FOXBOROUGH — A quickie read on the game from Christopher Price and Greg Bedard:
THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Patriots defense had one of the worst outings of the Belichick Era. The 42 points were the most they have allowed in coach Bill Belichick’s 17-plus seasons. The same was true for the 537 yards allowed. And Kareem Hunt set an NFL record for a pro debut since the 1970 merger with 239 total yards. You can argue that the Patriots were trying some new things and looking at different personnel packages. But by any measure, those sorts of totals are not an ideal way to start the season.
The Patriots receiving corps is now dangerously thin. Thursday wasn’t a great day to be a New England receiver. Already without Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell was placed on injured reserve before the game, and Danny Amendola went down in the second half with a concussion issue. By the end of the contest, the Patriots were down to Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett. New England can usually make up for those sorts of shortcomings by pointing to its depth at running back and tight end, but this is really extraordinary.
There’s some serious soul-searching going on in the New England locker room right now. By all accounts it was a good week of practice. The players felt prepared. And the talent was there on both sides of the ball. But to come out and lose like this in the first game of the season left the Patriots a little shellshocked. It will be interesting to see how this group responds over the next nine days leading into a Week 2 game against the Saints in New Orleans. “The thing that’s going to define this team is how we react to this loss,” said left tackle Nate Solder. “We have a long season. We have a long ways to go. And we all know that’s not how we want to play. We have to improve, and it’s all up to us.”
Patriots were leading 17-7 with the ball with 3:06 remaining in the first half after a first-down run by Dion Lewis gained a respectable 4 yards to the Patriots' 44-yard line. On second down, Brady forced a pass into coverage to Chris Hogan. On third down, Brady again threw into coverage to Brandin Cooks, when it looked like he had Hogan open on a low crosser. Patriots punted and the Chiefs marched 92 yards to score before halftime.
After easily slicing through the Chiefs' defense on their opening drive and getting a fumble on Kansas City's first play from scrimmage, the Patriots had fourth-and-1 at the KC 10. Patriots ran Mike Gillislee into the middle of the line, and he was stopped for no gain. Don't have a problem with the decision to go for it, but would have rather seen the Patriots dial up some playaction to Rob Gronkowski.
RB Mike Gilislee: The new back made the most of his red-zone opportunities on Thursday night, running hard inside the 20 and ending up with three rushing touchdowns in his debut with the Patriots. It wasn’t a perfect night, but on a night where the offense couldn’t get much started in the second half, he was one of the lone bright spots.
WR Danny Amendola: Before he left in the second half after getting rocked on a serious of plays (he ended up in the concussion protocol), he was far-and-away New England’s most consistent receiver, finishing with six catches on seven targets for 100 yards and handling much of Julian Edelman’s workload.
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.: The rookie was a disruptive presence when he was in the game, getting after the passer and wreaking some havoc in a limited number of reps. A good first night in the NFL for the kid out of Arkansas.
S Devin McCourty: The veteran safety appeared to be the one at fault when it came to coverage on Tyreek Hill’s 75-yard touchdown.
LB Kyle Van Noy: With Dont’a Hightower on the edge for most of the evening, he struggled while wearing the green dot in the middle of the defense. Might not be ready for the expanded workload the Patriots are looking to put on his plate. (Could we see Hightower move back to the middle and New England give more reps to someone like Wise on the edge? Worth wondering.)
LB Jordan Richards: The Patriots continue to try and shoehorn the safety into what appears to be something of a linebacker type of role, and he appears a little overwhelmed. I can’t imagine that this experiment is going to go on much longer for a few reasons, including the fact that it leaves New England light at linebacker.
LB Dont’a Hightower went down with a nasty looking right knee injury in the second half after he got rolled up on. The linebacker gingerly went to the sidelines, but quickly hopped on an exercise bike. However, he was soon spotted with a sizable wrap on the knee, and he did not return.
From Dr. Jessica Flynn on Hightower:
When Dont’a Hightower had his right leg rolled up on in the third quarter, replay showed his right knee sustain a valgus injury (it was bent inward). This type of an injury stretches the medial collateral ligament (MCL). After a visit to the tent, Hightower has been seen riding the stationary bike and jogging on the sidelines with a wrap on the knee.
WR Danny Amendola was lit up on a couple of occasions and ended up leaving the game in the second half with a concussion.
Tom Brady's 54-yard bomb to Brandin Cooks against tight coverage.
That's about the extent of it.
THREE TAKES BEDARD WILL PROBABLY REGRET LATER
End the Jordan Richards linebacker experiment: He can't cover in space at safety or linebacker, and he doesn't bring an attacking attitude in the running game. Patriots have to have better options, or need to find them.
Pick a bell-cow running back: No, this isn't a fantasy football take. On the first drive it was James White. Then we saw Rex Burkhead. Mike Gillislee got the next two drives. Dion Lewis got a series. If you want a real running game, you need to let a back and the line establish a rhythm.
Feed Gronk: Rob Gronkowski was targeted just two times in the second half for one catch. Yes, he was often drawing double coverage, but the guy has a 10-foot catch radius. Give him more chances to make plays. He's the best positional player on the field.