Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, has postponed Adam Gase & Co. in their season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers until Week 11.
While stress it at Ann all time high in South Beach, the Miami Dolphins & the AFC East can breathe a small sigh of relief in Week 1….
After unveiling their fifth Super Bowl banner in the 2017 home opener, The New England Patriots’ high expectations were washed away in the storm, as the Kansas City Chiefs dominated the fourth quarter leading to a 42-27 win.
This is not the first time the Patriots have lost in week 1, only to turn their season around (2014: 33-20 Loss to Miami; Patriots finished season 12-4).
However, there are a few key areas Bill Belichick’s squad will need to drastically improve before they square off with the Miami Dolphins in Week 12.
Stopping the Run
Rookie running back Kareem Hunt’s first snap of the 2017 season, resulted in a fumble. Something he only did once in 856 touches across his four years at Toledo.
Luckily, Andy Reid and the Chiefs stuck it out with Hunt, and the payoff was astronomical.
The Toledo standout set a record for players in their first game with 246 yards from scrimmage. He also scored three touchdowns. In doing so, Hunt became only the third player to score three times while gaining more than 150 yards in his NFL debut.
Why this matters?
We all know what Jay Ajayi can do to a defense. Playing in 15 games last season, Ajayi recorded 1,272 total yards and eight touchdowns. Averaging 4.9 YPC.
But, in using the Belichick method (no…not cheating) the running back who may be able to do the most damage to the Pats is Kenyan Drake.
While his sample-sized rookie numbers don’t leave much to be desired from the 73rd overall pick last season, Drake, plays in a similar style to Hunt’s game, and could be wildly utilized in the passing game.
The Patriots defense was historically bad last night, and with the potential loss of LB Dont’a Hightower, things may just get even worse.
According to CBS, The 42 points scored by the Chiefs was the most that any team has ever scored against New England in the Belichick Era….0h, and it gets worse….
…The Chiefs 537 total offensive yards is also the most the Patriots have given up in 18 years.
Why this Matters?
The Patriots defense has always had it struggles, but overall I can’t deny in the times I’ve watched them, they always seemed to be a grimy, good man-2-man coverage team that can force turnovers.
That was not the case last night…
If the Patriots defensive line struggles to put pressure on Jay Cutler, as they did with Alex Smith, the Dolphins 3-wide set will look to continue a trend of underneath routes that KC used to wear down the Pats D.
Make Tom Brady Throw
This is a double edged sword, because you are dealing with one of the greatest QBs to ever play the game.
However, last night the 40-year old quarterback, regardless of WR depth, struggled to find a rhythm. According to ESPN, His 44.4 percent completion percentage was the fifth lowest in a start for Tom Brady.
Overall, the five time Super Bowl champ only completed 16-of-36 passes for 267 yards and 0 touchdowns.
Why it matters?
Even though Mike Gillislee, the former Dolphins RB, stole the show on the patriots offense, taking it to the house three times Thursday night, the run game as a whole still seems to be lacking an identity.
The four RBs listed on the New England depth chart, all of whom saw touches, combined for only 107 yards on 30 carries.
Placing the offense solely on the shoulders of Brady and his young WR core.
If Miami can take advantage of the injuries and potential struggles by placing better pressure than the Chiefs on Tom Brady, which seems logical due to the strength of the depth on our defensive line, it will greatly help the chances of Brady forcing throws.
While yes, this may all just be a part of my own dark twisted fantasy talking and hoping that the Patriots may suck this season.
Last night the Goliath of the AFC showed weakness.
Which is a great sign….
The Patriots offense will need to answer a lot of questions against a suspect Saints defense next week. However, for now, in a weekend as stressful and worrisome as this one, relish in this Dolfans:
The New England Patriots at this moment are the worst team in the AFC East.