Who doesn’t love starting a shiny, new NFL season with a Week 1 win? Have to say the Patriots looked pretty normal-to-good on Sunday, especially considering some of the ugly, hot-mess situations we witnessed this weekend. Certainly there’s plenty to work on, such as run defense and special teams (and acclimating all the recently added personnel), but it takes the edge off that Week 3 Detroit game, doesn’t it?
That reminds me, let’s all give a rousing, hearty welcome to the Patriots defense, returning to action after a long (painful) absence. We missed you. Make yourselves comfortable and please, we beg you, stay as long as you like.
Also, I’d like to say a warm hellooooo to surprise performer Phillip Dorsett. He wasn’t the guy I expected to pick up the receiving slack but turns out he was the guy we needed. Well done. Hope to see more of you in the coming weeks.
Heading to Jacksonville for Week 2, I believe New England will take care of business and return with a two-score win. Josh McDaniels and Brian Flores are the dynamic duo we’re incredibly lucky to have assisting Belichick at Gillette. No doubt they’ll figure it out.
Around the AFC East:
New England (1-0) at Jacksonville (1-0)
Buffalo (0-1) vs. LA Chargers (0-1)
Miami (1-0) at NY Jets (1-0)
Baltimore (1-0) at Cincinnati (1-0)
Kansas City (1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-0-1)
Denver (1-0) vs. Oakland (0-1)
Houston (0-1) at Tennessee (0-1)
Cleveland (0-0-1) at New Orleans (0-1)
Indianapolis (0-1) at Washington (1-0)
1st - Matthew Foreman (Gridiron Experts): The Patriots continue their AFC South tour with a trip to Jacksonville for a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game. The shortage of receiving depth proved to be much ado about nothing, as former Colts’ first-rounder Phillip Dorsett (7-66-1) and RB James White (9-38-1) chipped in to support Gronk’s typical dominance.
1st - MMQB Staff (SI): Patriots still holding off Philly, Bucs surge behind FitzMagic.
2nd - Mark Maske (Washington Post): So far, the 41-year-old version of Tom Brady looks a lot like the 40-year-old version, which means he remains an MVP-caliber QB. He did throw an interception in the 27-20 victory over the Texans, if you want to nitpick. But for the most part, it was a solid opening performance for Brady and the Patriots.
2nd - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): Forget the post-Tommy plan. The Patriots need a good post-Gronk plan. 30 - Lions: At this point, not even Adam and Eve would be tempted by the fruit of the Belichick coaching tree.
2nd - Staff (ESPN): While playmaker Cordarrelle Patterson had just four touches in his Patriots debut, that was as many has he had in his final three games with the Raiders last season combined. Patterson also will be returning kickoffs for New England, where he hopes to add to his five career return touchdowns.
2nd - Joe Giglio (NJ.com): First take away from seeing the 2018 Patriots: This defense and pass rush are much improved from one year ago.
2nd - Nate Davis (USA Today): They let Houston hang around late during workmanlike victory. Nice ball distribution by Tom Brady, who targeted nine different receivers.
2nd - Brent Schwartz (PatriotsWire): The pass rush looked improved. Rookie Ja’Whaun Bentley looks like a legitimate starting linebacker in the NFL. Rex Burkhead, James White and Phillip Dorsett look ready to pick up the slack during Julian Edelman’s suspension. But most importantly, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski looked like the GOAT and Gronk Patriots fans are accustomed to seeing. Offseason drama? Psh.
2nd - Rebecca Toback (SB Nation).
3rd - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): The Patriots’ pass rush looked much improved from last season. It’s just one week, but that’s a great sign for the Patriots.
3rd - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): Tom Brady went through business as usual even with lesser receivers, offensive linemen and running backs. Bill Belichick taking back control of the defense paid off immediately, too.
3rd - Staff (Bleacher Report): It was a typical Patriots effort. Tom Brady was his usually efficient self, passing for 277 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots didn’t have an individual tailback gain 65 yards but rushed for over 120 as a team. And with Julian Edelman serving a suspension, Philip Dorsett stepped up and made seven catches for 66 yards and a score. Oh, and Rob Gronkowski was his usual un-coverable self, catching seven passes of his own for 123 yards and a touchdown. It was a reminder to the rest of the AFC that the big bad bullies of the conference aren’t going anywhere.
3rd - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): They look like the same Patriots - a lot of Tom Brady and the great coaching of Bill Belichick. The beat goes on.
4th - Elliot Harrison (NFL.com): Close call. Yet, unlike last year, the Patriots start 1-0. So much to cull from their opening-day win over the Texans, though the end of the first half was fascinating. Up 14-6, New England got a tipped punt from running back Jeremy Hill. Hill ran the next two plays, out of I-formation (a classic running set), in the two-minute offense. What? Next, Rex Burkhead got blown up on a running play and fumbled, with the ball bouncing right into Chris Hogan’s hands. Then Tom Brady launched a seam throw into double coverage that Gronk caught (sorta), only to juggle it as he hit the ground. With the replay booth asleep at the wheel, Brady got the next play going before the previous one could be reviewed. Phillip Dorsett morphed into Stanley Morgan the rest of the drive, scoring a touchdown just before halftime to put the Pats up 21-6. Side note: Sad to hear about Hill’s season-ending ACL tear on Monday. There’s something especially excruciating about Week 1 injuries.
AVERAGE RANK: 2.1