New England Patriots Week 2 Key Questions – Minnesota Vikings


Sep 7, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (left) listens to offensive coordinator quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels (right) during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins won 33-20. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots and Vikings are set to face off this afternoon as New England looks to get its first win of the season and Minnesota tries to overcome taking the field without one of the best players in the league. The broadcast of this game is undoubtedly going to be dominated by talk of Adrian Peterson, who was indicted for charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. You’ll hear plenty about Peterson’s troubles while watching the game, but from a football perspective there’s no denying that his absence affects what the Vikings will do on offense. There’s a lot on the line for both teams in this game, so let’s take a look at this week’s key questions.

1. Can the Patriots offensive line rebound? 

The Pats offensive line had an abysmal performance in week one, struggling to protect Tom Brady as well as in the running game. This unit will have to rebound in both regards if this team is going to get to 1-1. In week one, Bill Belichick rotated his offensive linemen throughout the game depending on the situation. We may see a more static line this week as the Patriots try to establish some consistency in pass protection and in the running game. If this unit struggles again, it will be a long day for the Patriots offense.

2. Will the Vikings run the ball effectively without Peterson?

The Patriots were entirely unable to stop the run last week and Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner was probably licking his lips coming up with the game plan for this one. It’s hard to predict now just how Turner and the Vikings offense will react to Peterson’s absence. The Vikings will try to establish the run against a Patriots team that struggled to stop it in week one, but if the Pats can play better up front it could force Vikings quarterback and former Patriot Matt Cassel to win this game through the air.

3. What will be Revis’ assignment? 

Just how Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia decide to use Darrelle Revis is an important area to watch. In week one, Revis moved around in coverage and didn’t blanket one receiver. Second year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson thinks he was snubbed by Belichick when the Patriots head coach traded the 2013 pick away to the Vikings that they ultimately used to take Patterson. That’s pretty presumptuous on his part to think the Patriots would have drafted him at all if they’d kept the pick. Regardless, we’ll see just how much respect Belichick has for Patterson depending on what Revis’ assignment is. Patterson isn’t the only weapon the Vikings have in the passing game, but he’s by far the most dynamic receiver on the roster. Expect for Revis to spend a lot of his time trying to limit Patterson today.

4. Will Tom Brady bounce back? 

Brady was not himself last Sunday. He looked uncomfortable and indecisive and, as a result, made poor reads throughout the game. That’s not like Brady and I’m sure he spent a lot of time watching the tape from that game and is hoping to make the necessary adjustments to be more productive. While it’s true Brady was pressured throughout the day, it’s also true that he missed a number of open receivers and generally held on to the ball too long. Look for Brady to release the ball more quickly today and try and generate some much needed momentum in the passing game.

5. Can the Patriots establish a running game?

The Patriots run the ball for only 89 yards last week and had no running back with double digit carries. Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels expressed his desire this week to run the ball more frequently and more effectively, so expect Stevan Ridley to have more than the eight carries he had last week. The Patriots thrived running the football last year and this team will need similar success in the running game to help take some pressure off their quarterback and keep themselves out of long third down situations. If the Patriots can run the football effectively, it could be just the medicine the team needs to get the other parts of its offense in sync.