Antonio Brown’s debut with the New England Patriots was impressive, to say the least.
Not only did Brown catch four passes for 56 yards with a touchdown Sunday as the Patriots destroyed the Miami Dolphins 43-0 at Hard Rock Stadium. But New England’s offense — fresh off a 33-point explosion in a season-opening win over the Pittsburgh Steelers — looked unstoppable at times for the second consecutive week.
Former NFL coach Eric Mangini, who spent time with the Patriots from 2000 through 2005, gave his first impressions of Brown’s role in New England’s offense on Monday’s episode of “First Things First” on FOX Sports 1. Needless to say, he came away with high expectations for Tom Brady and Co. moving forward.
“They gave him a nice little package that was very easy to execute — ran a speed out against off-coverage, ran a hitch against off-coverage, ran an inside fade against press man. They’re all reasonable routes, and they’re all routes that he’s gonna win on a consistent basis,” Mangini said. “The inside fade, I know there was some discussion as to whether it was pass interference or not, but those types of plays that he can make in press coverage, it dramatically changes this offense.
“If Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown can stay with the Patriots and part of this offense, they’re gonna be really, really difficult to beat by anybody, because now you put (Julian) Edelman inside, you’ve got the backs coming out of the backfield. They have not had firepower like that, with Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown on the outside. I can’t think of a time where they’ve had talent like that available on the perimeter. And then all the things that they can do inside with the backs and Edelman, where do you want to push the coverage? Who do you want to take away? And it’s really going to be a function of, can this last? Can Josh stay a part of the program and stay consistent and overcome his challenges? And where does Antonio, where does this saga play out? But the fact that they were able to get him in, get him involved, give him some production… ”
The Patriots sure rolled the dice by signing Brown following his release from the Oakland Raiders, as the former Pittsburgh Steelers superstar has gained a reputation as one of the NFL’s most controversial players. He’s since become even more polarizing, as a civil lawsuit filed last week accused Brown of sexual assault and rape, and a Sports Illustrated story published Monday raised even more allegations against the All-Pro wideout.
But from an on-field standpoint, Brown is a unique talent. And the Patriots wasted no time in throwing him into the fire in Week 2, much to their benefit, and the sky certainly is the limit for New England’s offense if Brown — and Gordon, for that matter — can stay on the field all season.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images