Tom Brady needs players to catch the ball
The Patriots quarterback wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but his receivers really struggled to fight for the footballs over the course of the game. Tight end Rob Gronkowski had a pair of drops, or plays where he at least had his hands on the ball and couldn't bring it down, and every other receiver stopped a drive with a poor play.
Joey Iosefa is a blast at running back
IOSEFA HAS NO CHILL pic.twitter.com/OnJHl6GEQf— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) December 20, 2015
The new running back was everything that Patriots fans wanted from the injured LeGarrette Blount, as Iosefa lowered his shoulder and drove into the rushing lanes on a consistent basis. Iosefa and Brandon Bolden did well in shared time, although it would be interesting to see Iosefa receive the short yardage opportunities.
The best offensive line is...
Sebastian Vollmer, Shaq Mason, Bryan Stork, Josh Kline, and Marcus Cannon. Keep David Andrews and Tre Jackson as the back-ups. This starting line gives the Patriots the most versatility as Andrews and Jackson both seem to be overwhelmed by the bigger defensive tackles.
Injuries are building up
Rob Gronkowski still doesn't look 100%, while Danny Amedola left the game after aggravating his knee injury. Brandon LaFell was injured, which forced Matthew Slater to take the field. Patrick Chung was injured, to join Devin McCourty on the sideline, meaning that Nate Ebner saw extensive time on the field at the end of the game, as did Tavon Wilson. Dont'a Hightower was also hurt, which led to Jonathan Bostic playing (Bostic was actually the player that appeared to injure Chung's hip). Let's hope the Steelers win today so the Patriots can start resting everyone.
Akiem Hicks is ready for his close-up
The former New Orleans Saints defensive tackle was asked to step into Dominique Easley's pass rushing role and he didn't disappoint. Hicks and Malcom Brown actually combine to provide one of the most versatile defensive tackle combos on the roster since Sealver Siliga and Alan Branch aren't able to rush the passer as well as Hicks or Brown. The defensive line will be fun to watch moving forward.
Logan Ryan struggled, Malcolm Butler was great
Don't attribute Ryan's troubles to missing Devin McCourty. Ryan was not turning for the ball, he was losing connection with Dorial Green-Beckham in his routes, and he was a step slow on the tackles. One week after shutting down the Texans DeAndre Hopkins, Ryan struggled against worse competition. Butler, on the other hand, absolutely shut down his target and collected an end zone interception.
Josh McDaniels had the GIF of the Year
We're on to the Jets.