Week 3 is in the books and the Patriots hold on for a win. Here are some things we learned from the game:
~ Bill O'Brien called a good second half. He started off the half with a quick passing only drive for a TD, but the next drive (all passes) was well read and defended by the Bills. The next drive started out all run, but the play calling changed and there was great balance for the rest of the half.
~ BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a fantastic game. He definitely opened up lanes in the secondary to allow receivers to face single coverage and mismatches. Look for him to be the starter over the next couple weeks as Fred Taylor can't stay healthy.
~ Danny Woodhead, the new acquisition from the Jets, had a great game. He's a big change of pace back with fantastic on-field vision. Look for him to be used on the draw for the rest of the season. He won't be replacing Kevin Faulk, but he'll definitely help on 3rd down running plays.
~ Julian Edelman did his best to help ease the loss of Faulk. Edelman played out of the backfield in a halfback sort of role and helped out wherever he could. He ran once for a yard and had three receptions for 8 yards. Not a lot, but he's just returning from an injury.
~ The Patriots interior line of Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly and Stephen Neal were okay. They gave Tom Brady plenty of time on most passing plays, but when they messed up, they messed up big. Kyle Williams, the NT of the Bills, played extremely well and took advantage of the interior line.
~ Sebastian Vollmer and Matt Light were excellent as the tackles. Vollmer had a leg cramp late in the game, but he returned. They were able to create a pocket, as well as open lanes for the run.
~ How about Tom Brady? He had a great day. His passes were right on target the entire game and after a Week 2 game to the Jets, where every pass was behind his receiver, his accuracy returning will be great for the potential success of the this season.
~ 7 Players caught a pass and 8 players ran the ball. Great versatility and usage of all players on offense.
~ 5 receivers had over 40 yards. This game had the "throw to the open receiver" that the past weeks have missed. Brady didn't lock on to a receiver the whole game and this shows how great the Patriots have adjusted over the past week. Hopefully this style of offense will continue for the rest of the season.
~ Aaron Hernandez had a fantastic game. He's played like the best pick of 2010 and has a great nose for extra yardage.
~ Randy Moss is great. He got his touchdowns and he drew coverage and opened lanes. That's all Moss wants to do and it helps the offense.
Special Teams and Defense facts after the jump!
~ C.J. Spiller is a monster. Holy moly. It was a blast to watch him play, especially because the Bills still lost. If the Bills won, I wouldn't be saying this, but Spiller was fun to watch.
~ Brandon Tate has changed our special teams. The Patriots have missed the big return game of Ellis Hobbs III and Tate is doing his best to make us forget. He was phenomenal as a return man. His fumble was very costly, but he has great hands as a receiver.
~ On special teams, Zoltan Mesko had a pretty rough day of punting. Stephen Gostkowski found his old self and played very well.
~ Kyle Arrington started over Darius Butler, Jermaine Cunningham started over Tully Banta-Cain and James Sanders started over Brandon Meriweather.
~ Kyle Arrington had a good first game as a starter, but if it was anyone else, his game would be described as "average." He was out of position on a few plays, but overall played a good game of contain on his receiver.
~ Darius Butler was nonexistant.
~ Devin McCourty had a pretty good game. He was out of position on a couple slant plays and on one play in particular against Lee Evans where he was turned around. McCourty was solid against the run and did a good job of eliminating Evans from the game. Most of Evans yardage came with Evans on the other side of the field.
~ Jonathan Wilhite looked solid as a slot corner (nickel back). He's found his niche on the roster and is playing well.
~ James Sanders was James Sanders. A step behind, but he was able to help out on plays. He never made a big play on his own, but was okay as a support tackler.
~ Brandon Meriweather came on the field and made plays. He also missed a few. He was great as a run stopping safety, but he was great on runs up the middle. He took bad angles on players running outside to the sidelines. He was great around the ball, but when he was away from the ball, he struggled to help.
~ Pat Chung is the best player on defense. He is a beast who makes plays. He's one of a few players on defense that can be trusted.
~ Jerod Mayo is a player who can be trusted. He had a great day, disrupting the quarterback and getting into the backfield. He stopped the run up the middle and forced plays to the outside.
~ Jermaine had a great day in place of Tully Banta-Cain. He was a force and helped cause the two interceptions with tremendous pressure. He was sealed off on the inside for some of the Bills' outside runs, but he had an solid day overall.
~ Speaking of Banta-Cain, what's up with him? Where was he?
~ Shawn Crable played in his first NFL game. He had a tackle and subbed on the field in place of Rob Ninkovich. He was able to get into the backfield on a couple plays, but was unable to consistently generate pressure. Good first game, though.
~ Talking of Ninkovich, I have a hard time viewing him as a legitimate starter on defense. He's a high effort player, but he just can't make all the plays asked of him. He's an above average back-up, but a below average starter. I hope to see more of Crable in the next couple weeks, especially is Crable emerges. I also wouldn't argue against Banta-Cain and Cunningham being the two OLBS on the field.
~ The defensive line had a very quiet day. That's not a good thing, especially against the supposed-worst line in the NFL. How come they couldn't generate anything? They weren't creating much pressure and they weren't opening lanes for the OLBs. This unit needs to regroup if the young secondary is to have any chance of success.
~ The offense coughed up the ball which gave the Bills good field position and Mesko didn't do the defense any favors. The defense were put in a position, a couple times, where they needed to force a 3-and-out, or the Bills would be in field goal position. They usually gave up the field goal.
~ Oh, they also gave up 30 points to one of the worst offense in the NFL. This unit needs a LOT of help.
~ The cornerbacks continued to give their receivers free releases. Why? Didn't they learn last week? It's a good thing the Bills have such a terrible defense so the Patriots could score. If the Patriots use this defense against teams that can stop the Patriots' offense, the Patriots are going to get lit up.
~ The Patriots were unable to generate any consistent pressure with their defensive front seven. They played a very generic 3-4 defense, without many confusing looks. There were very few ILB blitzes. Why not? They work and it helps out the secondary when the QB has less time to stand in the pocket. With Banta-Cain seeing limited snaps, Cunningham was really the only player to get into the backfield. I want to see Cunningham play LOLB and Banta-Cain to play some ROLB and see how well the defense runs. Two great pass rushers, two great run stoppers. It would be better than having one on the field opposite of Ninkovich or Crable.