PHILADELPHIA – The Patriots got back on track coming off the bye week by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 17-10. It was a game that did not start the way the Patriots would have hoped, but thanks to dominant defense, New England came out on top.
1. Defense – The boogeymen are back. It was defensive domination that kept a struggling Patriots offense in the game. Early on, the connection between Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz looked like it was going to cause the Patriots defense problems, but the secondary’s adjustments limited Ertz’s production and left Wentz searching for guys to throw to in the second half. The Patriots held the Eagles to just ten points, shutting the Eagles out in the second half.
2. Punt coverage – Upon entering the Bye Week, special teams captain Matthew Slater met with the media and shared his belief that punt coverage needed to improve. Sunday, the unit had an excellent day. The duo of Justin Bethel and Slater made it difficult for the Eagles punt return team to do much of anything. They kept the Eagles deep in Patriots territory and were assisted by some tremendous punts by rookie Jake Bailey.
3. Second half drive – At the end of the first half, Danny Shelton sacked Wentz. On the sack, Wentz fumbled and Shelton recovered at the Eagles 22 yard line. Continued struggles in the red zone forced the Patriots offense to settle for three on the drive but the turnover and score created momentum for the Patriots offense, along with receiving the ball to start the second half. The Patriots took advantage of the situation and opened the third quarter with a 10 play, 84-yard drive that ended in a touchdown and a successful two point conversion to give the Patriots the lead.
1. Red zone offense – This area continues to be a problem for the Patriots offense. In two trips to the red zone in the first half, the Patriots had to settle for three each time. Many thought N’Keal Harry would help give Brady a reliable option in the red zone, and while the rookie showed promise in the game, he did not get an opportunity to show how he can contribute in those situations.
2. Wide Receivers – There came a point in the game when Harry was the Patriots healthiest receiver on the field. Phillip Dorsett left the game early with a head injury. He did not return to action. Early on in the first half, Mohamed Sanu appeared to tweak his ankle. While he did not leave the field, he did get re-taped and never really got on the same page with Brady. At the start of fourth quarter, Jakobi Meyers limped off the field after his sole reception. Meyers returned just a few plays later but it was clear this position group was playing hurt.
3. Running game – The Patriots continue to look for answers on the ground. Although the offensive line did not do the running backs any favors, the backs combined for just 74 yards on the day. If the Patriots decide to activate Isaiah Wynn, he is eligible to play in next week’s game. It will be interesting to see Wynn’s impact on the running game.