No Need to Panic -- Patriots Will Be OK
By Justin Pelletier
This team’s going to be OK.
You wouldn’t know it by watching the doom-and-gloom prognostications creep across the crawlers this week and, indeed, all preseason long, but this New England Patriots team is pretty darned good.
That’s not to say it’s not without some faults. The kick coverage, for example, was not very good Sunday. The run game yielded just 122 total yards on 31 carries, with Rex Burkhead contributing just 64 yards on the ground as the team’s primary rusher.
And, of course, the injury to fellow running back Jeremy Hill after he took a helmet to the knee is a negative.
But despite these deficiencies, despite the fact that Tom Brady knew more characters from the Brady Bunch than his own receivers just two months ago, the Patriots passed what many expected to be a tough test at home against a supposed AFC contender in the Houston Texans.
Through the first week of the season, in fact, many of the teams that are supposed to be contenders, including many in what was supposed to be a “vaunted” NFC, have struggled.
That’s not to say that Week 1 ought to be the end-all-be-all judge of teams for the rest of the season, but some of those teams that are supposed to be the downfall of this New England team have looked -- What’s the word? -- Awful.
The “drudge” match for the birds on Thursday night, in which the Eagles and Falcons both made Patriots fans cringe to know they lost to, or almost lost to, the teams in consecutive Super Bowls, was dreadful. You can’t help but think that if either of those teams were Sunday’s opponent, the Patriots would have hung 48-plus points on the board.
Another supposed NFC darling, the New Orleans Saints, allowed 48 points (Forty. Eight.) to Tampa Bay, led by Harvard’s own (and Bills ex-pat) Ryan Fitzpatrick. Sure, the Saints scored 40. But they lost.
The NFC looked less than adequate, and the AFC teams on Patriots fans’ radar, save for the Texans, looked so-so. The Jaguars’ defense was as-advertised, but it still it took a Giant gaffe for the Jags to eke out a win. The Chiefs’ offense kicked it into high gear and Kansas City looked every bit the favorite in the AFC West. For one quarter.
And it was also painfully obvious that neither the Bills nor the Dolphins will be any overall problem for the Patriots, and with a rookie QB, the Jets aren’t expected to be either.
Are there potential stumbling blocks for this Patriots team? Sure. Some of those top teams are on the schedule. Road games against any team are tough in the NFL, too. So will this team go unbeaten? No. Probably not.
But pay no attention to the doom and gloom.
This team is going to be OK.