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What did I get wrong about the Patriots?

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The holes on the Patriots roster are not what we thought they would be.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Before the start of the season, I had a pretty clear understanding of the New England Patriots roster. The offense was going to be stellar because of the depth of skill players, even with the loss of Julian Edelman, and the rushing attack would dominate behind the experienced offensive line.

The defense had serious questions in their defensive front seven on the edge and at linebacker, but the defensive tackle position and the secondary was as solid as could be.

It’s fun how much two weeks can change an opinion of a team.

What I got wrong about the Patriots offense

There was always going to be some growing pains after the loss of Julian Edelman and the Patriots performance against the New Orleans Saints- with special attention on RB James White and WR Chris Hogan- lead me to believe the skill players will be fine.

Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett and Dwayne Allen are still adjusting to their roles as receivers, although they’ve certainly contributing in run blocking and while drawing penalties. They will continue to be a part of the offense.

And White picked up where he left off at the end of 2016 as a dominant receiver out of the backfield. Mike Gillislee has been as-advertised as a power-runner by the goal line and Rex Burkhead has been extremely productive in his limited time. Everyone also predicted that Dion Lewis would be marginalized in the offense, too.

But the biggest surprise on offense has to come with the performance of the Patriots offensive tackles. They have not been consistently holding up their end of the bargain and providing Tom Brady with enough time in the pocket to capitalize on the deep speed of Hogan or Cooks or Dorsett.

Nate Solder has allowed a sack, four quarterback hits, and a pressure, according to the Herald’s Jeff Howe, and has been flagged for a hold. He has faced players like the ChiefsDee Ford and the Saints’ Cam Jordan, but he’s also struggled at times against the speed of the back-ups. Solder missed the preseason, so hopefully he’s just getting rid of the rust, but he’s not close to performing at the same level as his 2016 season.

Marcus Cannon has allowed two sacks, a quarterback hit, and a pressure, to go with a holding penalty, too. He faced Chiefs EDGE Justin Houston in the opener, but the 2016 Second Team All Pro is not playing like his old self, either.

Meanwhile, the Patriots interior line has been solid. Joe Thuney has allowed one pressure all year. David Andrews yielded a sack and a pressure in the opener, but was spotless against the Saints. Shaq Mason hasn’t allowed a disruption all season. The interior has been stellar.

But the offensive tackles need to play like their 2016-selves, not their 2015-selves, if the Patriots are going to be the otherworldly offense we all expected they’d be prior to the season.

What I got wrong about the Patriots defense

Where to begin on this one? I think I’ve gotten every positional group of the defense backwards.

At defensive tackle, Alan Branch is sitting at the end of the depth chart, coming off an ugly 6-snap performance against the Saints. He’s behind Malcom Brown and Lawrence Guy and we also can’t count out Adam Butler, who is playing some four-technique between the guard and tackle on running downs. Anyone who had Branch as the weak point of the Patriots defensive interior is a liar.

On the edge, I expected the Patriots to have a lot of depth issues. Other than Trey Flowers, there was a very real chance the Patriots would not be able to generate any pressure- and once they cut Kony Ealy, the depth chart vanished. Instead, Flowers is pairing up with Deatrich Wise, the recently-acquired Cassius Marsh, and- surprise- Adam Butler to form an incredibly promising pass rush.

Flowers and Wise, the two Arkansas graduates, have combined for four sacks, eight quarterback hits, and five pressures over the first two games of the season and they should continue their high level of play against a weak Texans offensive line. Marsh and Butler haven’t been as disruptive, but they’re certainly settling into their contributing roles.

I also thought that the Patriots would be in serious trouble if (when?) Dont’a Hightower suffered an injury, but that David Harris was signed for this specific purpose. Hightower was hurt in the opener and the Patriots looked to Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts and JORDAN RICHARDS to play linebacker. Harris has played just three snaps all year. Van Noy had a strong showing against the Saints, so we’ll see if he lives up to his new contract extension.

And then the secondary. Oh my. The projected superstar duo of Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore have allowed 11 receptions on 17 targets for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns. Patrick Chung was picked on for 74 yards and a touchdown against the Saints. While I was willing to give the offense time to adjust to the new pieces, I had expected Gilmore to slide into Logan Ryan’s old spot so the defense would continue plugging along.

Gilmore’s been fine, but the coaches started Eric Rowe over Butler against the Saints and Chung seems to be playing like 2016, instead of like his incredible 2014-15 ability. When will these growing pains end? Hopefully soon because this defense has a chance to be pretty special if all the pieces come together.

If I had to chose the one aspect of the Patriots that I’ve been most incorrect about through two weeks, it would be at offensive tackle. I’ve always said that Solder is a top ten left tackle, but he hasn’t been playing like it this year, and Cannon hasn’t been playing like an All Pro. I trust that the secondary will sort itself out in the coming weeks because a lot of the errors seem to be mental. The same cannot be said about the tackles.