New England Patriots: Perception vs. Reality for Patriots Post Week 3
The New England Patriots, now sitting at 1-2 record, are in a place that few predicted them to be before this season began. That is far from the only thing people have had wrong about this team.
There are some misconceptions floating around out there about the Patriots that need to be cleared up.
Here are a few of the more noticeable ones this season.
Defense Took a Major Step Back vs. Baltimore
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Yes, the Patriot defense made critical errors down the stretch like Devin McCourty's defensive pass-interference call that helped the Ravens finish off New England Sunday night. The defense and the secondary, however, are taking far too much heat.
The defense made plays to end drives on a number of occasions Sunday, only to have the officials extend Baltimore drives. To make a stop and then being informed that you have to start back over with another first down is extremely deflating, especially when you realize it was yet another incorrect call.
The Patriots defense made key plays on third downs and even shut down the Ravens midway through the fourth quarter on a fourth down that should have ended the game. The pairing of the officiating and the offense's failure to put one more insurance score on the board deserve as much (if not more) blame for the loss than New England's defense.
Welker's Playing Time Has Decreased Because of Edelman
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Julian Edelman has seen reps over Wes Welker this season, no one can argue against that.
However, it has become clear that the team does not view Edelman and Welker in the exact mold. Last Sunday, the team split Edelman out wide with Welker holding down his traditional spot in the slot. Welker has taken snaps out wide before, but it is clear that the team views Edelman as a more versatile inside/outside option.
As the Patriots' offense has evolved and become more dependent on the two young tight ends, Welker has lost more snaps in the slot to Aaron Hernandez.
Edelman has taken an apparent leap forward this season in the eyes of the coaching staff, so to keep him on the field along with new wideout Brandon Lloyd, the two young-gun tight ends and a running back, someone had to come off the field. The choice of the coaches was the All-Pro Welker.
Having too many weapons is a problem few teams have, but having an additional player of Welker's caliber is a great luxury.
Fortunately for Welker, the team will be relying on him more in the absence of Hernandez.
People just need to remember that when Hernandez is healthy, there are many reasons that Welker will or will not be on the field. It comes down to much more than purely him vs. Edelman.
Rob Gronkowski Was Ineffective in Baltimore
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Rob Gronkowski finished the game with two receptions for 21 yards on three targets. This surely aggravated fantasy football owners everywhere, but people need to realize that getting receivers numbers is not the offense's concern; it's scoring points and winning football games.
Sunday, the team apparently thought the best way to move the ball was to hold Gronkowski back to block and keep Tom Brady off of his back. The plan was successful. Gronkowski helped the offensive line hold the Ravens physical defense to just two sacks while still putting up 30 points on the scoreboard.
Gronkowski's job description is "tight end." Some fantasy football-minded people need to remember that tight ends are a lot more than a big target for their quarterbacks. Gronkowski is the most complete tight end in the game, and he helped show that Sunday as he aided tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer.
Success does not always equal numbers. When the Patriots had All-Pro defensive lineman Richard Seymour, he would sometimes show up on the stat sheet with just two tackles. People would scratch their heads when they heard Bill Belichick say just how dominant he was.
Games are still won in the trenches, but the dirty work done in there is still very much underappreciated.