the INT. I disagree with the announcers saying it should have been interference. Williams had him locked down from the jump. Jackson had some nice anticipation leaving his man to make the INT.
Edelman was held out of most running plays (except his 28 yd jet sweep). Need to watch this in the Seattle game as a possible tell.
All in all a great 1st game for the Patriots.
Look for a game 2 analysis of Seattle coming up Friday.
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