Tom Brady managed another record breaking performance for the Patriots Monday night in their season opening win against the Miami Dolphins.
- Shaky start defensively, before group recovers. The Patriots got off to a shaky start on the defensive side of the ball, as the Dolphins marched straight down the field for a touchdown. Gary Guyton, in particular, seemed to struggle in both pass and rush coverage. The group, however, would recover. In fact, before playing that "prevent" defense with a big lead in the fourth quarter, the only other touchdown the unit allowed was on a very short drive that started inside the red zone due to a Jared Odrick interception and return off of a tipped pass.
- Record-setting Night for Tom Brady and Patriots offense. No, the Patriots weren't perfect on offense. However, Tom Brady was truly prolific and set a personal career high with 517 yards. It was a team record and a Monday Night Football Record as well. Brady also tied an NFL record with a 99 and a 1/2 yard throw to Wes Welker to ice the victory for the Patriots. Brady was firing on all cylinders - he was making all the throws, all over the field. Words really can't describe how good his performance was.
- Consistent Pressure for the Patriots Front Seven. The Patriots worked nearly entirely out of four man fronts Monday night. And for the most part, the team was successful in producing a rush. Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne did an admirable job of sticking in the pocket and making tough throws. If it hadn't been for that, the Patriots very well may have come up with more than the four sacks they came up with.
- Patriots Tight Ends Dominate. If you thought that the Patriots were tight end heavy in 2010, get ready for even more in 2011. Tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were dominating all over the field. Both of these players are simply match-up nightmares for NFL defenses. As they showed, they are also a nightmare to cover in the red zone. As good as these two were in 2010, they look that much improved in 2011.
- Strong Debuts for Dowling, Haynesworth, Waters, Solder. The Patriots debuted a flurry of new players this offseason, and aside from Chad Ochocinco, nearly all of them managed to have strong debuts. Ras-I Dowling, the rookie 2nd round pick, started on the outside and shut down Brandon Marshall when given the chance. Albert Haynesworth had a couple of nice pressures and also made some plays against the run. Brian Waters stepped in and played more snaps than anticipated, looking generally solid aside from one false start. Rookie tackle Nate Solder started in place of Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle, and had a strong debut against Cameron Wake. Aside from a pair of 2nd quarter plays, Solder really shut down Cameron Wake throughout the night.
- Dan Koppen Carted Off. Patriots center Dan Koppen was carted off the field late in the second quarter with an ankle injury. Koppen has been a very reliable player for the Patriots over his career, and he hasn't missed a game since 2007. While Dan Connolly stepped in and played a really good game, if Koppen is out for an extended period of time, the Patriots will need to find depth along the interior line.