What We Can Learn About Patriots Despite Soft Schedule

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Two weeks, two blowouts.  One unexpected, one anticipated.  I think Pats fans still have a cause for concern anytime New England travels to Miami.  However, this year just felt a little different given the state of the two teams.  Now, as the Patriots prepare for a Week 3 contest against a winless New York Jets team that will be starting its third string quarterback, another runaway seems likely.




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If you look ahead on the schedule, there's some potential for a couple more of these type of games in the near future.  The matchup in Buffalo feels like it will be more difficult than many thought going into the season, but games against Washington and the New York Giants...meh.  So, what can we actually learn about the Patriots during these types of games?

For one, you can learn about the team's focus.  Traditionally, that hasn't been an issue for a team led by Bill Belichick.  He is always talking up opponents, and showing them respect, no matter their record.  He'll rave about the punter if there is nobody of any worth on the offensive or defensive side of the ball.

Over the past couple of decades or so, I can't remember too many occasions where the Patriots have overlooked an opponent and suffered a head-scratching loss.  Sure, there have been some hiccups along the way, but by and large this team is always focused; giving the same attention and preparation to each of their opponents, regardless of talent level and place in the standings.
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So, while that isn't usually a concern for the Patriots, every season is different; and while this year's roster is mainly the same from last year, there are some new additions, as well some guys who were first-time champions last year.  There's always that chance that a team thinks it can sleepwalk through a game, and then they suffer a rude awakening.  The team's focus will be tested over these next few weeks.

The biggest takeaway from these types of games has to do with the defense.  You get an opportunity to learn just how special they are, and can be.  You may not be able to put too much stock into last week's performance against Miami.  The Dolphins are atrocious.  However, the level of domination exhibited by the Patriots defense was impressive nonetheless.

We've seen Patriots' defenses get lit up by poor offenses and bad quarterbacks in year's past.  The likes of Blake Bortles, Chad Henne and other reject quarterbacks have been able to throw for 300+ yards and move up and down the field.  The Patriots would still typically win these games, but the narrative coming out of them was that the defense wasn't going to hold up when facing a real offensive threat.

The elite defenses are the ones who suffocate weak offenses, like the Patriots did last Sunday.  Just getting a first down seems like an impossible task.  So they may not be shutting down the elites, but if they continue to dominate the way they have, that means a lot; no matter the opponent.

In addition to the opportunity to learn a little bit about the team, another positive about facing some weaker opponents early on, particularly this year, is it gives Dante Scarnecchia, and the offensive line that the team has patched together, time to figure it out. Buffalo's defense will pose some problems, but for the most part, the Patriots won't face an intimidating pass rush until about the midway point of the season, where they'll then face a string of good defenses.

That's perfect timing given the current state of the offensive line.  The Patriots are down three starters; one of which will not be returning this year.  Though the other two are expected to return at some point this season, the Patriots are still piecing things together, and really testing their depth.

Though I have great confidence in Scarnecchia - the Offensive Line Whisperer - and Brady's ability to get the ball out quickly, it is helpful that these guys are facing some weaker competition.  They have the opportunity to settle in, figure some things out, and build some confidence before we get into the difficult portion of the schedule.

So while these games may not be the most entertaining things to watch to some - though I personally love watching the Patriots stomp other teams - there are some things we can takeaway.


Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34


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Boston Sports Syndicate: What We Can Learn About Patriots Despite Soft Schedule
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