Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Celtics Season Preview


Celtics Season Outlook

Roster:

Guards: Rajon Rondo, Marcus Smart, Phil Pressey, Avery Bradley, Marcus Thornton, James Young 

Forwards and Centers: Jeff Green, Evan Turner, Gerald Wallace, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Dwight Powell, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller

So here we are the start of another basketball season. The Celtics are coming off of a tank season that landed them Marcus Smart and James Young in the draft. After a season of rooting for losses to gain draft position, I don't expect the same thing this season, sadly. We are looking at a Celtics team right now that may be too talented to tank in a very weak Eastern Conference. I would argue that the C's could be better than the Nets, Knicks and Pacers (without Paul George). Jared Sullinger has improved greatly. Kelly Olynyk will only be better as well. Marcus Smart could be a difference maker, but time will tell on that one. They also went out and acquired a talented Evan Turner. They also traded for a good scorer Marcus Thornton and a nice depth piece Tyler Zeller. The biggest reason I see the Celtics as the 8-seed in the East this season is because both Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green will be playing for new lucrative contracts. If both of these guys stay healthy and play hard for 82 games, then this well coached team by Stevens will be looking at many wins versus bad teams.

Now while I think the Celtics can contend for the 8-seed, I really don't know if they should. They could try and go full fire sale of some players and try to land in the bottom again to obtain another young talent. I'm not against this Tankapalooza 2.0, but right now with this roster in place, I see too much talent for that. I could see the Celtics started very hot led by Rondo and Green, then trading both of them for high value and falling back in the standings as the season progresses. But none of that is a guarantee.

In the end, the risky move is to allow the team to be stuck in NBA purgatory, which the Celtics may be looking at. If Rondo and Green are both gone after this season though, tanking could just resume in 2015-16. This season I see the Celtics winning anywhere from 33-41 games which is good enough for the 8-seed in the East. They won't make any noise in the playoffs, but I certainly can see them in it.

Team MVP: Jared Sullinger

Top Scorer: Jeff Green

Rebounder: Sullinger

Assist Man: Rondo

NBA Predictions


NBA Predictions

East
1) Cleveland Cavaliers
2) Chicago Bulls
3) Washington Wizards
4) Miami Heat
5) Toronto Raptors
6) Charlotte Hornets
7) Atlanta Hawks
8) Boston Celtics

9) Brooklyn Nets
10) Indiana Pacers
11) New York Knicks
12) Detroit Pistons
13) Orlando Magic
14) Milwaukee Bucks
15) Philadelphia 76ers

West
1) San Antonio Spurs
2) Los Angeles Clippers

3) Oklahoma City Thunder
4) Portland Trailblazers
5) Houston Rockets
6) Golden State Warriors
7) Dallas Mavericks
8) Memphis Grizzlies

9) New Orleans Pelicans
10) Denver Nuggets
11) Phoenix Suns
12) Sacramento Kings
13) Los Angeles Lakers
14) Minnesota Timberwolves
15) Utah Jazz
Conference Finals:
Spurs over Thunder
Bulls over Cavs

Finals: Spurs over Bulls
MVP: LeBron James
Comeback POY: Derrick Rose
Rookie: Jabari Parker

6th Man: Jamal Crawford

All-NBA 1st Team:
Russell Westbrook
Chris Paul
LeBron James
Anthony Davis
Dwight Howard

All-NBA 2nd Team:
Steph Curry
James Harden
LaMarcus Aldridge
Blake Griffin
Marc Gasol

Extended Thoughts:

• I think it's safe to say LeBron's new big 3 in Cleveland will win a lot of games during the season and likely be the favorite heading into the playoffs. I think the Cavs, outside of LBJ, have a lot of growing to do. The reason I see the Bulls beating Cleveland is the veteran leaders of Rose, Gasol and Noah. LeBron won't be able to carry the young team highlighted by Irving, Waiters and Love just yet. This Cavs team may be a dynasty in the near future, but that dynasty won't start this season.

• The Spurs to me will continue to dominate as Leonard is only getting better and Parker still has a lot left in the tank. Add Danny Green and a nice rookie Kyle Anderson and the Spurs are slowly becoming a young force with the veteran leadership as well.

• I feel that people are really underestimating the Heat this season. DWade will be limited at times, yes, but Chris Bosh should revert back to his Toronto days where he was averaging 24/11. I think the core of Wade/Deng/Bosh carry easily carry Miami to a 4-5 seed in the East and have some vets that will be ready for playoff action.

• My sleeper team of the season believe it or not, is the home team Boston Celtics. I believe that both Rondo and Green will be playing hard and consistent ball for 82 games as both are looking for new contracts. Add those two with Sullinger and a couple nice scorers at guard and the Celtics will be able to win games in a relatively weak Eastern conference.

• My other sleeper teams to watch are the Wizards (in the playoffs), because they have nice young talent and brought in clutch scorer and my favorite player ever Paul Pierce. I also see the Pelicans being a team led by star Anthony Davis that may compete for one of the last playoff spots in the West.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 8 Report


Week 8 Report: Bears

             What a great performance turned in by the Patriots this weekend in their absolute blowout of the Bears. They dominated in all facets of the game and held a commanding 38-7 lead at half. I knew the Patriots were going to be able to move the ball at will on the Bears and their shaky D, but not to that extent. Brady was perfect all day and tore up the Bears. I expected a somewhat close game with the Bears having a good offense, but that wasn't nearly the case. The Patriots seem to be peaking at the perfect time as the perceived best team in the league, Denver, comes into town on Sunday for a huge battle.

Offensively, I think we all know what offensive line combination is best for this team now. With Stork and Connolly back, we saw a unit that is coming along nicely.  Wendell at right guard, Connolly at left guard and Stork at center has proved to be the best combo for the interior. Stork, for a rookie, has really outplayed my expectations for him already. He had a couple tough slip ups on Sunday, but overall he played another nice game. He's a 4th round pick already starting for a contending team. If the O-line continues to play at this level protecting Brady, it will be tough to beat the Pats. When Brady has time like he did on Sunday, he's near flawless especially with a healthy Gronk. Of course, the biggest key to this offensive line's consistency is health. If they can stay healthy, I think we can expect pretty good protection for Tom most of the time. The run blocking was also very good Sunday, but that should be expected against a below average run D in Chicago. Jonas Gray looked very good in his first real game action for the Pats. It's safe to say he's won the backfield there. He runs very hard and always gets positive yards like Ridley which is very nice. He may be a gem for us. As for the O-line, I think we can expect them to run block well versus average and below average run defenses, but they will struggle against some of the better run Ds. I can live with that though as long as they can keep Brady protected.

The receiving group is really starting to come together as this season progresses. Brandon LaFell is really finding his niche in this system and has really gained the trust of Brady. He brings a bigger presence on the outside, which is really different than what we are used to seeing from WRs. Edelman has really disappeared in this new offense with the bigger targets being the focus. We saw him drops a couple balls on Sunday and only have one catch on the day. While his role has diminished, Edelman can be trusted to take over a game if he is called upon. The Gronk is back boys. He may not be 100% just yet, but he's pretty damn close. He's running much smoother than he was to start the season. His routes are faster and crisper. When he's playing at this level, the man is pretty much impossible to stop. It will take at least two guys to stop him, but that will just open up LaFell on the outside in 1-on-1 situations and Edelman on the inside as well. As long as Gronk can stay healthy, this offense should continue to roll, big time. We also can't forget about Tim Wright whose role seems to be growing week to week. The receiving group, as long as Gronk is there, could be the strongest group on the team. The last month has really displayed how Gronk is easily the best TE in the league and one of the most dynamic players. He makes life for Brady much easier as well, which is a given, shown through Brady's 14 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in the month of October.

Defensively, we saw the offseason acquisitions made by BB come to fruition as the secondary completely smothered the Bears' twin towers Marshall and Jeffery. Revis Island was all over Marshall most of the game and even on Alshon, too. Every week, Revis continues to display why he still in the discussion, if not leading it, for best corner in the league. We saw a very good showing from Browner on Sunday, in my opinion. He picked up a couple flags, but with him you know what you are getting, a physical guy. Browner made a couple nice open field tackles and also had some nice plays in coverage. As long as you can put him in the right situation, he can be very good for this defense. The secondary continues to shine for this Pats D as they are #1 in the league in yards allowed.

As for the front seven, we saw a unit that struggled to contain maybe the hottest and best back in the league, Forte. Forte has been killing every defense he has played, but still it's not a total excuse to let up the yards they did. Pass rush wise, the front seven had a great day. We saw Easley look effective out there as he seems to be back from his injury. The new acquisition Akeem Ayers even showed some nice rushes off the edge. Hopefully he can continue to grow in this defensive scheme. I thought Dont'a Hightower did a great job on Sunday in the Mayo role communicating for the defense. The experience he got last year at that spot is really coming in big for him this season. The defense is coming along very well as the best offense in the league is coming to Gillette. They really need to be up to the task on Sunday. Hopefully Alan Branch can suit up and add an extra body up front for depth in the run game. Sunday is a huge day for the secondary as they will be dealing with the Thomas' and Sanders, which is one tall order. Belichick always draws up a great scheme against Peyton Manning, so expect something interesting on Sunday from the defense. This is the real test.

So here we are, a month after people were unbelievably saying the Patriots were done and Brady should be benched, the Pats sit at 6-2 on a 4 game win streak. Brady has looked like the league MVP in October and the defense is playing consistent ball as well. With health, this Pats team will be the contender we all expected. The Broncos game Sunday will be a very good measuring stick for them and this is a HUGE game for playoff seeding. It's not a must win, but a win this weekend would be amazing.

Ups: Brady, Gronk, LaFell, O-Line, Secondary

Downs: Edelman, Vereen

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Week 6 Report


Patriots vs. Bills

As Belichick described it after yesterday's win, it was a bittersweet victory. The Patriots played very well on both sides of the ball at times during the game, but in the process they lost the QB on defense Jerod Mayo and workhorse RB Stevan Ridley for the season due to leg injuries. Outside of these two huge blows to the team, the Patriots really put together a nice game. The pass offense exploded for 360 yards and 37 points and the defense made timely stops and forced turnovers. Finally, we are seeing the Patriots that everyone expected out of the gates to open the season.

Out of the gate, we saw some struggles for the offense. The Pats tried to establish the run a little but the Bills weren't allowing any holes to open as Ridley was having a tough day. The offensive line was not opening up the holes and struggled to be consistent. We saw the revolving door back this week for them. Dan Connolly getting hurt really didn't help the situation either as Jordan Devey, who really shouldn't be out there, was forced to play. The Bills have one of the better front 7's in the NFL so the offensive line struggles were kind of expected. In the second half, we saw Ridley take a big blow to the knee and go down and from there the run game was pretty much given up on. Brandon Bolden came in to try and take the load, but he really didn't excel either. Filling the void of Ridley will be tough in my opinion, because he was running hard and really gave the offense some balance this season. I don't know if Bolden will be able to fill that role. Vereen certainly shouldn't be the lead back. He definitely will see more touches, but I don't want him running 10+ times between the tackles. The Patriots need to find a lead RB and they need to get the offensive line healthy again to get back on track. Maybe Jonas Gray gets promoted and we see a RB by committee approach with Bolden, Vereen, Gray and White all seeing looks? It will be very interesting to see what Bill does with that situation.

The pass offense really led the way Sunday. Most of the damage was done in the second half for Brady and Co. We saw Tyms for the first time and immediately he looked to be the missing deep threat. Tyms and Brady connected on a beautiful 43 yard bomb for a TD taking the top off the defense, something this offense has been missing for years. If Tyms can consistently bring that to the table for the offense, just one or two shots downfield a game, this offense now has a whole new look. Rob Gronkowski continues to get closer to bring 100%, making him a legit threat out there. LaFell also is carving out a nice niche here in New England having another good game with 2 TD catches. Tim Wright only had his TD catch, but still was on field some more Sunday. This grouping of LaFell, Edelman, Gronk and Wright looks to the favorite for the Patriots. If LaFell, Gronk and Wright can continue to grow in this offense alongside Edelman the pass offense will be a machine as it used to be, but obviously much of this falls on the O-Line to protect Brady and give him time to make the plays. Brady looks just fine when given a clean pocket. The offense is certainly trending up after another solid week.

Defensively we saw Revis Island yet again at it, and this time Sammy Watkins was its victim. Sammy wasn't even looked at by Orton until the second half. I think it's safe to say that Revis is exactly what we expected him to be, a shutdown corner.  It's disappointing that Browner wasn't able to play Sunday and hopefully he gets out there Thursday so we know how he fits with this defense. It's interesting how Logan Ryan is almost non-existent for the defense now that Dennard is healthy again. Kyle Arrington continues to have a very modest season as well in coverage. The secondary really has turned into the group we expected them to be. Patrick Chung has been very good considering the expectations I placed on him. He hasn't made any egregious errors and has been solid in run support. The secondary has been great so far and I expect them to only get better with Browner soon returning.

Now time to look at the front 7. This group was looking just fine days ago, but the injury to Jerod Mayo pretty much leaves everything up here in question. The Pats LB depth was sketchy to begin with and Mayo’s injury leaves a dark cloud over the group. Who takes Mayo’s role? Last season we saw Hightower has some problems taking over Mayo’s spot as he was not in a position to succeed. Collins may be to raw to take over Mayo’s role and I also think he is suited to be on the outside making plays rather than in the middle. Skinner played decent Sunday vs. the Bills so he will definitely be sticking around now. I believe the Pats should maybe bring in Anderson again and just see what he has. Right now, the LB situation is shady at best and the Pats could use a LB badly. Nobody will be able to replace Mayo, since he was the defensive leader and communicator on defense. It sucks to see him go down for a second straight season. It’s really time to see what Collins and Hightower can do for the Pats. A big question mark hangs there. As for the D-Line: wow! Chandler Jones continues to make plays and be a game changer and Ninkovich really stepped up Sunday as well. The defensive line should only get better with Easley hopefully returning soon. Chandler is turning into the stud we all hoped he would be, as he made a huge play late in the first half to turn momentum. The front seven really took a hit losing Mayo Sunday, but the playmakers that are up front can make up for it, they just need to step up their play big time.

Overall, it was a big win for the Pats as they went into a tough road game vs. a divisional opponent and handled business. This team is completely different than the one we saw two weeks that took a thrashing at the hands of the Chiefs.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 5 Report



Patriots vs. Bengals

WOW!!! For the Patriots, this game was pretty much a must win. Personally, I just wanted to see any form of improvement from them not necessarily a win. But, the amount of bull that the media was throwing around this week made this game a must win to silence the haters. Of course, as only the Patriots could do, they came out and put an absolute spanking to the then undefeated Bengals by 26 points. I thought the Patriots were going to bounce back and win, but not in this fashion. The Patriots thoroughly controlled the game right from the get go.

The first drive really set the tone for this team and this game. The Pats came out showing a bigger formation with Develin and TEs swapping in and out. They simplified the offense and finally got Hernandez 2.0 aka Tim Wright involved on a big pass play to set up Ridley's TD. From there, you could just feel it. The fire was burning inside them last night. Brady looked like a totally different player last night, like we wanted to be out there leading the team and running the offense. The offense made a concerted effort to stay under center and run the ball between the tackles into the tough Bengals D. This made throwing the ball much easier for them. The play action passes were working perfectly most of the night due to great balance and a commitment to the run.

The offensive line was an entirely different animal last night. They only allowed one sack, one QB hit and three tackles for loss. The run game shredded this Bengals D for 220 yards. There were open holes all night as Ridley ran for 4 yards a carry and Vereen sliced the D for 10 yards a carry. Brady had time to throw on many plays and was able to look like himself hitting his spots. Gronk looks really good. He may not be 100% healthy yet, but he's certainly close to it which adds so much this offense. It also looks like the Patriots have the 2 TE offense they love with the arrival of Wright last night. If this OL play can keep up, it will be very hard to slow down the Pats offense with these weapons coming together.

Then, we have the defense, or Revis Island I should say. What a job Darrelle Revis did on AJ Green last night. Yes the stat line will show you that AJ had 5 catches for 81 yards and TD but that's the quietest numbers you'll ever see. The entire first half Revis put Green on an island and held him to just one catch, on which he forced a fumble.  Absolutely shut down. The Patriots defense FINALLY let loose and went man across the board last night and it paid off big time. Dalton had nowhere to go with the ball on many plays and forced balls into tight spots.

The Patriots front 7 played a very sound game, as they held star RB Gio Bernard to just 65 yards. We saw a pretty big change on Sunday night along the front 7. Chandler Jones, who struggled vs. the run last week, was used situationally on obvious passing downs and rookie Dominique Easley took his spot at LDE on most 1st and 2nd downs. I like the idea of this because Easley is a penetrator and he can set the edge on run plays with his jump off the line. This also takes Jones off the field for over 90% of snaps that he used to see, which will keep him fresher deep into games to be still an effective pass rusher. Another surprise was the play of #98 Walker who, I bet, nobody even heard of until last night when he was packing in the middle. Jamie Collins played his best game of the season last night as he seemed to be flying around the field all night making tackles. Getting Hightower back, hopefully soon,  will only make this front 7 better and more diverse.

What a game it was for the Patriots in a must bounce back situation. They came out with some fire and intensity for once and imposed their will on the Bengals. The defense smothered them and the offense was firing on all cylinders. The Patriots finally looked like the team I expected to see from the beginning of the season. Hopefully they don't slow down at all and the injury plague doesn't come again. This team has the talent to be great and finally looks like it can reach its potential. As long as Revis Island is healthy you can expect this every week in my opinion.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week 4 Report



Patriots v. Chiefs

Well, at this point, I don't even know where to start. I mean, really, there wasn't one positive thing that happened Monday night. The offense looked inept again and couldn't sustain a drive. The defense looked like it reverted back to its old ways of getting dominated in all facets.  Brady looked defeated after the first series. The defense was a wounded duck after the first series. The moment that game was 14-0 you knew this game may not have ended well, and well it didn't, at all. This was easily the most pathetic performance I've ever seen out of the Patriots.

Offensively, I guess there are two lone positives: we didn't get shutout and Jimmy G looked pretty good being thrust into the game. And after that, wow. That's all I really have to say. The amazing thing is, the offensive line really wasn't as atrocious as it's been this season. The offense just failed to move the ball and so many dumb plays were made. Brady throwing deep to Edelman on a 2nd and 6, Brady forcing one into double coverage to Gronk, and Brady, for god knows why, deciding to throw to Edelman on a 3rd and 3 when he had 5 easy yards and a first down. Plays like that just stick out as to why this offense couldn't muster up one good looking drive. Not to mention the couple sorry picks thrown as well by Brady. But, it also doesn't help that both Dobson and Thompkins were inactive for this game too. 

It's tough to really pinpoint why the offense wasn't productive last night, because every part the offense sucked. The offensive line, while better, still allowed a couple strip sacks. Two first round picks, Solder and Vollmer, were benched at various points in the game. The run blocking wasn't consistent. Brady looked like he was ready to leave the game after one quarter. He barely made any attempt to go through progressions. You can blame that on him or the OL for failing to block continually.

I hated the run game and overall play calling this game. Why were we running all of these draws out of the gun? Why didn't we drop into and I-formation and give it to Ridley 20 times to steady the offense? The Pats were persistent on spreading out the defense and forcing draws to the edge only to see the edge easily contained by KC. The passing calls were not even close to diverse. It felt like everything was either slants or in cuts. This could be a personnel issue since we had a solid two healthy WRs. I was amazed that we saw NOTHING from Tim Wright even though Dobson and Thompkins were inactive. What did Belichick expect trotting out LaFell, Edelman and Gronk as the only viable options?  Pathetic. Everything was just a joke on offense.

Defensively, BE AGGRESSIVE. In my opinion, the biggest issue with this defense is easily it's scheme. I keep hearing people say Revis is washed up, which makes no sense. Yes, he gave up 3-4 passes last night, but they were all in a zone defense when the Pats rushed 4 and gave Smith 7 seconds to throw. Like, how can you blame Revis for this? You can't. The defense is running a vanilla ass scheme. They are being reactive. You go out and sign Revis for 12 million dollars and run zone D's and barely blitz? Pathetic. Revis thrives when you say, "alright you got this guy, take him out this week". Boom. Problem solved. Then that allows you to blitz more than 4 and actually get pressure on the QB. Hopefully the entire defensive scheme changes next week with Browner back. Hopefully BB says alright Browner and Revis on the outside man up and I'll be aggressive.

The run defense and front 7 was sorry again last night. Chandler Jones and Ninkovich looked sorry as hell against the run. Charles and Davis beat them to the edge on almost every single run. Jones especially looked very weak vs. the run. Speaking of weak vs. the run, Vince Wilfork looks done. He missed a couple easy plays last night and looks a step behind everyone. Maybe if Kelly was still here this wouldn't be an issue? With Siliga on the IR the interior line is already in shambles. Jamie Collins, up to this point, isn't what we thought. He isn't flying around the field making plays like we expected. Hightower was practically invisible last night, too. Maybe this has to do with the reactive instead of aggressive defense? Personally, I think it is. Mayo looks old and sorry in coverage. On the quick out to Jamaal for a TD, the moment he made the cut, Mayo gave up. He knew he was toasted right there.

That's another issue I've seen with this team through the first quarter of the season, they have absolutely no fire or intensity. Brady looks like he's ready to retire by the second half of each game. The defense looks defeated all the time. It's really sad to watch. There are major changes that need to be made on each side of the ball, like major overhaul of everything. This team needs a fire lot under its ass and maybe this game is the thing to do it. I can see this team going two ways: we end up a mediocre team and struggle to make the playoffs and are a one and done team or we come back from this game with some fight and turn this season around into what it's supposed to be. The talent is there on defense, but the scheme isn't. The offensive has work to do, but Gronk will be healthy eventually and then maybe the offense can be a force. I really have blind faith right now that this game lights the fire in this team to go out and get a huge win next week at home versus Cincy.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 3 Report: Raiders


Week 3 Report: vs. Raiders

First off, what a very sloppy game played by the Patriots on Sunday. I expected them to come in and play much better offensively and that simply did not happen. I believed that this offense would move at will on the weak Raiders defense. I expected the defense to play well, and they did just that only surrendering 9 points and 240 yards to the Raiders. It was a very rough one to watch, but a win is a win, and the Patriots are currently even with the Broncos at 2-1, which is all that matters.

The offensive line, yet again, was very inconsistent. Brady had some clean pockets throughout the day, but for the most part, he was under duress a lot. The offensive line also couldn't run block consistently either. In the first half, Ridley ran for 45 yards and couldn't even muster up 20 yards in the second half. One play in particular that sticks out was when Ridley was taking a stretch run to the left and Solder was pushed so far back that he hit Ridley coming off the handoff. Another play, four of the five offensive linemen let their man by on the pass rush. Only Connolly at center held up his man, the rest just left Brady out to dry. These two things are never good sights to see from your OLine. This offensive line needs to figure itself out. Solder and Vollmer, two guys I thought we could count on, haven't been close to themselves. The interior line is still a mess. Devey should not be on the field and if BB thinks Stork isn't ready to start at center then he should at least try Kline at RG over Devey at this point. I'm still hoping that Stork can develop fast and become the starter soon. This way, the offensive line could finally see some continuity. The biggest glaring weakness on this team is without a doubt the offensive line. They have looked very good on some plays and really really bad on other plays. Right now, the bad is certainly outweighing the good for this unit. It all starts there. If they can finally become a cohesive and consistent group, the offense will become a lot more effective and productive. If not, we will continue to see this inconsistent offensive play where they struggle to move the ball and put up points.

Outside of the offensive line, I think Brady played a so so game. He certainly missed a couple passes that should have been made, but he was also taking consistent heat most of the day. He never looked completely comfortable back there, and rightfully so the way his protection has been. His pass to Gronk in endzone sticks out most to me. I think that play should have been an easy TD, but the pass was short. That was the glaring miss I saw from Tom. I hated the time management by the offense at the end of the first half as well. I think they killed too much time and ended up screwing themselves with the bad snap play. Overall outside of that, he hit many of his throws, but just didn't get enough help from his O-Line to make more things happen. 

It was good to see Ridley running hard. He was very decisive and hit the hole hard. If the offensive line set him up with more holes, he would have had a much bigger day. He ran hard and got nineteen carries without fumbling, which is always a plus with him. Vereen wasn't much of a factor on Sunday and really hasn't been much at all this season. I expected him to be used in a lot of different situations (spread out wide, slot, etc), but we haven't seen that yet either. Hopefully McDaniels can find a way to get Vereen in spots where he can expose defenses.

As for exposing defenses, the WRs do nothing close to that. Outside of Julian Edelman, who again had a ten catch game, the wide outs were almost nonexistent. Whether that is on them for not getting separation, or on Brady for not finding them, it doesn't matter. This offense needs other players to step up and be difference makers. Once this offense plays a good defense (like Cincy in 2 weeks), Edelman will be doubled and someone else must find a way to take over. I think Gronk is closer and closer by the day to becoming the matchup nightmare he normally is. By Week 6-7 I think he'll be back to form. One thing that is very concerning is how KT and Dobson have both been swapped on the inactive list. Are they both competing for a roster spot? If so, I don't see how BB moves on from a second round pick this early. Brandon LaFell looked pretty good on Sunday to me. He's coming along and I see him becoming a solid wide out in this offense. The biggest question mark is still Danny Amendola. His production has been pretty bad considering the money he is being paid. I think he's a candidate to get cut once Browner returns from suspension or even a chance we trade him. He just isn't the player we thought he was. He's very good with the ball in his hands, but the ball never finds him. Hopefully KT, Dobson and LaFell can continue to grow in this offense and show some production. If two of three can step up and become consistent contributors, the passing game should be fine. The main problem for the wide receivers may again fall on the offensive line not giving enough time to make plays. It doesn’t matter who is to blame, because everyone needs to step up their play at this point.

The defense deserves props for their performance yesterday. They held an NFL team to 9 points and just 240 yards of offense. All three units on defense played a very good game in my opinion. The defensive line lost Siliga early, but didn't let that ruin the day as Wilfork looked very solid in the middle. The D-Line was getting a good push on most plays and slowed McFadden down a lot. Jerod Mayo was all over the field again on Sunday as he had his second straight very good game. Dont'a Hightower also had another good game coming off arguably his best game as a Patriot last week. Hightower playing at the LOS a lot more has improved his effectiveness by a mile. He looks much more comfortable where he is this season. Chandler Jones had another good game being very disruptive off of the end. Revis allowed a couple passes to be completed, but overall I still feel he is playing very well. He isn't in total lockdown mode yet, but he hasn't been assigned a WR where he would need to step up and play. We will see just how good Revis is in two weeks when AJ Green and the Bengals come to town. The secondary looked solid. Logan Ryan didn't look as good as he did last week. He definitely regressed and I'm hoping Dennard can play next Monday to relieve Ryan. I don’t want to rush Ryan too much and then ruin his confidence for good. If we can take it slow with him, then that’s what we should do. We also need to remember that this defense isn't even 100% yet. Jamie Collins certainly wasn’t 100% on Sunday. Vince Wilfork looks to only be getting better, same with Jones and Hightower. Also, Brandon Browner's return is right around the corner and this defense will unleash its real weapons then. We will see what Belichick really has up his sleeve once he gets Browner for this defense. This defense is unproven so far as they haven’t seen any real offensive talent just yet, even though they have won games for the team. Players on this side of the ball will keep developing and improving as the season progresses. This defense has a chance to be scary good by mid-season if all goes as planned. I really like what I’ve seen out of this defense the first three weeks and hopefully they keep up this dominant play vs. Kansas City on Monday night.

So overall it was a rough game and really was too close for comfort against a team that isn’t very good. The Patriots should have gone out and won by two/three and handled business, but that did not happen. It’s time to regroup and find ways to get better in every area and slowly improve as the season progresses so this team is peaking at the perfect time.

Positives: Wilfork, Jones, Mayo, Hightower, Edelman

Negatives: The entire O-Line, Ryan, Amendola