Social Commentary: Week 1 Patriots vs Bills

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone has something to say- what say you?!

The Patriots escaped with a win on Sunday and they've already moved on to the Jets on Thursday. That won't stop the everyman from throwing around their two cents into the Twittersphere. Sometimes you might even come across a pre-1964 quarter quote from experts around the league. Let's look at some of the top quotes from the evening, starting with...

Oh. Mr. Daniel James Amendola. The walking doctor's visit, the Man of Felt, Danny Amendola was hobbled with a right groin injury in the first half, sparking outrage amongst Patriots fans everywhere. Mr. Brittle ushered on waves of negative feedback as he couldn't even finish the first half of the first game. The man who was supposed to make us forget Wes Welker was soon to be the next Taylor Price.

And then the second half happened. Amendola came on strong and made some circus catches to move the chains and fought his way for a Patriots victory. People started to laud his performance, bringing on a complete 180 degree change from the first half. From hot to cold, and back to hot. Amendola finished the game in the good graces of Patriots fans everywhere.

Oh, but his status for the Jets is now doubtful. Wonder what the reaction will be to that? Depending on the severity, groin injuries can nag like a hamstring for over a quarter of the season, which would greatly hamper the Patriots offensive growth.

Let's hope it's nothing a week of stretching can't fix so Football's Ryan Gosling can get back on the field. If not, Tom Brady's going to need to buy a new best friend.

Speaking of supposed new best friends...

Did rookie hazing jeopardize the Patriots' newest Sampson? Belichick forbid! Sudfeld lost more than his eyebrows as he slipped on the field, tipping up an interception, losing possession for the suddenly impotent Patriots offense. Oh, and he pulled his Hammy.

Yeah. Week 1. Broken wrist for Shane Vereen. Pulled groin for Danny Amendola. Pulled hamstring for Zach Sudfeld. With Rob Gronkowski still recovering from his forearm injury, Aaron Dobson fighting a hamstring injury of his own, and Stevan Ridley trying to resuscitate his pride, the Patriots offense is already running on empty.

Patriots fans should be familiar with hamstring injuries since it's the injury that derailed Taylor Price's time in New England in 2011 and it nagged Vereen his entire rookie season. Hopefully Sudfeld can recover, but it's likely he'll be relegated to a more stationary blocking role, instead of running full strides down the field.

As for the other injuries, I don't like the whole "injury prone" argument, but these players certainly aren't helping to fight the narrative. Amendola (clavicle, tricep, groin, foot, elbow), Vereen (wrist, hamstring, foot), Gronkowski (back, arm), Sudfeld (shoulder, wrist, knee, leg, hamstring) all need to sit in the ice back for the next week or two until they can come back and play at better health.

That's not to say these aren't tough players- they all played serious time throughout their injuries- but maybe the Patriots should start investing in some healthy options as they move forward. Like Dobson. Oh. Wait. Ugh.

At least the Patriots defense has remained fairly healthy. Except for Adrian Wilson...who was he supposed to replace?

Oh, yeah. The Bills' top receiver seemed to take the Geno Smith approach to evaluating the Patriots defense when he forgot that Pat Chung is no longer on the Patriots roster. "I got a lot of respect for Chung," Johnson said. "I know him personally." That'll do, Stevie. That'll do.

Speaking of replacements, Steve Gregory actually stayed out of the spotlight for most of the game, apart from a blown coverage on Robert Woods' 18 yard touchdown where he drifted to the centerfield to cover the tight end. Both Gregory and Devin McCourty had plays where they could have been in (much) better position to defend a deep pass, but overall the secondary played very well.

The Bills did not have a single play go for more than 20 yards. They had four go more than 15 (two were touchdowns, one was a run by EJ Manuel, one was a pass to tight end Scott Chandler). Big play threat C.J. Spiller's longest play was for 9 yards. Nine. He did not have a double digit gain. That is huge for the Patriots and is definitely why the unit as a whole performed so well. Fred Jackson, on the other hand, needs to retire since he was responsible for nearly half (4/9) of the Bills 10+ yard gains.

As a whole, though, the defense clamped down on allowing big plays. Compare that to last season, where the Patriots defense averaged over 8 plays/game of 15+ yards and 5 plays/game of 20+ yards. I know it's a small sample size of one game against a rookie quarterback, but it's a good sign that we'll have to follow moving forward.

And for those with other concerns about the defense...

The Patriots posted 0 sacks. Zilch. Nada. None. Of course the pass rush was nonexistent and it's reason for concern.

Or maybe not. The Bills were known to have a couple options for their offense heading into week 1: Feed Spiller, or let the rookie try to win. The Patriots have always tried to make the rookie quarterback win the game and have always schemed to sit back, eliminate the outlet, and force the quarterback to make throws down the field.

Spiller had 17 carries for 41 yards- an abysmal 2.4 YPC, and a fantastic testament to the defensive front of Rob Ninkovich, Tommy Kelly, Joe Vellano, Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower, and Jerod Mayo. He had 5 receptions for 15 yards, 7 of which came on one play. Total that for 22 touches and 56 yards? That's a huge stop for the Patriots, limiting Spiller to less than 50% efficiency (career 5.87 YPT vs. Sunday's 2.55 YPT).

The only Bills player with a good day? The aforementioned Fred Jackson (108 yards, 17 touches, 6.35 YPT) who led the Bills in both rushing and passing.

That means that the Patriots secondary was doing its job in limiting passes down the field. It means that the Patriots defensive front was doing a good job of preventing the Bills from establishing the run. It also means that the Bills were doing a lot of checking down and dump offs to their running backs (9 passes to RBs). The best way to combat that is to sit back in coverage and not bite on the clear passing downs. The goal is to pressure Manuel without creating any wide open pockets for the running backs to move up the field.

That can't be accomplished by tucking the ears back and rushing the quarterback. It comes from collapsing the pocket and making Manuel uncomfortable and unable to scramble and extend plays. It comes from dropping the linebackers into coverage, not blitzing them, in order to have them shadow the outlet. It comes from the intended strategy.

Let's see if the Patriots employ a similar strategy against Geno Smith and the Jets on Thursday- I'd expect them to- and I'm going to hold off judgment on the pass rush until Week three comes by.

And to close:

Basically sums up the depressed feelings of the New England fandom.

On to the Jets.

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