By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Here are five “ups” and four “downs” from the Patriots’ dominating 43-0 win over the lowly Dolphins in Miami. It was hard to pinpoint only five ups in what was a nearly flawless performance for most of the team, especially on defense.
— WR Antonio Brown. Though it wasn’t a perfect day in Brown’s debut – he couldn’t connect with Brady on three end zone targets in a single drive that ended up in a field goal. But Brown got involved early with three catches on his first drive as a Patriot, and a 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter. For a guy who just signed on Monday, that’s still quite impressive. Plenty of room to grow for Brown as the season goes along.
— RB Rex Burkhead. Sony Michel led the team in carries and scrimmage yards, but Burkhead was the best running back on the field. He ran the ball well (4.2 yards per carry, best among RBs) and made two catches for 47 yards. His unpredictability helps the Patriots add wrinkles to the offense. The unit generally looked better with Burkhead on the field than any other back.
— TE Matt LaCosse. The former Broncos tight end made a noticeable impression in his 2019 debut and looks healthy after a sprained ankle slowed him in the preseason. He got the Patriots’ third touchdown drive rolling with a 23-yard catch and sold the run-block well to get open on the play. He had a penalty-free day as a blocker, too. Considering the depth concerns on the offensive line, the Patriots can certainly use more clean blocking from LaCosse on the edge.
— DT Adam Butler. The Patriots defense dominated as a unit for the second straight game, and Butler stood out among the group. He disrupted things on the interior all afternoon in a variety of ways, coming up with two sacks, two QB hits, two tackles for loss, and a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage.
— CB Stephon Gilmore. The cornerback put a cherry on top of his day with a pick-six in the fourth quarter, sniping a short pass from Fizpatrick to give himself a wide-open field and a jog to the end zone. He also tipped a throw earlier in the game that allowed Devin McCourty to make an interception that led to a field goal drive. Gilmkore allowed just one catch for 15 yards.
— K Stephen Gostkowski. Despite making a field goal, Gostkowski also missed a kick wide right and also missed two of his six point-after attempts. That wasn’t going to be a major factor in this particular game, but it’s the continuation of a disturbing trend for the kicker. Gostkowski has not been sharp going back to the start of the preseason.
— WR Josh Gordon. Just two catches on five targets for 19 yards as Gordon takes a step back from his Week 1 performance. He also committed offensive pass interference when he blocked on a pick play more than one yard up the field.
— TE Ryan Izzo. The second-year tight end now looks like the clear No. 2 option at the position behind LaCosse. Izzo wasn’t targeted in the passing game and committed an offensive pass interference penalty for the second straight game. He’s probably going to stick around, even when Ben Watson gets back. But Izzo took a small step back after a decent debut in Week 1.
— OT Marshall Newhouse. Thrust into the left tackle role after Isaiah Wynn had to leave with an injury, Newhouse committed two offensive holding penalties in his first game as a Patriot. Perhaps this isn’t fair because Newhouse has only been with the team since Wednesday and they had lost both starting tackles. Count this as a “down” for the Patriots’ offensive line depth as a whole, which is emerging as their biggest concern in what’s been an otherwise dominant start to the season.
More “ups” and “downs” coming next Sunday after the Patriots take on the Jets in Foxboro.
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.