Patriots complimentary game moving in right direction
Compliments to the idea of complimentary football.
The New England Patriots have always preached that theme as being important to their success: the offense, defense, and special teams all providing big reasons for a win.
Or one bailing out the others.
In the Patriots’ case on Sunday, they needed their special teams to do just that, with hot-dogging Cordarrelle Patterson’s kick return for a TD and Dont’a Hightwower’s blocked punt/Kyle Van Noy’s scoop and score. Without those two scores, a defense that surrendered 453 total net yards would be once again under the microscope. An offense that was missing tight end Rob Gronkowski (back) and after a bit, running back Sony Michel (knee) would’ve fallen short.
The Patriots usually make the best in-game adjustments in the business, so special teams coach Joe Judge saw a matchup that he felt Hightower, who normally doesn’t play in the punt game, could exploit. They love speed, Patterson has it, and knowing the new kickoff rules might him to break free for a return TD or two during the course of the year, he was worth the trade investment even if he couldn’t be a receiver (although they keep trying him in end-around, misdirection type plays).
The Patriots will need these efforts as they often appear to be a team held together in many places by duck tape. They seem to have enough depth right now to survivie. They had to use James White in the running game perhaps more than they wanted on Sunday, but as quarterback Tom Brady said Monday in his weekly paid Boston radio appearance, “We’re in a situation where I don’t think there’s much choice.”
The future? The AFC East helps out once again as the hapless Buffalo Bills are next on the docket for a Monday Night matchup in Buffalo. The Prime Time Patriots will no doubt be 6-2 going into a Sunday Night matchup against a much tougher but far from complete team in the Green Bay Packers at Gillette.
The offense? You can bet Gronkowski, who loves playing against the Bills, especially in his hometown Buffalo area, will be back next Monday. He hasn’t really been his frolicking self this season, banged up once again. The Patriots had Dwayne Allen on Sunday, who produced as a blocker but simply won’t help the pass game.
The Patriots will no doubt be seeking to add a running back for depth, as they have to know Michel is starting to look like a player who may never escape knee woes.
And they have old reliableWhite, who after Brady may really be their next best all-around offensive player. He came through again with a near-combined 100 yards rushing/receiving.
“You just couldn’t ask for a better player, a better teammate, someone as dependable and consistent as long as he’s been here,” Brady said.
New England won’t rely on the home run ball, either, although the threat is now there with Gordon.
“You’re always trying to complete a little softness in the defense, and take a low risk play for a risk-reward,” Brady said. “In the end, you’re trying to keep teams off-balance.”
The way the Patriots do that is by getting significant big plays by all three units. In their world, two is really not enough company, and three is hardly perceived as a crowd.
WEEK SIX RANKINGS
1. New England (5-2) 2.Kansas City (6-1). 3. L.A. Chargers (5-2). 4. Pittsburgh (3-2-1). 5. Baltimore (4-3).
1.L.A. Rams (7-0). 2. New Orleans (5-1) 3. Minnesota (4-2-1). 4. Carolina (4-2) 5. Washington (4-2).