The New England Patriots squeezed out a 13-10 win over the New York Jets last night in one of the ugliest football games I have ever seen. The Patriots’ offense was a disaster, and the only reason they won was the fact that the Jets’ offense was an even bigger disaster. Without top receiving threats Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins were given their first major test.
The result? They failed, miserably. By my count Dobson had four drops and Thompkins had two, and each was out of place on numerous routes. Tom Brady was visibly upset with his young wideouts at multiple points, and they struggled throughout the night.
Don’t let the box score stats fool you. Dobson was horrible, and Thompkins wasn’t much better. To be fair, neither has any experience, but catching the ball is catching the ball. That is the one thing rookie receivers shouldn’t have a problem with. The Patriots were crippled offensively without any outside receiving threats, and this problem doesn’t figure to go away.
Don’t think the return of Amendola and Gronk will fix all the Pats’ problems. Both of those two players almost exclusively work the middle of the field, as does Julian Edelman. Without a legitimate outside presence, there simply won’t be enough space for those three players to operate at maximum effectiveness.
The rookies will get better as they get more reps and continue to learn the playbook. However, their performance tonight showed just how far they have to go. The Patriots need to consider bringing in a veteran, such as Brandon Lloyd, to provide an outside threat. Dobson and Thompkins have potential, but right now they are crippling the Patriots’ passing attack.
The Pats have nothing that resembles an effective run game, so they have to rely heavily on the pass. However, unless these young receivers improve dramatically, even Brady can’t make this group nearly as good as the Patriots have been the last few seasons.
Patriot fans can say 2-0 is 2-0 all they like, but the reality is the team barely managed wins against the Jets and Buffalo Bills, who project to be two of the worst teams in the NFL. Anyone who thinks that this version of the Patriots can hang with Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers is delusional.
Something has to change for New England at receiver, because right now, they aren’t even close to being a Super Bowl contender.