The New England Patriots defeated the Tennessee Titans 34-10, and it is a great way to kick off the season on the road. The Pats offense and run defense came up big in this game; a game that saw Chris Johnson rush for just four yards on 11 carries.
1. Stevan Ridley is a monster
Many of us projected a big week for Stevan Ridley, and he didn’t disappoint. In fact, he exceeded expectations with 125 yards on 21 carries, including a one-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. He has a great blend of power and explosiveness, and he has the ability to become a very good feature back in this league; he already showed that ability yesterday.
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2. Tavon Wilson was definitely not a reach
I think most Patriots fans already figured out that Bill Belichick did not reach for Tavon Wilson, especially after his solid play throughout preseason and training camp. But this note is mainly for the outsiders who criticized the move, because Wilson was terrific yesterday. He defended two passes, picked off a pass, and finished with four tackles. He is already the Patriots best safety in coverage, and he’s proof that it’s much better to trust team evaluations than the guys who write up reports online. It’s because teams have better access to scouting resources and can more effectively evaluate less known prospects.
3. Our run defense is one of the best in the league
The Patriots absolutely shut down Chris Johnson, and that’s no easy feat. He may be coming off of a down year, but he looked great in the offseason for the Titans and was simply playing behind an offensive line that got manhandled. Vince Wilfork was immovable, as usual, and the defense was redirecting runs and blowing up running lanes almost at will.
4. Is Wes Welker going to receive a reduced role permanently?
We didn’t see much of Wes Welker yesterday, and that’s because he received just 43 snaps yesterday (per ESPN Boston) while Julian Edelman had 23. The Pats were using something of a rotation in the slot, and Welker was only able to haul in three passes on a limited five targets overall. The question is, are the Pats moving away from concentrating heavily on Welker? It’s something to monitor, but there isn’t anything that can be definitively taken out from this game.
5. Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower
Overall, it was a great day to be a rookie for the New England Patriots, as Nate Ebner put in a good day’s work on special teams to supplement the big games the big three had. Jones and Hightower combined on a strip sack, with Jones making a terrific swim move to get by solid veteran left tackle Michael Roos. Jake Locker stood no chance, and Hightower scooped it up for a six-yard touchdown. Jones consistently put pressure on Locker, which is impressive considering Roos’s quality. Hightower also had a tackle for loss and finished with five tackles in total while helping the Pats run defense steal the show against CJ2K.
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