New England Patriots: Initial Thoughts On Win Over Raiders


The New England Patriots squeezed out a narrow victory against the Raiders today, escaping with a seven point win. It was an ugly game offensively, as the problems that plauged that unit in the first two weeks showed up in a big away once again.

Here are my initial thoughts on this win:

1. No rhythm for offense

After spending this entire week talking about Tom Brady‘s weapons, and his seemingly tunnel focus on Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, it was the offensive line that let New England down in this game. Brady was under constant pressure all game long, and they failed to get any kind of push in the run game. There are a lot of problems for this offense, but if the offensive line can’t give Brady enough time to survey the field and make his reads, they are going to have a tough time scoring points all year long.

2. Defense wins game

Through three games, this 2014 season is beginning to feel a lot like the early 2000’s Patriots teams.  The defense is the stronger unit, and they are the ones that made the plays to win this game. They gave Derek Carr easy stuff in front of them all game long, but refrained from giving up the long play. The run defense played well, giving up 67 yards on the ground on a terrific three yards a carry, and they were led by Vince Wilfork who absolutely dominated from start to finish. If he is playing well, this Pats’ defense will be very hard to run against.

3. Tough day for Logan Ryan, Darrelle Revis

Two players that weren’t involved in the overall solid day for the defense were cornerbacks Logan Ryan, and Darrelle Revis. Ryan had a great game last week covering Cordarrelle Patterson, as did Revis, who shadowed Greg Jennings all game long. But rookie Derek Carr showed no fear going after Revis, who gave up five receptions for over 60 yards. I am not going to say we should panic about this, because Revis is still the best in the game in my mind, but it certainly wasn’t number 24’s best outing. Ryan had an even worse game, getting abused throughout the contest, and giving up a crucial 24-yard pass interference play on the Raiders’ last drive. But, luckily, he was bailed out by ‘Wilfork Island’.

4. Penalties down

As Bill Belichick noted after the game, the one aspect of the game where the Patriots improved, was keeping the penalties down. After getting flagged a whopping 15 times last week against the Vikings, they managed to keep the penalty count down to six. There were still more undisciplined plays that killed momentum than we would have liked, but they are showing progress.