If more proof were needed that it is a bad idea to underestimate Bill Belichick and the Patriots, then the start of this season should be enough to silence even the most cynical of cynics. The odds appeared stacked against them; their star quarterback suspended, then the emergent back up injured following two impressive performances, with the reigns being passed to a rookie for a week three tie against one of the supposed strongest defenses in the league. The first of those problems would be enough to derail most other NFL teams, but oh no, not the Patriots. In a short week, under the prime time lights, third round pick Jacoby Brisset stepped up and led his team to not only a win, but to shut out Houston, 27 – 0. So how did they succeed where so many others would surely fail? The answer that is so often the case with the Patriots, it came down to incredible coaching.
Jacoby Brisset was decent. Not spectacular, but good enough. He didn’t need to be any more. Even in the short week, Belichick and his offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, were able to produce a game plan to ensure that their rookie could succeed. Plenty of read option plays and the utilising of Brisset’s athleticism were keys to the success. He didn’t rack up monster stats: completing 11 of 19 passes for 103 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, but added 48 yards and one touchdown on the ground. His 27-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave New England a 10-0 lead and set the franchise record for the longest run for a touch down by any Patriots quarterback since 1967. Following the touchdown, Brisset did as he was told and gave the game ball straight back to Bill Belichick:
“I was supposed to give him the ball. Make sure [the Texans] don’t get it,” Brissett said after the game. “Make sure we get it. So I gave it to him.”
In doing so Brissett summed up what he did all night, all that Bill Belichick asks; ‘do your job’.
It wasn’t just an offensive coaching masterclass; Matt Patricia’s defense played a key role in ensuring the Texans didn’t get a look in. Utilising cover two throughout, they completely shut down the Texan’s run game, daring Osweiler to attempt throws out of his comfort zone. Osweiler went 24 of 41 for 196 yards and an interception, one of three turnovers. The Texans were held to just 284 yards of total offense. It was a whole team victory, with excellent game planning on both sides of the ball.
As a Jet fan, praising the Patriots doesn’t come easy, but credit belongs where it is due. On Thursday night, Bill Belichick and his coaching staff pulled off one of the most improbable feats the NFL has seen in a while. There was endless preseason discussion about the record Tom Brady would return to in week 5, but 4-0 is looking like a distinct possibility. A possible spanner in the works is that Jacoby Brissett apparently picked up an injury against the Texans, but after this week you’d be a fool to count them out, even if wide receiver Julian Edelman, a former college QB, ends up under center next week. In short it seems difficult to see who can stop the Patriots, given this impressive ability to defeat such challenging hurdles.
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