Winner: QB Tom Brady
Brady was 28 of 40 for 406 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. He added 14 yards on two scrambles. He showed deep accuracy on passes to Chris Hogan and Martellus Bennett. He showed great pocket presence in his first game back.
Brady is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400+ yards, 3+ touchdowns, and 0 interceptions at the age of 38 or older. He’s now done it twice.
Loser: WR Julian Edelman
Edelman had 5 receptions for 35 yards and no scores on 10 targets. He is just the third player in the Bill Belichick era to see 10+ targets, for 35 or fewer yards and no scores. Edelman bobbled and dropped a few passes that he should have been able to catch.
Edelman had the 25th worst drop rate of wide receivers with 50+ targets in 2013, and fell to the 18th worst in 2014, and was the 3rd worst in 2013. These drops aren’t “rare” and deserve scrutiny.
Winner: TE Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski returned to the field in a limited role in week 3, and then saw expanded time in week 4. He finally broke through in week 5 with 109 yards on 5 receptions and a few excellent blocks. His hamstring injury looks to be a part of the past and his season is about to start.
Winner: TE Martellus Bennett
Bennett collected 67 yards and 3 touchdowns on 6 receptions. He fought through a possible ankle injury and compared himself to Luke Cage. Sweet Christmas, Bennett has exceeded all expectations.
Bennett has 314 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns on the year. He had 312 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns through five games during his career 2014 year. It also looks like Gronkowski’s emergence won’t have a negative impact on Bennett’s production.
Winner: WR Chris Hogan
Hogan collected 114 yards on 4 receptions, including a 43-yard grab and a 63-yard catch on back-to-back drives that set the Patriots up inside the 10 yard line of the Browns. So much for needing to develop a rapport with Brady, eh?
Also Hogan looked injured, but returned to the field, and then got hurt again and went through concussion protocol. He returned to the field in the 4th quarter, which indicates that he passed the necessary tests and his availability moving forward shouldn’t be in jeopardy.
Loser: Head injuries
Why was Hogan out there? He was beat up and hurting. He has been battling injuries all preseason and into the early season. Hogan was definitely dazed and even if he passed the tests, why risk putting him in more harm this week? The game was locked up. Let Malcolm Mitchell get some snaps. No need to put Hogan, who just showed that he could be a huge part of the offense, in unnecessary risk.
Winner: OT Cameron Fleming
Fleming started at right tackle in the place of Marcus Cannon and did a great job, rating as the game’s top offensive lineman, per Pro Football Focus. He started at left tackle in week 1 and did a great job against the Cardinals. I don’t know if offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia cast a spell on Fleming, but is he a viable starting lineman?
I wouldn’t be surprised if Fleming starts against next week against the Bengals as Cannon nurses his calf injury. And if Fleming puts together another strong performance, then we might have some questions on whether Cannon should get the starting job back.
Winner: LB Elandon Roberts
Roberts was a surprise in the line-up, but he didn’t look out of place. He led the Patriots with 7 tackles, including one tackle for loss, and he added four stops in the run game. He offered nice coverage and he flashed great instincts. Roberts was graded as the best defender on either team by Pro Football Focus.
Roberts was given the chance to prove he deserved to be ahead of the Jonathan Freeny in the depth chart and he responded well. Just as important is the fact that Roberts’ play allowed LB Dont’a Hightower to rest for a lot of the game. Hightower is still not at 100% and Roberts proved to be capable.
Loser: CB Cyrus Jones
Jones was ejected from the game early in the 3rd quarter for throwing a punch at a Browns player. The Browns player blocked him low in the legs, far away from the action and play, so Jones took offense. He shouldn’t throw a punch, though.
Jones has had a roughly couple of games. He was in coverage of the Browns first touchdown pass. He’s off to a slow start as the Patriots top draft pick.
Loser: K Stephen Gostkowski
Gostkowski hit a 31-yard field goal and 3 extra points, but he missed a 50-yard field goal and is now 7 of 10 on field goals for the season. Gostkowski missed a potential game-sealing 39-yard field goal against the Dolphins and a 48-yard field goal against the Bills.
Gostkowski is now 1 of 3 (33.3%) on 48+ yard field goals in 2016. From 2006-15, Gostkowski was 35 of 50 (70.0%). I wouldn’t get overly concerned due to the small sample size, but Gostkowski needs to go on a hot streak soon.