After the New England Patriots beat down the Carolina Panthers by a score of 30-7 last night, I couldn’t think of too many “down” players from the game. So, today’s edition of Patriots stocks will feature mostly “up” players.
Of course, there are always one or two guys that slip up, so I will briefly talk about them as well.
The man who apparently isn’t “elite” anymore tore up the Panthers defense last night, completing 81% of his passes, going for 204 yards, and two touchdowns. He made one of the best units in football look bad, and he made it look so easy. If you were worried the Pats offense wouldn’t be great this year, just take a look at what Brady did last night, and I assure you, you will feel better.
Vereen continues to prove he is a lethal weapon in both the passing game, and the running game, as he totaled 75 total yards, and two scores last night. There is nobody in the league that can cover Vereen out of the backfield, which he put on full display yesterday, embarrassing a multitude of Carolina linebackers.
If it weren’t for Brady going all Brady on us, I would say Chandler Jones was the best player on the field last night. He sacked Cam Newton twice, and was in on a number of plays in the running game as well. Jones has obviously been working hard over the course of the offseason, which bodes well for his numbers in 2014.
Gray is really pushing hard for that fourth running back spot, and I honestly think he has a good shot at getting it. Brandon Bolden was inactive last night, and while Bolden brings a lot more to the table in the special-teams department, Gray’s ability to run hard with the football is something that can’t be overlooked.
The Patriots biggest weakness held strong against the Panthers, not allowing one sack all night long. Carolina’s front seven is probably the best the league has to offer, and this makeshift New England line answered the call. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the big guys up front.
60 yard field goal. Enough said.
No one really touched on this after the game, but in his preseason debut, Dennard seemed in mid-season form in the back end. He came on as the nickel cornerback early, which is a tough thing to do in this day and age. However I did not see him get burned in the time he was on the field, which is great news for someone that has spent the majority of camp on the sidelines. Dennard is an extremely talented corner, and the Pats will need him to be at his best all season long.
It wasn’t an awful night for LaFell, as he continued to show he can get open on the outside, but he dropped a few big passes throughout the game. If you want to play with Tom Brady, you not only have to get open, but you must hang onto the ball when he decides to fire it your way. Brady was visibly frustrated on one of LaFell’s miscues.
I think this game sealed Boyce’s fate as a Patriot. He didn’t catch one ball all night, and didn’t even get into the game until there was 1:26 left in the third quarter (as per Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston). Boyce is a talented player, but the receiver position is simply too deep here in Foxboro.