PHOTO: New England Patriots running back Corey Dillon scores on an eight-yard touchdown against the defense of Oakland Raiders' Stuard Schweigert (30) during the third quarter in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, Sept. 8, 2005. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Have Work To Do
By Scout.com Staff
The Patriots entered 2005 with a weapon-laden offense that can attack any area of the field. Their explosiveness in the passing game was obvious last week against Oakland when quarterback Tom Brady threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns while connecting with eight different receivers. The versatility of the passing game will certainly make things difficult on any defense.
But the Patriots will head to Carolina this week looking to get Corey Dillon running like the back who rushed for a franchise-record 1,635 yards last year, something he did not do against the Raiders, who held him to 63 yards on 23 carries, with many of those yards coming late in the game.
The Patriots offensive line, which did a decent job in pass protection, was pushed around in the running game, giving Dillon nowhere to run. It led to a frustrating night, and at one point, television cameras caught Brady yelling at Dillon on the sideline. Both players shrugged off the exchange, and the emotional Brady was likely trying to fire up his back to keep churning.
This week, the Patriots will take on a strong defensive front that is not quite as formidable as it was heading into last week thanks to the loss of All-Pro defensive tackle Kris Jenkins for the season, but one that still will offer the Pats a stiff challenge.
Dillon was almost incensed last week when asked if he was surprised that Oakland bottled him up sufficiently, noting the size of the Raiders' front seven. But Carolina's front is better than Oakland's and Panthers linebacker Dan Morgan is very active.
"We need to do a better job," guard Stephen Neal said. "That just wasn't good enough. It wasn't Corey's fault. We gave him no room to run. That's on us. We have to be better."
The Patriots actually ran the ball fairly well against Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII, pounding away for 127 yards, but the Panthers are desperate after losing their home opener and must understand that an 0-2 start at home would be devastating to a team considered an NFC favorite.
With a trip to Pittsburgh awaiting New England following the Panthers game, the Patriots would like to establish Dillon this week to give game-planning defenses more to think about in the coming weeks.
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