Currently, the Jets and Patriots are tied atop of the AFC East with the Dolphins and Bills at 1-1. Is the AFC East much different than last year? The Bills look like a typical Rex Ryan team, a lot of vibrato after beating the most overrated team in the NFL in Week One and then crashing to earth against a team with actual talent. The Jets are undefeated, yet struggled against the hapless Colts and destroyed the dangerous tandem of McCown/Manziel in Cleveland. Miami snuck by Washington and lost to the Jags. Not saying the Patriots don’t have faults (i.e. their run defense), but it seems like the flaws of these teams will do them in again. Even though it’s early, Pats fans should get their popcorn ready and enjoy this season.
The run defense has been the biggest issue so far this season. The Steelers and Bills both ran very well against New England and Belichick and Company have noted this. Bringing in two defensive tackles (6’1, 340 LB Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and 6’6 330 LB Kendrick Ellis) of note means that they recognize this as an issue. It would be interesting to see if they sign one of these players, but the trio of Alan Branch, Sealver Siliga and Malcom Brown aren’t cutting it at the moment. How can this be resolved? It’s tough to say, since the Patriots morph their scheme to fit their opponent. Although, it seems as it could be something that gradually improves as the season goes on. Luckily, the next three opponents (Jaguars, Colts and Cowboys) have trouble running the ball. That could be enough time, with the bye mixed in, for Belichick and Matt Patricia to figure out what they can do to improve the defense.
The addition of Keshawn Martin last week means a few things: depth at WR and reliability on special teams. Martin is a special teamer that is also a solid returner (25.1 YPG on kick returns, 8.9 on punt returns with a TD). This addition could mean that they want current return men Amendola and Edelman to more focus on being the top 2 receiver options for Brady until LaFell comes back. With the use of Aaron Dobson in the last game (7 catches, 87 yards), adding Martin is a solid move across the board.
The biggest surprise this year is how well the interior offensive line has played. Guards Josh Kline, Tre Jackson, Shaq Mason and Center David Andrews have exceeded everyone’s expectations. With handling some talented defensive linemen in the first two weeks (Cameron Heyward, Marcel Dareus, Mario Williams to name a few) has been impressive to say the least. The biggest surprise has been Andrews, who is undersized (6’3, 285), yet has held his own. The MVP (outside Brady, of course) has to be OL Coach Dave DeGuglielmo. Having 3 rookies ready in the interior of an offensive line that has protected Brady and opened up holes for surprising RB Dion Lewis (Having Mason play FB might be the definition of smash mouth). Filling in for a HOF coach in Scarnecchia hasn’t been easy, but DeGuglielmo has stepped up and done an admirable job. As the season progresses, it’d be interesting to see if the rookies can keep it up and keep the dominance streak going.