Generally viewed as perhaps the most irreplaceable player on the Patriots’ defense, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork had season-ending surgery this week on a torn Achilles. New England entered the season with a less-than-full cupboard at the position, so much of the pressure has been put on undrafted defensive tackle Joe Vellano. Early returns were not good, as Vellano was easily moved in the running game at times on his way to a -6.1 grade against the run. It started on the Bengals’ first play from scrimmage as Vellano was moved off his spot by center Kyle Cook to open a hole for a 13-yard gain for Green-Ellis. It was more of the same later in the quarter with 1:37 to go as this time Vellano got sent to the ground by Cook and left guard Clint Boling with a similar 13-yard result. Fast forward to the 11:32 mark of the fourth quarter and Cook once again had his way with Vellano to open a gaping hole up front. While Vellano did have some positive moments as a pass rusher, his weakness at the point of attack was evident throughout the game.
An uncharacteristic offensive effort by the Patriots was marred by poor guard play, as LG Logan Mankins (-3.8) and RG Dan Connolly (-2.8) were generally handled by the Bengals’ defensive front. Granted, going up against DT Geno Atkins doesn’t help, as Mankins can attest. Atkins bull rushed him into QB Tom Brady’s lap with 4:39 to go in the first and later notched a sack that was negated by a Cincinnati offsides penalty. It was more of the same in the run game, as Atkins continually got inside Mankins to affect Patriots’ blocking schemes. As for Connolly, most of his issues came in pass protection where he graded at -2.7 on his way to surrendering a sack, hit, and two hurries on 45 drop-backs. Atkins got the better of him for the two hurries, while DE Wallace Gilberry notched all three hits, including one that saw him get into Brady’s face in 1.7 seconds at the 0:22 mark of the second quarter.
And some Brady commentary
- When Brady had less than 2.6 seconds to throw, he was 6 of 19 with a QB Rating of 35.2. When using play action, he was 1 of 8 for 53 yards with the lone completion going to rookie WR Aaron Dobson.
- Patriots receivers dropped six passes, including three from WR Danny Amendola.