Monday Musings: Tom Brady can't cover up Patriots defense; Jags come to life
Also, Kirk Cousins has to be better, Marvin Lewis is on notice and the Colts can't start Scott Tolzien again
Tom Brady cures the ills.
I've said that for years when it comes to the New England Patriots. Whether it's a lack of a top offensive line at times or no big-play receiver or running game or lack of pass rush on defense, Brady has always seemingly cured those ills over the years. That's why the Patriots have won five Super Bowls.
Now comes the big question after one week: Can he cure the defensive ills of this season?
It's clear after watching the Kansas City Chiefs do whatever they wanted to the Patriots defense last Thursday night, including scoring 42 points, the most given up by a Pats defense in the Bill Belichick era, there is a lot wrong on that side of the ball.
It starts with talent in the front seven. There isn't much.
There were a lot of surprising things about Week 1 -- and it's easy to over-react to a lot of it -- but seeing the Patriots play the way they did had to be the most shocking of all.
Even the great coaching of Belichick, arguably the best defensive mind ever, might not be able to fix what ails New England up front. It is a unit that lacks playmakers and speed in the front seven.
It is a unit that got pushed around in the run game by the Chiefs and one that couldn't rush the passer. Maybe all those moves Belichick has made in recent years, the ones Pats fan laud because he's simply Bill the genius to them, are now coming back to bite this team.
Yes, they won a Super Bowl last year without those players -- specifically pass rusher Chandler Jones and linebacker Jamie Collins -- but that was because Brady was sensational in the second half of the Super Bowl victory and the AFC was kind of watered down.
Go ahead and tell me that Collins, Jones and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who had a great year with the Bears last year and had two sacks in the opener Sunday against the Falcons, wouldn't be nice additions to this current defense? They certainly would be that.
The other thing at play here is Jimmy Garappolo. Why not trade him this offseason to land some draft ammunition to help fix the front seven? He's a backup, and if Brady plays three more years, he will be a backup for another three years -- if they can keep him that long.
They could have landed a big haul for Garoppolo to help the defense. I know they lost third-round rookie pass rusher Derek Rivers in the preseason to a knee injury, but would he have really made a difference against the Chiefs?
That defense was dominated, and it's a major question now as to whether Brady can cure the ills of it. He will to some extent, but if they don't play better they can forget about a repeat -- no matter how well he plays.
Brady might not be able to fix these issues.
Cousins not worth it after Week 1
In the first game of this prove-it year -- yes, that's what it is -- for Kirk Cousins, he didn't get off to a good start. The Redskins lost 30-17 at home to the Eagles, and Cousins played a big part in the losing, turning it over three times, including a lost fumble late that was returned for a touchdown.
On the day, Cousins finished 23 of 40 for 240 yards with one touchdown and one interception. That just isn't good enough for a guy seeking a mega-deal. Cousins is playing on the one-year franchise deal since he and the team couldn't agree on a long-term deal. This start wasn't a good look for Cousins.
Jaguars show their teeth
Who was that Jacksonville team that showed up in Houston? They were dominant on both sides of the ball, getting a franchise-record 10 sacks and pushing around a Houston defense that was considered among the best in the NFL. If the Jaguars can play that way this season, they just might win the AFC South, which they lead after one week.
The disaster of the preseason -- which included Blake Bortles getting benched -- made this look like it would be a long season for the Jaguars. Maybe it still will be, but the performance in Houston has to give them hope.
Is the Ravens defense as good as it looked? Probably not, but with all the problems that showed up in the preseason, with injuries on both sides of the ball, that effort has to be a good sign. The Ravens always seem to find a way to put a good defense on the field. This one has talent, especially at safety with Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson, and they got after Andy Dalton, sacking him five times, two of those from veteran Terrell Suggs.
The Bengals' embarrassing loss at home to the Ravens, where they got shut out, officially puts Marvin Lewis on notice. Andy Dalton didn't look good at all either, throwing four interceptions, which has to be a concern going forward. The offensive line was really bad.
The Texans have to start Deshaun Watson Thursday night against the Bengals. It was clear that he is the team's best option after he came on for Tom Savage in the second half against the Jaguars. The rookie first-round pick from Clemson wasn't great, but he gives them a chance with his ability to move. Savage was a sitting duck with that poor line play in front of him. Watson made a bad throw that was picked by Tashaun Gipson, but he gives them more of a threat at the position.
The Colts can't possibly start Scott Tolzien this week against the Cardinals. He had two passes picked and returned for touchdowns against the Rams and was benched for Jacoby Brissett. If Andrew Luck can't play this week, there is no way they can play Tolzien. Go to Brissett.
Kansas City Chiefs
By now, you know how I feel about picking backs in the first round, the reason being you can find them anywhere. The latest proof is Kareem Hunt. The third-round pick of the Chiefs ran wild against the Pats and impressed in the passing game. After an early fumble, all he did was rush for 148 yards with a touchdown and catch five passes for 98 yards and two scores. Hunt was supposed to be the backup to Spencer Ware, who got hurt in the preseason. Hunt fumbled his first carry, but clearly bounced back to become an immediate fantasy darling.
Good sign for the Raiders, who went into Nashville and beat the Titans: They held DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to a combined 69 yards rushing. That was a season-long problem for the Raiders last season.
T.J. Watt had a better day than brother J.J. Watt. The Steelers rookie had two sacks and a pick on terrible throw by DeShone Kizer. Watt will be a nice addition to the Steelers defense from his outside linebacker spot.
I don't like onside kicks on the first play of the season at home. Yet that's what Mike Mularkey did for his Titans. The Raiders recovered and took the short field and turned it into an early touchdown to set the tone. What's the point of trying that kick?
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