The Patriots defeated the deflategate instigators the Colts last night, 34-27 on Sunday Night Football.
They were impressive in the win but also unimpressive at times, so win or lose, they can improve on things from the last game.
It’s time to serve them up with some Monday morning humble pie.
1. Getting consistent pressure on the QB:
The Patriots defense was a little underwhelming in the first half. It honestly felt like they could not stop the Colts at all, yet they only gave up 14 points to the Colts in the first half. The short and quick passes were killing them in the first half because that slows down the pass rushers. The secondary needs to play better coverage when that happens to help out their pass rushers, but that didn’t happen the entire game. In the 2nd half, when the Colts were not getting the ball out quick enough, the pass rushers were applying steady pressure on Luck and helping the secondary out. Regardless, even with quick passes, nobody was breathing on Luck just a little bit in the first half, even the times he held the ball for a while. He had too much time at times in the first half. I want to see more consistency with the pass rushers and the secondary. I especially want that 2nd half performance by the pass rushers for an entire game.
2. Lacking Killer Instincts: The offense added two touchdowns in the 2nd half, so not a terrible half, but they lacked the killer instinct we are so use to seeing from the offense. They had more than a few chances in the 4th quarter to put the game on ice and finish the Colts, but they couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities. They scored 34 points, but they could have done a lot better in the 2nd half.
3. Protecting Tom Brady:
The Pats are down Nate Solder and now Marcus Cannon so protection will be key in the coming weeks, but as for last night, they can get better. They didn’t get Brady killed, but there were more than a few times the 38 year old QB had to move around in the pocket or scramble out to extend the play because the protection broke down. Brady is very good at that and he helps the OL in a big way, but the OL can improve and they need to.
4. Stopping the Run:
It was obvious the Colts were not going to beat us with the run because they were never going to stick with it long enough to do so, but when they did run, more often than not, there were big holes for Frank Gore. The Pats have to be better about stopping the run, while they would give up 10 yards a pop sometimes, they did make a few stops. Still, with the Jets on tap, they better fix it.
5. Pass Defense needs to step up:
It was much better in the 2nd half, but there were still chances for the Colts to convert for first downs or big plays if Luck was accurate with throws. A few too many times the corners were trailing behind the pass-catcher, whether it was Ryan or Butler, it happened too often. The Pats need some more secondary players aside from McCourty and Butler to step up.
Individual players who need some humble pie.
1. FS Devin McCourty:
He’s great no doubt about it, but in man coverage last night he was exposed a few times. He gave up a late touchdown to a guy name Whalen. He’s a great center fielder for the Patriots, but he has to improve his man coverage for the times he has to cover someone.
2. DE Rob Ninkovich: He’s great, but he needs to show up a little more in the pass rush. I don’t blame him for anything in the first half, Luck was getting the ball out quickly, but he didn’t really show up in the 2nd half. Needs to be more consistent.
3. WR Julian Edelman:
He’s awesome and I love that guy! He was off to a hot start and then dropped three passes and bobbled one for an INT. He was injured so not his fault, but when he is really hurting sometimes it’s best to sit out or back off if it was only hurting your team with you playing. Of course, the Pats adjusted and Edelman’s role catching the ball became limited. He’s good and I expect he won’t make this list again, especially healthy.
4. CB Malcolm Butler:
He did pretty good at times and pretty awful at other times. He was so/so. He can play much better and I fully expect he will.
5. LB Jabaal Sheard:
Not a great game for him. He left at some point during the game, but he played a good chunk of the game. He had almost no impact and didn’t provide a lot of pressure on Luck. I want to see more consistency from him going forward.