New England Patriots Grades: Tom Brady Leads Dominating Offense

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Sep 20, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) is sacked by New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) and defensive tackle Malcom Brown (90) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Patriots beat the Bills 40-32. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Pass Defense: B+

For three quarters, the Patriots completely manhandled Tyrod Taylor and company. The front seven was constantly in his face and getting pressure on him, the secondary played excellent lock-down coverage, and they contained Taylor from getting out of the pocket. Malcolm Butler and Tarell Brown have shown they have what it takes to compete on the outside, Devin McCourty was stellar as usual, and the boys up front are rounding into elite form. Chandler Jones and Jabaal Sheard were winning their 1-on-1 battles on the edge, Alan Branch was solid in the middle, and Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower annihilated the A-gap, combining for three sacks on the day. The Pats already have one of the best pass rushes in the league, and this is without Dominqiue Easley, who is definitely their best interior pass rusher.

Watch out.

Now, with all of that said, I didn’t like how the Pats let Buffalo back into the game in the fourth quarter. Yes, some of it can be chalked up to a prevent-style defense, and a lot of it is on the incredibly awful Bradley Fletcher, but going forward, this bunch has to finish strong. They can’t let quarterbacks sit back in the pocket for five seconds just because it is the final period, and they absolutely can’t let Fletcher go 1-on-1 with anybody that has speed. Logan Ryan looked bad in the preseason, but it is clear he is much better than Fletcher is right now, and he should be getting the majority of the third corner snaps in the future.

Run Defense: B-

160 yards on 27 carries (5.9 average) is not good no matter how you slice it. I do think the Pats played better than those numbers indicate, as a good portion of them came in garbage time, but they have to clean up their run defense if they want to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Sealver Siliga had a rough game, as he struggled at the point of attack, couldn’t penetrate, and frequently was blown off the line of scrimmage. Alan Branch fared better, although I expected a bit more from him and Malcom Brown.

However the biggest disappointment not only of this game, but probably of the season thus far, is the play of Rob Ninkovich. The old veteran has struggled to set the edge and keep contain, and he has struggled with his pass rush as well. I love Nink, but if this keeps up, it won’t be long before Jabaal Sheard replaces him in the starting lineup.

Special Teams: A

Stephen Gostkowski. Best kicker in the league.