Last Thursday, the Patriots were able to sneak out of Tampa Bay with a victory to set their record to 3-2. However, no one (especially Brady and Belichick) was satisfied with this win. Brady’s offense got by with him passing to a select few players, but in the long run, he’s going to have to expand his range for the offense to really click. As for the defense… there are words to be said.
Much praise goes to Stephen Gostkowski for being a dependable kicker. Gostkowski was 4-of-4 in field goals and 1-of-1 in extra point kicks. The importance of being a reliable kicker couldn’t have been made more clear than in this game. Nick Folk, the Bucs’ now ex-kicker, went 0-of-3 in field goals and 2-of-2 in extra point kicks. Had Folk made 2 of those 3 field goals, this game would have had a different ending. Thank you, Gostkowski for being one of the only constants within the entire Patriots team.
The Patriots’ running game is finally starting to pick up. Mike Gillislee finished out Thursday’s game with 12 carries for 52 yards and over half of Gillislee’s carries went for five yards or more. Each of his runs were agile as he was able to effectively split the Bucs’ defensive line. Gillislee’s runs provided Brady with much-needed breaks considering all the hits he took throughout the game. Brady was pressured most of the game and this threw the offense off slightly. In turn, Brady took to the running backs to gain needed yardage when his offensive line couldn’t protect him. We hope to see more from Gillislee and the running back squad as the season continues.
Danny Amendola played much like Edelman would have on Thursday night. Overall Amendola was 8-of-8 in receptions for 77 yards and ran back three kick returns for an additional 51 yards. Five of his eight receptions resulted in first downs. Amendola did everything and more that was asked of him. Belichick commented on his play after the game, “I thought Danny gave us a lot of critical plays in the game…He is one of our best and most dependable players.” On top of praise from Belichick, Brady chimed in, “Danny played great…I’m so proud of him.” We’re all proud of you too, Danny.
The main problem concerning the offensive line is their primary job: protect the quarterback. Brady was under pressure on 40 percent of his snaps against Tampa Bay. He was sacked three times in this game alone—16 times thus far in the season. He is on pace to be sacked 50 times this season, but that’s assuming he makes it to the end without getting hurt. On top of bad quarterback protection, penalties by the offensive line contributed to ruining drives. The offensive line gave up 46 yards worth of penalties. Belichick has to know that something isn’t working within the offensive line and it’s his job to fix that. He has to fix it for the sake of his quarterback and their offense.
The Secondary as a whole didn’t play badly against Tampa Bay. Many players had good pass breakups and were able to cover well. However, Patrick Chung was not one of those players. Chung played fine in the first half but failed to deliver in the second. He misread the coverage and allowed wide open passes for big yards towards the end of the game. On top of bad readings, Chung was beaten for a touchdown which closed the score gap to two points with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Had Folk not muffed his field goals, that score would have cost the Patriots the game.
The defensive line was able to hold Tampa Bay to two touchdowns throughout the game. Considering how weak they have been playing, this is an improvement in a sense. However, the goal is to prevent the opposing team from scoring any touchdowns. There were multiple instances where the line was parted like the Red Sea for Bucs running backs to glide through. The line put some pressure on the Tampa Bay quarterback, but only got two sacks out of it.
Even though this win was less than ideal, the Patriots know what has to be improved before game time this weekend. New England will verse the New York Jets on Sunday. Until then, Belichick; Brady; and his Patriots have work to do.