1. Gronkowski needs to come back healthy
Tom Brady failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 52 games, and the Patriots are currently second worse in the league in red zone scoring percentage. Last year they were third best. A big reason for the decrease is due to the injury to Rob Gronkowski. He had 11 touchdowns last season in limited time and a tight end record of 17 the previous season. He is one of Brady’s most trusted targets, and has the ability to get open no matter who is covering him. He needs a healthy Gronk back, since no other Patriots receiver has been completely reliable in the red zone this season.
2. The loss of Vince Wilfork is devastating to the defense
It is a lot harder to stop a team on third and eight than it is on third and two, and for that reason alone, the Patriots need Wilfork back. He is one of the best run stoppers in the NFL, especially on plays up the middle. On the early downs, BenJarvis Green-Ellis pounded the ball up the middle, since Pats rookie Vellano was getting manhandled by Cincinnati center Kyle Cook. The team put up 162 rushing yards against the Patriots, but yet, they still are only 19th in the league in total rushing. Expect teams with better-run games to extrapolate upon this and pick up some easy first downs against the New England Patriots.
3. Tom Brady still is not on the same page as his receivers
Tom Brady completed less than 50 percent of his passes for the second time this season—the first time it has happened since 2009. He just cannot get on the same page as his new receivers. Last game, he looked uncomfortable in the pocket, holding on to the ball longer because he could not get his timing down. The big reason for this is drops. All of his most trusted receivers: Amendola, Edelman, and Bolden had their fair share of drops. As a result, they threw for under 200 yards and failed to score 7 points.
4. Amendola has a long way to go before he is up to Wes Welker status
During the preseason, many were saying Amendola was a younger, faster Wes Welker and would thrive in the Tom Brady offense. In the Buffalo game, before he got injured, it looked like it would be the case, but in the Cincinnati game, he was far from impressive when he was needed most. Amendola did have four receptions for 55 yards, but he was targeted 9 times, missed a couple catchable balls, and even dropped a pass. He certainly did not shine like Welker did. It was only one game, but I want to see a lot more from Amendola before we can justify him as a valid replacement for Wes Welker.
5. If the Patriots make the playoffs, it will be because of their discipline
If there was one good thing that came out of the Bengals game, it was the Patriots did not commit a single penalty. It kept them close in the game, as the Bengals committed seven for a loss of 59 yards. The Patriots defense also only gave up one big play the entire game—a 28 yard run by Bernard. The discipline the Patriots showed was impressive and is the reason why they may be able to squeak into the playoffs.
6. The Falcons game was a lot less telling than Patriot fans hoped
The Patriots first big test of the season was supposed to come against the Falcons last week and the Patriots won, playing a spectacular game. The Falcons, however, are a lot worse than what a lot of analyst thought. Yesterday, they lost to the Jets, to put them at 1-4 on the season. When the Patriots played them, it looked as if the offense finally turned it around, as Brady looked great, spreading the ball out to many receivers like he does when he is at his best. Well, it looks like the Falcons defense was worse than we originally thought, as the Patriots once again struggled in the passing game this week against the Bengals. All hope that fans had from the Patriots beating a “legitimate” team in the Falcons should now be thrown out the window.