Early on in today’s game against the Washington Redskins (0-5), the Patriots found themselves behind 7-0, which was the first time they trailed in a game so far this season. The Pats responded by scoring 33 unanswered points, en route to a 33-7 victory which improved them to 5-0 on the season.
Here are some takeaways from this Week 5 victory.
1. The defense continues to dominate!
On Washington’s second drive, Steven Sims outran most of the Patriots’ defense on his way to a 65-yard touchdown which gave the Redskins their only lead of the game. Following that play, the Patriots were able to completely neutralize Washington’s offense, as they held Colt McCoy to 119 passing yards, and forced 2 turnovers (1 interception and 1 fumble). Other than Sims’ big run, the Redskins were held to 80 rushing yards, with Wendell Smallwood accounting for the brunt of it. The Pats were able to make McCoy uncomfortable all game long, as they sacked him 6 times, and also accumulated 8 QB hits.
Although the Redskins were definitely an inferior opponent, the dominance of the Patriots’ defense cannot be questioned, as they once again held an opponent to single digits, and gave up only 220 total yards of offense.
2. Great rebound by the offense!
The Patriots’ offense was sluggish in the first half, as they were held to 9 points, with several of their drives ending with punts due to the inability of the offensive line to protect Tom Brady, who was sacked 4 times and hit an additional 9 times. As the second half started, Brady and the offense were able to dissect Washington’s defense with ease, and he ultimately finished with 348 passing yards, to go along with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Julian Edelman (8 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown) and Josh Gordon (5 receptions for 59 yards) were Brady’s top targets throughout today’s game. Unfortunately, the Pats lost Phillip Dorsett to a hamstring injury, which makes it interesting to see if Bill Belichick and the front office will consider adding another receiver to an increasingly thinning receiving corps.
Even though Brady and the passing game were remarkable, the most encouraging aspect of today’s victory was Sony Michel finally having his breakout game. Michel finished with 16 carries for 91 rushing yards and a touchdown, and was helped out by rookie fullback Jakob Johnson, who was able to effectively clear lanes for him. Michel had been struggling prior to today’s game, so any sort of success should hopefully give him confidence as the season moves along.
Even though the Redskins’ defense didn’t challenge the Patriots down the stretch, it was impressive to see the Pats overcome their anemic start and finally meet their potential on offense after two uneven performances.
Passing: Tom Brady – 28/42 for 348 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception
Rushing: Sony Michel – 16 carries for 91 yards and 1 touchdown
Receiving: Julian Edelman – 8 receptions for 110 yards and 1 touchdown
Week 5 presents an unusual matchup for the Patriots, as they head down to Washington D.C. to play the winless Washington Redskins (0-4) for the first time in four years.
Here are some things to consider entering this game.
1. Will the defense continue to dominate?
The Patriots’ defense has been on a tear over the last four weeks, as they’ve only given up 13 points, and lead the NFL in both sacks and interceptions. Tomorrow’s game looks to be an easier assignment for the Pats, as Washington was inept on offense against a mediocre Giants defense during their Week 4 loss in the Meadowlands. In addition, head coach Jay Gruden has opted to go with Colt McCoy at quarterback (instead of Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins), who will be seeing his first action since breaking his leg last season. It’s reasonable to expect McCoy to have some rust, which could lead to turnovers as a result of errant throws. The Redskins will be playing without two of their top weapons in Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed, while their top receiver, Terry McLaurin is listed as questionable. Washington’s rushing attack is also banged up, as Derrius Guice is still recovering from a knee injury, which will likely thrust the ageless Adrian Peterson into the starting role once again.
The Pats will be without Patrick Chung in the secondary, but if they continue to play their brand of defense, it won’t be too hard for them to overwhelm Washington’s offense.
2. Can the offense rebound from last week?
As most people know, last week featured an atrocious offensive performance for the Patriots, as they were neutralized by a physical Buffalo defense. Luckily for Tom Brady & Co., this week may serve as an antidote to help solve their problems, as Washington currently has one of the NFL’s worst defenses. The Redskins rank fifth-worst in yards allowed, second-worst in points allowed, and fourth-worst in stopping the run. These stats indicate that the Patriots should blowout Washington, but I believe that fortifying the offensive line will be the catalyst for any sort of success on offense. Having a strong offensive line will provide Brady with time to survey the field, and also enable Sony Michel to run the ball effectively.
The Patriots have dealt with a lot of upheaval on the offense over the last few weeks, but dominating a downtrodden team like the Redskins will prove to the rest of the league that they’re still capable of being an elite offensive unit.
3. What will the kicking game look like?
One of the major headlines for the team over the last week was Stephen Gostkowski being added to the injured reserve due to a season-ending hip injury. After working out a few kickers, the Patriots signed veteran Mike Nugent to the active roster, while also adding Younghoe Koo to the practice squad. The Pats have generally had consistency at this position over the last twenty years due to the presence of Gostkowski and his predecessor Adam Vinatieri, which makes an abrupt change alarming for fans. It will be interesting to see how much faith Bill Belichick and the coaching staff have in Nugent, due to the presence of Koo on the practice squad. In addition, if Nugent struggles, would the Pats opt to go for two after scoring touchdowns?
The loss of Stephen Gostkowski will make kicker a position to watch as the season goes along.
Rex Burkhead (foot) – Out
Patrick Chung (heel) – Out
Nate Ebner (groin) – Questionable
Julian Edelman – Questionable
Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) – Questionable
Vernon Davis (concussion) – Out
Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring) – Out
Jordan Reed (concussion) – Out
Brandon Scherff (ankle) – Out
Case Keenum (foot) – Questionable
Terry McLaurin (hamstring) – Questionable
Josh Norman (knee) – Questionable
Chase Roullier (not listed) – Questionable
Here are my picks for the NFL’s other Week 5 games (except for Thursday Night Football)
Yesterday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts (1-4) was truly a tale of two halves, as the Patriots started blistering hot in the first half, but made a series of mental mistakes in the second half that enabled Andrew Luck and the Colts to get back in the game. Thankfully, Bill Belichick’s team was able to get their act together, and close out Indy with a final score of 38-24 in order to improve to 3-2 on the season.
Here are some takeaways from last night’s victory.
1. TB12 and the offense will only continue to get better
The major headline leading into yesterday’s game was the return of Julian Edelman from his 4 game suspension. #11 did not miss a beat, as he caught the game’s first pass, and also had 2 other receptions on the Patriots’ first drive which spanned 6 minutes and put the Patriots up early. Edelman had 7 receptions for 57 yards, which may not look very special, but it’s hard to deny the impact his presence had on the rest of the offense.
Tom Brady had a pretty good game last night, as he completed 34 of 44 passes for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns, to go along with 2 interceptions ( more on those later). Brady was surgically efficient right from the get-go, and his successful night can be attributed to the offensive line’s remarkable performance, as he was rarely touched or disturbed throughout the game. Last night’s performance for the GOAT can also be described as record breaking, as he completed a touchdown to a record 71st different receiver, and also reached 500 touchdowns on his career (only Peyton Manning and Brett Favre have more).
Brady also had solid contributions from his other pass-catchers, including James White (10 receptions for 77 yards and 1 touchdown) and Rob Gronkowski (6 receptions for 75 yards), who enabled the Patriots to stretch the field with ease. Josh Gordon certainly frustrated both fantasy owners and Brady in the first half, but he proved his worth in the second half with 2 catches for 50 yards, including a 34 yard jaw-dropping touchdown under double coverage in the fourth quarter which helped put the game away. It’s important to note that Gordon is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury and is still getting acclimated with the Patriots’ system. Hence, Brady having the confidence to fling a deep ball to Gordon speaks volumes about the work he has put in and makes us optimistic about his future with the team.
Sony Michel had another solid performance on the ground, as he had 18 carries for 98 yards and a game-sealing 34-yard touchdown. Michel has clearly improved as the season has progressed, and his elusiveness and decision-making make him a threat to be wary of for opposing defenses.
At the same time, yesterday’s game was not without blunders for the Brady Bunch. As mentioned earlier, #12 had 2 interceptions which cannot be completely pinned on him. The first interception went through the hands of Chris Hogan and right into the hands of a Colts defender, while the second one was caused by a defender smashing Gronk, which tipped the ball to another Colts defender. These two plays occurred in the red zone, when the Pats were driving and threatening to extend their lead over Indy. As a result, instead of going up 31-10 and finishing the game, they gave the Colts new life and only a 7 point deficit.
Another thing to pay attention to is Gronk’s lingering ankle injury, as he was noticably limping throughout the game. Gronk’s health will be vital for the Patriots to have a chance at another Super Bowl run.
There were enough bright spots in yesterday’s game to be highly optimistic about the performance of the offense for the rest of the season.
2. The defense was very inconsistent
The Pats’ defense was rock solid in the first half, as they were able to limit the Colts to 3 points, which allowed the Pats to take a 24-3 halftime lead. However, they allowed Andrew Luck and the Colts offense to find a rhythm in the second half, as Indy was able to trim their deficit to 24-17. It was disappointing to see the pass rush only sack Luck once, considering the very public struggles the Indianapolis offensive line has had over the last few seasons. Also, Devin McCourty had a dreadful game last night, as he gave up two touchdowns on man coverage.
At the same time, the secondary was opportunistic, as they were able to pick off Luck twice. Devin McCourty also made up for his blunders by ripping the ball from a Colts running back in the third quarter (following Brady’s first interception). I think it’s fair to say that the offense’s sloppy start to the second half put the defense in unfavorable circumstances. On the plus side, the Pats defense will have 10 days to regroup and study film before their big matchup with the Chiefs in Week 6.
Passing: Tom Brady – 34/44 for 341 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception
Rushing: Sony Michel – 18 carries for 98 yards and 1 touchdown
Receiving: James White – 10 receptions for 77 yards and 1 touchdown off of 14 targets
Defensive: Devin McCourty – 11 tackles and one forced/recovered fumble
Passing: Andrew Luck – 38/59 for 365 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions
Rushing: Nyheim Hines – 15 carries for 45 yards
Receiving: Eric Ebron – 9 receptions for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns off of 15 targets
Defensive: Lenzy Pipkins – 6 tackles
Bonus: Take a look at what @CaptAndrewLuck had to say about last night’s game.
Dearest mother — We were bested by Capt. Brady, the behemoth known simply as Gronk and the rest of the Patriot men. My sidearm was true, my sight tremendous. Largely, we gave as good as we got in the exchange of fire. But, alas, the battle plan fell through. Now, onward. — Andrew
What’s next?: The Pats have a big matchup against Patrick Mahomes and the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) which could very well help to decide home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs down the line.
In the early 2000’s, the Patriots and Colts had one of the most competitive rivalries in the NFL, as the two teams frequently waged battle to see who would reign over the rest of the AFC. However, the rivalry faded following the departure of Peyton Manning from Indy, and the matchup has been one-sided in favor of the Patriots in recent memory.
There are several analysts who believe that the rivalry has been reignited due to Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels accepting and then turning down the Colts’ head coaching job during the offseason. We’ll find out if the rivalry is truly back when the Patriots host the Colts (1-3) tomorrow night on Thursday Night Football!
Here are some things to consider entering this Week 5 contest.
1. Will Jules’ return be the catalyst the Patriots’ offense needs?
The Patriots’ offense has had an up-and-down start to the 2018-19 season, as they were brilliant in Weeks 1 & 4, but were absolutely inept during Weeks 2 & 3. All things considered, I truly believe that Week 4 against the Dolphins was a step in the right direction for the Patriots, as they were able to establish a consistent running game, and also got solid contributions from their wide receivers (including new addition Josh Gordon).
This week may be even better for the Pats, as they welcome back Julian Edelman, who was serving a 4-game suspension due to the use of performance enhancing drugs. Ironically enough, the last time the Patriots had Edelman in action for a meaningful game was during their historic comeback against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Most analysts believe that Edelman’s return to the lineup will help relieve pressure off of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. This will definitely be the case, as Edelman has the skillset required to shake off opposing cornerbacks and get open across the middle of the field. #11 will definitely draw attention from the defense, which will be useful for Gronk and can help to make life easier for the Patriots’ other receivers. Throw Josh Gordon into the mix, and it’s hard not to be excited!
2. Stopping Captain Luck and his army!
For those who don’t understand why I’m calling Andrew Luck ‘captain’, allow me to enlighten you. For the past 3 years, there has been a Twitter account known as @CaptAndrewLuck, which imagines Luck as a Civil War general (due to his infamous neckbeard). The account usually tweets about Luck and the Colts’ matchups against other teams, using terms usually associated with battles (in the form of a letter to his mother). Check out his tweet about the Patriots from Monday.
Dearest mother — The men have mended their wounds and spirits in short order. They had little choice. We must move out this morning to begin our march to Boston. There, Gen. “Stoneface” Belichick and his band of Patriots await battle. Our unit yearns for another victory. — Andrew
Getting back to the game, Luck has been impressive in his return from injury, as he has done his best to lead the Colts to victory, even though he has been let down by his offensive line and coaching staff. Luckily enough for the Patriots, Luck will be playing without his top target in T.Y. Hilton who got injured during the Colts’ Week 4 loss to the Texans.
Both teams will likely be using tape from the Patriots’ loss to Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII, as Indy’s current coach, Frank Reich was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator at the time. Reich crafted a brilliant game plan that absolutely dissected the Patriots’ defense, and enabled the Eagles to earn their first Lombardi Trophy. Hopefully, Bill Belichick & Co. will be ready this time around to face a Reich-coached offense.
3. Injury Report
Rob Gronkowski (ankle) – Questionable
Jacob Hollister (chest) – Questionable
Josh Gordon (hamstring) – Questionable
Eric Rowe (groin) – Questionable
Elandon Roberts (calf) – Questionable
Geneo Grissom (ankle) – Questionable
Adam Butler (knee) – Questionable
Danny Shelton (elbow) – Questionable
T.Y. Hilton (chest/hamstring) – Out
Jack Doyle (hip) – Out
Marlon Mack (hamstring) – Out
Kenny Moore (concussion) – Out
Quincy Wilson (concussion) – Out
Hassan Ridgeway (calf) – Out
Bonus: Color Rush is back!
The Patriots will don their absolutely gorgeous Color Rush uniforms against Indy. Shouldn’t they just switch to these full time?
Prediction: Patriots35, Colts17
Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 5 contests.