The Patriots opened their 2018-19 campaign with a resounding 27-20 victory against the Houston Texans. The Pats had a well-rounded effort, as both their defense and offense had impressive outings against the dynamic Texans.
Here are some takeaways from today’s game.
1. Brady and Gronk pick up where they left off
The last time Patriots’ fans saw Brady and Gronk together on the field, they combined to shred through the Eagles’ defense with 9 receptions for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Super Bowl. Today’s game against the Texans was no different, as Brady & Gronk picked up where they left off, with Gronk totaling 7 receptions for 123 yards and 1 touchdown. Gronk was frequently double-teamed by the Texans defense, but he was still able to have a huge impact on the game, with one prime example being his first quarter touchdown, where he beat a Texans’ double team for a touchdown along the sideline. Gronk’s sole blunder of the game was when he fumbled the ball following a long reception which gave the Texans great field position.
2. Receivers and backs step up to silence their doubters
For much of the offseason, analysts and pundits have questioned the Patriots’ depth at wide receiver, due to key departures such as Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks, and also Julian Edelman’s 4-game suspension. The Pats’ depth at receiver became even more suspect during the course of the preseason, as they released Malcolm Mitchell, Jordan Matthews, and Kenny Britt, while losing Eric Decker to retirement. As I mentioned earlier, Gronk was the focal point of the Pats’ offense today, but receivers such as Phillip Dorsett stepped up, as he had 7 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown (following a 2017 season in which he was pretty much non-existent in the offense). Cordarrelle Patterson flashed his potential, even though he didn’t have the most statistically dominant game, as he had 1 catch for 6 yards, and 3 rushes for 13 yards, but it was evident that the Patriots are figuring out how to utilize his tantalizing speed. The Pats’ stable of running backs, including James White and Rex Burkhead were also consistent as usual, as they helped relieve pressure off of Brady.
The Patriots’ defense starts the year with a statement
While the Patriots’ offense ended last year with a strong performance in the Super Bowl, the defense did not have the same fortune, as they were constantly burnt by Nick Foles and the Eagles. Hence, one of the biggest question marks entering this season was the ability of the defense to rebound after their nightmarish performance on the biggest stage, and also after losing defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. I think it’s safe to say that the Pats’ defense is in good shape, after today’s dominant performance. Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise led the rejuvenated Patriots’ pass rush which was able to constantly get after Deshaun Watson, and sack him 3 times. The Pat’s secondary was also consistent, as they didn’t allow the Texans to spread the field effectively with their dynamic receiver Deandre Hopkins, and they were also able to pick off Watson in the end zone. However, one area of concern for the Patriots’ could be their run defense, as they were gashed by Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue who combined for 134 yards on the ground.
What’s next: The Pats head down to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars in a rematch of January’s competitive AFC Championship Game.