The England Patriots strolled into Tampa Bay with the worst defense in football and left with a hard-fought 19-14 win Thursday night.
So, all is well with the Patriots (3-2), right?
“Look, they played better last night, (but) I thought Tampa Bay was terrible in that game,” Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub host Tony Massarotti said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It was your typical Thursday-night product. Jameis Winston, to me, looked awful. There were throws there to be made; he didn’t make them. That said, the Patriots defense played better. They looked like they were in man-to-man for much of the night, and I think Stephon Gilmore did a good job on Mike Evans, all things considered. Gilmore has been a huge problem here in the early part of the season in the secondary. They’ve had all types of communication breakdowns, all types of mix-ups, and they have not looked anything remotely like a Bill Belichick team. Not even close.”
Still, Massarotti saw positives.
“Last night, they’re on the road, Thursday night, no Gronkowski, a defense in turmoil, a Tampa Bay team with good skill-position talent – all of that – and they come out of there with a win. So I give them all the credit in the world,” he said. “But it’s not something they (can fix) in one night. Now at least they get another 10 days off, they can regroup, and sort of start building something bigger and better for the long-term.”
The Patriots face the Jets on the road in Week 6, but Massarotti is more interested in how they fare at home in Week 7.
That’s when Atlanta comes to town.
“Again, some good skill-position people, a good quarterback – that should be a good test,” Massarotti said. “We should get a better idea, I think, in Week 7.”
Offensively, the Patriots have been elite, but their pass protection has left much to be desired. Tom Brady has already been sacked 16 times in five games (3.2 sacks per game). He was sacked just 15 times all of last season (1.3 sacks per game).
This, Massarotti said, is where the Patriots really miss Julian Edelman.
“Edelman is such an integral part of that offense. He allows Brady to get rid of the ball very, very quickly,” Massarotti said. “Historically, the ball’s out before anyone can get near Brady. They’ve never had what I would call a great offensive line – like the line Dallas had last year where they could just completely dominate the line of scrimmage and run the ball down people’s throats and let their quarterback sit there. But they’ve got an offense where the quarterback gets the ball out quickly, makes good decisions and you can’t get to him. Now the offense is a little different without Edelman – and Brady is getting hit.”
Brady was sacked three times and knocked down repeatedly against Tampa Bay.
“It looked like there were a handful of times where Brady was a little slow getting up from the turf,” Massarotti said. “It didn’t look that way in the first four weeks. It’s started to look that way a little now, and I’m wondering if those hits are starting to take their toll.”