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Samsonite Make Your Case: Early Concerns

It was a difficult opener on both side of the ball for the Patriots but which side is more concerning moving forward?


Overreacting to Week 1 results in the National Football League is one of the predictable developments of the sports year. Perennial contenders get knocked off and are "in trouble" while upstarts pull off an upset and establish themselves as "contenders."

Of course we know that teams won't establish identities for weeks and we'll look back at some of the winners and losers from Week 1 and laugh about how we thought the results were a sign of things to come.

Which takes us to the Patriots disappointing opener in Miami, a game that saw the Dolphins dominate the second half to the tune of 23-0 on the way to a 33-20 victory. The Patriots had trouble controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, allowing 191 rushing yards as well as quarterback Tom Brady to be sacked four times and hit countless others.

But since reacting (and overreacting) is what we do here at PFW, we're going to delve into the problems we saw opening day and wonder how any – or all – might affect the team in the future.

So this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll asks: Are you more concerned with the offense or defense?


PFW's Paul Perillo says ...


!There weren't a lot of positive that came out of the opener and certainly the team will have better days ahead, but based on what I saw I have more questions about the offense than the defense at this point.

The problems on offense seemed to be a continuation of what we saw last season in that Tom Brady only appeared comfortable throwing the ball to Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and to a lesser extent, Shane Vereen. I was hoping someone among the group of Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins and Brandon LaFell would emerge as a viable alternative and at least for one game that didn't materialize. For Dobson it was doubly frustrating because he wasn't able to play, meaning it might take him even more time to increase his role.

But my worries weren't limited to the receivers. The play of the offensive line was a real concern as well. Bill Belichick is still searching for his preferred lineup, and the combinations he used last week weren't able to keep Brady on his feet. There were a lot of one-on-one battles being lost, and with new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo now in charge I don't have the same level of confidence that things will get straightened out.

In addition, the offense received very little help in the running game, and the result was a lackluster day at the office that featured just 20 points despite the benefit of three turnovers from the hosts.

I know not to doubt Brady but it's the rest of the guys I'm worried about.


PFW's Andy Hart says ...


While some of the expectations and excitement for the Patriots new-look defense this preseason were clearly quite presumptuous, the way the unit was pushed around in Miami was rather concerning. The Dolphins aren't even close to the best rushing or passing offense the Patriots will face this fall. They're not the most well-rounded unit, either. And they did what they wanted to most of the day, save for a few poor throws from Ryan Tannehill.

!The New England 3-4 front was bullied by the Dolphins offensive line and tackled poorly. Guys like Chandler Jones looked out of place, Joe Vellano struggled and the lack of depth of the defensive line was seemingly exposed. Even Darrelle Revis, who is supposed to help transform the defense into a presumed top-five unit, was less than dominant.

There are far more questions than answers on the Patriots defense right now, a unit that's been searching for a productive identity for years. The offense, we know that will turn itself around under Brady's leadership and more often than not will be good enough to win. That's the way it's been for more than a decade. So it will be in 2014. But the defense, that's another story with a far more uncertain ending. It's only one week, but it was a pretty bad first impression for a unit with presumed hopes of being great.

Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll.

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