Now that’s what I was expecting to see out of the Patriots last week. After calling out the new guys on his team for lack of energy, Tom Brady followed up his harsh words by having the best first quarter of his career at age 40.
Granted the Saints are absolutely putrid on defense, but it was still nice to see the Patriots execute even against a bad team.
Here are the players who stood out and the ones who were lackluster to say the least.
First Star: Tom Brady
Tom Brady was surgical in the first half on Sunday. The Patriots needed someone to step up and take leadership of this team. Brady did that and more, he finished the day with 447 yards, theee touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 139.6. The most impressive play of the day however was not a physical play, but rather a mental play.
On a 3rd and 9 play with 21 seconds left in the first half, Brady scrambled up the middle for seven yards before being tackled in bounds. Immediatly afterwards he popped up and initiated the “mayday signal” and it took a total of 13 seconds for the field goal unit to get onto the field lineup and convert to close out the half.
The awareness and execution by Brady to immediately get the entire team, including himself off the field after being tackled was something to behold.
Second Star: Deatrich Wise Jr.
Deatrich Wise was a major factor on Sunday, and that should have Patriots fans ecstatic. Wise finished the day with one sack, and two tackles, and was consistently bothering Brees all day long.
Wise coming out of college was believed to have a high ceiling, but he was a major injury concern. Wise at 6-5 and 274 lbs, has a dominant figure and has great strength and awareness of the snap. Most young players with that kind of length and height tend to keep their pad level too high and get pushed around.
As noted by Belichick earlier this season, Wise doesn’t seem to have that problem and is consistently able to get under offensive linemans shoulder pads and collapse the pocket.
The Patriots biggest concern heading into this year was young talent on defense. With the emergence of Wise this week, along with Adam Butler, and Jonathan Jones, the Patriots all of the sudden have some potential players. Wise could be key down the stretch if he is able to continue to improve.
Third Star: Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones was a surpise emergence (at least for me) this week and really played brilliant against a diminished but still solid Saints offense.
Jones finished the day with two pass breakups, including one in the endzone where his perfect positioning and technique allowed him to pry the ball out of the hands Ted Ginn Jr.
Later on in the game in a very similar fashion Jones broke up a pass intended for Brandon Coleman, were once again at the very last second he reached up and got his hand on the pall to break up a pass that would’ve gone for a big gain.
The awareness of Jones to wait until the ball had contacted both players hands before getting his body on them is a perfect example of being 100% focused on every play. Rightfully so, jones has received a lot of attention this week.
With Butler seemingly being in the dog house we could be seeing another case where Belichick sees something that the rest of us are missing.
First Down: Malcolm Butler
It seemed like the Patriots wanted to get a message out to both Butler and the public. They certainly did by starting Eric Rowe over Malcolm Butler, after Butler has player 98% of the defensive snaps last two years.
Butler did eventually get onto the field after Rowe got hurt, but wow was he underwhelming. Butler was targeted 5 times and gave up 4 catches and a touchdown. On the touchdown it’s hard to tell whether it was Chung or Butler who blew the coverage, but either way that is not the type of play your “top corner” should ever give up.
Butler has looked disengaged since the start of training camp, and Belichick seems ready to let him walk.
Second Down: David Andrews
Overall Andrews is a consistent player week in and week out, but throughtout his career he seemingly has trouble agasint bigger more physical defensive lineman.
Andrews played poorly to say the least against the Saints, giving up a sack and mutiple quarterback hurries. This could be something to keep an eye on as the Patriots offensive line has been shaky to say the least, and if Andrews can’t cut it against power lineman, than Brady is going to have a lot of difficulty staying comfortable in the pocket.
Third Down: Alan Branch
Yet another player who is seemingly on the way out. Alan Branch has been huge for the Patriots the last two years, but all of the sudden he is having difficulity even sniffing the field.
After a brutal week one performance where he was just bullied in the middle of the field by the Chiefs offensive line, Branch only got to play six snaps against the Saints and looked disengaged on the sideline.
Branch has been a troubled player throughout his career and it appears his reputation is beginning to catch up to him. its hard not to wonder if their is a attitude issue with Branch or a weight issue, but after getting payed it seems like Branch is content being useless.