MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Tight end Anthony Fasano #80 of the Miami Dolphins is brought down by Safety's Patrick Chung #25 and Josh Barrett #30 of the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium on September 12, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Heading into their Week 3 matchup with the Buffalo Bills - the NFL's highest-scoring team - the New England Patriots have the NFL's No. 31-ranked pass defense, surrendering 381 passing yards per game. Are Patriots fans concerned after watching Chad Henne and Philip Rivers rip through New England's secondary in two games?
"I'm concerned, but not panicked," said Greg Knopping of PatsPulpit.com. "Against Henne, the Patriots held the Dolphins to just two third-down conversions and sacked him four times. A lot of his yards came in garbage time against the prevent defense. Rivers, on the other hand, had a field day throwing the football - but the Patriots still forced four turnovers and had two key goal line stops that shifted the momentum of the game."
Making matters somewhat worse for the Pats is the fact that third-year safety Patrick Chung reportedly had thumb surgery this week. He did not practice Wednesday, and his status for Sunday's game is in question. He finished last week's win over San Diego with a cast on his hand, and that's a route he could pursue in Week 3, as well. Chung's presence at safety is key for a unit that let go of Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders this off-season.
Knopping, who lives in Syracuse, has seen both of Buffalo's games, and has been impressed with Buffalo's passing attack, led by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He says the key to continued success for Buffalo won't be to pick up yardage, but to score points - which the Dolphins and Chargers didn't do as well as they should have.
"I've watched both of the Bills games this year, and I've been extremely impressed with the play of Fitzpatrick," said Knopping. "That being said, the key for 'Fitzmagic' won't be racking up the big time yards - it will be punching the ball into the end zone in goal line situations and avoiding costly turnovers."