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Patriots Progress Report 2014 Second Quarter

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What a difference a month makes.

We're now at the halfway mark of the Patriots season and it would appear that all of the naysaying from the first month might have beenlet's just say misguided.

New England went four-for-four in the second quarter of the season, and other than a surprisingly close two-point win against the hapless Jets, the games have been displays of Patriot dominance. They beat the Bengals by 26, the Bills by 15 and capped it off by annihilating the Bears by four touchdowns.

Suffice it to say, rumors of New England's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Granted, the next four games present some legitimate challenges the Pats host the Broncos before taking their Week 10 bye. They then visit a strong Colts team and host a surprisingly strong Lions team before visiting the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to play the Packers. That's a rough stretch, but New England looks world-beating right now. Still anything can happen.

On to the Progress Report.

Offense A

Remember when everyone was wondering if Tom Brady was done? Those doubts have been laid to rest following a four-game stretch where Brady threw for nearly 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Even against some questionable defenses, that is some legitimate domination. Tight end Rob Gronkowski had a great month with 27 catches for over 400 yards and four TDs (although much of that damage was done in the Chicago game). Receivers Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman have been strong, as has running back Shane Vereen though the loss of Stevan Ridley hurts. Still, the offense looks to be back on the upswing in a big way they've jumped from 24th in scoring after the first month all the way up to third after the second, going from 20 points per game to a fraction shy of 30.

Defense B

They say the best defense is a good offense. That seems to be true here, as the Patriots have more or less maintained their scoring defense pace at 22 points per game, but when the offense has upped their average to 30, 22 is plenty good enough. New England continues to falter against the run game, giving up nearly 130 yards a game on the ground. But they're also shining in pass defense, sitting second in the league as they give up just 210 yards a game. They're forcing more turnovers as well six interceptions in the past four games after just two in the first month. Losing all-everything linebacker Jerod Mayo may yet come back to haunt the defense, but as of now, they're playing well enough to keep on winning.

Special Teams B+

Placekicker Stephen Gostkowski is one of the best in the NFL at his position and he has continued to play like it. He connected on 13 of his 14 field goal attempts in October and currently leads the league with 21 overall. Punter Ryan Allen hasn't been quite as accomplished, however he ranks in the middle in average distance and near the bottom in net distance. The return game is equally meh primary kick returners Patrick Chung and Danny Amendola rank near the bottom of the league, while punt returner Edelman is only slightly better. Still, the New England kick coverage has been solid; that, plus Gostkowski's proficiency, elevates this grade.

Coaching B+

If we're going to blame the coaches for the slow start, we must also credit them for the fantastic rebound. The offensive scheme of coordinator Josh McDaniels has clearly clicked much better over the past month. And again there were plenty of pundits openly questioning whether the era of Bill Belichick had reached the end (or at least the beginning of the end). Admittedly, four games is a small sample size, but things sure do look pretty rosy right now. Of course, the games ahead may well make for a much more significant test. Still, in the endin Bill we trust.


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