3 Takeaways from Patriots' Week 2 Win

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IISeptember 20, 2021

3 Takeaways from Patriots' Week 2 Win

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots didn't play their best game on Sunday afternoon. They also didn't need to because they were going up against the struggling New York Jets.

    In a matchup of AFC East rivals at MetLife Stadium, the Pats took control early and cruised to a 25-6 win for their first victory of the 2021 season. It marked New England's 11th consecutive win over New York, which hasn't defeated the Patriots since Week 16 of the 2015 season.

    The Pats scored the first 10 points of the game and had a 10-point lead at halftime, and the Jets never got any closer in the second half. New England is now one of three 1-1 teams atop the AFC East heading into Week 3.

    Here are three takeaways from the Patriots' Week 2 win.

The Defense Is the Clear Top Strength of the Team

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    New England's defense gave New York rookie quarterback Zach Wilson a ton of trouble Sunday. And while some of that may have been because Wilson is still adjusting to the NFL level, it may also be a sign of things to come for the Patriots.

    The Pats intercepted Wilson four times, as J.C. Jackson picked him off twice while Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips each had an interception as well. New England also recorded four sacks, including a pair from Josh Uche, as it registered seven hits on Wilson.

    Of the four turnovers, three resulted in the Patriots scoring points on their ensuing possessions.

    "[Head coach] Bill [Belichick] always talks about winning the turnover margin, and how big an indication that is of who wins the game," McCourty said, per Dennis Waszak Jr. of the Associated Press. "In order to win the turnover margin, we've got to create turnovers. We did a good job of that early in the game. That had a big impact on the game."

    When New England's defense plays up to its potential, this is the type of impact it can make, which was the case more often than not in 2019 before it had some struggles in 2020. Now, it seems to have returned to that level.

White Is Back to Being a Key Piece of Offense

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    As the Patriots offense struggled in 2020, James White wasn't as much of a contributor as he was when Tom Brady was under center. Back then, White's biggest impact came in the passing game, but he was also capable of putting up some decent numbers on the ground.

    Now, White has returned to being one of New England's key offensive playmakers, as it hasn't taken him long to develop a connection with rookie quarterback Mac Jones. White scored his first touchdown of the year on Sunday, one of his five rushes that resulted in 20 yards, while also leading the team in both catches (six) and receiving yards (45).

    White's production was similar to Week 1, when he had six catches for 49 yards in a loss to the Miami Dolphins. But this time, he got into the end zone, scoring on a seven-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the opening quarter.

    "Based off the way they were aligned, it was a good run look," White said, per Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald. "The offensive line did a great job blocking. ... and I just wanted to do my job."

    As a veteran running back who is a reliable receiving option, it makes sense why Jones is looking his way frequently early in his rookie season. It wouldn't be surprising to see White keep this up.

Jones, Offense Have a Lot of Room for Improvement

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Because of how well the Patriots defense performed, their offense didn't need to do much in order to come away with a win. New England played it safe and didn't have any turnovers, but it also totaled only 260 yards and couldn't finish many of its possessions, resulting in four field goals for Nick Folk.

    Jones is still getting acclimated to the NFL, as he went 22-of-30 for 186 yards. He still hasn't thrown an interception, but he's also passed for only 467 yards and one touchdown through his first two games, so he is still playing well below his potential, which is to be expected at this point.

    The Patriots went 3-of-12 on third-down attempts, scored only one touchdown in three trips to the red zone and allowed four sacks. These are all areas in which New England will need to improve, especially when it starts facing tougher competition.

    "Offensively we've just got to string more good plays together," Belichick said, per Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal. "A little bit of the same thing last week. We had good plays; we just didn't have enough of them. We could have used a few more of them today."

    The Pats offense is more talented than it was last year, so things may start to get better in the near future.