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3 Up and 3 Down: Patriots Season Opener

Jan 16, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) drops a pass against New England Patriots strong safety Patrick Chung (23) during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Wow, now that was unexpected. After months of talking about possibly going 19-0, and how great this team was going to look, the Patriots fell to the Chiefs in their season opener. Losing is one thing, but losing the way they did is shocking.

Overall this was a really sobering game for Patriots fans. Let’s try and take a more in depth look at individual members of the Patriots, players and coaches, who fans should blame for this loss with 3 up and 3 down.

Down: Patriots Defense

One thing that we’ve been able to depend on is that the Patriots defense is not going to give up big plays. They may give up a lot of points, but they don’t allow the big touchdown.

That was not the case on Thursday night. 

The Patriots allowed both a 75-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill and a 78-yard touchdown pass to Kareem Hunt. Don’t be fooled, Alex Smith isn’t a great quarterback, but he exploited the Patriots for 42 points, and 537 total yard from scrimmage. Those are both the highest allowed under the Belichick era, which is ridiculous considering that it came at the hands of the check down king himself Alex Smith.

Overall, the Patriots defense couldn’t seem to get any pressure on Alex Smith, outside of a few third down situations the Patriots seemed helpless. This is alarming considering the Patriots have no real pass rushing threat on this roster and this could be a season long issue.

Granted injuries were a major factor, especially when Hightower went out. But the Patriots defense has to be better.

Down: Tom Brady

For once in a long time, Tom Brady actually looked his age. 

Usually when Brady struggles it’s because he is being constantly pressured and is uncomfortable in the pocket. But on Thursday night Brady, for the most part, had time to throw yet he had one of the worst games of his career.

Brady just couldn’t find his rhythm all game long, and it was apparent from the first play of the game. Right out of the gate Brady had a wide open Dwayne Allen on a wheel route up the left sideline. 99% of the time Brady hits that throw, but he threw it high and missed a chance to put the pressure on early.

While this is only one play, it’s a reflection on Brady’s night. He was consistently missing open receivers high all game, or just missing them completely. Even on the passes he completed they were either too far inside or they set put receivers in a vulnerable position.

It was apparent that Brady desperately missed Edelman, especially when he needed an easy completion to get in rhythm. The Patriots need to find a way to get Brady comfortable again, because he seemingly was throwing deep prayers play after play.

Down: Josh McDaniels

The Patriots had some success in the first half against the Chiefs defense. They were able to move the ball efficiently and had a lot of success going up tempo against a top ranked defense.

But for some reason McDaniels’ abandoned the no huddle offense in the second half of the game and the Patriots offense couldn’t do anything against the Chiefs.

Throughout his career the deep ball has been Brady’s greatest weakness. McDaniels must have forgotten that Thursday night because he kept putting Brady in the shotgun throwing vertically down the field.

Overall it was a poor night for the Patriots coaching staff, albeit a rare one. But McDaniels’ inability to call an effective game really stood out.

Up: Danny Amendola

When he was on the field Amendola looked great coming out of the slot. The key however is that he wasn’t able to stay on the field for the entire game.

Amendola was one of the only consistent players for the Patriots racking up 6 catches for 100 yards. Amendola is the perfect man to replace Edelman if he can stay healthy, mainly because he is one of the few guys on this team who has the full trust of Brady.

Although he did nothing flashy in the return game, it was calming to see him back there calling for fair catches, especially with the adventure that Cyrus Jones brought last season.

While the offense as a hole was very underwhelming, Amendola was a bright spot. Hopefully his head injury doesn’t force him to miss a game or an extended period of time.

Up: Trey Flowers

On a night were the Patriots couldn’t do anything at all to slow Smith and the Chiefs down, their only real pressure came from Trey Flowers. Flowers finished with five tackles and two sacks, and was the only player who really stood out in a positive way on defense.

Flowers came onto the scene last year, and for a team who has major questions about getting pressure to the quarterback, they’re going to rely a lot on Flowers.

The defense was able to make a few stops on third down early in the game, and that’s all due to Flowers’ presence. Hopefully Flowers is able to develop his pass rushing skills and grow into a defensive force for the Patriots.

Up: Mike Gillislee

It was a weird night for Gillislee, he really let the team down on a couple of 4th and ones, but he also was the only player who scored a touchdown for the team.

Gillislee racked up three touchdowns for 45 yards on 15 carries, which was the first time that a running back did that in a Patriots season opener. He also cemented himself as the goal line back for the Patriots and a replacement for Blount.

Overall Gillislee needs to be better on those short yardage situations, but he proved himself to be the teams best physical runner, and also the teams best scoring back.

 

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