Here at Pats Pulpit, we're going to be introducing a new "game ratings" feature for Patriots players every week during the 2011 season. In these ratings, I will select several players per game, and assign them ratings on a -3 to +3 scale, with "0" constituting an average performance. Here is my "scale" for the performances:
-3: The player had a performance to forget, and significantly hurt his team on the field.
-2: The player had a couple of bad mistakes, or a well below average performance.
-1: The player performed below average, or below what we've come to expect for that player.
0: The player had an average performance, or a performance that is expected of that player.
+1: The player had a good performance, helping to positively impact his team on the field.
+2: The player made multiple impact plays that helped shape the game's outcome.
+3: The player was a difference maker on the field, playing at an elite level throughout.
Something to keep in mind: These are all subjective ratings. These are my personal evaluations and aren't based on any statistical formulas or anything such as that. They are simply my evaluations based on what I saw on the field. That being said, lets get started with our week one "Patriots Game Ratings":
Tom Brady, QB, #12: +3 (Season: +3)
This week, it's easy to throw Tom Brady into the +3 category. From the onset of the game, Brady was hitting on all cylinders. He had all day to throw, and made the most of his opportunities. He spread the ball evenly, and was accurate on all levels of the field. A career day for one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, #85: -2 (Season: -2)
Chad had a day to forget. He was the team's third receiver behind Deion Branch and Wes Welker, and only managed 18 snaps. He had just one grab for 14 yards in the game, and had a five yard illegal formation penalty that cost the team a 41 yard gain on a Brady-to-Gronkowski pass.
Deion Branch, WR, #84: +1 (Season: +1)
Deion Branch received some criticism throughout the preseason for not performing, as he failed to record a single reception. However, once the regular season kicked off, Branch was super-involved in the Patriots offense, making seven grabs for 93 yards, looking impressive on his routes in the process. I guess chemistry really does pay off.
Nate Solder, T, #77: +2 (Season: +2)
When news that Sebastian Vollmer would miss the season opener against the Dolphins and that rookie tackle Nate Solder would get the start hit late last week, there were some mixed emotions in Patriots Nation. Fortunately for the Patriots and fans alike, Solder had a memorable performance going against one of the NFL's most feared pass rushers in Cameron Wake. I'm not sure when Solder will get his next chance to start, but his play in the opener was certainly an encouraging sign.
More Patriots game ratings after the jump!
Gary Guyton, LB, #59: -2 (Season: -2)
Gary Guyton had a rough night. On the opening drive, he failed to stop the run and was out of position against the pass on multiple occasions. He was replaced throughout the night by Dane Fletcher, who seemed to have out-performed him. Guyton is a solid player who should benefit more from being in the 4-3.
Ras-I Dowling, CB, #21: +1 (Season: +1)
Dowling had a solid performance on the outside, especially when factoring in the fact that it was the career debut for the 2nd round pick. Dowling was physical, fast, and shut down multiple throws in the end zone. He also did a good job handling Brandon Marshall.
Devin McCourty, CB, #32: -1 (Season: -1)
Devin McCourty didn't have a terrible game by any stretch of the imagination. Still, his performance was a bit up and down and it left a little to be desired. McCourty came up with two pass break-ups and a near interception, but he was also targeted very frequently, which is never a good sign for a cornerback. I'm sure he'll bounce back next week.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, #87: +2 (Season: +2)
Rob Gronkowski had a great all-around night for the Patriots on Monday. He was excellent as an inline blocker, red zone threat, and was impossible to cover down the seam. Gronk finished the night with six receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, #81: +2 (Season: +2)
Like his counterpart Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez also had a night to remember for the Patriots on Monday. He was second on the team in receptions and yards (7 for 103), and also added a touchdown. Hernandez played all over the field, and was essentially the team's third receiver.
Wes Welker, WR, #83: +3 (Season: +3)
Before the season began, I predicted that Patriots receiver Wes Welker would return to his 2009 form in 2011. In the season opener, Welker recorded 160 yards on eight catches for a pair of touchdowns. His 99 yard reception from Tom Brady in the fourth quarter will be remembered for a long time.
Stephen Gostkowski, K, #3: -1 (Season: -1)
Gostkowski missed a very makeable 48 yard field goal in the second quarter. The kick went wide right, and wasn't even close.
Matt Light, T, #72: +1 (Season: +1)
Light did have one penalty, but had a really unheralded performance protecting Tom Brady's blind side Monday night. Good start to the season for the veteran.
Matthew Slater, WR, #18: +1 (Season: +1)
Slater made his first career reception on a diving 46 yard bomb from Tom Brady on the Patriots' opening drive. It's a feel-good story, and it was the culmination of a lot of hard work. On a side-note, Slater could actually be a key to the Patriots deep attack this year. He looked impressive throughout training camp and the preseason as a receiver.
Albert Haynesworth, DL, #92: +1 (Season: +1)
Haynesworth played limited snaps, but seemed to make the most of his opportunities. He came up with a couple of nice run stops and also came up with a pair of quarterback pressures.
Mark Anderson, DE, #95: +1 (Season: +1)
Anderson impressed as a pass rusher in sub-packages, and he seems to have taken on the role as "designated speed rusher" for the Patriots in 2011. He also came up with a sack late in the game.
Pat Chung, SS, #25: +1 (Season: +1)
Chung proved yet again why he is one of the Patriots most valuable defenders on Monday night. He was all over the field, coming up with nine tackles and a sack. He was solid in coverage and even had a big time hit on Anthony Fasano in the open field (a very clean shoulder hit I might add).
Dan Connolly, C/G, #63: +1 (Season: +1)
When Dan Koppen went down with an ankle injury late in the second quarter, jack-of-all trades reserve Dan Connolly stepped into the center position and made the transition seemingly seamless. Great game from Connolly.
Brian Waters, G, #54: +1 (Season: +1)
Waters, with the team for less than a week, moved into the starting lineup at right guard for the Patriots immediately, having not taken part in training camp for any team. Overall, he performed quite well. He also played more snaps than expected, as he played every remaining snap once Dan Koppen went down, forcing Connolly to exclusively play center (and eliminating the possibility of rotating him in).