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Week 2 has come and gone and we’re left with a dissatisfied feeling in our mouths. For the second straight week, the Patriots have looked average, but this time their average play led to a Patriots loss courtesy of the New York Jets and their stingy defense. Although it’s tough to pinpoint positives from this game, there were a few. However, with the limited positive performances came many poor ones. Which players played well? Which players played poorly? For this week, we had plenty to chose from.
If you just look at the stat sheet you will notice that Leigh Bodden’s name can’t be found. Bodden didn’t record a tackle, didn’t have an interception, and didn’t force a fumble. But, if you watched the game, you certainly noticed Bodden. The 27-year-old shut down the Jets receivers as he didn’t allow ONE catch all game long. That’s right, folks. When was the last time the Patriots had a CB, who didn’t allow a catch in a game?
Bodden virtually took away the entire right side of the field, as the Jets completions came over the middle to Dustin Keller and on the left side toward the direction of both Jonathan Wilhite and Shawn Springs. It’s this type of play from Bodden that will get fans excited. People seem to forget that this is the same player that had six interceptions in 2007 with the Cleveland Browns. Sure, he had an off year last season, but who didn’t with the Detroit Lions? The fact of the matter is that Bodden can be a terrific CB for this team for years to come; that is of course, depending on if New England re-sign’s him after this season. Bodden was, without a doubt, the best player on the field for the Patriots on Sunday.
After Jerod Mayo went down last week against the Buffalo Bills, many questioned whether or not Gary Guyton could fill his void. Well, after his first test Sunday, he certainly passed with flying colors. There were a couple of cases where Guyton simply wasn’t athletic enough, like Mayo, to make the play but overall he did a fine job. Guyton’s speed is what really jumps out when he plays. On three or four plays he ran down Thomas Jones from behind five yards past the line of scrimmage. Guyton led the Patriots with 10 tackles (seven unassisted). Without a pass rush or even penetration from the defensive line, it made Guyton’s job a lot more challenging, but he performed well and was one of the bright spots for the Pats.
The former Kent State QB took full advantage of his opportunity to contribute to this team Sunday, when he filled in for the injured Wes Welker. Occupying Welker’s role, Edelman caught eight passes for 98 yards, while being on the receiving end of a 29-yard pass from Tom Brady in the fourth quarter. Although Edelman looked a little out of place pre-snap, as fellow receiver Randy Moss had to constantly tell him where to line up, he made up for it after the snap. Edelman did drop two passes, including a pass that may have been a touchdown if the ball was thrown better by Brady, but overall Edelman played well. Anytime you have a seventh round rookie contributing to your football team, that a plus. It will be interesting to see Edelman’s role when Welker is healthy. The Patriots have said that with Welker, when the team runs four wide sets, Sam Aiken would be the fourth receiver. But, that was before Edelman’s output on Sunday.
How often do we see Tom Brady struggle? Better yet, how often do you see him struggle in back-to-back weeks? The answer? Not very often. However, the start to the 2009 season hasn’t been a pleasant one for Brady as he completed just 49 percent of his passes Sunday, while throwing his second interception of the year. Pair that with an abysmal 4.6 per completion average and it was one of Brady’s worst performances of his career. Brady didn’t look comfortable in the pocket at all throughout the contest and he missed some throws that we’re accustomed to seeing him complete. One instance came in the first half when the Patriots had the ball in the red zone. It was third down and Edelman ran a route toward the sideline. Edelman was wide open but Brady missed him high, thus resulting in a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. Obviously not having Wes Welker on the field hurt Brady and the fact that the Jets blitzed Brady 33 times sure didn’t help, but Brady needs to perform better. No excuse about it.
I find it very telling that in the two games Brady struggled, the offensive line didn’t exactly perform well either. Rex Ryan and the Jets defense confused the Patriots offensive line all game long with different types of defensive stunts, rotations and blitzes. Brady dropped back 47 times Sunday and the Jets brought pressure 33 of those times. Now, I’m a firm believer in the saying that you can’t ask an offensive line to pass block all game long. Thus far in the early NFL season, the Patriots have had the offensive line do exactly that. It’s hard to contain a pass rush when the pass rush knows that the team is passing. The Patriots rushed the ball for just 83 yards, but did manage to average 4.1 yards per carry. But, like in the previous week, the Patriots abandoned the run in the second half. Still the offensive line’s inconsistency in protecting No. 12 will not lead to this team winning games and as a unit they must perform better.
The 37-year-old looked like a…37-year-old on Sunday. Galloway’s struggles continued as he caught five passes for 53 yards against the Jets. Now, those stats aren’t bad for a third receiver. The tell-tale statistic is that Galloway was targeted by Brady 14 times. Yikes! I know. Galloway dropped three passes, including a pass that would have given the Patriots a first down on the final drive of the game. No, I’m not talking about the fourth down pass from Brady, I’m looking at the second play of the drive where Galloway attempted to catch a pass like he was receiving a punt. Either way, Galloway has looked terrible, sorry, yes TERRIBLE this whole summer and now into the fall. Has anyone missed Jabar Gaffney more than they do now?
Galloway’s struggles shouldn’t be all blamed on the player. Whoever is calling the plays offensively (cough, Bill O’Brien, cough) is doing a horrid job with Brady’s tools around him. Galloway is a ‘stretch the field’ type receiver. In clear, short terms, he runs past dudes and catches the ball. All of Galloway’s routes, except one on Sunday that Brady under-threw in the end zone, were under 14 yards or less. It simply doesn’t make any sense. As the season progresses, the Patriots need something from Galloway or else they better hope rookie receiver Brandon Tate can come back after week seven and play.
When the Patriots acquired Burgess a few weeks ago, they hoped they would have gotten more for their buck. The Patriots traded a third and fifth round pick in the 2010 draft for the services of Burgess and so far he hasn’t done anything to warrant the type of compensation the Patriots gave up for him. Burgess just recorded one tackle on Sunday and according to Mike Reiss, only saw action in 17 of the 56 defensive plays. His lack of production in the statistical category is an indication of his poor play on the field. He hasn’t had much success, if any, with penetrating or rushing the QB. It was known that Burgess wasn’t much of a player in terms of run support, but he really becomes limited if he can’t rush the passer.
This was an ugly game. There’s no clearer term that can be said. The offense looked out of sync for the second week in a row and the defense and offensive lines were outplayed for the full duration. The Patriots will press forward as they play the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3. With Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, and Roddy White, it could be yet another long afternoon for the defense. Standing at (a lucky) 1-1 record, the Patriots will try not to fall under .500 for the first time in years.