Analysis: The Patriots offensive line struggled to protect Tom Brady, but the end result was still terrific. This makes the second straight game that the Pats put up 36 points on offense, and they also tallied nearly 400 yards of total offense. Not too shabby despite Tom Brady taking five sacks and eight quarterback hits against the relentless Texans defensive front.
All eyes were on two banged up Patriots offensively: Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. It appears that Gronk was a full-go against the Texans, and the scare with his injured groin was just that, a scare. Gronk was on the field for nearly every snap against the Texans, and played to his usual standards with 8 catches for 89 yards, and a touchdown. He missed one snap early on when the Pats went into a 4 WR, 1 RB set.
As for Amendola, the Pats’ slot receiver played less than his usual work load, tallying just 32 snaps. The Patriots went with more two wide receiver sets for the most part against Houston, as both Amendola and fellow wide receiver Phillip Dorsett played less than usual.
Analysis: Whenever you give up 33 points and over 400 yards to a rookie quarterback people are going to get upset, and rightfully so. It remains to be seen what the secondary play will look like upon film review, but the front seven missed several opportunities to make big plays, allowing Deshaun Watson to extend plays with his legs. It’s hard to blame the secondary play when the opposing quarterback is escaping would-be sacks as often as Watson did on Sunday. You also have to give the young Watson credit. That’s not to say that the Patriots defense isn’t worrisome, but the rookie made far more plays than expected, and should be given credit.
In terms of participation, it appears that Malcolm Butler may be out of Bill Belichick’s doghouse, although fellow cornerback Eric Rowe was inactive for the game. After playing just 75% of the snaps in Week 2, and not getting the start, Butler was one of three Patriot defenders to play the whole way on defense. It seemed that Butler had a better performance, especially in some key situations against Texans top receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
The Patriots defense is a work in progress to say the least. There are legitimate shortcomings in the front seven, especially at linebacker, and there just isn’t enough resistance for opposing teams right now. The hope here is that when they have everyone back healthy, and some more playing time under their belts, they can morph into a defense that resembles last years Super Bowl winning bunch. Not dominant, but good enough.