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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Patriots rise from the ashes

“This game is embarrassing, this Pats team is playing at a level you’d expect the Jaguars to play at.”
I sent that tweet out on Sept. 29 in the midst of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 41-14 blowout of the New England Patriots. It was also around that same time that I wrote articles lamenting the Patriots’ offense and whether or not the team should consider moving on from Tom Brady.
Now I come before you today to tell you that I was wrong. The Patriots are here and they are good. They are really, really good.
Since the Kansas City loss, a loss that saw Brady being benched in favor of rookie Jimmy Garoppolo, the team has been on a tear in their past five games. The offense is averaging 40.2 points per game over that span while the defense has allowed an average of 21.6 points per game in that same time frame.
Not only are they winning big, but they’re doing it against quality opponents. New England blew out the then-3-0 Cincinnati Bengals 43-17 in Week 5, hung 51 points on the Chicago Bears, and crushed the Denver Broncos, who many had already penciled in as the AFC representative in the Super Bowl, by a score of 43-21.
Remember all the talk of Brady being washed up and no longer elite? It’s laughable looking back on it now as Brady has made almost every analyst in sports media look downright foolish.
After throwing only four touchdowns and two interceptions through the first four weeks, Brady has thrown 18 touchdowns over the past five games while only being picked off once. Over that same span, Brady has totaled 1,601 passing yards.
The receivers have also stepped up in the past five games. Brandon LaFell has 349 yards and four touchdowns from Brady since the disaster on Monday Night Football.
Julian Edelman has been just as steady an option for Brady as in the first four games, catching a touchdown against Denver and totaling 273 receiving yards over the win streak. Edelman has also made his presence known on special teams, running back a punt 84 yards for a touchdown against Denver.
Even Danny Amendola, who had been virtually invisible since the start of the season, has elevated his game. With the game on the line against the New York Jets, Amendola made a spinning catch for the crucial go-ahead touchdown that ultimately sealed the win.
But the biggest reason for the huge uptick on offense has been the play of Rob Gronkowski. He has played out of his mind these past five weeks, dominating defenders to the tune of 516 yards and five touchdowns over the span.
Unlike the first four weeks, Gronk appears to be playing at 100%, which is bad news for opposing defenses. Coordinators have a difficult time game planning for him and one defender is simply not enough to cover the 6’6” tight end, forcing them into double and triple coverage, which leaves other offensive weapons open for Brady. Despite often being forced to go against two or three defenders in coverage, Gronkowski is still able to shred defenses because of his size, power, and athleticism.
But the scariest part about Gronkowski? He appears to be better than ever before. Coming off a serious ACL injury, many feared the star tight end would be more cautious on the field and his play would regress as a result.
The reality has been quite the opposite, as Gronkowski has been unstoppable, posting three 100-yard receiving games on the season and a three-touchdown game against Chicago. Simply put, a healthy Rob Gronkowski is critical for this offense to succeed.
The Patriots still have many tests ahead of them, going up against quality teams in Indianapolis, Green Bay, Detroit, and San Diego. But fans can breathe a little easier with the way the offense has been producing. If the team can keep up this high-level of offense while maintaining the great defensive play that the likes of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Vince Wilfork, and the rest of the defense have given, then the Patriots should be the favorite to win the AFC and may just be the team to win it all at the end of the season.