The New England Patriots came out firing on all cylinders Sunday afternoon, beating the New Orleans Saints, 36-20. Let’s take a look at the initial three up, three down for the Patriots, without the benefit of film review.
Down #3: CB Malcolm Butler
Butler did not have a bad game, but very few Patriots did not perform well Sunday, so this is more of an indictment of how well the Patriots played, rather than how poorly Butler played.
Butler did give up the touchdown to Saints wideout Brandon Coleman though. It was a well executed play by the Saints, running a pick play near the goal line, and Butler decided to go over the top to defend the play, giving Brees the perfect amount of time to rifle a dart in for the touchdown.
While the play was well executed, Butler’s coverage was a bit soft. Playing over the top of a pick is a fine way to play coverage, if you are not near the goal line. Otherwise, you get easy touchdowns like the one Butler gave up.
Up #3: DL Deatrich Wise
After a solid rookie debut against the Kansas City Chiefs in week one, Bill Belichick decided to give the rookie more playing time, and he made the most of it.
Wise registered a sack and five quarterback hits, en route to being the Patriots most effective pass rusher on Sunday.
Wise effectively used his size and strength to consistently beat his man, wherever he was lined up. If he can develop a secondary move, such as a spin or a stop and go move, he can be a terror for opposing quarterbacks.
Down #2: WR Brandin Cooks
Give credit where credit is due, Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore did an excellent job on Cooks. He jammed him at the line effectively, and ran right alongside Cooks, who is a speed demon.
Finishing with two catches for 37 yards though is not what the Patriots would like out of their star receiver though, especially with Edelman and Amendola out of the game.
I expect McDaniels to help get Cooks involved in the passing game more next time, perhaps some pick plays like the Patriots ran against the Saints.
Up #2: TE Rob Gronkowski
Welcome back Gronk. After an invisible showing week one, when Chiefs safety Eric Berry shut down Gronk, he finished week two with six receptions and 116 yards, along with a receiving touchdown, his 69th receiving touchdown of his career.
He left the game with a groin injury, and said after the game that he is ‘all good’ and for Patriots fans sake, let’s hope he is. He still did not look 100% in the game, looking a step slow out of his breaks, but he still dominated the game.
Down #1: OT Nate Solder
Two straight bad weeks for Solder and you have to start worrying if you are a Patriots fan. After a terrific season in 2016, Solder has started off the 2017 campaign looking a step slow, especially against quicker edge rushers.
He did not get much practice time during the preseason, so there could be a rust element that he needs to shake off. Regardless, the Patriots need him to perform better to help better protect their 40-year old quarterback.
Up #1: QB Tom Brady
Speaking of their 40-year old quarterback, Brady looked like a man on a mission in this game. Catching Brady off of a loss like the one he suffered week one is something I don’t wish upon my worst enemy.
From the first drive on, Brady was decimating the Saints defense, whether they played zone or man. Brady found the open man consistently and showed off his accuracy and precision time and time again Sunday afternoon.
Brady finished the game with 30 completions out of 39 attempts, throwing for 447 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. All in all, just another great start in what has been a terrific career for the 40-year old.
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