Patriots 60-second rant: Offensive penalties only thing stopping Pats

Posted Sept. 13, 2011 @ 9:52 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Winning on the road in Week One in the fashion the Patriots did doesn't give one a whole lot to rant about. The offense steamrolled, a third-down defense that was dead last in the league last season was very effective and, despite Chad Henne's gaudy numbers, the defense didn't play a terrible game.

So we're going to nitpick here and talk about the offensive penalties.

The Patriots were penalized 83 times last season, which isn't a whole lot, but they got flagged seven times on Monday night — six of those came on offense.

Each penalty can be a cause for concern. The way Tom Brady moved the football, the only thing that could stop the Patriots was themselves, and they did on one drive. A holding penalty by Nate Solder pushed Stephen Gostkowski's field-goal try back, and he missed the 48-yarder.

Solder, a rookie, played a pretty stellar game considering the circumstances, but if Sebastian Vollmer's injury continues to keep him out, Solder will have to avoid penalties like that. Veteran OLT Matt Light added a holding penalty later in the game, but the Pats scored two plays afterward.

Brian Waters, in his first game as a Patriot, had a false start on a drive that ended in a punt. With Dan Koppen out and Dan Connolly likely to play center, Waters will need to keep learning the offense quickly to avoid the flags.

Two penalties by receivers also hurt the Patriots. Chad Ochocinco got an illegal formation penalty, which wiped out a 41-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski. With the Patriots often in two-WR sets in the no-huddle, Ochocinco didn't see many snaps, as he clearly still needs time to learn the offense. Deion Branch got a false start when the Pats were running a no-huddle play. Brady followed that up with two incomplete passes and a seven-yard completion, and the Pats had to punt.

New TE Dan Gronkowski also had a false start.

Four of the six offensive penalties came from the Patriots' newest players, which is understandable considering how complex the offense can be to learn, especially with Brady running some no-huddle. The Patriots, though, cannot walk all over teams if they shoot themselves in the foot with penalties that get Brady and the offense out of rhythm. With a new offensive line look and a new receiver, growing pains are going to happen, but it's something to keep an eye on against a good San Diego defense in Week Two. Obviously, the penalties on Monday night didn't keep New England from winning, but it didn't help the team, either.