There’s a different feeling around this New England Patriots team following their Week 2 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Call it optimism or just plain excitement for a team that finally looks like it has life.
That season-opener against the Miami Dolphins—you know, the one where the Patriots turned the ball over three times and got stomped out of South Beach by their division rivals?
That feels like ancient history after the team went on the road and staved off one of the scariest defensive teams in football.
But consistency is key for that Dolphins game to remain an afterthought. The Patriots have to figure out a way to maintain the same level of production they showed against Pittsburgh heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.
And they’ll need every player on the roster to do it. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of those players in this week’s stock evaluation.
Stock Up: Nelson Agholor
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Agholor was obviously playing for the “You Got Mossed” play of the year when climbing the ladder and hauling in a 44-yard touchdown catch against the Steelers.
NELSON AGHOLOR JUST MOSSED HIM 🤯pic.twitter.com/strEj1daVV
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 18, 2022
More of that, please?
The Patriots have looked like an offensive wreck at the receiver position, but if Agholor can turn into a consistent target for quarterback Mac Jones, the outlook for the entire team would be significantly different.
They’re not going to win games with Jones only throwing to running backs, tight ends and Jakobi Meyers. Someone else needs to step up. Since Agholor is the third-highest paid player on the team, it might as well be him.
Stock Down: Myles Bryant (as a returner)
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
It’s time to pump the brakes on Myles Bryant returning punts. Why is the guy that hasn’t returned punts since high school now suddenly returning punts in the NFL?
I’d understand if there were no other options on the roster, but the fact that a dynamic playmaker like Marcus Jones is watching from the sidelines is maddening.
Can't remember the last time the Patriots had an electric dual-threat returner
Marcus Jones had return 2 TDs off both kickoffs and punts last season pic.twitter.com/aG1zmDGnA4
— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) April 30, 2022
With the offense struggling, the Patriots clearly need a boost on special teams to at least help the team win the battle of field position. Why not give that opportunity to someone with the skill set that you spent a third-round draft pick on?
Stock Up: Deatrich Wise Jr.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Over the first two games, Deatrich Wise Jr. is one of the highest-graded players by Pro Football Focus. In his first year as a team captain, the former fourth-round draft pick out of Arkansas has emerged into one of the Patriots’ best playmakers.
Patriots' highest-graded player by @PFF through two games: Deatrich Wise.
His 89.6 grade is seventh-highest among all NFL edge defenders. Also played more than 80% snaps in both games, so no small sample size there.
Excellent start to the season for the first-time captain. pic.twitter.com/WCgMBRdUQo
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) September 19, 2022
So much is going to be dependent on the Patriots’ defense with the offense currently struggling. That means Wise and company will be in plenty of games where they’re going to have to make plays and put the team on their back to some degree.
However, that challenge seems less daunting if Wise can continue to hang with the best defensive players in the league. His coming-out party could be a game-changer for the Patriots.
Stock Down: DeVante Parker
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
DeVante Parker has less receiving yards through his first two games as a Patriot than N’Keal Harry had in his first two games last season. That’s a big, big problem.
We could talk about the entire offense struggling, along with this being Parker’s first year with the team. But it’s still a hard argument to make when even Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who was elevated from the practice squad, snagged an 11-yard reception against the Steelers.
Meanwhile, Parker was targeted twice with nothing to show for it.
We have seriously reached a point where Kendrick Bourne looks like the better offensive option in New England than Parker. It might be time for the coaching staff to embrace that reality.
Stock Up: Cole Strange
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Cole Strange has been a pleasant surprise for the Patriots on the offensive line this season. The rookie guard has stepped in and fortified his position right away.
Just look at him go to work against one of the league’s standout defensive tackles, Pittsburgh’s Cam Heyward.
Cole Strange winning 1v1 vs Cam Heyward 👀 pic.twitter.com/wD632j7gS5
— Brett (@TheBg_12) September 18, 2022
Strange recently opened up about his feelings on the mockery he’s faced since being taken in the first-round of the 2022 NFL draft by the Patriots. But no one is laughing after seeing the performance he had in Week 2.
Stock Down: Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
The Patriots should be happy that their receivers finally took over the game against the Steelers. It can’t just be tight ends and running backs catching passes if the team wants to be successful offensively.
But then again, it isn’t a good thing seeing both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith being held without a single catch against the Steelers. Heading into Sunday’s matchup against Baltimore, the Patriots are going to have to do a better job offensively of getting their two tight ends more involved.
There really are no excuses when facing the Ravens’ leaky defensive backfield. That unit couldn’t stop running water against the Miami Dolphins. The tight end numbers should be up this week.
Stock Up: Jakobi Meyers
David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports
Jakobi Meyers is Mr. Reliable for the Patriots on offense. He’s the one guy on the team that can consistently get open and make plays. That’s why news of him dealing with a knee injury should be concerning.
It would be interesting to see how good Meyers could be with a legitimate No. 1 deep threat creating even more space for him to work underneath. We would be looking at a Pro Bowl caliber player.
Instead, we’re looking at a No. 2 receiver being shoehorned in as a No. 1 because he’s the only one making plays. It’s imperative for players like Agholor, Bourne and even Parker to continue to step up.
Stock Up: Jabrill Peppers
David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots’ depth at safety has been tested early with injuries to Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger. And they have passed with flying colors up to this point with Jabrill Peppers on the roster.
The former first-round draft pick has been an unsung hero for the defense in his ability to step up when the team needs him. He looked like a human torpedo on the field in shutting down plays early against the Steelers.
Here’s to hoping there’s more where that effort came from in Sunday’s game against a Ravens team with a quarterback that is a magician at making defensive players miss tackles.