Short Week Has Patriots in Survival Mode


A timeout to start the game?  A kickoff resulting in a touchback, followed by a timeout.  I'm not sure I've ever seen that before.  That set the tone for a first half that the Patriots ended up sleepwalking through on Sunday. 

Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe

I was beginning to think otherwise, but on Sunday we found out that the Patriots defense is not made up of 11 robots perfectly programmed to shut down opposing offenses.  The team showed its human side with a first quarter touchdown that was easily avoidable, had the secondary not attempted to tackle like it was a mid-summer practice. 

Aside from that one slip up, it was more of the same from the defense.  A dominant effort where they harassed the quarterback, forced turnovers and made the Redskins fight for every inch.  Dont'a Hightower returned, and showed no signs of an injury.  He led the team in tackles and was constantly in the backfield, racking up 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

The offense took a little longer to get going, in part because of a questionable gameplan.  Washington entered the game with one of the worst rush defenses in the league, so naturally the Patriots ran the ball on just seven of 43 plays.

With how banged up the wide receivers and offensive line are, you can’t have Tom Brady drop back to pass 30+ times in one half.  That’s inviting trouble.  I don’t care who you play against.  If you become predictable on offense, it makes it easier for any team to slow you down.  Brady has been in the league 20 years, has played over 310 games and last Sunday – at 42 years old – set a career high for pass attempts in the first half.

Shop for official New England Patriots fan gear and authentic collectibles at NFLShop.comThankfully, at halftime, the coaching staff remembered that they have a few running backs on the roster.  While the run game has struggled to gain traction through the first month of the season, Sunday felt like the perfect opportunity to build some good habits, and feed Sony Michel.  That’s exactly what happened in the second half, and that’s when the offense started humming.

In addition to the run game, Julian Edelman deserves some praise.  This guy is an absolute warrior.  He's clearly not 100%, and with the injury he's dealing with, nobody would think twice about him sitting out.  Against Buffalo, he had so few catches that it felt like he was a decoy, but it's also highly plausible that he just struggled to get open against a very good Bills defense.

On Sunday he was far from a decoy.  Even though he seemed to be clutching his chest/ribs every time he got up off of the ground, he still managed to lead New England in receiving.  Maybe that wasn't the plan going in.  The early injury to Phillip Dorsett may have changed the plan a bit, and left Edelman and the offense with no alternative.

No matter what the reason was, Edelman balled out and further cemented his status as a tough S.O.B.  

The kicker still sucks.  I'm not going to jump all over Mike Nugent just yet though, because I'm not convinced he's the long term solution.  However, if this team has to consistently keep the offense on the field for fourth down, instead of attempting a 40-yard field goal, that's going to be an issue. 

So while it was far from perfect, at the end of the day, the Patriots took care of business and now have to turn the page quickly.

Given all of the bumps and bruises this team is dealing with, Thursday's game is about doing enough to get a win, while staying as healthy as possible.  
If you can embarrass the New York Giants in the process, that's an added bonus.  Get to 6-0, enjoy a little bit of extra rest and recovery time before next week, and then gear up for a six-week stretch that includes six, playoff-caliber teams. 

Following Thursday's game, the Pats travel to New York for a Monday night bye against the  Jets.  Then, the fun begins as the Pats prepare for a run that includes home games against Cleveland, Dallas and Kansas City, and road games in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Houston.

These next few days are all about survival.  Thursday night games aren't about style points. 

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Short Week Has Patriots in Survival Mode
Short Week Has Patriots in Survival Mode
Boston Sports Syndicate
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