After about 10 days of New England Patriots fans panicking and jumping ship from the Patriots bandwagon, the Patriots rolled over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and improved their record to 3-0. Fans and media alike were writing the Pats off due to their inexperience at WR after the Week 2 game against the New York Jets, but the rookies came out with something to prove and put up a nice showing to help the Patriots come out on top.
Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson turned around a poor Week 2 performance and showed up in a big way. Dobson was again targeted 10 times for the second straight week, bringing in seven of the passes for 52 yards. Dobson almost brought in a big play downfield where he went up over the defender but couldn’t bring in the catch. He did, however, draw a pass interference call, which may not help in his personal stat line but helped the offense get into a good position to score. Dobson also was wide open in the end zone and should have had an easy touchdown, but Tom Brady was pressured and could not make a good throw to the wide open rookie. With some key third and fourth down catches, Dobson put together a solid week and looks like he is someone Brady is starting to trust and likes to target.
Thompkins did not have the targets or catches that Dobson had, but he was huge in the red zone. Thompkins was targeted seven times, which was tied second with Julian Edelman. Though he only had three catches for 41 yards, two of those catches were for touchdowns. Thompkins made a good play on his first catch to get in the end zone from 16 yards out, which had Brady fired up for the rookie and put the team up 7-3. He later would get open in the back of the end zone for his second score of the game and became the first Patriot rookie to catch two touchdowns since 1983.
It is funny how the attitude changes after one week. Last week everyone was benching, cutting and trading these rookies and looking for every veteran available to come in and help this offense. After a better week, against a pretty good defense, people have seemed to calm down. This is all without Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, which goes to show that these rookies could have even greater impacts when a defense has to game plan for players like Amendola and Gronk.
The Patriots may have had a slower start than most would like, but they are getting closer to being healthy and they are 3-0 for the first time since 2007. They also have a defense that is proving that they should be talked about like the Seattle and Denver. They will have a big test next week at the Atlanta Falcons, who just lost to the Miami Dolphins. As the Patriots get healthier, their offense will get even better. And if the defense continues to play like they have, this Patriot team could a nightmare to face down the stretch.