The Kansas City Chiefs stunned the New England Patriots, beating the reigning Super Bowl champions in Gillette Stadium, 42-27. Let’s take a look at the initial three up, three down for the Patriots, without the benefit of film review.
Down #3: QB Tom Brady & S Jordan Richards
I couldn’t decide who to leave out between these two so I put them both on the list.
My general feeling about the passing game was that the play calling by offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, and the lack of separation by the Patriots pass catching group. Brady still could not help but chuck up prayer after prayer.
Jordan Richard’s spot is not at linebacker, not on the edge, not as a safety, and realistically, not on the field. He was horrible on the edge, where he lined up most of the time Thursday evening.
His inability to generate any pass rush, to set the edge or defend in space was detrimental to the Patriots ineptitude on defense.
Up #3: Sub package pass rush
Whenever the Patriots went into their ultra light defensive packages in clear passing situations, the defensive line went Wise-Flowers-Butler-Van Noy.
I thought that was by far their best group to pressure their quarterback. By my count, two of the three sacks came when said defensive line group was out there. On a night where the Patriots lacked a pass rush for most of the game, the light sub package were able to generate pressure.
Down #2: TE Rob Gronkowski & WR Chris Hogan
Rob Gronkowski was utterly dominated by Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who unfortunately was carted off the field with an Achilles injury. Gronk caught two passes for 33 yards, and he rarely found any separation.
The feared tight end, especially in the red zone where he uses his massive reach to his advantage, was invisible for most of the game.
Gronk will be one of my focal points during this week’s film review, because I expected him and Cooks to be able to gain separation against a defense that last year allowed a ton of yards.
Edelman is out for the year, and you can not expect Amendola to solely pick up the slack. Hogan was the talk of the summer, especially after Edelman’s injury, but he was targeted five times and only caught one reception. Not a good start for all the hype surrounding the talented wideout.
Up #2: RB James White
Mike Gillislee may have had the better fantasy night, but he was mostly sporadic, gaining eight yards on one play, and losing two the next. James White is the running back that will play the most meaningful snaps this season.
It looked to me that he improved his quickness and agility this past offseason, as he was able to weave in and out of holes in the running game, something he was not very effective at last season.
If the Patriots hope to gain more production from their talented backfield in the absence of Edelman, Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell, look for White to get more touches this season.
Up #1: WR Danny Amendola
The offense was firing on all cylinders early on. The Patriots were able to move the ball into the redzone on each of their first four drives, and although they were not able to score points every time they crossed the Chiefs 20-yard line, they were consistently moving the ball.
Once Amendola went down in the third quarter with a head injury, the Patriots chucked up deep ball after deep ball, with very little success. Amendola finished the evening with six receptions for 100 yards.
It is disappointing to see Amendola not even able to finish the first game of the season, he was clearly the reason why the offense was so productive early on in the game.
Down #1: Patriots coaching staff
NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew is taking a massive victory lap, after being continuously mocked by social media after giving the Chiefs the advantage, in terms of coaching staffs.
Well, Andy Reid and company made Bill Belichick and his staff look like complete fools. Reid coached up his players, came into a hostile environment, on the night the Patriots were raising their fifth banner, and put it all on the table.
I doubted whether Reid was going to be able to ditch his four-yards-at-a-time offense and challenge the Patriots deep, but he did exactly that. There were times where the Chiefs got complacent and unnecessarily ran the shovel pass, but the Patriots defense was exposed last night.
It was the most points allowed (42) and the most yards allowed (537) by a Belichick-coached defense in his 17 years coaching the New England Patriots.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels disappointed me to no end Thursday night. With such a talented backfield, he did little to get James White involved in the passing game, or give Dion Lewis more touches.
Once when Amendola left the game, McDaniels failed to dial up anything but low percentage bombs to Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett.
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia had an even worse night. The talent level was not there, especially after linebacker Dont’a Hightower left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury. But three 90-yard drives? The Patriots had not allowed a 90 yard drive since the 2012 season.
The Patriots defense allowed three plays of over 50 yards last night. They allowed two in all of 2016, three in all of 2015, one in all of 2014 and two in all of 2013, per @BostonSportsInf on Twitter.
The pass rush was almost non-existent, communication issues in the secondary were at an all-time high and the play calling was atrocious. All around, the Patriots coaching staff looked completely incompetent.