Taylor McCloud — Pats Militia
Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett have experienced different levels of success in the NFL, but they are more similar than one might think.
On the surface, the two are nearly identical. Cooks stands at 5’10”. Dorsett? 5’10”. Cooks weighs 189 pounds. Dorsett? 185 pounds. Cooks runs a 4.33 second 40-yard dash. Dorsett? 4.33 second 40-yard dash. If you put helmets on both guys and told them to run a fly route, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. If you asked either guy what they hope to do against the New Orleans defense this afternoon, I’d bet there’d be no difference.
The Saints’ secondary is bad and last week against Minnesota, Sam Bradford carved them up. He threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Stefon Diggs hauled in seven passees for 93 yards and two touchdowns while Adam Thielen caught nine balls for 157 yards and a single touchdown. The Vikings also turned in a stellar defensive performance and rookie runningback Dalvin Cook had himself a day, rushing for 127 yards, but it’s Thielen’s performance that I want to talk about.
Last season, Thielen was one of the most reliable deep threats in the NFL. According to the Star Tribune, he caught 70.4% of passes travelling more than fifteen yards in the air, the best percentage in the league. And last week against New Orleans, he averaged 17.3 yards per catch. Both Cooks and Dorsett are salivating thinking about that.
Thielen is fast, but he’s not 4.33 fast. If he was able to take the top off the secondary like he was, imagine what Cooks and Dorsett will be able to do. Their speed certainly isn’t everything, but in a situation like this, it’ll be paramount that they put it to good use. Not just because of the state of the Saints’ secondary, but because the Patriots need it.
Against the Chiefs, Tom Brady and the rest of the offense struggled to get it going. There were some big plays, but they came few and far between. This week has to be different, and Cooks and Dorsett should be able to make that difference.
But placing the same expectations on Dorsett as I would Cooks seems foolish. Cooks is the team’s #1 wideout and has been there for some time. He’s expected to go out there and tear it up. Dorsett, who’s only been in New England for two weeks, is not. At least, not by most.
However, I don’t fall into the category of “most.” Like always, I’m on the other side of the fence. I do think Phillip Dorsett is going to have an impact today.
Bill Belichick has been, and always will be a proponent of the ‘next man up’ strategy. With Danny Amendola officially being ruled out, Dorsett is that next man up. He’s got blistering speed and is facing a secondary that struggles with guys going deep. BB and Josh McDaniels know what they’re dealing with and are (hopefully) going to expose it.
Do I expect Dorsett to have a ‘monster’ day? No. Do I expect him to outperform Cooks? No. But do I expect him to go out there and produce something more than the goose egg he did against Kansas City? Hell yes.