by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
New England got a victory against Buffalo last week, but excuse us if our celebration seems tame. They didn’t beat the Bills as much as they outlasted them. Getting into a scoring battle against the worst offense in the league is a little like having a shootout with a caveman: you start off thinking it should be easy and end up wondering where he got the Glock .09.
The Patriots travel to Miami this week for a Monday night tilt that we can only hope lives up to the hype. Facing an AFC East opponent on their home turf? Sooo much to worry about…
Henne: Can He? Some Pats fans may say the sky is falling. If Dolphins QB Chad Henne has his way, New England will be 2-2 with two losses in the division. While never great, Henne has been efficient enough to make Miami a contender for the title.
Not-So-Merry Meriweather: Pats safety Brandon Meriweather took such terrible angles to the ball on Sunday that we’d swear he was protesting basic theories of geometry. Yes, he got an interception, thanks to an overthrow by Ryan “Oh, I just went to a small liberal arts school in Cambridge” Fitzpatrick. But seeing Meriweather cut inside while C. J. Spiller ran to the outside felt like watching a toddler with a fork head toward an electric socket. At least in the latter situation, yelling and screaming might actually accomplish something.
Speaking of the secondary…
Saving Primate Ryan: Fitzpatrick showed off his opposable thumbs (I know, it’s a reach, but I’ll do anything for a pun) by matching Tom Brady throughout the day (see their comparable stats here). The Bills came into the game scoring 8.5 points per contest, and we can’t put all the blame on their former QB Trent Edwards. Buffalo converted a third and 18, for Pete’s sake. New England’s secondary missed more assignments than a narcoleptic at night school.
A Slice Of Line: The secondary failed to get much help, however, as the Patriot defense gave up almost six yards per carry. If it wasn’t Spiller sprinting around the end, it was Marshawn Lynch bursting up the middle or Fitzpatrick (augh!) scrambling for big chunks of yardage. While linemen Vince Wilfork, Gerard Warren and Ron Brace seem to be playing well overall, something just ain’t right.
Wild Thing, I Think I Fear You: Miami runs the Wildcat as well as anyone in the league, and they should, because they dusted off the old-school, running-back-as-QB formation specifically to beat the Patriots in 2008. This bodes poorly for a defense that has trouble taking on an average amount of blockers, much less the extra ones a Wildcat formation affords the offense.
Do I seem especially negative this week? I do, don’t I? I think I’m having problems making the mental transition from knowing your team’s defense is going to make a stop to hoping like hell your offense has the ball at the end of the game.
Still Not Giving A Faulk: Speaking of the offense, New England survived because Buffalo got no pressure on Brady and failed to stop the ground game. Great work running by BenJarvus Green-Ellis and lil’ Danny Woodhead along with stellar blocking by the O-line and tight ends made Kevin Faulk seem less important. Down in Miami, with their various blitz packages and the Pats’ need for a great receiving/blocking back, Faulk could be sorely missed.
Dolphin Unsafe: Something about that team. They haven’t won anything since President Ford fell down a flight of stairs, yet they always seem to grab a victory from New England every year. If the Pats want to prevent that, they need to improve. Now.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org