Well, that wasn't what we expected. After championship-or-bust expectations seemed set in stone before today's season opener against the Miami Dolphins, it's clear this New England Patriots team has a very long way to go.
23-0. That was the second half score of this game. The Dolphins were by far the better team. They made the adjustments, they played with energy, they dominated.
Again, let's not forget how awful the Patriots looked in the opener in 2003 against the Bills, the proclamation of how the team "hated their coach," etc. This is a very long season, and this could just be a bump in the road in the long run. For now, this second half has, without a doubt, has left Patriots fans feeling sick to their stomachs.
A few thoughts on the game:
- The Patriots initially seemed to recover well from a blocked punt on the opening series. After falling behind 7-0, they rallied with a 13-play, 80 yard drive that included countless personnel formations. That was the high point for the offense, however.
- This run defense looked like it did at its worst in 2013. Vince Wilfork made some plays early, but looked completely gassed in the second half. Believe it or not, the Patriots sorely missed Brandon Spikes. The 3-4 base simply wasn't working, and the Patriots didn't make a single adjustment.
- Yes, there were some bad calls against the Patriots in this one. But not nearly enough to affect the final outcome of this one. Patriots had some legitimate, back-breaking errors.
- Rob Gronkowski was very limited in his role, and didn't look entirely comfortable out there. He wasn't on the same page with Brady either. Few instances of that.
- The offensive line. Oh, the offensive line. Every player was terrible. Pressure up the middle, pressure around the edges. Horrible. They held up for the first quarter. Maybe. Tom Brady wasn't bad today, at all. He didn't have a chance in the second half because the protection was so bad. This team clearly misses Logan Mankins, but they miss Dante Scarnecchia even more.
- I mentioned how the 3-4 didn't work and didn't make sense. But the Patriots also ran a lot of off-man and zone coverage as well. I only have one question: why?