By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Too late now, but someone ought to tell the Green Bay Packers to cover No. 28 on the Patriots.
James White absolutely dominated on the Pats’ opening drive in last Sunday’s 31-17 win, touching the ball on six of 10 offensive snaps. He caught all three targets for 26 yards and rushed three times for 18 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown run. It looked and felt like the Packers weren’t prepared for anything White was doing out there.
White deserves credit for his typically impeccable execution, but he certainly got some help from a clueless Packers defense getting punched in the mouth before they knew what hit them. He’s not likely to have the same luxury against Mike Vrabel’s stingy defense with the Tennessee Titans.
Vrabel spoke highly of White during a conference call with New England reporters on Wednesday. Does he feel the Titans are going to have an answer for White, which few teams have had in 2018?
“I hope by Sunday we have an answer,” said Vrabel, via Henry McKenna of Patriots Wire. “I don’t know if Wednesday at one o’clock will do. But we’re working toward having an answer. Tom trusts him. He’s always open. He catches the ball. Seventy-five percent of the time he throws it to him, he catches it. He’s really turned into a nice player – third-down back, first and second-down, change-of-pace back – that they’ve had for a lot of years.
“Tom trusts him. I know that that’s the most important thing.”
One way that the Titans are likely to give White more trouble than other teams is in the red zone. Opponents have scored a touchdown on just 31.82 percent of red zone appearances against them, easily the best mark in the league so far.
“They’re good on every level – on the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary,” said White. “They do what they do and they make plays. I think they’re the number one team in the red zone. They make it tough on you, they make you drive the football, they make you work for it. So you’ve got to be able to string together drives and protect the football, for sure.”
White has become one of the most reliable, productive weapons in the entire league in 2018. He’s also the main reason that the Patriots haven’t missed a beat in the red zone despite the struggles of Rob Gronkowski. But he could be in for his toughest challenge yet when he gets the football.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Patriots offense adjusts if and when they play White harder than other opponents have. Because the Packers offered little to no resistance last Sunday. Vrabel and the Titans should be a different story.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.