The New England Patriots took care of business against the Oakland Raiders, defeating them 33-8 in Mexico City Sunday afternoon. Let’s take a look at the initial three up, three down for the Patriots.
Down #3: OT Cameron Fleming
The Patriots offensive line has taken four or five massive steps forward since the beginning of the season, when quarterback Tom Brady seemed to be under siege every play.
Cam Fleming has not been a part of that offensive line play, but he was forced into action when backup right tackle LaAdrian Waddle went down with a leg injury for 10 snaps.
In those 10 snaps, Fleming allowed the lone Oakland Raider sack. Granted, it was to All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack, but not a good example of coach Belichick’s patented ‘next man up’ mentality.
Up #3: DB Stephon Gilmore & DB Malcolm Butler
Patriots fans finally got a glimpse of the high level secondary play they expected out of Gilmore and Butler. For the first time all season, both Gilmore and Butler played terrific in the same game, taking the Raiders top two options out of the game.
Gilmore shadowed Michael Crabtree, and Butler followed around Amari Cooper, two players who had a minimal impact on the game.
While Gilmore and Butler both did a good job of covering the outside targets, both Crabtree and Cooper did their fair share by dropping a handful of catchable balls, but give credit where credit is due.
Down #2: DI Deatrich Wise
After a hot start to the season, Wise has hit the rookie wall, although defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is not doing the rookie any favors.
Against the massive Oakland Raiders offensive line, I expected Alan Branch and Ricky Jean Francois to be a big part of the interior defensive line rotation to help stop the run.
Instead, they stuck Wise in there and the Raiders were able to effectively run the ball, 109 rushing yards on 21 attempts (5.2 YPC).
Wise is not in the mold of an Alan Branch, so slotting him back on the edge across from Trey Flowers would seem like the right move to try and get the rookie back on track.
Up #2: WR Brandin Cooks
On pace for another 70+ receptions, 1,000+ receiving yards and 6+ touchdowns campaign, Cooks has truly added another dimension to the Patriots offense. Days like Sunday make you realize what happens when a defense does not shift their coverage towards Cooks.
His 64 yard touchdown is a perfect example. Cooks runs right by rookie defensive back Obi Melifonwu, and with no safety over the top to help, it’s as easy a touchdown Brady will throw. And that’s why Cooks was brought in here. To make defensive coordinators pay.
Down #1: HC Jack Del Rio
This was a fireable game for a head coach. I have not watched enough Oakland Raider football to tell whether this type of performance is the norm for the black and silver, but this had to be one of the worst coaching jobs of the year.
First, the Raiders are coming off a bye. And were shut out through the first 48 minutes of the game. Second, to prepare for the altitude, the Raiders stayed at home, where they are barely above sea level.
The game plan, the miscues, the drops, the holding a football like a plate of dishes near the goal line at the end of the first half, the punch, the commitment to the run game when they are down by more than two scores, Del Rio proved once again how bad the coaching is in the NFL.
Up #1: QB Tom Brady
The MVP performances continue for the 40 year old Tom Terrific. Brady started out hitting on his first 12 attempts of the game, and finished with 339 yards, three touchdowns and a 131.9 passer rating. He completed passes to seven different receivers, and had the Patriots offense running on all cylinders.
Brady’s excellent movement in the pocket was on display, especially on Brady’s second touchdown pass, where he steps up and rolls to his right, and throws a dart to the back of the end zone to Danny Amendola. Terrific play, and a terrific game from your 2017 NFL MVP.
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