Stock Up, Stock Down for Key New England Patriots After Week 3
The New England Patriots dropped a heartbreaker to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night. For the rest of the week, they'll reflect on the ups and downs of their performance, while resisting the urge to get mentally sucked back into the angst which defined the game.
Nothing, not even a 1-2 record or two consecutive losses, changes the fact that the Patriots are a dangerous team. They are feared. It's imperative that they block out the noise, the doubt, the replacement referees, anything that might provide a distraction.
It's all about focus, improvement and preparation.
This weekend, the Patriots head to Buffalo for a showdown with the Bills. Before that divisional battle unfolds, let's take a look at whose value is rising and falling.
Here's New England's stock watch after Week 3.
Stock Up: Julian Edelman, Stock Down: Danny Woodhead
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Last season, Julian Edelman and Danny Woodhead were in the same boat. They bounced back and forth from various positions, not really mastering any of them. Both of them struggled to establish their functions on the team.
This season, one of them finally took the next step.
Edelman's stock is going up. He's settling into his role as a receiver. He's making plays. He's showing emotion on the field. He's having an impact on these games.
The same isn't true for Woodhead.
Woodhead's still struggling to find his niche. He's stuck in the same limbo, unable to take the next step as a running back. He's on the field, but he isn't making a difference.
There's plenty of time for Woodhead to blossom, but, as of now, his stock is still down.
Stock Up: Wes Welker
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The Patriots are taking a different approach this season. They're refusing to rely on what's easy.
For that reason, it isn't important for them to get Wes Welker off to a fast start. Everyone knows what he can do. His yards are automatic.
Right now, the priority is depth. The priority is Julian Edelman, Stevan Ridley and Brandon Lloyd.
When Welker had only three receptions and 14 yards in the opening game of 2012, some wondered if his offensive role was being reduced. Patriots fans knew that the old Welker was still there, ready to go.
On Sunday, his number was called. He had 142 yards on eight receptions (17.8 YPC).
As usual, Welker's stock is sky high.
Stock Down: Rob Gronkowski
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Rob Gronkowski is a phenomenon. Same with Victor Cruz and Arian Foster. Last season, these three guys exploded out of nowhere and dominated with the fury of a thousand seas.
But the trouble with phenomenons is that they don't have track records. They enter with a dramatic bang, but it's hard to know if that bang will continue.
Thus far, Cruz and Foster are continuing their bang. Gronkowski is off to a slow start.
With Aaron Hernandez out for a few weeks, it's up to Gronkowski to find his groove and start dominating.
The team needs him to deliver in Week 4.
Stock Up: Tom Brady
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Tom Brady hasn't produced mind-blowing numbers yet, but he's been playing with mind-blowing confidence and control.
In the face of strong pass-rushers, he isn't flinching. After losing games, he looks ready to play again.
Brady seems to know that his team is a work in progress. He seems patient with that fact. He appears wiser, sturdier, as if the allure of a great record has fallen off his list of priorities.
He seems consumed with the idea of getting better as a team, no matter how long it takes or how many losses it takes, just as long as they're ready when it counts.
There's a cold, determined look in his eyes. Even through two straight losses, he looks like a guy who knows it'll work out in the end.
Stock Down: Devin McCourty
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There's a difference between a down stock and a really down stock.
Rob Gronkowski's stock is down, but it'll probably rise soon.
Devin McCourty's stock is really down and I'm not sure it's ever coming back.
He had the defining penalty in the Ravens game, but that was just one of his errors. Dropped picks, blown coverages, slow legs, weak tackles, late tackles and missed tackles plagued him all night long.
These were the same issues he had last season.
Until McCourty give us a reason to believe in him, his stock won't budge.
Stock Up: Brandon Lloyd
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Sunday night was the first time we saw Brandon Lloyd making circus catches in a Patriots jersey. He plunked down 108 yards, too, but his catches stole the show.
That's what they need from him.
Lloyd's catches were dramatic and acrobatic. He looked athletic, limber and exciting. More importantly, he generated energy with his body and left his fingerprints on the game.
Lloyd's stock took a major jump on Sunday night.