By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
On a night where the Patriots win by 30 points, there’s not much to nitpick. That’s why we have four “ups” and only two “downs” after the Patriots’ 33-3 win over the Steelers in a dominating season opener.
— WR Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett played like he didn’t want to get replaced with Antonio Brown. That probably wasn’t going to happen anyway, but Dorsett picked up where he left off in the preseason dress rehearsal with an even bigger game in the first real football of the season. Four catches, 95 yards, two touchdowns for Dorsett, and no incompletions. Dorsett catches everything thrown his way and looks as confident as ever in this offense to start this season.
— CB Jonathan Jones. Fresh off agreeing to a reported three-year extension, Jones got off to a great start to 2019 on the field. He broke up two passes, including one on a deep ball early in the game that could have swung the whole thing in another direction if he gave up a catch. Jones was a menace over the middle where he usually operates, though. He also made three total tackles. This secondary is going to be extremely hard to throw on if Jones has a career year.
— WR Gunner Olszewski. The rookie looked just as explosive on punt returns as he did in the preseason. He returned the ball twice for an average of 17.5 yards and looks like more than an acceptable replacement for Julian Edelman on punt returns. It feels like a matter of time before he makes the extra guy miss and takes one to the house.
— DT Danny Shelton. The Patriots’ primary nose tackle came up with a big run stuff on third-and-1 in the second quarter against James Conner. The game was still just 10-0 Patriots at that point. If Shelton can improve markedly upon his performance last season, he could make a big difference for the Patriots’ run defense.
— RB Sony Michel. Michel led the Patriots with 15 carries on the ground, but didn’t do much of anything with them as he gained only 14 yards on the night. The Patriots’ run game might be a work in progress with Ted Karras now starting at center. At the same time, the Pittsburgh defense has more talent up front than the Patriots O-line. Michel will look to get on track against the abysmal Miami Dolphins next Sunday.
— C Ted Karras. Brady will have to adjust to Karras’ timing in order to make the offense run even smoother. But Karras can also stand to make better shotgun snaps. They floated a little long in the air, which at times threw off the timing of the whole offense. This can be coached up and get a lot better, but the Brady-Karras connection didn’t come out firing on all cylinders.
More ups and downs coming next Sunday after the Patriots play the Dolphins in Miami.
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 email@example.com.