The Patriots rolled to a 23-3 win today over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and as always, there were players that showed up to play for the Pats. They played lock down defense throughout the contest, and the offense finally got their feet under them and this helped put the game away early for New England.
After I reviewed last week’s game against the Jets, I came away thinking that rookie Aaron Dobson had a better game than it appeared. Throughout the preseason Dobson struggled to get separation against man coverage, and this really affected his relationship with Brady. Dobson wasn’t being targeted by Brady, and at times it seemed that Dobson would never gain the trust of his quarterback. But in that Jets game, Dobson showed us that he has the ability to separate and get open for his team. He had a severe case of the drops last Thursday, so this improvement in his game has been largely overlooked. Today, Dobson once again showed that he could get open and gain separation, but he also managed to hang onto the ball, and the result was a seven catch day for Dobson. His combination of size and speed is beginning to pay dividends for him and the Patriots, and he was a big part of the New England offense in this win.
I pegged Jones as a player to watch heading into this game, mainly because I thought that the Patriots would have to get pressure on Josh Freeman to win this contest. This wasn’t the case, as their secondary played a phenomenal game, but Jones still played great, and generated some pressure on Freeman. He claimed his third sack of the season in this game, and was near the quarterback in a number of other plays. The Patriots have used Jones as a defensive tackle numerous times in the first three weeks of the season, and Jones’ quickness and explosive moves have allowed him to exploit the slower offensive guards. Jones is quickly establishing himself as the premier pass rusher on this Patriots defense, and if he keeps this up, he could become one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
This was Bolden’s first appearance of 2013, and he played a hell of a game for the Pats. With Shane Vereen out for awhile with a wrist injury, it appears that Bolden will have to supplant him as the third down back until Vereen returns. Bolden amassed 100 yards from scrimmage in this game, with his speed being an obvious change up from the Patriots other active running backs. Bolden showcased this speed on a 46 yard scamper early in the third quarter, and if he can keep up this explosive play, then the Patriots offense may not miss Vereen as much as expected.