All I heard in sports media following the Patriots 21-11 win over Miami last Sunday was ‘Good for them for beating a bad team, but the Patriots can’t hang with good teams!’. And yes, last night, the Patriots lost to the Seattle Seahawks, but that game showed a lot of good and some bad too.
First, the bad.
The Seattle Seahawks wideouts are big and fast. Lots of teams have big and fast wide receivers. However, Seattle’s corps of D.K Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, David Moore, Chris Carson and Freddie Swain showed they are not afraid of the vaunted Patriots secondary with reigning Defensive player of the year Stephon Gilmore.Gilmore and up-and-comer Jonathan Jones looked afraid of the larger WR’s, played soft coverage and the Seahawks took advantage of it. Brian Schottenheimer, the offensive coordinator for Seattle, also did a fantastic job of calling a few plays that simply confused the whole of New England’s defense allowing Russel Wilson to carve up the team for 5 touchdowns and 288 yards (with an additional 39 yards on the ground.
Another bad thing is something that has been plaguing the Patriots for the past few years; ineffective kicking game. Going back a couple years, long time kicker Stephen Gostkowski had struggled to make both field goals and extra point kicks. Last year, when Gostkowski hurt his hip and ended up on the injured reserve, the Pats went out and picked up a few different players to fill the need and landed on Nick Folk. Last night, Folk missed a critical 51 yard field goal that would have meant that the Patriots were down by only 2 points with less than 30 seconds left in the 4th quarter and an opportunity to kick a short field goal to win the game. Now, I know that kicking a field goal of any distance is incredibly difficult. BUT, Nick Folk has been in the league for a long time and there is no excuse for missing so many (he also missed kicks in the game against Miami too).
Now, the good.
Seattle’s defense is good. I would even go as far as saying they are great. Cam Newton and the Patriots took what Seattle gave and did a great job using the running game to set up passing plays. Julian Edelman had a career high in yards with 179. N’Keal Harry proved that his fumble in week one was a fluke and came up with 3 crucial catches in the 4th quarter to keep the game close. Damiere Byrd showed he belongs on this team and Cam Newton threw for 397 yards and added 47 yards on the ground. The Patriots proved they can make changes as the game progresses. Even though New England lost the game, they stayed in the game for all 4 quarters, showing the doubters that their dynasty is not quite over yet.
We should all keep in mind that Cam Newton has only been in the organization for just over a month. There is a lot more work to do and I have a feeling that this team is going to go through lots of growth and changes in the next few weeks. Something Bill Billichick has always done is never have the same game plan in back to back weeks. I suspect that their next game against the Los Vegas Raiders (still so weird to say) will not be a close one and we will continue to see the chemistry between Newton and the WR corps only get stronger.
Seattle was lucky to walk away with a win. Notice has been served to the rest of the NFL to not take New England lightly in 2020.
Written by: D.J. Parker