The New England Patriots are gearing up for their showdown on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, following a disappointing 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in their home opener. It’s time to take a look at players who are rising and falling heading into Week 3.
Wes Welker isn’t going to be the only beneficiary from the injury to Aaron Hernandez, in terms of targets, as Lloyd should also receive more looks his way. Not only that, but Tom Brady and Lloyd will only grow a stronger rapport as time goes on, which means more targets and better deep hook-ups between them. The early mis-communication between Brady and Lloyd has been somewhat troubling early on, but I have a feeling those two will be on the same page on Sunday, or Week 4.
I really recommend reading this piece from RotoWorld’s Evan Silva on why he thinks Lloyd will have a big game against Cary Williams and the Ravens. By the way, you have to scroll down to the bottom as it is the last game listed.
Holding down Larry Fitzgerald to one catch that went for just four yards was a remarkable achievement for the Patriots, and it was a team effort that had a lot to do with some great defensive scheming from Bill Belichick and the Pats. However, the reason why it worked to such a great effect is because of McCourty’s play, and he was physical and stout in coverage in a game that required him to play at a high level.
McCourty has shown through the first two preseason games that he is back in top form and is a whole lot closer to 2010 than 2011 in terms of ability. I fully expect him to keep playing well as the season wears on, and he didn’t even allow a catch against the Cardinals.
After another huge performance on Sunday in which he flat out embarrassed Cardinals left tackle De’Anthony Batiste, one has to think that Chandler Jones is right up there in the Rookie of the Year conversation with Robert Griffin III. He has been dominant against the run, and Jones has provided the Pats with a consistent pass rushing source so far this season. I’m excited to see what he can do against Michael Oher, who is clearly a better right tackle than left tackle due to the gap between his run blocking and pass blocking ability. Watching Jones and Oher go at it will be a treat, and it will be interesting to see how Ray Rice fares out against the tough Pats run D.
Wow, never thought I would write his name under this tag. But with Sebastian Vollmer playing at a high level when healthy, Ryan Wendell doing an amazing job stepping in as the starting center, Nate Solder looking better than expected at right tackle, and Donald Thomas and Dan Connolly playing above-average at right guard; it looks like Logan Mankins has shockingly been the weak link so far this season.
Calais Campbell feasted on Mankins Sunday after Mankins had a surprisingly mediocre game against the Tennessee Titans to start the season. While I am definitely not worried about Mankins, he still has to be mentioned in the falling space due to his struggles as a run blocker (per PFF, link above) so far this season. I trust the scouting the guys do at PFF, and Mankins did indeed have difficulty against Campbell. There’s no shame in that, and I’m confident that Mankins will improve. The Ravens defensive line is tough, but this is one of the best guards in the NFL that we’re talking about.
Arrow pointing up: Stevan Ridley, Brandon Spikes, Tavon Wilson, and Rob Gronkowski.
Arrow pointing down: Nobody off the top of my head.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.