All is right in Patriot Nation after a convincing 36-20 victory over the New Orleans Saints on the road. It was miserable writing this blog after the Kansas City debacle but now we have some productive players to hand out awards to! If you missed the week 1 grades and awards you can remind yourself how terrible the whole team was and how on any given Sunday the performance can be completely different. That’s the beauty of football. Lets get started.
Cutest Couple: Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski
This was the easiest award to give out of them all! Bobby G is back! Or maybe is back after suffering a groin injury in the second half. It seems like it could have been worse if he reinjured that surgically repaired back but not ideal in any case. As of Monday morning, it doesn’t look like the injury is serious so we can all collectively exhale for now. Gronk looked like his old, dominate self until the injury and crushed whomever the Saints tried to cover him with. Safety Kenny Vacarro was benched because Gronk was gashing him in man coverage and rookie linebacker Alex Anzalone had no shot on his long touchdown reception. Brady targeted Gronk 9 times, which were more than any other receiver on the Pats, and they hooked up multiple times on third down. It seemed as though Gronk had taken his place as number 1 in Brady’s heart over Julian Edelman. This award is much deserved for they were back to their Hall of Fame selves but all eyes are on Gronk’s groin area (nothing new for the ladies of course). It’s always staying healthy for Gronk but he showed us all that the latest back surgery hasn’t made him any less deadly.
Most Likely to Succeed on Offense: James White
The running backs went MIA against the Chiefs for some strange reason but they are also back and better than ever. James White could have easily won the cutest couple award but no man could ever get in between the love of Brady and his favorite tight end. White was as solid as ever yesterday, catching 8 balls for 85 yards on 8 targets. He caught balls out of the backfield, from the slot and even from out wide and his versatility is what makes White one of Brady’s favorite teammates ever and firmly in the Brady circle of trust. With so many receivers getting banged up against the Saints it will be up to White to step up and take on an even bigger role in the coming weeks.
Most Likely to Succeed on Defense: Deatrich Wise
This guy was an absolute beast and has already made everyone forget about Derek Rivers tearing his ACL. Lets qualify this award by saying that the Saints were starting two backups at the offensive tackle position so it wasn’t the most talented players Wise will face. But, this is the NFL, every player deserves to be here and dominating at any point during your rookie season bodes well for the rest of your career.
Deatrich Wise had a sack, 5 quarterback hits and two tackles for loss. That's wild.
If this guy can keep improving, he will make a serious difference on a defense that lacks a dynamic pass rusher outside of Trey Flowers. Belichick may start having a hard time keeping this guy off the field especially if he can work on his run defense moving forward.
Gritty Player of the Week: Jonathan Jones
He wasn’t expected to play much other than on special teams but the 4th corner on the depth chart was thrust into action from Eric Rowe’s groin injury. As is usually the case with the Patriots, the next man up was ready to ball out. He made a couple of huge plays in the game, with one pass break-up in the endzone which could have made the game a one possession battle.
This might have been the play of the day for the Pats. Would have been 20-17 if not for this Jonathan Jones pass breakup. pic.twitter.com/dg7jalDiQV
Those types of clutch play don’t always show up on the stat sheet but are key to winning games in the NFL. Congrats are your first award Jon Jones, hopefully its not your last because I love when backups make an impact in big games.
Most Athletic: Phillip Dorsett
I love that the Patriots have gotten far more athletic this season because there are so many more opportunities for massive plays. Dorsett barely played in week one but was on the field for 42% of the snaps, so he is picking up the offense fast but also being forced into increased action from injuries. Whether he knows the offense like the back of his hand or not, Dorsett looked freakishly athletic and had 3 catches for 68 yards. Believe it or not, that’s the second most receiving yards accumulated in a game in his young career. It’s amazing what can happen to your career when you finally get the leave the Indianapolis Colts. It was amazing when Dorsett caught the ball how he has another gear when he started running. Dude was a gazelle and I can’t wait to see how he is utilized as he becomes more comfortable with the offensive scheme. I expect Dorsett to win this award multiple times this season, even with Brandin Cooks on the roster.
Phillip Dorsett has 68 receiving yards today, the second-most of his NFL career.
Class Clown: Brandin Cooks
Speaking of Bradin Cooks, he has been underwhelming so far in his short tenure with the Patriots. Nobody on the team has said a bad word about the kid, he has worked hard but the results aren’t there yet. He finished with 2 catches for 37 yards on a mere 4 targets. Those numbers are nothing near what he is capable of as the number one receiver and its very surprising to see fellow speed demon Dorsett outplay him. Its possible he isn’t comfortable in the offense or doesn’t have Brady’s trust yet but with only three receivers in uniform yesterday, Cooks needs to be better. With a multitude of injuries in the wide receivers room, it looks as though Cooks will break out of his mini slump but Patriots fans expected much better from Cooks after paying a first round pick to acquire him.
Worst Medical Staff Award: The New England Patriots
This might be an unfairly negative award to hand out but jeez the injury bug has swarmed the Patriots already. It’s true, not all players can be on the TB12 diet and be as pliable as the GOAT but this seems like a ridiculous amount of injuries already. Amendola, Hightower and Mitchell are currently injured, and Gronk, Dorsett, Burkhead, Rowe, and Hogan came up lame against the Saints. The medical staff can redeem themselves by working overtime this week to get some skill players healthy but maybe preemptive measures should be taken to stop the madness of injuries on the Patriots.
*Disclaimer: a shit ton of really good football players got injured yesterday but it seemed really bad from a Pats fans perspective.
Best Old QB: Tom Brady
This blog couldn’t be complete without mentioning how tremendous Brady was yesterday. Dude is still breaking records as an old man.
Tom Brady sets NFL record for most games with 3 TDs and 0 INTs, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning. That's 52 games.
That Brady was the one all fans expected to see the entire season. Granted the Saints defense will be one of the 5 worst in the league but that was impressive nonetheless. 447 yards and 3 touchdowns is ridiculous in any NFL game but his first half stats of over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns would be an excellent game for every other QB in the league. Normal rules and stats don’t apply to Brady of course. It was beautiful to see him spread the ball around to receivers, tight ends and running backs while also being efficient with an undermanned group of skill players. Lets relish in his brilliance for a moment but realize we need to be “on to Houston”. They will provide a much bigger challenge on the offense, especially if the offense continues to be banged up. For now though, Brady is our most prestigious award winner of the week.
Offense: A (QB=A, RB=A, WR=A-)
Defense: B (D-line=B-, Linebackers=B-, Secondary=B+)
Special teams: B+
Thanks for reading the second edition of awards and grades for the Patriots! Check out my website at jakescearbo.com to read more insightful Patriots articles!