Here’s our annual new Monday post, where I give out some humble pie to the Patriots for either their loss or win the previous day. Thankfully, I’ve only had to give out some humble pie after the team wins, considering they remain undefeated after their 30-23 win over the New York Jets.
There were some bright spots, of course, in the win, but plenty of areas remain that need improvements.
1. Pass Defense: This one was the most obvious area of need for the Patriots yesterday, improving the secondary. Logan Ryan did okay against Brandon Marshall, he gave up a few big plays, but not many, and Justin Coleman was the best cornerback on the field yesterday. Malcolm Butler was the one who struggled the most. He had a hard time covering the bigger Eric Decker throughout the game. He especially had a tough time covering him on the crossing routes, something I noticed during the Colts game too. He was targeted 12 times and caught 6 passes for 94 yards. Marshall was targeted 7 times and caught 4 passes for 67 yards. The Pats kept giving up big plays on 3rd down through the air. Early in the game, they did have chances to have at least 5 interceptions, but missed every one of those chances.
2. Pass Rush: This was another clear area of need during the game. Where in the world was the pass rush? They gave Ryan Fitzpatrick all day to pick apart their secondary which is a big problem because this isn’t the kind of secondary you can ask to cover receivers for more than 4 seconds. Chandler Jones had an early strip sack and Rob Ninkovich had 4 batted passes, but other than that, nothing from those guys. They are too inconsistent when pressuring the QB. They did a have a few chances to sack the QB, but missed out on some chances. They have to get better and they are suppose to.
3. Pass Protection: They did good considering how many key players they were missing, but still gave up a little too much pressure and hits on Tom Brady. They are doing okay, but could be better. They are surviving and that is all we can ask. When they get healthier they will continue to get better, but I’m impressed with the current group and how they are holding up, but still room for plenty of improvements.
4. The Wide Receivers: All of the wide receivers NOT named Danny Amendola and tight end Rob Gronkowski, you make this list. Brandon LaFell had 6 drops yesterday, Julian Edelman had a few drops and one critical touchdown drop, and a few others got into the action of dropping passes. There were 11 total drops from the wide outs and the tight end position. Most of the drops were by WRs though, and that is unacceptable. Julian Edelman has dropped more passes than I can remember him dropping in his entire career these past two games and it started after he hurt his finger. Brandon LaFell may be rusty, at least that is what I’m hoping. Regardless, they almost cost the Patriots the game so they better get the drops out of their system and start helping out their QB.
5. The Run Game: I don’t think the Pats were really worried about establishing the run and I don’t think they included it in their game plan, but it would be nice to see some form of a running game when they are called upon. They struggled yesterday to gain a yard, which led Tom Brady to pass to waste away the clock, which he did, but still that’s putting a lot on him. Brady led the team in rushing, 4 attempts for 15 yards and 1 touchdown. Blount rushed 3 times for -3 yards and James White rushed 2 times for 4 yards and caught 3 passes for 26 yards. It would be nice to see more consistency from the run.
Individual players who need some humble pie.
1. CB Malcolm Butler:
He had a terrible game. I’m hoping this will help him improve, but he deserves a whole serving of humble pie after that performance.
2. WR Brandon LaFell:
You knew he’d make this list after dropping so many passes. He knows he had a bad game, we all know it, so hopefully the rust has fallen off and he can get back to helping the team.
3. DE Chandler Jones:
He had a strip sack, but after that, the pressure disappeared from him and the rest of the defensive line. They have to put pressure on the QB much more consistently.
4. DE Rob Ninkovich:
He had four batted passes which is awesome because when he couldn’t get to the QB he would swat the passes down. He even had a chance to intercept one of those batted passes, but couldn’t come down with it. But, when he wasn’t batting the passes he wasn’t getting to the QB or making a play. He also couldn’t get to Chris Ivory on a pass who ran in untouched for the touchdown. Both defensive ends need to improve.
5. RB LeGarrette Blount:
He broke away for a 38 yard rushing touchdown against the Colts, but he was bottled up against the Jets. I would love to see him do better against stiffer defenses and be more consistent in picking up short yards. Also, he had -3 yards rushing, he deserves some humble pie.