The New England Patriots aren't terrible after all, huh? One week after one of their most disappointing performances in recent memory, the Patriots steamrolled the Minnesota Vikings 30-7 in their week two match-up.
After being dominated in the trenches in their week one game against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots had a remarkable turnaround in that area today. The Patriots spent most of the game with a Cannon-Connolly-Devey interior, and they were much improved. The team used a lot of play action and quick-read throws as a precaution, but Brady was only sacked once, and that was a positive.
On offense, the Patriots were also sure to establish an excellent balance. They ran the ball five straight times to begin the game, and after securing a big lead, Tom Brady only threw the ball 21 times the entirety of the game. Ridley is back as the workhorse, which is a good thing. Of course, a single fumble could change his status there. Brady was very sharp in the passing game when he was asked to throw. He showed some nice touch on his endzone corner fade to Julian Edelman in the second quarter.
Unfortunately, outside of Edelman, Brady didn't get all too much from his other weapons. The amount of penalties the offense racked up was also alarming. While there were certainly some improvements on offense, it's obvious there's still a lot to be done on this side of the ball.
But the defense. Oh, the defense.
Today, they were everything Patriots fans could have hoped for heading into the season. Chandler Jones was moved to 3-4 OLB, and dominated as a pass rusher with two sacks and numerous strong rushes. I should probably also use this time to point out his ridiculous blocked field goal - recovery- touchdown trifecta at the end of the first half. Jones was not a fit as a 3-4 defensive end, and by moving him back to the edge, the Patriots will get the most out of him. He looks ready to make the next step into an elite edge player.
The Patriots run defense overall was much improved. It started up front with Sealver Siliga and Vince Wilfork. They were beat at times a week ago, and today, they were both the space-eaters the Patriots need. Chris Jones also held up well in this area, where he got the start at defensive end. Linebackers Jerod Mayo and Dont'a Hightower were also excellent. Dont'a Hightower had a pair of sacks, and Mayo was utilized very effectively as a blitzer.
The secondary was also playing at an elite level. Devin McCourty started the Patriots' interception party with a terrifically read play on a Matt Cassel deep throw. While Patriots fans know the kind of player McCourty can be, plays like the one he made today will help him get recognized nationally. All three of the team's top cornerbacks, Darrelle Revis, Logan Ryan, and Kyle Arrington were all excellent. Revis locked down Greg Jennings all day and had an interception. Meanwhile, Logan Ryan showed some physcial play in his coverage of Cordarelle Patterson and had an interception of his own.
The coaching adjustments were also excellent in this game. Rookie linebacker Deonte Skinner was victimized early, and the coaching staff made the necessary adjustments to hide him (4-3 looks, extra safety instead of a linebacker).
This football team still has a long way to go. But today, they showed that they can be the elite team we all expected them to be. And for at least a week, we can put the "Patriots are done" talk to rest.