Before the Patriots head off to play their old AFL foe in the Buffalo, a trip that should be exciting and a little bit scary, let’s take one last look back at some of the nonsense, both happy and otherwise, associated with the Patriots first game of the 2015 season. I feel I should warn you that before I’m done, I may just let you know how I feel about few other things regarding the NFL, including Eli, Pete, and Peyton, just to name a few.
THE KIDS WERE ALRIGHT:
Second year center Bryan Stork was universally praised last season for the way he helped anchored the offensive line. A skill even more important this year, you would think, as the Pats are having to depend on rookies Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson at the guard spots. You can imagine, therefore, everyone’s concern when Stork was put on the limited IR that will still keep him out at least nine weeks, So there was an understandably strong sense of relief when undrafted rookie center David Andrews had such a strong performance against the Steelers last Thursday night. Granted, QB Tom Brady was quick to release the ball on most pass plays, but in general the rookies held their own and will have to do so again next Sunday, against the blitzing Bills. New England should be helped considerably in this area by the return of RB LaGarrette Blount (6′, 250 lbs). Not that the 5’8″ 195 pound Dion Lewis didn’t do a commendable job (15/69/4.6) but I expect Blount will help blunt their pass rush even more, as both a blocker as well as a heavy duty runner.
To no one’s surprise, having a healthy Gronk (5/94 yds/3TDs) was essentially the difference in the game. It didn’t hurt that Julian Edelman (11/97 ) was ready, as he was a major factor in the Pats being able to move the ball and accumulate 361 total yards of offense. Of course, the flip side, giving up 464 yards defensively has to make you wonder if the Pats don’t miss family favorite Vince Wilfork clogging up the middle. Most Patriots insiders in their post game analysis felt that this was more of a reflection of Coach Belichick’s willingness to trade off rushing yards for containing or limiting QB Ben Roethlisberger. I hope they’re right.
BRINGING ON THE BILLS:
In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s very difficult for me to pick against the Pats, and likely always will be as long as they have Tom and Bill. It may not surprise you to know that I’m not going to pick against them this time either. However, that’s not to say I’m feeling overly confident, and won’t be shocked should they be “upset”. Although I do not respect Rex Ryan as a head coach, I do very much so as a defensive schemer. He has always played the Pats and Brady, very tough and I expect that this time out he will do his best to exploit their young “O” line. An “O” line that is likely o have trouble communicating in a very loud Ralph Wilson Stadium. It’s also generally accepted that the Pats have trouble with a mobile quarterback and are facing one Sunday in Tyrod Taylor. When you take all these factors, add them together, and then throw in that’s only the second game of the season (a bigger factor for the Pats’ young interior line) then you can understand my concern. I’m anticipating a relatively low scoring game, but I believe New England prevails, 20-13.
EXTREME RANDOMNESS: (AKA: NO ONE ASKED ME BUT…)
Maybe it’s just me, but Eli Manning reminds me of Joe Flacco in that if he can make it to the playoffs, there is no tougher opponent, but he is often his own worst regular season enemy. Case in point: last week’s game against Dallas. You would expect better game awareness from a veteran QB…… Am I the only one who remembers that brother Peyton had major neck surgery not that long ago, and really hasn’t had the arm strength since? I think that if you are a Broncos fan then you have to be concerned that “smarts” and timing may no longer be enough for him to get by, and that he may truly be done……I would have thought that after the way the last season ended, that Pete Carroll might have waited a while before trying the “unexpected” again late in a game. It strikes me that Seattle is at an interesting point in their existence. I would not be surprise to see them return to the Super Bowl, nor would I be shocked if they totally imploded and failed to make the playoffs. Should make for good television……I think from now on, all football fans show take any statements that involves the NFL and ESPN, with the proverbial grain of salt. Do people really think that after all the controversy of the last nine month that the Patriots have been through, that they would intentionally mess around with the headsets 10 minutes into the first game? Apparently only everyone in Pittsburgh.
- The “Roger That” Edition - February 28, 2017
- The “Nice Ring To It” Edition - February 3, 2017
- The “Shaken, Not Stirred” Edition - January 17, 2017
- The “Malcolms in the Middle” Edition - January 11, 2017
- A “Catching Up, Following Up, and Weighing In” Edition - December 31, 2016
- The “Cannon and Flowers” Edition - December 21, 2016
- The “Farm, for Sale” Edition - December 10, 2016
- The “Tebucky Jones Tribute” Edition - November 13, 2016
- The “World, Serious” Edition - November 1, 2016
- The “Easy Come, Easy Go” Edition - October 18, 2016