Welcome back Patriots football! I’ve missed you.
Week One in Foxborough had everything a fan could want: Fans back at Gillette Stadium, a terrific performance by Mac Jones, the return of dominant tight ends, an interception, pass break-ups, sacks... And it also included a few things they didn’t: A loss, two damning turnovers, drive-killing penalties, and last place in the AFC East.
Our crowd bubbled over with opening day excitement and there was plenty to cheer about, even with some expected early-season sloppiness sprinkled in. Remember back when Tom Brady was steering the ship the Pats used to start the season with these types of games (although they’d usually win them) and continue to work out the kinks game-by-game. I’m feeling the same will happen in 2021.
Heading into Week 2 I’m all positive vibes, and not just because they’re facing the Jets. You can bet the coaching staff have turned into full-throated fundamentalist preachers by now, with plenty of evidence on film to back them up. After a solid week of practice, I believe RBs Harris and Stevenson will each be given a second chance to earn back trust. Not going to start cringing with every carry just yet.
Pats won’t need a miracle to win this one. They beat the Jets by at least 10 points.
Around the AFC East:
13th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): Defeat from the jaws of victory is still defeat.
13th - Mark Maske (Washington Post): The late fumble by RB Damien Harris cost the Patriots a potential go-ahead score, and they lost at home to the Dolphins. Early losses aren’t always strong indicators that the Patriots won’t end a season with postseason glory. But after the way last season went, a more uplifting start would have been welcome.
15th - Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): Bill Belichick is notoriously fickle with his running backs, so you can only imagine the sleepless nights Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson suffered after each lost fumbles in a one-point loss to the Dolphins. Harris’ fumble, which occurred late in the fourth quarter with the Pats in field-goal range, is the type of miscue that could cost him his hard-earned bell-cow role. The biggest positive came at quarterback, where Mac Jones looked fully capable of leading Josh McDaniels’ offense going forward. The first-round pick settled into a nice groove as the game progressed and showed off impressive touch and accuracy on several throws. It will be a long week of practice for Pats players, but this team has significant potential for improvement.
15th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): The Patriots weren’t bad and neither was Mac Jones. Had Damien Harris not fumbled at Miami’s 9-yard line late in the game, the story of that game would have been a lot different. Still, it’s a home loss to a division foe and we’re not used to seeing that from the Patriots. It’s a different era for the Pats, but they can still be a playoff team.
15th - Consensus (Bleacher Report): No NFL head coach is more open and honest than Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. After his team lost at home by a point to the rival Dolphins on Sunday, he detailed exactly what went wrong: “Obviously I’ve got to do a better job coaching the team so we can play better than we played yesterday. We just have to do a better job at everything. Too many penalties, too many balls out, not good enough on some of the little things, little fundamentals. They’re not little, they’re big ... fundamentals on overall execution. We just have to be better against a good, sound team like Miami.” Well that clears that up. ... More.
15th - Dalton Miller (ProFootballNetwork): Mac Jones made his NFL debut against his former college teammate and went toe to toe with an impressive Miami Dolphins defense. He completed 29 of his 39 passes for 281 yards, displaying outstanding efficiency for his first-ever start. New England’s defense stepped up, holding the Dolphins to just 17 points. However, they must convert on more drives and not settle for field goals.
16th - Conor Orr (SI): Mac Jones finished with a CPOE better than that of Kyler Murray on Sunday. While he was similarly plodding like Tagovailoa, he avoided a costly turnover. The Patriots were able to scheme their two prized tight ends open even if the offensive game plan was on the conservative side. Christian Barmore could develop into Bill Belichick’s next great defensive tackle.
16th - Luke Ervin (PatsBuzz): The Patriots lost on Sunday, but the way Mac Jones performed can ease some of the pain from the loss. It’s still early, but Jones’ future looks bright. Because the rookie quarterback showed the ability to perform well right away, the Patriots are going to contend for a playoff spot. It’s important to note that if not for a few costly fumbles, the Patriots looked to be heading towards a victory against Miami.
Aside from the quarterback position, the most intriguing thing to watch in New England moving forward will be the corner position. Can the Patriots’ high-level front seven mask some of the issues New England has at corner?
17th - NFL Nation (ESPN): Finishing 29-of-39 for 281 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions, Jones was arguably the Patriots’ best player in a season-opening loss to the Dolphins. Opposing players were impressed. “He didn’t really make any mistakes. He was poised,” Dolphins defensive back Jason McCourty said. “Even watching him in the huddle, getting guys in, yelling, commanding. ... He gave his team a chance to win.”
17th - Nate Davis (USA Today): RB Damien Harris squandered a 100-yard day with a fourth-quarter fumble New England couldn’t recover from. Good luck getting out of Belichick’s doghouse, Damien ...
17th - Justin Leger (NBC Sports Boston): Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins was a rough one no matter how you slice it. The four fumbles were inexcusable and ultimately cost New England a chance to pull off the Week 1 win. Still, there’s reason for Patriots fans to be optimistic heading into Week 2. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones looked the part, completing 29 of his 39 passes for 281 yards and a TD. He’ll look to build off the encouraging performance next week when New England visits the New York Jets.
18th - Nick Wojton (TouchdownWire): Rookie Mac Jones looked fully capable to handle his starting duties under center against a stout Dolphins defense. Anything can happen in divisional games, but a couple of turnovers by the Patriots proved costly.
19th - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): Are the Patriots trying to win with smoke and mirrors? Nope. Just the running game, conservative passing game with rookie Mac Jones, defense and special teams. But that also gives them a hard ceiling in trying to compete with the AFC heavyweights and little margin for error, which played out against the Dolphins.
20th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): Mac Jones did some good things against Miami, but just not enough to win his first game. He now heads to the road to face the Jets in a winnable game. /Dropped 9 points, lol.
21st - Ryan Dunleavy (NY Post).
21st - Adam Hoge (NBC Chicago): Mac Jones had a pretty good debut, but the Patriots committed a ton of uncharacteristic mistakes in their season-opening loss to the Dolphins. Something tells me Bill Belichick will get that fixed.
AVG RANK: 16.8