Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Patriots 1/4 Review

¼ Patriots: A quarter review

Four weeks into the season the Patriots are sitting at 2-2. It’s their worst start since 2001 when they were 1-3. (Of course that team went on to win the Super Bowl.)

Here are four observation through a quarter of the season:

Chandler Jones has a chance to win Rookie of the Year: Jones has been one of the most explosive players on the Patriots defense and one of the most exciting rookies so far this season. The rookie out of Syracuse leads all rookies in sacks with 3.0. He also has two forced fumbles, and was a constant headache for Cardinals tackle D’Anthony Batiste in week 2.
DE’s don’t usually win Rookie of the Year (Julius Peppers was the one to win in 2002), but Jones has a good shot this season.

A big test for Jones next week. He’ll face off against 2-time Pro Bowl LT Ryan Clady. Expect Jones’ profile to increase if he gets past Clady to Broncos QB Peyton Manning.

The improved running game is a huge benefit : Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden are not the focal point of the Pats offense, but they proved they can provide a spark if needed. And maybe the Patriots don’t need to ask too much more. Steven Ridley has 339 yards rushing so far this season. That puts him ahead of Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, and Ray Rice.

If the Pats can count on Ridley and Bolden the passing game isn't clicking, Josh McDaniels will be a very happy man.

Pass defense is the biggest weakness:
Opponents have passed for an average of 281 yards per game against the Patriots which is eighth in the league. Even though Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw four interceptions last week, he still passed for 350 yards and four touchdowns. 135 of those yards were on plays of 20+ passes.

And in the previous week Torrey Smith burned the Patriots backfield for 127 yards. The backfield needs to get a hold on long yardage plays, otherwise opponents will still be able to stay in games.

Two and two is no reason to panic: Is there really any substantive drama on this team? Nope. Everyone seems to be focused and the clubhouse drama has been kept at a minimum.

Ok there was that Wes Welker thing, but have you noticed how no one is really talking about that anymore? He’s sixth in the league in receiving yards. It looks like contract issues have taken a backseat to getting wins

The Pats have their embarrassing loss out of the way (well, maybe it won’t be as embarrassing if the Cardinals continue to play well) and their dramatic/revenge loss out of the way (against the Ravens).

The Pats biggest division rival, the Jets, are drama central. So, if the Patriots can stay focused, expect good things to happen.

Prediction for the rest of the season: It’s pretty smooth sailing for Tom Brady and Co. for the rest of the season. The Texans and the 49ers are the only current +.500 teams that the Patriots face for the rest of the season. I predict 11-1 for the rest of the season.

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