By: Andrew Oak
First off, a 2-2 start is not the end of the world. I think most national media members took the chance to finally hone in on the Patriots crumbling offense and questionable coaching decisions. No other 2-2 team has been under more scrutiny than I saw with the Patriots last week. Where are all those haters now you ask? Well after demolishing the Bengals at home in another primetime game, the haters seem to have taken a back seat...for this week that is.
Now at 3-2 and a very rough schedule ahead, the Pats have even more to prove in the next couple of weeks. The major issues that still revolve around this team are the offensive line and its consistent running game. We all saw what happened in the first round matchup in the playoffs last year against the Colts. They ran the ball for 234 yards and annihilated Andrew Luck and the Colts. This year, the rushing offense ranks 14th in rushing yards per game with 122 YPG. The better stat, that literally NO ONE is talking about, is that the Patriots have zero rushing fumbles this year. In all, the Pats have had one fumble forced (Julian Edelman) and zero fumbles lost for the entire offense. That is certainly a dramatic improvement from last year and you can see that in Stevan Ridley's new approach to rushing the football.
Tim Wright finally established himself into the offenses and the new two TE system seems to be back in place which made these Patriots teams so successful over the years. We all know Tim Wright is young and still unproven, but what he showed me on sunday was that he has the capability of stretching the defense and helping the offense move the ball more consistently. After the Logan Mankins trade, everyone thought it was a head scratcher. Personally, I think its still a head scratcher given the Patriots inability to protect Brady this year, but now that Wright has emerged (for one game at least), I'm more convinced that this well make this offense get rid of the ball quicker than usually. Since there is really no deep threat on the Patriots, they might have to convert themselves back to the 2001 Patriots by using more screens and more quick routes rather than letting plays develop.
With games against the Bills and Jets up next, the Patriots can easily be 5-2 and back on track to another easy AFC East title. If theres one thing I do know, its that the Patriots will run away with this division AGAIN this year. If the Bills beat us with Kyle Orton, you will see the haters come back out and prove that last week was a fluke. You'll start hearing comparisons over the last three games and how bad the offense is again. Miami is probably the only threat to NE for the AFC East title, they have injuries and a slight QB controversy brewing (I doubt they will remove Tannehill from the starting QB, but its been discussed in house apparently), so I'm not too worried about getting into the playoffs.
The Patriots always seem to go through adversity every year, but now that Tom Brady is on the back end of his career, people want to dismiss the Pats because their 'championship window' is closing sooner than later. One thing, to me, still remains clear. If Tom Brady is the starting QB for the New England Patriots, they will be in contention for a Super Bowl Championship. Now, we just have to pray that Kyle Orton doesn't light us up next week, I like my odds though.