Does the home opener spell trouble for the Patriots?
The kickoff to the 2017 NFL season was supposed to be a glorious night for the New England Patriots. It was the night they revealed their championship banner. It was a home game which means it was almost certain to be a win. Tom Brady has more weapons this year than he has had in the past and should run away with the NFL this season.
New England Patriot fans will say, “It’s just one game”.
The rest of the AFC will sit up and take notice, “Hey, this could be our year”.
The truth of it all is somewhere in between. Before we get to the “Is this the end for Tom Brady?” Let’s not forget they’re still the New England Patriots. Somehow, someway they’ll still find a way to get double digit wins, piss off a new fan base, and make a run in the playoffs. If last night was any indication, it won’t be easy.
Something was off in New England last night. It may only last one game, but Tom Brady didn’t look like the ageless wonder we’ve seen each season. Did he hit the same wall at 40 that Brett Favre and Peyton Manning did? Brady has systematically picked apart teams with little effort and he will again. However, if the Patriots play like they did last night, it’s going to be a long season.
Luckily for their fans, they won’t play like they did last night too often. There won’t be too many games where Brady completes less than 50% of his passes and doesn’t get the ball in the end zone. Not too often will the Pats convert 1/3 of the time on third down. Don’t look to many teams to hold Rob Gronkowski to just 2 catches. No, New England will eventually come out and march the ball up and down the field against good teams.
So why did they struggle that bad last night? Are the Kansas City Chiefs really that dominant of a team?
Kansas City did what few teams in the Bill Belichick era have been able to do, they came into New England and dominated the football game on the Patriots home turf. While there’s no cause for alarm just yet, Patriots fans have to face the music. The team might go through a few growing pains to start the season. With Julian Edelman out for the season, and Danny Amendola leaving last night’s game with a possible concussion that leaves Rob Gronkowski as the lone weapon from last year’s Super Bowl team. With Mike Gillislee, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett the Patriots have a lot of talent but it’s talent that has a lot to prove. Each and every one of them is not only new to the offense but new to the Patriot way.
Not only are they learning how to transition to the winning culture, they’re coming from teams where they never lived up to their potential. Each one of them was either buried on the depth chart behind players who they could never unseat, or had flashes of brilliance only to regress. Without having early round picks in the NFL Draft this season, the Patriots needed players to come in and dominate from the start. New England went into the season with players who were expected to back up their Super Bowl seasoned vets and expected them to have the same results when those guys went down. Football is all about chemistry. This early in the season, with injuries to star players, teammates will be asked to slide in and fill roles to account for production. Unfortunately for the New England Patriots, it’s not the middle of the season. Belichick’s Patriots have made careers out of being the “next man up” when players went down. If it were the end of October this game might have had a different result but this early on, players haven’t been shifted and seasoned in other positions to prepare for the turn of the season push.
Maybe the sky isn’t falling in New England. However, for the first time in a long time, the Patriots came into a game looking under prepared. Look for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to remedy that and get back to dominating sooner rather than later.