Play of the running backs stood out

Play of the running backs stood out

Why do the Patriots make it so difficult on themselves? Defensive penalties, sloppy ball-handling, and at times not playing through to the whistle, caused everyone indigestion as they watched Sunday’s win over the Bears. The Patriots made it easier for Chicago to stay in the game by handing them great field position on both of their first-half touchdown drives. Bill Belichick’s crew didn’t play great, but most of Sunday’s mistakes are correctable.

QUARTERBACK: A-

Finding out that Rob Gronkowski wasn’t going to play just one day before the game meant the game plan had to be altered. Losing Sony Michel late in the first quarter meant the altered game plan had to be altered again. Yet Tom Brady still sliced the Bears defense. One can quibble as to whom the interception was on (Brady or James Develin); I say split the difference. It’s impressive that Brady will still spread the ball around to all his receivers like its 2005.

RUNNING BACKS: A

Michel got off to a great start and let’s hope his injury doesn’t end his season. I didn’t ding this position group down a grade line because he fumbled the ball as he got hurt. James White is elite out of the backfield in the passing game and his touchdown catch in the one-on-one situation vs. Leonard Floyd was a thing of beauty. Kenjon Barner did a nice job getting more work than expected. I thought he ran hard and gave great effort.

WIDE RECEIVERS: B+

Teams are jumping on Julian Edelman in certain short-yardage situations which is why Chris Hogan was able to shine in the third quarter. Hogan has really learned the nuances of playing with Brady and knows when to sit and stop to get the ball thrown his way. The timing and trust with Josh Gordon will evolve in time for December.

DWAYNE ALLEN: B

Allen, New England’s lone tight end, had a great first quarter, especially on the Edelman quick-screen touchdown. Solid blocking all day long. Job well done.

OFFENSIVE LINE: B+

Brady was well protected for all but four of his attempts and the “big boys” controlled Chicago pass-rusher Khalil Mack all game long. Mack wasn’t himself, but that doesn’t take anything away from the job done against him. The run game wasn’t as prominently featured after Michel left the game, but was successful when it needed to be.

DEFENSIVE LINE: B

The pass rush was very good. Bad rush angles led to Mitch Trubisky’s long rushing touchdown. The pursuit after Trubisky got out of the pocket was lacking at times. Adrian Clayborn is someone who has to be accounted for by offenses in obvious pass-rush situations. Deatrich Wise keeps getting better at reading plays and using his length to his advantage.

LINEBACKERS: B+

I thought Hightower and Elandon Roberts held up well against the run. Most of Chicago’s rushing yards were from Trubisky and I didn’t see de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores switch to having someone “spy” the quarterback. Kyle Van Noy had a great all-around game, and was particularly good in corralling the outside runs.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: B-

There were turnovers produced, but also plays that could have become turnovers that weren’t. J.C. Jackson had multiple mistakes, but his interception was a great hustle play. Trubisky extending plays in and out of the pocket led to some long plays that you can’t expect the back end to cover forever. Overall, this group is getting more comfortable and competitive.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-

Can’t have a delay-of-game penalty on a kickoff. I expect more from Ryan Allen at the end of the game. He must be more precise and not cause a touchback with less than a minute to go. Cordarrelle Patterson atoned for his fumbling sin with an amazing kickoff return for a TD. You see on that play why Belichick wants him on this team. The ability to make people miss and run away from pursuing defenders isn’t seen from many in the NFL. The punt and kick coverage got better. Edelman recovered his own fumble but that’s a mistake a rookie makes.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1) If Michel is out for the year, it’s worth looking into a trade for a running back who has some legs left.

2) If Gronk needs another week off, give it to him. It’s just the Bills next week.

3) Be patient with Jackson at cornerback. He needs nurturing but the Pats have something there.

Published at Tue, 23 Oct 2018 01:38:27 +0000