First and foremost, none of these teams had much of a pass rush in the opener. Both QBs have hardware, and in this game they had time to do whatever they wanted. Maybe it was from a lack of showing their defensive hand to the rest of the league, but I won’t buy that concept. No push up front is a serious concern for both units, especially New England, considering the mediocrity in front of Ben Roethlisberger.
Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski will continue to play at an elite level every week. Brown made some tough grabs when covered by the hero of last Super Bowl, Malcolm Butler. It wasn’t like he was laying down for the best wide out in the game, Brown simply made a pair of outstanding plays over him.
Gronk on the other hand, was barely used because the gameplan didn’t necessarily need him to go off. Yet, he went off anyway with a trio of spikes in the endzone. The Steelers let down their curtain and left the league’s best tight end wide open twice, while giving a poor effort on a couple of other plays. All Gronk really did was shed one tackle and make a few grabs without much of a threat in the vicinity. This could be his best season.
Tom Brady looked comfortable and only missed a throw or two. He stepped up in the pocket, and his receivers created a lot of space against a weak secondary. I love it when a QB sneaks it up the middle for a first down. His counterpart, Big Ben, wasn’t under much duress either but would have benefited from better receiver play. Markus Wheaton could have made some more plays, and I guess we already knew what to expect when it comes to Darrius Heyward-Bey. The black and yellow should feel good after this game, and they’re looking forward to getting back Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, and hopefully Maurkice Pouncey down the road.
Bell’s replacement on the evening, DeAngelo Williams, showed his speed by constantly beating defenders to and around the edge. Before you say it was a mistake for Carolina to move on from the veteran, Williams should be fresh and at his best in week 1. Dion Lewis handled the majority of backfield work for the Patriots, but instead of looking over his shoulder at LeGarrette Blount’s looming return, he also took advantage to post up career-high stats. Make no mistake about it, the ground games were very productive.
Heath Miller is the reliable tight end that I gave a green light play to fantasy owners and he came through for me on one of my teams. Julian Edelman continues to be a PPR darling, already making fantasy owners regret their decision to pass him up in drafts. If you stashed Bryant away, keep him around because he will assume the #2 role and be heavily involved when week 5 hits.
We should keep in mind that these are two of the elite offenses in the league. I don’t think they really did anything special, aside from Brown’s routine torching of secondaries that is, but these defenses looked very tame. Like I said, maybe they stuck to vanilla game plans. The real cause for concern is individual player effort and ability. I didn’t hear much about Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovish, or Devin McCourty for the Pats. Pittsburgh hasn’t done much to re-tool their secondary, but even if they did it wouldn’t show without any pressure from the line.
Someone that might not be wearing a jersey much longer is kicker Josh Scobee, who missed a pair of field goals that put the Steelers in a hole early. It was great to see regular season football on the screen again but this game did not display respectable defensive efforts and essentially, gave up easy points. For the record, I predicted New England to win this game but Pittsburgh to finish with a better record.
Do I care about the headset situation? No. Did I care about Spy Gate or Deflate Gate? No. All that mattered to me was Brady’s status. I prefer to pay attention to the things that are relevant to the game on the field. There was no suspension, he played, so go on ahead to those mainstream outlets that blow everything out of proportion by getting fixated on the same story.