The start of the game was flat out awful. The Patriots wanted to establish the run game and it produced nothing. The Patriots ran Sony Michel on 1st down 4 straight times. The Raiders run defense must have prepared for the Pats run offense. In the Patriots Pre-Game show Marc Bertrand openly discussed that Michel may have been playing for his spot on the roster. It wasn’t until McDaniel inserted JJ “Dynomite” Taylor into the game and they ran outside the tackles did the game turn. Taylor did have a drop on a difficult bullet from Newton on a screen pass. Taylor led the team with 11 rushing attempts. It appeared that Michel suddenly had a threat and he responded for the best game we have seen from him. Not only did Michel explode, but the Pats ran for over 250 yards. Great in game adjustment by the coaching staff.
Loved the move of Joe Thuney to Center. He is your Pro Bowl caliber, Franchise Tag leader on the line. Thuney made all the calls. Michael Owenu had played well at RT, and played RG at Michigan. He moved into Thuney’s slot and according to Pro Football Focus rating of OLineman, Owenu had the highest grade of 86.7 for OGs.
I noticed that Justin Herron, unidentified by the announcers, finished the game at LT. Isaiah Wynn was on the injury list with a calf injury. In fact Herron started the 2nd half at LT. His key block, getting to the 2nd level and taking out MLB Raekwon McMillan, allowed Sony Michel to cut back left for his first long run. He was on the field for the entire drive that resulted in a TD.
Rex Burkhead had a breakout games as well. Three TD’s (2 rushing, 1 receiving) was outstanding. He also had 7 catches on 10 targets.
Now for the bad news, Cam Newton was just awful and the Patriots won despite this. Je made bad decision after bad decision. On his interception he had Devin Asiasi wide open after he broke off his route and went long. Also, not throwing on 1st down is putting Newton in a hole that he hasn’t been able to get out of. The Patriots were only 3-11 on third down. Newton was late on throws or threw them too hard. He is going to get Edelman killed if he keeps throwing to him while he is tripled covered.
Hats off to the defense for shutting down Darren Waller to 2 catches for 9 yards, both in garbage time. They had various cover schemes which completely took Waller out of the game. Jojuan Williams and Kyle Dugger were keys. Stephan Gilmore had a bounce back game with only a DPI penalty to mar an otherwise great game. He should have had another pick, as did Jonathan Jones and Jason McCourty.
Chase Winovich had another strong game with a forced fumble / sack. Dietrich Wise is playing some of his best since drafted. His strip sack/ fumble recovery for a TD was a thing of beauty. That play was set up by a terrific Special Teams tackle by Justin Bethel at the 10 yard line. Add a block in the back and its half the distance to the goal. Chase Winovich flashed from DE and forced Carr to step up (and not be able to dump a pass off) right into the waiting arms of Wise and Copeland. Wise fell on the ball and after a lengthy review the call was changed from Safety to TD.
Interesting byline is about Belichicks defensive plan. You know he likes to take away what a team does best, and in this case it was Darren Waller. That part worked great. However, he also took away Carr’s checkdown option. Carr has the lowest career YPA (6.9) of any QB in the league (even lower than Tom Brady). He also likes to throw the ball short of the 1st down marker. The Patriots secondary are excellent tacklers and this played right into their hands. Belichick was doubling the checkdown receivers because he had the players in the secondary that could handle man to man.
Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Season