Five Things to Watch: Patriots-Raiders
After grabbing their first win of the season against an Adrian Peterson-less Minnesota Vikings team, the Patriots will host the Oakland Raiders in their home opener at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. Here are five things you should be looking for when they kick off:
1.) Tom Brady
Brady wasn’t too happy with the way he and the Patriots’ offense ran last week against the Vikings. However, he’ll get another chance to work out the kinks against an Oakland secondary that ranked 28th in yards, 30th in touchdowns and 31st in interceptions last season.
One area specifically that Tom Brady and company should be looking to improve is the deep ball. In the past two games, the QB is 2 for 19 on deep passes for 65 yards and no scores. Hopefully, the return of Aaron Dobson can fill the Brandon LaFell roll. LaFell was targeted five times on the deep left side last week and came up with a goose egg.
2.) Ridley vs. Vereen
This will be something to monitor all season and it really depends on the opponent. As weird as it is to say, the Patriots needed to air it out to hang in with Miami, which leads to more opportunities for Shane Vereen. As it pertains to last week, the Pats knew they had the win in the bag and used Steven Ridley, who ran effectively for 101 yards on 25 carries and a score, to burn the clock.
With the Raiders, you’d think Vereen would see limited action, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Pats (i.e. Brady) make this a statement game and try to put up a huge offensive day through the air.
3.) Paging Mr.Amendola
Did I miss something? Was Danny Amendola cut and I just didn’t hear about it? The second-year Patriot was targeted only once on a deep ball by Brady on the right side in their win over the Vikings. And in Week 1 he caught three of his four targets for just 16 yards. Unless he finds a niche in the offense soon, he might just be Julian Edelman’s backup all season.
4.) Darelle Revis and the secondary
We still will not know what this unit is or how good they can be until Brandon Browner returns from his suspension, but last week calmed a lot of the nerves from Patriots fans who were flabbergasted to see Ryan Tannehill torch the, slightly overhyped, New England secondary and offseason prize Darelle Revis.
What they did last week was fine, but you could give just as much credit to Matt Cassel for those turnovers as you could the defense.
These games are merely “pre-season” until the real test beings in Weeks 8-13 when they play Jay Cutler, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Mathew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Phillip Rivers in that order.
5.) Chandler Jones
This is more to marvel at a player who is taking his natural ability and executing on the field. The maturation of Chandler Jones has been a remarkable sight for fans and a nightmare for opposing offenses.
The physical freak, at 6-5 and 247 pounds, filled up the stat sheet last week with 2 sacks, 6 tackles and a blocked field goal that he returned for a touchdown.
Look for him to dominate again and allow the secondary to feast on Derek Carr’s mistakes.