Tomorrow, the Patriots will take on the newly-minted Las Vegas Raiders (2-0) for the first time in 3 seasons, in a matchup that will make or break New England’s season due to the mounting difficulty of their season.
Here are some things to consider entering this Week 3 contest.
1. Can Cam & the offense maintain their momentum?
During last week’s loss in Seattle, the Patriots’ offense came alive, with Cam Newton passing for almost 400 yards, along with Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and Damiere Byrd having big performances as well. However, as the team has stated all week, you can’t take moral victories from a defeat, which means that the offense will have to show up once again to prove that Week 2 wasn’t an aberration. They may have a golden opportunity against a Raiders’ defense that ranks amongst the NFL’s worst. They have young players throughout their defense, such as Maxx Crosby & Johnathan Abram, to go along with veterans such as Lamarcus Joyner & Cory Littleton. Due to the Raiders’ relatively weak defensive line, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Josh McDaniels decide to emphasize running the football, with either Newton or the team’s running backs. As always, having success on the ground could open up the run-pass option or play action, which could help keep the defense off guard.
Either way, the Patriots will have to adjust to the absence of David Andrews, who broke his thumb against the Seahawks, and will miss at least three games. Andrews has been crucial blocker for both aspects of the offense, which will put a lot of pressure on his replacement. When it comes to the passing game, I’d expect New England to have a similar game plan to last week, with a greater deal of short to intermediate passes, along with deep passes when the opportunity presents itself. If N’Keal Harry & Damiere Byrd can deliver once again and complement the ever-reliable Julian Edelman, it may be hard to stop Cam Newton & the Patriots’ offense this week.
2. Will the defense rebound?
Last week, the Patriots’ defense got dissected by Russell Wilson, who had 5 passing touchdowns, which was more than they gave up during all of the 2019 season. They will face a much more conservative quarterback in Derek Carr, who is definitely more effective when he throws shorter throws. Regardless of his supposed shortcomings, Carr was efficient against the Saints last week, as he found his top weapon Darren Waller 12 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. Waller is best described as a big receiver even though he’s listed as a tight end, as his speed cannot be understated. As Las Vegas’ top speedster in Henry Ruggs is missing this game with an injury, I’d expect Bill Belichick’s defense to double Waller with Stephon Gilmore or Joejuan Williams, along with a safety. This would leave the rest of the team’s secondary with the task of covering Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, & Nelson Agholor.
On the other hand, the Raiders are much more deadly running the football, due to the ever-brilliant play of Josh Jacobs. Despite some injuries, Jacobs had a strong game against the Saints, as he totaled nearly 90 yards on the ground, and helped to put the game away. If Jacobs is at full health, it may be a long day for the Patriots’ defense, as they have struggled stopping the run lately (with the game against Seattle being a prime example). It wouldn’t be surprising if Jon Gruden & Las Vegas coaching staff decide to primarily focus on their rushing attack, which could tire down the defense, and keep Cam Newton off the field.
If the Patriots want to avoid a tough game, they will need their defense to bounce back with a vengeance, and shut down a potentially potent Raiders offense. More than anything else, the defensive line & linebacking corps will need to step up & stop the run.
David Andrews (hand) – Out
Josh Uche (foot) – Out
Adam Butler (shoulder) – Questionable
Brandon Copeland (knee) – Questionable
Julian Edelman (knee) – Questionable
N’Keal Harry (ankle) – Questionable
Isaiah Wynn (calf) – Questionable
Trent Brown (calf) – Out
Henry Ruggs (knee) – Out
Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral) – Out
Denzelle Good (thumb/illness) – Questionable
Josh Jacobs (hip) – Questionable
Darren Waller (knee) – Questionable
Sam Young (groin) – Questionable
What’re they wearing?:
Prediction: Patriots28, Raiders20
Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 3 games.
For the first time in 20 years, the Patriots will have a quarterback not named Tom Brady under center. However, that’s not the only big change for the team in 2020, as they recently debuted their “new” uniforms for the upcoming season. Other than the addition of alternate/throwback uniforms in the mid-2000’s and 2010’s, this is the first major tweak for the team since the turn of the millennium.
These uniforms are based on the Pats’ popular Color Rush alternates, which were introduced in 2016, as part of a league-wide initiative for Thursday Night Football. The Color Rush program was ultimately mothballed prior to the 2018 season, but teams such as the Patriots have continued to wear them as an additional alternative uniform. New England essentially took the monochromatic blue uniform, with thick red and white stripes on the shoulders (a nod to their popular Pat Patriot uniforms) and pants, and only changed the numeric font. In order to match their new home uniform, the team created a white counterpart (similar to their AFL away uniform), which features an inverted stripe pattern (with red and blue) and paired it with the same blue pants. Both jerseys feature slight silver accents on the numbers, and are paired with the team’s traditional silver helmet with a red facemask. The Pats also introduced new socks, which feature a color-blocked scheme of red, white, and blue.
Although there are people who think that the team came up with the idea of new uniforms as soon as Tom Brady announced his decision to leave, this change has been in the works since 2018, in cooperation with the NFL’s rules on uniform changes (which requires at least 2 years advance notice from teams to the league office). This means that Tom Brady would have worn these uniforms if he had chosen to stay in New England.
How have Patriots fans reacted?
As most NFL teams (other than the Chargers) have realized this year, it is impossible to please your fans when it comes to changing your uniforms. Even though ESPN’s Mike Reiss mentioned in March that these changes would be “subtle”, most Pats fans imagined unrealistic possibilities ranging from re-adopting the Pat Patriot uniforms to making a modernized version of the polarizing 1990’s uniforms. Hence, fan reaction to this change has been mixed at best, as evidenced by several heated reactions on the team’s Twitter feed.
Are you kidding me? I never liked the color rush look and it thought we were getting royal blue or pat patriot throwbacks
The negative reactions on social media can also be attributed to several blunders on the team’s part. For instance, the uniforms looked clunky on the models they chose, and they even advertised the wrong pants. The studio models were wearing last season’s Color Rush pants, with thick white stripes, while the uniforms sent to player such as Stephon Gilmore and James White featured pants with thick red stripes, which matches up with the stripes on the blue jersey.
Personally, I love the changes the team instituted, as I have been a big fan of the Color Rush alternates from the day they were introduced. Compared to the “Brady era” uniforms, these uniforms are much less cluttered, without unnecessary piping and side panels. There’s no doubt that the team’s previous uniforms are iconic and synonymous with success, due to the team’s unprecedented six Super Bowl victories while wearing that set, but it’s hard to ignore how dated the uniform got as time went on. This became evident when the league switched from Reebok to Nike for their uniforms, as Nike’s materials made the home silver pants look drab and boring, as compared to Reebok’s materials, which had made them look shiny and appealing.
In addition, as Nike’s uniform templates got more advanced, the Pats’ early 2000’s design looked more out of place, as form-fitting uniforms made the team’s piping and side panels look increasingly unappealing.
Going back to the new uniforms, I love the red and white stripes on the home jersey, as they really give a pop of color against the blue base. The white jersey looks sleek, although I do agree with the people on Twitter who feel as though the team would be better off switching the red and blue in the striping pattern, as it is more pleasant to look at. My main gripe with the uniform set is that the team opted not to include white pants (for now), which would have perfectly complemented the current rotation. The all-blue home uniform is attractive, but pairing it with white pants could take it to another level.
At the same time, having white pants would enable the team to also wear all-white on the road, which would be a heavily appealing option. The Pats wore all-white in 2017 against the Buccaneers in their old uniforms, which showed how sleek the combination could be. Hopefully the team chooses to bring them back!
A sign for the future?
Many fans wanted the Pats to bring back white helmets, which would have simplified the team’s color scheme, and enabled them to bring back the popular Pat Patriot throwbacks, which they have not worn since 2012 (due to the NFL’s controversial one-shell rule, which prevents teams from using more than one helmet). Fortunately, comments from the Patriots indicate that there may be changes in the works for the 2021 season, as the press release for these uniforms specifically mentioned the possibility of bringing back the red throwbacks if the league’s rule on helmets is nixed.
Ranking the other new NFL uniforms
The Patriots were one of seven teams to announce uniform changes, with the Rams being the only team to not introduce their new uniforms as of yet.
Here’s a ranking of the uniforms introduced so far (excluding the Patriots)