The Patriots are the undisputed best team in football. Anyone who thinks otherwise is (putting it lightly) naive. The Houston Texans rolled into Gillette Stadium on Thursday night coming off a big win against the highly touted Kansas City Chiefs and Bill Belichick just straight embarrassed them in all three phases of the game.
Starting on the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots dominated Brock Osweiler and his shiny new contract. Osweiler finished with just a 58% completion percentage for 196 yards and one ugly interception. More glaring was the fact that Osweiler couldn’t lead the Texans offense across the 50 yard line until late in the third quarter. The Texans finished with a goose egg on the scoreboard and it was the first time the Patriots shutout an opponent since they blanked the Miami Dolphins back on December 30, 2012.
Lamar Miller looked awful running the ball for the Texans and, to the dismay of many fantasy owners, DeAndre Hopkins had a season-low 56 yards receiving. Even rookie Will Fuller was lost as he finished with 31 yards on three receptions. Fuller had 107 yards receiving in Week 1 and 104 yards in Week 2. The Patriots secondary was exceptional and greatly improved from the passing explosion Ryan Tannehill had in the second half of last week’s game.
Offensively, the Patriots and Josh McDaniels found a way to tighten up the playbook, but expand it at the same time. The Jacoby Brissett touchdown run was a thing of beauty. Keeping the right side of the line of scrimmage empty to move the Texans defense to the left and then hit them with the quarterback boot. Genius. Genius because it is so unlike the Patriots to run a bootleg like that. Martellus Bennett even had an end-around run! Bill Belichick can tailor a playbook to any player’s strengths and thats what makes him the best coach in NFL history.
Borrowing a line from the best coach in NFL history, we know Belichick is always talking about all three phases of the game. He references it countless times during press conferences where he really doesn’t say much. And the third phase of the game was impeccable on Thursday night.
Belichick squeezed as much production as he could out of the special teams. Ryan Allen clearly had a talking to from Belichick or the special teams coach as he was MUCH improved from last week against Miami. The Houston offense had horrible field position all night. Even Steven Gostkowski was putting the ball at the one-yard line on kickoffs and forcing the returner to run the ball out. And look what the Patriots got out of it. Two (TWO!) forced fumbles on kickoffs.
The Patriots are the undisputed best team in football and its never too early to say this, but the Patriots NEED to stay healthy. No team can beat a fully healthy 2016 Patriots team in any environment.
As for this Houston game and Jacoby Brissett. We may never see him start another game for the Patriots but I’m content letting him have a spot in Patriots history as the quarterback who once defeated the Houston Texans 27-0 while wearing some kick-ass color rush jerseys.