Gronk Shows Up Strong, Pats Defeat Steelers

The Patriots beat the Steelers 28-21 on opening night Thursday.  Rob Gronkowski scored a whopping three touchdowns while Scott Chandler scored the 4th.  The first quarter was quiet.  No scoring, lots of defense.  But one thing I saw right away was the Pats’s extensive usage of running back Dion Lewis, who hadn’t played since the 2013 season.  With Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant suspended along with starter Blount, backup RB Cadet was inactive, Markus Wheaton and DeAngelo Williams also got to see the ball a lot, plus Heath Miller, Steelers tight end.

In the 2nd quarter, the Pats offense dominated.  Rob Gronkowski scored two touchdowns, and had some great additional catches this quarter.  He makes it look easy.  Meanwhile, the Steelers hadn’t scored TDs, and kicker Josh Scobee isn’t helping by missing the first two field goal attempts.  He could get cut for Nick Novak or Shayne Graham this week!  I wouldn’t be shocked if they picked up Novak and dropped Scobee, who could return to the Jags, Saints or Chargers, or remain a free agent because of developing replacement kickers better.  However, Scobee scored a field goal late in the quarter.  At halftime, it was 14-3 Patriots.

In the 3rd, the Pats marched down the field on their first drive, and Scott Chandler got the TD on 2nd and goal.  But some very long plays by DeAngelo Williams, Markus Wheaton and Antonio Brown led to a Williams touchdown.  Wheaton got a 2 point conversion to help catch up.  21-11.  The Steelers almost did it again after the Pats punted away.  Slowly, the Steelers moved along, reaching the 4th quarter on the way.  When they reached 4th & goal near the end zone, Josh Scobee kicked the field goal.  21-14.

For the first drive of the 4th, the Pats scored again.  A Gronk 52 yard reception led them to the Steelers’ side of the field.  Then a crazy play happened.  Dion Lewis caught a pass, fumbled, and Rob Gronkowski made it a touchdown, but it got reversed.  On third down, they passed to Gronk wide open for TD 3, technically TD 4.  Two drives later, the Steelers had the ball, and Duron Harmon intercepted it, even with Fletcher there.  Harmon took the glory.  On the Steelers next drive, they marched down the field, passing to Brown, eventually for a touchdown.  Butler almost intercepted it again, but it didn’t matter.  Either way, the Pats won, 28-21.

They are 1-0 on the season, Brady has most QB wins for a team, passing Brett Favre in the rankings tonight.  They are also 4-0 on opening night.  As Belichick would say, “We’re on to Buffalo.”  Nice win.  Follow my picks from my last post this Sunday, and read my recap of next Sunday’s game.  GO PATS!!!

Pats Roster: Fix-Up

Here is a look at my final roster projection

Final Roster

QB-3

Tom Brady

Jimmy Garroppollo

Ryan Lindley

 

RB-5

LeGarrette Blount

Brandon Bolden

Travaris Cadet

Jonas Gray

James White

 

Cuts

Tyler Gaffney

Dion Lewis

 

WR-7

Danny Amendola

Josh Boyce

Aaron Dobson

Julian Edelman

Brandon LaFell

Matthew Slater

Reggie Wayne

 

IR

Brian Tyms

Brandon Gibson

 

Cuts

Greg Orton

Jalen Saunders

Chris Harper

Jonathan Krause

 

TE-6

Scott Chandler

Asante Cleveland

AJ Derby

Rob Gronkowski

Michael Hoomanawanuui

Michael Williams

 

OL-8

Marcus Cannon

Nate Solder

Sebastian Vollmer

Cameron Fleming

Josh Kline

Ryan Wendell

Bryan Stork

Tre’ Jackson

 

Cuts

David Andrews

Kevin Hughes

Shaq Mason

 

DL-10

Alan Branch

Malcom Brown

Dominique Easley

Geneo Grissom

Chandler Jones

Chris Jones

Rob Ninkovich

Jabaal Sheard

Sealver Siliga

Joe Vellano

 

Cuts

Zach Moore

Trey Flowers

 

LB-5

Jamie Collins

Xzavier Dickson

Darius Fleming

Dont’ A Hightower

Jerod Mayo

 

Cuts

Dane Fletcher

Jonathan Freeny

Rufus Johnson

Eric Martin

Chris White

 

CB-5

Tarrell Brown

Malcolm Butler

Nate Ebner

Logan Ryan

Daxton Swanson

 

IR

Darryl Roberts

 

Cuts

Justin Coleman

Brandon King

Robert McClain

 

S-5

Patrick Chung

Duron Harmon

Devin McCourty

Jordan Richards

Tavon Wilson

 

Cuts

Justin Green

 

ST

Stephen Gostkowski

Ryan Allen

Joe Cardona

 

Practice

Gaffney

Lewis

Orton

Harper

Flowers

Moore

White

Krause

 

As you can see, there are many fantasies on this roster, but for a reason.  Ryan Lindley’s on the roster for a reason, even with Brady back for the first four.  They need a backup, and if Garroppollo is too young and struggles, Lindley, who did a decent job as the Cardinals emergency option, steps in.

That Jonas Gray cut, even with the fact that they wouldn’t pay for him, he had an outbreak before LeGarrette Blount out.  With Blount suspended, and Gray cut, who works with Cadet?  Bolden?  White?  Lewis?  Apparently.  And even with a dominant preseason, Dion Lewis did not deserve a bubble spot over Gray, or even Cadet.  Cadet had a nice 2014 year with Drew Brees, not even as good as Tom Brady.

I also don’t understand Josh Boyce’s cut.  There was a point less than two years ago when Boyce was having breakout weeks.  Chris Harper, apparently, earned the bubble spot over him.  I understand, Harper had a nice preseason, but there’s no room for him.  They have Edelman, LaFell, Amendola and Dobson, even Slater ahead.  Also, why did Wayne come and go so fast?  He was going to be an important addition, especially if the injured Brandon LaFell was gonna miss the opener.  Wayne just was probably too old.  The Pats are going young.  I liked the idea of racking up as many vets as you can and going for another title, especially with Brady’s suspension off.

They also cut some good tight end depth in Asante Cleveland and AJ Derby.  Derby could sign with another team and be a surprise rookie the Pats ditched.  Cleveland was definitely on the bubble, but they traded what might have been their starting left guard for him.  I thought Mike Williams was closer to a cut though.  Apparently, I was wrong.

It also surprised me that they cut JOE VELLANO.  He had such a good super bowl performance, and he was going to replace Vince Wilfork.  Now it’s up to Dominique Easley and Malcom Brown, first round picks from 2014 and 2015.  Sealver Siliga might contribute, too, but he has to cover for Chris Jones, who’s hurt for now.  Geneo Grissom, the 5th round pick is another option.

At corner, about 2 weeks ago I would say, “Butler and Ryan will start.”  But late in the preseason, Tarrell Brown has shined.  He could not just make the roster, but start alongside Butler.  Ryan is not strong enough to start with Brown as an alternate, he can backup.  Another additon they kept was Eagles free agent Bradley Fletcher, joining Brown and Butler and maybe surpass Ryan.

 

Thursday Starters

 

Moving forward, here’s my Thursday projected lineup.

 

Offense

Tom Brady QB

Travaris Cadet RB

Julian Edelman WR

Danny Amendola WR

Rob Gronkowski TE

Scott Chandler TE

Nate Solder LT

Cameron Fleming LG

Bryan Stork C

Ryan Wendell RG

Sebastian Vollmer RT

 

Defense

Chandler Jones DE

Dominique Easley DT

Sealver Siliga DT

Rob Ninkovich DE

Jerod Mayo OLB

Jamie Collins MLB

Dont’ A Hightower OLB

Malcolm Butler CB

Devin McCourty SS

Patrick Chung FS

Tarrell Brown CB

Special Teams

Stephen Gostkowski K

Ryan Allen P

Joe Cardona LS