If there is one thing you have to like about the New England Patriots is, they are one of the few teams out there that are almost a guaranteed winner every single time. The reason for this is because they are backed by an experienced Head Coach and maybe even more experienced quarterback.
Just about every time the New England Patriots take to the field, time and time again, they come away as winners. For years and years, something has always been just right for this team. They are one of those very few pro sports teams, that, when they do lose, it’s almost always a shocker (last year’s AFC Conference Championship Sunday, January 20, 2013; the Ravens won 28–13 after shutting out Tom Brady and the New England offense in the second half, completely dismantling any offensive attempt(s) thereafter).
If it’s true that, at some point, all good things must come to an end, then that saying may just apply this year, of all years. This club still has a lot going for it, but for the first time that I can ever recall, they are going to be hurting sooner or later.
Ten to 15 years from now when all of us NFL fans continue to debate the best QB of our time (1990s/2000s), fans will continue to compare the 2 biggest names in today’s game, Brady vs Peyton Manning, for likely at least the next 3 years, the Brady supporters technically will have the upper hand. Tom Brady has 4 Super Bowl rings, which is supposedly what every NFLer alive today aims for day in and day out, 24/7.
So thankfully Tom Brady has yet to hang up his cleats for good, but, he isn’t getting any younger, either. If he isn’t the best QB in the world, he is #2 or 3.
He still is coached by one of the best coaches of the same time frame, in Bill Belichick. But after those two are talked about, what else is there?
NE said goodbye (actually it was the other way around) to Wes Welker over the winter. I believe NE wanted him back, but he said no to Belichick, then went and signed with my Denver Broncos.
A quick look at the NE roster shows that there are not as many ‘names’ on this team as there have been in years past.
Not long ago, this roster was loaded. There were plenty of offensive tools Brady could choose from, Aaron Hernandez, Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski is injured but nobody knows for long more he will be gone. He has had a plethora or surgeries in the past couple of years so it’s anyone’s guess how he’ll perform upon return.
At least at this point, NE still looks good, despite the player loss. They have won their first 3 games, mind you, the level of difficulty has not been high, by anyone’s standards, although you have to agree, the Bills don’t look as bad as they usually do. NE needed that extra 2 points in order to avoid going into OT with this team; 5 years ago, the words ‘Patriots’, ‘Bills’ and ‘OT’ just did not go in the same sentence.
And they still don’t!
In Week II against the Jets, well…everybody is going to beat the Jets this year, and in Week III, Tampa Bay was held to a field goal.
Things are going to get slightly harder beginning this Sunday (Sept. 29), NE travels to the Georgia Dome to play the Falcons, and then in Week 5, they visit Cincinnati (who have been playing much better so far this year than most likely expected.
THE FALCONS GAME
In fact, according to Mike Reiss (ESPNBoston.com), there are 2 things that NE will have to watch out for come Sunday night.
-the Falcons have outscored the opposition 31-0 in the first quarter
:there isn’t a better team in the league when it comes to fast starts
:Atlanta’s issue has been maintaining the pressure and closing games out
And number 2:
-some teams are just better on home turf, and the Falcons are one of them
:Atlanta has won 12 of 13 games at the Georgia Dome.
:Atlanta’s offence has the power to control a game, much like Peyton Manning when the Broncos play
:This Falcons team is no joke either, one of the heavily favoured clubs to represent the NFC at next year’s Super Bowl.
Speaking during his customary day-after-the-game press conference Monday afternoon, Belichick reinforced his team’s mantra of approaching its schedule on a week-by-week basis.
“Every week is a challenge in the National Football League,” he said. “Every team has good players, every team has good coaches. Every week is a challenge. Atlanta is a big challenge, but so was Tampa. We’ll turn the page on them and move on to Atlanta.”
Now, hold on a sec there Bill, Atlanta is not the same competition the Bucs were.
The challenge is much tougher next Sunday night at Atlanta.
The Patriots are tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for fewest points allowed (34). Seven came on a fumble return, so the defense has given up just three touchdowns. But they’ve played three of the NFL’s weaker teams, the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Atlanta is a big challenge, but so was Tampa,” Belichick said.
Not nearly as big. Obviously.
The Patriots haven’t faced a quarterback as good as Matt Ryan of the Falcons.
1) In the next 3 weeks, NE will face road test in 3 cities where nothing should be guaranteed, or even easy. After Atlanta, it’s onto Cincinnati, then off to see the currently undefeated New Orleans Saints.
For the past 3 games, Tom Brady has been throwing passes to a bunch of rookie receivers. That has got to be hard to get used to.
Somehow Brady’s accuracy and vision has to get better (personally, I never would have guessed any of that, but according to some sports writers in New England, it’s a matter of concern).
The open receiver has always been Brady’s favorite receiver. That wasn’t the case against Tampa Bay. At one point, Brady missed Kenbrell Thompkins and Julian Edelman streaking down the field without anyone within 12 yards of them—instead opting to try and hit Zach Sudfeld on a sideline touch route that ultimately fell to the ground.
Brady also missed Dobson on a sure touchdown—Dobson was all alone in the end zone—although there was some pressure in his face.
If the Patriots are going to beat the Falcons, Brady is going to have to tune it up.
2) The other thing that needs to improve is NE’s Red-Zone Offense
The Patriots converted only two of their five trips in the red zone against the Buccaneers, although one of the failed trips was the result of Coach Belichick choosing not to run up the score.
Part of the issue was Brady’s inconsistent play—missing Dobson twice and throwing a bad interception—but the lack of a playmaking tight end really shows up inside the 20-yard line.
3. Tight End Play
Rob Gronkowski will single-handedly solve this problem when he is finally able to suit up. Until then, the Patriots offense needs to find a consistent contributor.
Michael Hoomanawanui had a couple of nice receptions against the Buccaneers and Matthew Mulligan was decent blocking in the run game, but Zach Sudfeld hasn’t been the dynamic presence that we saw in the preseason.
4. Stevan Ridley
Two running backs that went undrafted—Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount—seem to be ahead of Ridley on the depth chart. Bolden looked especially good against the Buccaneers, which was the first game of his season.
Ridley, however, has the ability to gain more yards than his line blocks for on a consistent basis. If he can continue to hold onto the ball and run hard, look for Ridley to get out of Belichick’s doghouse soon.
With Shane Vereen out, the Patriots need all their remaining running backs to be firing on all cylinders.