FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ offense wasn’t quite unstoppable in the team’s season-opening win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, but it was pretty close.
The Patriots put up 465 yards of total offense including 366 yards through the air and 99 yards on the ground in their 33-3 victory over a Pittsburgh Steelers team that should be pretty decent in 2019. Tom Brady was 24-of-36 for 341 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions and barely showed a glimmer of rust at 42 years old. The Patriots’ top three receivers all thrived. Phillip Dorsett caught four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Josh Gordon caught three passes for 73 yards with a touchdown, and Julian Edelman caught six passes for 83 yards, rushed for another 8 yards and threw for 32 more.
Who needs a tight end or steady rushing attack with all of those receivers?
The Patriots are bringing on even more — quite frankly, unnecessary — help when they’ll add wide receiver Antonio Brown into the mix Monday. New England’s offense already is an ice cream sundae. Brown isn’t just the cherry on top. It’s another scoop of ice cream, some more hot fudge, and the cherry.
“It’ll be fun,” Edelman said. “He’s an explosive player. And we’re happy to have him. The more playmakers you have out there, the better things can go.”
The only comparison you can make to the Patriots’ current offense adding Brown is the 2007 team that went undefeated in the regular season. That’s the ceiling for the 2019 Patriots now. Edelman, Gordon, Brown, Dorsett, Demaryius Thomas and everyone else on offense is comparable to that team which feature Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth. The upside might be even higher this year, and the Patriots’ defense dominated the Steelers just as much as New England’s offense handled its business.
“I was like, ‘Wow’ because I can’t wait to work with him,” Dorsett said. “He’s always been a guy I’ve looked up to when it comes to just football. He’s a beast. We all know that. I can’t wait to learn from him because we have similar body types, similar play types. I’ve always wanted to learn from him. Now I get to see him every day and work with him. So, I can’t wait.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wouldn’t discuss Brown, and Brady tempered the expectations a little bit. Brown does still have to learn the Patriots’ offense, after all, and that’s not always easy without a full offseason. Brady did reportedly tell Patriots owner Robert Kraft he’s “one million percent in” on Brown.
“I think everybody’s excited to add great players,” Brady said. “It helps everybody when you have great players that are sharing the burden of a tough football season. I think, like everything else, if it was Josh last year or Phillip when he got here a few years ago late and this year Antonio, how much can you learn and process and get in here and we’re all going to work hard and try to get up to speed as fast as possible.
“We haven’t had a training camp together or anything like that. You’ve got to force a lot of information and we’re all excited to have him. All I can say is we’re going to work as hard as we possibly can to get up to speed as fast as possible.”
There’s also the issue of Brown’s diva tendencies. Those aren’t going to fly in New England. Brown can’t be late for meetings or skip practices or complain about fines if he messes up. Even superstars don’t receive preferential treatment inside the walls of Gillette Stadium. Ask Brady.
Patriots safety Duron Harmon doesn’t seem too worried.
“He’s a vet. He knows what to do,” Harmon said. “I’d say just come in here and put the team first. If you put the team first, he’ll make plays, he’ll be Antonio Brown and we’ll win some games and play football the right way.”
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore had similar advice for his new teammate.
“Just compete every play,” Gilmore said. “Trust your teammates, and that’s pretty much good. We’ve got great teammates, so as long as you trust your teammates and play for your teammates, you’ll be OK.”
Sunday night proved that even if things go sour with Brown, the Patriots’ offense will still be A-OK in 2019. Dorsett isn’t Brown but he certainly can be a capable enough fill in. The Patriots won a Super Bowl with Dorsett as their No. 3 receiver mere months ago.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images