The Patriots were much improved in week 2. Me, not so much. But it's baby steps here people. The season is a marathon, not a sprint. Time to see how I did.
Prediction: Chris Hogan catches a DEEP tuddy. Even though he wildly disappointed in week 1, and I don't think he will be the slot savior I need him to be in week 2, I think he makes his mark on this game. As I said, Cooks will get the safety help leaving Hoags with multiple one on one match-ups. Eventually the Saints will get burned and Hoags will be off to the races.
Result: Not bad. Hoags finished the game with 5 catches for 78 yards and a tuddy. Admittedly his tuddy wasn't a deep one. It was the 13 yarder on a perfectly executed pick play. Hoags did take a slant 27 yards for his longest reception of they day, which he could have scored on if he beat the safety, but alas. Even without the long score, Hoags made his mark on the game, taking advantage of the attention paid to Gronk and Cooks. He did finish the game, but it was with a noticeable limp. I can't exactly afford him going down considering he's longest tenured receiver at the moment which is comical.
Prediction: And one more for you. Look for the screen game to come alive this week. I remember one fake screen left, throw screen right (to Dola I think??) last week. ONE! McDaniels loves the screen game, and we have the perfect backs to do it. That crew is going to have to step up big time with the loss of Jules, and getting them the ball in space against a weak secondary is a no brainer. That doesn't just mean James White. DIDI should get a few looks to run wild, and maybe we will activate DJ Foster.
Result: This one was a slam dunk. The screen pass was back in a big way. James White, Burk, and DIDI were all used in space just like I wanted. We had a few WR screens as well, one to Flip Dorsett stands out in my memory. And that slant to Hogan that went for 27 came off a brilliant fake screen to Dwayne Allen. I expect this trend to continue until teams prove they can stop it.
Prediction: Stephon Gilmore gets his first interception in a Patriots jersey. I expect him on Michael Thomas all night. Gilmore's size is the reason we gave him all that money to cover big receivers like Thomas. But there's not a chance Brees doesn't look at him all night like Alex Smith. He's going to Thomas early and often and I expect Gilmore to be competitive. Late in the game, with the Saints on the move, Gilmore will take one away to ice it.
Result: Nah. The Pats D was much improved on Sunday compared to their week 1 stinker, but they left the game with out an interception again. I'm still very happy with Gilmore's play so far. The breakdowns seem to be coming from miscommunication instead of poor technique. The communication thing seems like an easier fix. Brees had a hard time throwing at Gilmore's cover for most of the day, and that's all that really matters to me
Prediction: The Pats hold Brees under 300 passing yards. EXCUSE ME, JO?? You just said he was going to kill us in the first half! I know, I know, and it will be close. 280 or 290. But I think Bill and the gang put the fear of god into our boys over the last 10 days, and we're going to keep a VERY light box all game and dare the Saints to beat us on the ground. There wont be many lanes to throw, and the future Hall of Famer comes up short of three bills.
Result: WRONG. Brees finished the game with 356 yards, 2 tuddies, and no picks. This might have been ambitious. However, Brees had about 170/180 yards in the first half, something like that. And with the adjustments I knew we would make I thought there was a chance. He picked up 33 yards in the air in that meaningless drive to end the game as the clock ran out. Without that he's only at 323 and that makes me look a lot closer. But it's always hard to bottle up Brees at home and I think we did a pretty good job.