Week 5 stock watch: Patriots make easy work of Redskins
The New England Patriots remain undefeated on the year after comfortably beating the winless Washington Redskins on the road.
The New England Patriots improved to 5-0 after their 33-7 victory over the Washington Redskins. It was an overall impressive performance by the Patriots on both sides of the ball.
It was also a tale of two halves for New England’s offense in Week 5. Aside from their six-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown midway through the first quarter, the unit looked out of sorts. However, they looked much better in the second half.
Defensively, it was another excellent outing for the Patriots. They allowed a touchdown early due to poor tackling, but they didn’t let that deter them from putting together another stellar all-around defensive performance.
The Patriots played well in all three phases versus the Redskins. They are off to a great start thus far in 2019. That said, there are definitely areas that they need to improve upon as the season progresses.
Here are the top takeaways from Week 4:
Edelman had his best game of the season against the Redskins. He hauled in eight of his nine targets for 110 yards and a touchdown. The Super Bowl LIII MVP is still Tom Brady’s favorite target.
It’s also worth noting that Edelman didn’t appear to be at 100 percent health. He suffered a rib injury in Week 3 versus the Jets but has played through it to his credit. Edelman’s toughness is never in question, and this is just another example as to why.
New England’s defense accounted for five or more sacks for the fourth week in a row versus the Redskins in Week 5. While this could be attributed to their opponents being forced to abandon the run relatively early in games, it’s still an impressive accomplishment. The defense finished the game with six sacks. Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Chase Winovich, Danny Shelton, and Michael Bennett all contributed to that total.
Jamie Collins got most of the attention through the first three weeks of the season, and Kyle Van Noy played a key part in the Patriots’ Week 4 win in Buffalo. This week it was Dont’a Hightower’s turn to flash as the best member of New England’s linebacking corps.
Hightower finished the contest with five solo tackles, 1.5 sacks, and four tackles for loss. His ability to operate as both a traditional linebacker and as an edge rusher was on full display. He is just one of New England’s many versatile pieces on the defensive side of the ball.
Michel was another player who had his best game of the season against the Redskins. Not only did he rush for a season-high 91 yards, but he finally contributed as a pass catcher as well. Michel accounted for 123 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown in Week 5.
His three catches for 32 yards were career highs for him in terms of receiving. The second-year running back looked comfortable as a receiver too, showing that he can run routes out of the backfield as well as when lined up outside the numbers.
The Patriots have to do a better job of protecting Tom Brady. The 42-year-old signal-caller was sacked four times in Week 5, and he took some additional hits as well. The Redskins have a few talented young players in their front seven, but they are far from the best group the Patriots will see this season.
The offensive line also performed poorly in the running game for large portions of this game. The unit surrendered five tackles for loss to a Washington team that has been one of the worst rushing defenses thus far in 2019. Sony Michel has received a lot of the blame for New England’s early season struggles on the ground, but his O-line hasn’t done him any favors.
Nugent wasn’t terrible in his Patriots debut. However, he continued the streak started by Stephen Gostkowski of missing at least one extra point. One point wouldn’t have made a difference in the outcome of this game, but it’s still concerning.
New England fans have high expectations for kickers, so Nugent will have to string together a few perfect kicking performances before he wins them over. It’s safe to say that nobody is confident in his ability to kick a game winning field goal or an extra point if he were asked to do so.