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Notes and Observations Week 5: Patriots Defense Solid After the Bye Week; Beat Dallas 30-6

By on October 13, 2015 at 9:00am
Tom Brady has been fired up all season and it was on display after his one yard touchdown run. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade) Tom Brady has been fired up all season and it was on display after his one yard touchdown run. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Just about every other team in the league would have taken yesterday’s game for what it was at face value. A 30-6 victory on the road after a bye week. In New England, the team and the fans could only see the things that they could improve on next week. The defense played exactly how it should and didn’t even surrender a touchdown on the road. All Belichick sees is how can the team lower the penalties called against them? Tom Brady continued his dominance with three total touchdowns, completing 20 out of 27 passes, and throwing for 275 yards with zero interceptions. All Belichick sees is how can he get the offensive line to protect Brady better and how can the team finally run a pick play they don’t get penalized for? That’s how spoiled we’ve become in New England that even with a dominant win on the road there is still so much work that can be done.

– Obviously this wasn’t Dallas’ best team. With no Tony Romo and Dez Bryant they were already starting at a huge disadvantage. This game definitely plays differently if Romo and Bryant are healthy, but I still believe the Patriots defense could have matched up against them well. The game plan was perfect as they carried five defensive tackles on the active roster for the first time all season. There were times where they loaded up the box with nine men begging Brandon Weeden to pass on him. He didn’t and they contained the run all game. You can say what you want about the Cowboys sending out the JV offense but the bottom line the defense did exactly what it was supposed to do to that team. If it wasn’t for penalties on their two field goal drives, this game very well could have been a shutout. Continue reading Notes and Observations Week 5: Patriots Defense Solid After the Bye Week; Beat Dallas 30-6 »

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brady sack

Usually when a team scores 30 points en route to a road win, there is not much that goes wrong for them. For the Patriots on Sunday against Dallas, they did many things right in all three phases of the game en route to an impressive road win. One area that is a concern from Sunday, however, is pass blocking.

Tom Brady was sacked five times in the first half, including two drive killers on their first two possessions. New England was moving the ball well on each possession, but managed a total of three points from the two of them. The pressure was especially difficult around the edges, as Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer got beat several times.

Solder was playing against Greg Hardy, an elite pass rusher, so him having some difficulty is not completely surprising. What is surprising is how much difficulty he had and that it took until after halftime for the Patriots line to finally slow down the Cowboys pass rush. If the Cowboys had Tony Romo and Dez Bryant playing yesterday, the game could have looked a lot different especially early on.

The Patriots offensive line is still in a much better place now than it was last season even with starting center Bryan Stork unavailable. Things will not get easier for the Patriots line with games against the the Jets and Dolphins following this weekends trip to Indianapolis to face Robert Mathis and the Colts. New England is by no means in bad shape, but other teams will see first hand on film that if they want to slow the Patriots down, they need to get to Brady as fast as Dallas did. Not every team has the level of pass rushers the Cowboys do, but now every team will be attacking Solder and Vollmer.

It is up to the two tackles to prove those teams wrong for the Patriots offense to continue at its record pace.

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Before the Patriots can take care of business in Dallas this weekend they took care of some business in their own backfield. Dion Lewis has signed a 2-year contract extension with the team reported to be worth $3 million. The shifty running back receives a $600,000 signing bonus, with a first year salary of $800,000 and a second year of $1.2 million. With incentives Lewis could make up to $5 million in the next two years.

Despite Lewis’ injury history he looks as healthy as ever and for the price┬áthis seems like a low risk for what the Pats are getting in return. Continue reading Patriots Sign RB Dion Lewis to 2-Year Contract Extension »

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Heading into this weekend’s game in Dallas, much of the focus will be on who is not playing. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant will be unavailable for the Cowboys due to injuries and Lance Dunbar has been lost for the year with a knee injury. One unit that is healthy and menacing is the Cowboys offensive line.

If Dallas is to beat New England, they will have to run the ball well. Brandon Weeden cannot win a game on his own and the Cowboys will also want to keep Tom Brady on the field. They have spent high draft picks on the offensive line, with Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, and Travis Frederick all being first round picks since 2011. These three players form a nucleus that has dominated opposing defenses over the last two years. Their play helped propel Demarco Murray to the league rushing title in 2014 and they have opened up 2015 playing well.

The Patriots have had one major weak spot on defense thus far and that has been stopping the run. Although part of this has been because they have jumped out to big leads therefore leading teams to throw more. This then forces the Patriots to use passing personnel, which means it is easier to run when the offenses choose to. Despite this qualifier, the team’s run defense should still be better. New England is giving up 4.9 yards per carry, tied for worst in the NFL. They are also giving up 117 yards rushing per game, which ranks 23rd.

Dallas no longer has Murray, but can still be formidable when blocking in the run game. The wild card for the Patriots defense is Weeden. With Romo and Bryant out, the Patriots can play more slanted to the run game and play seven or eight players in the box. However, if Weeden begins the game playing well, New England will have to play more sub packages and put more pressure on their defensive line.

The Patriots trip to Dallas is a very winnable game, as long as they don’t allow the Cowboys to push them around at the point of attack. This offensive line is the best the Patriots will face all season. Their front seven has played well against the pass and played better in the run game against Jacksonville, but it is still not a sure thing. The bye week may have come at a good time for the unit, as they got time to improve and practice more together.

The proof will be in the pudding on Sunday. Either the Patriots run defense will continue to improve or New England will get pushed around.


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Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Would you believe me if I told you that there’s a storm brewing in New England? With the play of the two New England running backs, LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis, the Pats have a combination of size and power coupled with speed and elusiveness. With Blount’s punishing running style he is able to push the pack with each thunderous churn of his tree trunk legs lurching a 250-lb frame forward. Then New England mixes in a little lightning with 5’8″ Dion Lewis. His jump-cuts in the hole leaves linebackers grasping at air as he takes off in a different direction eyeing a lane to demonstrate his open field speed.

Alright so Thunder and Lightning may be a cliche name. Continue reading Patriots RBs LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis: The New Thunder and Lightning »

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Last night in a game against Dallas, Saints quarterback Drew Brees tossed the 400th touchdown pass of his career, joining legendary company. Seven days earlier, Tom Brady also threw his 400th touchdown pass in New England’s win over Jacksonville.

The two quarterbacks are still playing well late into their hall of fame careers with Brady opening the season on an MVP pace and Brees still leading the charge on a Saints team that has struggled out of the gates. Last night, the Patriots took to twitter to congratulate both Brady and Brees on their milestones.

Neither player appears to be slowing down and both are likely to pursue membership in the “500 Club” before their careers are over.

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When undrafted rookie free agent center David Andrews entered training camp in late July, the expectation was that he would be backing up starter Bryan Stork for this season and beyond with the possibility of getting reps at guard. Stork’s concussion in August was followed by his being placed on short term injured reserve, meaning he will not be back until week nine. This thrust Andrews into the spotlight.

The 6’2″ University of Georgia product has been the only Patriots player to play every possible snap through the first three games of the season. More importantly, he has been a key part of an offensive line that has kept Tom Brady mostly clean. The protection issues from the beginning of the 2014 season have not resurfaced, even with more than one rookie along the offensive line.

Andrews is very athletic, which helps him in pass and run blocking. He is also fundamentally sound, a quality necessary if the Patriots are to play him. He did not allow a sack in his final two seasons at Georgia and has continued that trend into his NFL career. He performed admirably against a dominant Bills defensive line and followed that up with another strong outing against Jacksonville.

It is unlikely that Andrews will supplant Stork as the starter once Stork is healthy, but New England has to be happy with what they have seen. They are now assured of having strong depth at center for at least the rest of this year and probably longer. Andrews, for his part, is increasingly making harder for Patriots coaches to sit him when week nine arrives.

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