Week 3: Texans – Patriots Game Analysis

LeGarrette Blount (29) New England Patriots – Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots improved to 3-0 after dominating the Houston Texans at home.

With rookie QB Jacoby Brissett behind center, the Patriots leaned on their defense to step up and did they ever, shutting the Texans out. 27-0.

Here’s some quick thoughts on the game:

Positives

  • Brissett notices TE Martellus Bennett wide open at the top with the cornerback playing off coverage and immediately throws the ball for a gain of 5 . Despite this not being a big play, it demonstrates how smart and aware Brissett is of the circumstances despite being a rookie.
  • WR Julian Edelman continues to prove why he should be in conversation for one of the top receivers in the league. He may not have had eye-popping numbers, but he is difficult to tackle and not only does he block, but he blocks well.
  • Josh McDaniels continues to have great play-calling, as he dials up a great fake with Edelman motioning in the backfield for an option run. Brisset was smart enough to slide and protect himself after getting a first down.
  • On 1st-15, Brissett had a great 27-yard rushing TD run to give him some confidence throughout the game. He moves very quick.

Jacoby Brissett (7) New England Patriots – Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

More Positives

  • Patriots OL had a strong game, allowing just 1 sack on the night. McDaniels and Scarnecchia need far more credit than they have been receiving. OL Marcus Cannon has also had a strong beginning to his season as well, especially going up against one of the best defenders in the league:

  • WR Malcolm Mitchell has continued to show why the Patriots are high on him. After a quick slant pass from Brissett, Mitchell breaks tackle and runs for 27 yards. Expecting to be a reliable option for the Patriots offense.
  • Every time FB James Develin is on the field, there is almost always a positive play, whether it is in play-action or simply running the ball. Develin and OL Nate Solder do a great job in run blocking consistently, what the Patriots were missing last season.
  • WR Danny Amendola may not be playing as much as he was in 2014-2015, but every time he has touched the field this season, he has picked up crucial first downs/touchdowns. Should the Patriots not be able to run their 12-personnel as often, they still have good options at the WR position.
  • Good run defense and penetration from DL all night long. Belichick dared the Texans to run on them, something he has done in the past multiple times against great passing offenses. Patriots could afford to do that with solid secondary play.
Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) tries to push away New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Malcolm Butler (21) New England Patriots – Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

More Positives

  • The Patriots secondary played lights out vs. Texans receivers. This possibly was the biggest match-up throughout the game. They also smartly as they had their #1 CB on the Texans #2 WR and their #2 CB + Safety on the Texans #1, essentially taking away both of the Texans’ best options.
  • Patriots DBs are willing to tackle and play the run very well
  • DE Jabaal Sheard, Chris Long, and Trey Flowers all impressed on the edge against the Texans OL that struggled for most of the night. Definitely looks as if Long is rejuvenated in New England.
  • Patriots DL were able to constantly put pressure on Osweiler, and by the end of the game had him spooked
  • Drop back by LB Jamie Collins into coverage results in INT and shows how great Collins is as a coverage linebacker. QB Brock Osweiler also did not anticipate him dropping back as far as he did. Collins was by far the Patriots best defender on the field that game, and bounced back from a rough outing vs. Miami.
  • The Patriots did not allow the Texans offense to cross the 50-yard line until there was under 1:30 left in the 3rd quarter.
  • The Patriots continue to laugh at the new touchback rule and take advantage of it. They have elected to kick it just short of the end zone on most kickoffs. In doing so this game, it resulted in two great fumbles created by RB Brandon Bolden and S Nate Ebner. Expect to see this throughout the season. Not sure teams have yet caught on to Belichick’s smart and crafty decision.

Cyrus Jones (24) New England Patriots – Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Negatives

  • CB Cyrus Jones with had 2 fumbles on punt returns. Had the Texans recovered, the game could’ve ended totally different. Again, ball security needs some work.
  • When throwing deep, Brissett overthrew his targets each time. On one particular play, he had WR Chris Hogan open deep off a play-action, but could not connect. Of course, one must remember it was his very game of his career, so not everything will be perfect.
  • Brissett getting being injured means the Patriots may have to sign another QB to play the fourth and last game of Tom Brady’s suspension. Although, the team has 10 days off before their next game, which could mean that could be enough time for Garoppolo or Brissett to possibly play.
Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden (38) and line backer Jonathan Freeny (55) celebrate a fumble recovery during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Bolden (38) and Jonathan Freeny (55) New England Patriots – Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Plays of the Game

Special Teams Fumble Recoveries

There will be people that believe that these plays weren’t as big the Brissett TD run or Collins’ INT, but these plays helped put the Patriots in good field position and put points on the board. Bolden and Ebner may not see the field as much, but their snaps on special teams are more meaningful than most know.

Things to Improve On

Red Zone Offense

The Patriots were in the redzone three times, but only converted once. Three points are better than no points, however, their execution in the redzone will need to be better and likely will when TE Rob Gronkowski is more of a factor in the on-coming weeks.

Bill Belichick Patriots

Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Final Notes

Bill Belichick will be looked at as the primary genius here (and he is), but credit must go to OC Josh McDaniels and DC Matt Patricia through the first three weeks of the season. Their gameplans have been executed well and have the Patriots 3-0 on the start of the season.

What’s more fascinating is how the Patriots will be getting some of their best players back through the coming weeks whether it’s from injury (Gronkowski, Hightower, Cooper) or suspension (Brady, Ninokovich).

What’s even more fascinating is J.J. Watt continues to disappear when he plays the Patriots and has yet to be apart of a win against them. Is health really a factor as to why he didn’t perform well, or is he just overrated? Depends on who you ask.

Upcoming Schedule

10/2
10/9
10/16
10/23
10/30

If there is one thing that everyone has learned, it’s always been hard to bet against a Belichick-coached team.

Next Week

Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills (0-2) travel to Foxboro where Ryan looks to have his first win since the 2010 playoffs. Rex Ryan is already on the hot seat after a bad start to the season. Should the Bills lose to the Patriots, without their #1 QB, Rex, along with his brother, may be looking for a job elsewhere.

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