New England Patriots: 5 Storylines To Watch In Week 2
5 Things To Watch For The New England Patriots In Week 2
With the New England Patriots preparing to face their biggest division rival, the New York Jets, the team has a lot of adversity to overcome in Week 2. From Rob Gronkowski’s injury keeping him out another week, to the injuries of Shane Vereen, Danny Amendola, and Zach Sudfeld, the team is greatly understaffed for this matchup. Several under-the-radar names will have to emerge on both sides of the football for the Patriots to win this game.
Tom Brady will have to pull a rabbit out of his hat to excel in this game. The fact that two of his best playmakers in the season opener are now out for Week 2 is at the very least a bad sign. The Patriots may be forced to run the football more than usual tomorrow night with Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount because of this.
Despite what many Patriot and NFL fans believe, Brady cannot do everything by himself at 36-years-old. If the offense is proven to be ineffective throughout the course of the game, the team may have to rely on defense to pull this one out. The only silver lining to the team’s offensive issues this week is that the Jets are mediocre across the board.
Even though there is a likelihood that the Patriots’ offense could struggle in the game, I have compiled a list of 5 things to watch for in the Patriots’ Week 2 matchup on Thursday night, all of which happen to be on the offensive side of the ball with one exception. I will start with rookie WR Kenbrell Thompkins.
This is a big week for Thompkins. With Amendola, Sudfeld, and Aaron Dobson likely out Thursday night, he will have to step up in a big way for the sake of Brady and the Patriots. If he doesn’t put his poor Week 1 performance in the rear view mirror and turn things around tomorrow, he may not get many more chances to shine.
However, that time has not yet come to pass. Thompkins will get plenty of opportunities in this game to show that he deserves to be one of Brady's primary targets. His performance could determine where he ranks on the depth chart in future weeks.
Tomorrow night is a huge game for Ridley as well. After coughing up the ball twice, turning one over for a score the other way and being benched for the remainder of the game, it looked like he was being phased out of the offense.
Now, with the news that fellow teammate Shane Vereen will miss approximately eight weeks with a broken wrist, Ridley should find himself back in the fold permanently.
With that said, Ridley still has a problem with ball security, and there are two other talent backs right behind him on the depth chart. How much he plays and how well he can hold onto the ball will say a lot regarding his future role with the organization.
Michael Hoomanawanui is an interesting case as well. Under normal circumstances, the Hooman would be merely an afterthought. However, this week, with the injury to Sudfeld and Rob Gronkowski still recovering from a slew of injuries, he will be penciled in as the starting TE in week 2.
The team did bring back TE Matthew Mulligan who they signed earlier last week, but he will most likely be in the game to play special teams and block. He would not be responsible for catching passes from Brady.
Hooman, meanwhile, is the only other healthy TE on the roster at this time, and Brady could connect with him in the passing game at frequent intervals. There will be plenty of reps for him tomorrow night either way.
As far as Chandler Jones goes, the reason he is important to watch is because of the team’s inability to get to the quarterback Week 1. As the top pass rusher on the team, he must be the one to step up to generate pressure for the defensive line this week.
Although Rob Ninkovich is another important guy that can get to the QB, and if Jones can abuse the top offensive linemen that are assigned to block him it should free up other defensive linemen to make plays around him.
Besides what he brings to the DE position, he makes players around him better when his is on his game. For this reason, he must go all-out this week against the Jets.
The Patriots’ offensive line is another important thing to watch tomorrow night. After the poor game that the line had in week 1, giving up two sacks and seven QB hits against the Buffalo Bills who had an injured Mario Williams and a depleted secondary, the team will have to play better this week if they want to keep Brady upright.
If the offensive line does not improve significantly over the course of the season, it could be their Achilles’ heel heading into the playoffs. That improvement needs to start tomorrow against the likes of pass rushers Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson.