Since “don’t stink” isn’t specific enough…
Peace three-TE: Tampa Bay has a very good set of tight ends including last year’s breakout star Cameron Brate and 2017 first-round selection O.J. Howard. The Buccaneers have had early success gaining yards out of their three-TE formations, and with New England’s well-established communication issues in the secondary, expect the Floridians to continue using them. Successful three-TE formations are particularly dangerous because a team can easily run or pass out of them, and Tampa will be once again showcasing Doug Martin, who returns from suspension. The Patriots will only have a few days to rehearse covering these offensive groupings and stifle their continued problems with defensive communication. Poor execution will surely lead to a long day, and a long week of “the season is lost” takes.
Take advantage of the short week: The obvious disadvantage of a short week is that players have less time to recover after their previous game. (Hear that, Rog?) New England might be able to use this to their advantage by going after the Buccaneers’ defensive line with a regular running attack. Now, I know the Patriots’ run game has not been as strong as expected (what else is new in 2017), but Mike Gillislee only played 18 snaps against Carolina, meaning he should be fresher going up against Tampa Bay’s defensive line. Of course, the offensive line will need to generate push as well, and the offense has thrived mainly through the air, so this may be a less likely approach to trying to win, but I think some well-timed runs could knock the Buccaneers off-balance.
Do thine assigned dang job: Ultimately, success in 2017 will come down to that most basic of maxims: Do Your Job. With this year’s turnover in personnel came some shifting of assigned duties (most notably moving Dont’a Hightower to the defensive edge), and so far execution of those duties has been somewhat nonexistent. Whether it be a matter of re-shifting duties (for instance, I know several of us think Hightower should return to his MLB role) or just performing better at the ones held right now, the Patriots need to play better, both individually and as a team. Doing that will result in a New England team more like the ones fans love to watch and remember.