Patriots Report Card: Week 2
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 02:09
The Patriots struggled throughout the majority of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals yet had a chance to win the football game in the last seconds. While the defense was pretty consistent, the offense was anything but that. Here is my position-by-position report card for last Sunday’s performance.
Tom Brady: (B) Brady’s line (316 yards/1 TD/1 INT) was actually pretty decent. Until a late 4th quarter drive that covered 82 yards over 11 plays capped off by a pass to Rob Gronkowski, the passing game seemed to be out of sync. A lot of that can be attributed to the loss of Aaron Hernandez and the Cardinals' pass rush that made Brady seem uncomfortable at times who completed 28 of his 46 passes. Ultimately, it was his ability to give his team a chance in the 4th that gets him the grade.
Running Backs: (C+) Stevan Ridley was fantastic in week 1. His performance against the Cardinals, however, was quite pedestrian. He ran for 71 yards on 18 carries, which isn’t terrible and a lot of the ineffectiveness was because of poor blocking. He only received one touch in the 4th quarter, which shows he is not yet a go-to player in the offense. Danny Woodhead was almost the hero, but a hold brought back his 30-yard TD catch and run. Other than that, he had no highlights.
Wide Receivers: (B) – Despite not starting in this game and not having a role in last week’s game, Wes Welker saw his role in the Patriots offense increase after Aaron Hernandez went down in this game. Although he didn’t get his first target until late in the first half, Welker had five receptions for 95 yards. Brandon Lloyd led the team with 13 targets resulting in eight receptions for 60 yards. Lloyd has yet to have that breakout performance but he looks to be reliable along the sidelines. Julian Edleman did a very solid job in the slot with his six targets, compiling 50 yards over five catches.
Tight Ends: (B-) Obviously, losing Aaron Hernandez had a huge impact on the Patriots’ game plan. Rob Gronkowski was the key contributor on the Pats lone touchdown drive that covered 82 yards. Arizona held Gronk in check holding him to just one catch going into the fourth quarter. Gronkowski's hold in the last drive during a would-be game-winning Danny Woodhead touchdown essentially was the final blow before the missed field goal.
Offensive Line: (C-) The O-Line struggled a lot at some points in this game. Brady was hit 6 times for 4 sacks and the run game only averaged 3.2 yards a carry. The struggles started with Daniel Thomas, who started in place of Dan Connelly. Thomas looked very inept on 3rd down running situations. Attribute it to a very inspired performance by the Cardinals’ front 7, but this line is still inefficient at best.
Defensive Line: (B+) The Patriots front looked strong on Sunday. Granted they only sacked Kevin Kolb once, the running game was pretty much shut down. Chandler Jones hasbeen a force on the line, constantly in the backfield, and he also forced a fumble from Kevin Kolb.
Linebackers: (A) Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo were absolutely terrific against the Cardinals. Spikes’ biggest moment, stripping Ryan Williams in the 4 th, should have won the Pats the game. Mayo led the team in tackles with 9; and lets not forget about Dont’a Hightower who also looked impressive with 5 tackles (1 TFL). With consistent performances from these three, they can be one the best trios in the
Secondary: (A) Larry Fitzgerald’s line from Sunday: five targets, one reception, four yards. It’s unbelievable that the Cardinals pulled out a win with numbers like that from Fitzgerald. Most of the credit for shutting down Fitzgerald should be attributed to Devin McCourty, who was responsible for coverage on the All-Pro wide receiver.
Special Teams: (D+) Even though Stephen Gostkowski was four of five in field goal attempts, he missed the most important one. The punting team was horrendous allowing a blocked punt in the third quarter which led to an easy Arizona touchdown. Zoltan Mesko’s punts only averaged 34.4 yards on the day.