FOXBORO, Mass. — It could take a while before the New England Patriots’ offense is fun to watch this season. And they’ll never be as high-powered as many imagined after an offseason acquiring weapon after weapon after weapon for quarterback Tom Brady to utilize.
We learned that Thursday night when the Kansas City Chiefs toppled the Patriots 42-27 at Gillette Stadium.
The cause for the Patriots’ offense is easy to identify: They don’t have wide receiver Julian Edelman, who tore his ACL in the Patriots’ third preseason game.
Without Edelman, the Patriots’ offense lacks an identity. They lack a receiver who can get open in a phone booth. They lack a receiver who can find the damn first-down marker. They lack a receiver Brady can fully trust.
Edelman, despite his playoff heroics, continues to be perhaps the most underrated player in the NFL. Many believed the Patriots’ offense would simply keep churning without Edelman on the field. Brandin Cooks would replace him in the “Z” receiver role, and Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan would take over the slot.
Easier said than done. The Patriots had two weeks to prepare for life without Edelman. They might need another eight … or 16. Brady went just 16-of-36 passing for 267 yards. The Patriots’ offense managed 371 yards to the Chiefs’ 537.
All hope is not lost, however, despite how it looked at times Thursday night. The Patriots still have plenty of talent on offense with Cooks, Hogan, Amendola, Phillip Dorsett, Rob Gronkwoski, Dwayne Allen, Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis and James White. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels might just need some time to figure out how to use them all. The Patriots prepared all offseason for life with Edelman. Without him, they’re lost for now.
The Patriots have survived through a Week 1 loss before where they looked just as lost. That came in 2014, when they lost to the Miami Dolphins and the team needed four weeks to figure it all out after a 41-14 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City. Then they were on to Cincinnati.
Perhaps the Patriots will be on to New Orleans in Week 2. Or on to Houston in Week 3 or Carolina in Week 4.
No one could have imagined the Patriots would look so, so bad on opening night. And as bad as the offense was, the defense, which also added high-priced pieces, was just as bad if not worse.
One loss shouldn’t result in an outright panic, but it will in New England for fans used to seeing their team steamroll opponents year after year. The Patriots got the speculation out of the way early: They will not go 16-0.
But can they remain themselves without perhaps their most important offensive player not wearing a No. 12 jersey? That remains to be seen.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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