The rest of the country must have really been cursing in their living rooms last Sunday night. The Patriots demolished the Pittsburgh Steelers 33-3 after Tom Brady threw for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns. Oh, and not to mention, this was also the same evening they raised championship banner number six. While they did look great in many ways, the Patriots still have areas to improve in.
It may be surprised to learn that this is article is not going to be about the addition of Antonio Brown. Brady has shown throughout his career he can win plenty of games without flashy wide receivers. The 2019 Patriots can get better at running the football and rushing the passer.
Now were these alarming black holes during the game? No, not particularly. And to be fair, nobody expects every part of a football team to be firing on all cylinders during week one. Hell, it normally takes the Patriots a couple of weeks to really hit their stride. Last year they really did not hit it until mid December or January, depending on how you feel about the Bills and Jets games.
However, the Patriots always stress getting better week to week in every area of the game, and Sunday will not be an exception.
Sony Michel did not have a good game at all, as he was held to 14 yards on 15 carries. However, James White and Rex Burkhead picked up the slack. White ran for 26 yards on only four attempts, while Burkhead added 44 yards on eight carries. New England ended the night with 99 rushing yards.
I do not know about you, but I personally do not think Michel will average less than a yard a carry this year. The running game with Michel as the number one back will find their stride. The Patriots are at their best in their regular season when they have a solid balance of ground and air attack. During the playoffs, they can win with Brady and the passing game carrying a bigger load, as last year was an exception. The running game will have to be a bigger part of the offense as the season marches on.
New England’s defensive as a hole was spectacular, holding the Steelers to just three points. Ben Roethlisberger left Foxborough with an 18.2 quarterback rating, one interception, and no touchdowns. Pittsburgh’s running game only mustered 32 yards on the ground. However, the Patriots defense can also get better in one area, pass rushing.
Alright, let us get the qualifiers out of the way. Middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy missed the game for the birth of his child. We all know how important Van Noy is to the Patriots defense, especially after his awesome postseason last year. Also, Belichick values defensive players who offer more than the occasional sack.
However, with how great the secondary is, they do not need constant pressure on the quarterback. Even just a small improvement in this department will leave a massive impact on the opponent.
With a successful week one victory, the Patriots are who we thought they were. With a couple of tweaks and consistent play, the 2019 New England Patriots might become best team in The Brady, Belichick era.
Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones