- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Struggles in the passing game: Growing pains were expected with so many new faces, but perhaps not to this level. Quarterback Tom Brady's frustration boiled over at times on the sideline Thursday, but after reviewing the game, my take probably doesn't align with public perception. While it was ugly, there were some positives from the young receivers, and my feeling is that the miscues are mostly correctable. The young receivers are learning on the job, and the curve is steep. Fortunately for the Patriots, they've opened the season against two weaker opponents in the Bills and Jets.
Brady's patience: Leading into the season opener against the Bills, Brady talked about how this was a year in which more patience was required from him. But he lost it Thursday night, and it happened early, before things really started unraveling for the offense. He was tough on his young receivers and also had to be frustrated with himself at times because he missed some throws that he usually makes, such as the Julian Edelman overthrow on the opening drive. Brady acknowledged after the game that he can do a better job with his body language.
Defense rising to the challenge: Since the Patriots' record-setting 2007 season, some have asked the question, "Could the defense carry the team if the offense has an off day?" Through two games this year, the answer has been a decisive yes. The unit created four turnovers -- three in the fourth quarter -- and bailed out the struggling offense. The secondary is playing better than we've seen in recent years, although one question that lingers is how much that is a result of playing weaker opponents.
Injuries to key players: Receiver Danny Amendola (groin) didn't play, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he's out Sept. 22 against the Buccaneers. Meanwhile, tight end Rob Gronkowski is making progress in his recovery, and we've now hit the sweet spot of when he was projected to make his return. The return of Gronkowski to game action is now on the radar over the next week or so.