Football season is back and it’s a wonderful thing. No rumors or drama, just results. The Pats are 1-0 after a 27-20 win over the Texans at Gillette last Sunday, and all is well in New England.
Here are the biggest takeaways from week 1’s win as we gear up for the Jags:
The Pats finally have a pass rush. Trey Flowers picked up where he left off last season with 1.5 sacks, a QB hit, and four hurries on 30 snaps. But unlike in 2017, he wasn’t the only guy on New England’s defensive line that showed an ability to get to the quarterback:
Deatrich Wise Jr.: 1.5 sacks, two hurries on 18 snaps
Malcolm Brown: QB hit, two hurries on 19 snaps
Keionta Davis: QB hit, two hurries 19 snaps
Lawrence Guy: QB hit, hurry on 14 snaps
Adrian Clayborn: two hurries on 20 snaps
The linebackers were impressive as well. Kyle Van Noy showed significant signs of improvement and even had more pass-rush opportunities than Dont’a Hightower. He had three hurries on 17 snaps. Rookie Ja’Whaun Bentley lived up to the hype that he created for himself in the preseason, surprisingly leading the LB’s in playing time and racking up seven tackles.
The Texans D-Line presents a challenge to every offense they go up against. That being said, the Patriots O-Line did everything they could to make sure their 41 year-old quarterback had time to make plays. Houston didn’t hit Brady until nine minutes into the third quarter. They got to him a few more times after that, but a solid performance against one of the best front seven’s in football.
Gilmore had been criticized for a mediocre training camp and preseason, but he was nails against DeAndre Hopkins on Sunday. His two costly penalties in the fourth quarter were concerning, but as far as pass coverage we couldn’t have asked for much more. He never got beat deep and he picked off Deshaun Watson in the end zone in the second quarter.
Jeremy Hill Injury
Jeremy Hill is out for the year with a torn ACL. Tough loss, and you have to feel for the guy after he worked hard all off-season to earn himself a role on a team that was already deep at running back. Thankfully that depth will pay off as James White and Rex Burkhead will likely have no problem handling business out of the backfield in the long run. Unfortunately Burkhead showed up on the injury list Wednesday with a concussion, meaning Sony Michel might be forced into action in Week 2.
Riley McCarron pulled a Cyrus Jones
Meaning he immediately proved to everyone that he’s not the guy you want returning punts. He fair-caught one at his own three-yard line in the first quarter and muffed another in the fourth. Their best backup options for a punt returner are Patrick Chung, Chris Hogan, and Cordarrelle Patterson.
The Wide Receivers
The concerns about a lack of wide receivers were justified. The one bright spot was Phillip Dorsett with seven receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown. Thankfully Brady is still Brady and Gronk is still Gronk so it wasn’t too much of an issue. But it’s not too late for a visit from Dez Bryant, who seems to think he might be destined for New England.
It wasn’t pretty, but week 1 never is. The Pats will get their first big test this Sunday in an AFC Championship rematch at Jacksonville. Kickoff at 4:25 ET.
Follow Jack Bardsley on Twitter @BostonsBigFour
Photo Credit: Nancy Lane/Boston Herald