Despite not registering a single sack against E.J. Manuel and the Buffalo Bills, the Patriot defense was surprisingly stout on Sunday afternoon in allowing just 14 points. Small victories are essential to enjoy the maelstrom that is week one, but the Patriots will have to find their way into the opponent's backfield sooner rather than later as the competition steadily increases with each consecutive game.
Veteran DE Andre Carter was brought in for a work out on Monday, and while little tread appears to be left on the tires, he was enormously effective for the Patriots just two seasons ago after recording 10 sacks in 2011. Carter netted just 2.5 sacks for the Oakland Raiders in 2012 and is currently a free agent.
Chock this up to Patriot due diligence as the coaching staff would much rather like to see Chandler Jones, Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette make significant strides in becoming consistent, formidable pass rushers. Sunday was particularly dreadful in that category, with the Patriots unable to pressure rookie Manuel into any costly mistakes. Relying on a 36-year-old with vanishing suitors to generate a respectable pass rush would be foolhardy, but Carter could be an above-average stopgap until the younger grouping find their legs.
The New England defensive ends will have another test on Thursday as they face the highly mobile Geno Smith who comes off an impressive inaugural showing against the Buccaneers. Penetrating the backfield against a known scrambler will be paramount to achieving success and manipulating inexperience. Another lackluster pass rushing performance, and the Patriots may be forced to try some other options on the outside.