Rodney Harrison thinks the Patriots have gotten better this offseason with the draft choices and free-agent acquisitions they've made, and are "in tune to go back to the Super Bowl as long as they don't let complacency . . . kick in."
But he warns they can -- and need to -- improve defensively.
"Especially in the defensive backfield," said the former Pats safety, now an analyst on NBC's Sunday Night Football. "Guys need to step up; Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, they need step up.
"And it's time for them to no longer think that they're young players. They need to make plays. There's no reason why this team should be ranked 32nd in the league (defensively)."
When Tom Brady returns to the Patriots following his four-game suspension, his team will be in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
That became the reality as soon as the Jets fell to the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday, 24-3. The Jets committed eight turnovers in the loss to fall to 1-2.
The Bills and Dolphins each won their first games of the season on Sunday, taking down the Cardinals and Browns, respectively.
With the Patriots record at 3-0 following their win over the Texans on Thursday night, and with all three of their AFC East rivals sitting on just one win thus far, even if Bill Belichick's club was to fall to Rex Ryan and the Bills in Week 4, it would still be alone atop the division.
Surely the Patriots would like to have a zero in the loss column when Brady returns. Regardless, to be in first place when Brady's Deflategate punishment is finished -- and having achieved that mark with two different starting quarterbacks -- has to be a point of pride for the organization . . . and a source of agita for those who doled out the punishment.
Must be Bills week.
After Rex Ryan's club put together an impressive win at home over the Cardinals, 33-18, it wasn't long before the Bills coach was yapping about the Patriots and their coach Bill Belichick.
Ryan was asked about the quarterback situation in New England since both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are dealing with injuries at the moment. Who might the Bills see when they visit Gillette Stadium?
"Look, I can sit back and say I don’t care who plays quarterback, cuz I know (Tom) Brady ain’t," he said. "I don’t care who plays quarterback; Steve Grogan can play quarterback. If Belichick’s playing quarterback, we’re coming after him. I promise you that."
There's no indication yet as to whether or not Garoppolo or Brissett will be unavailable for Week 4. When asked about his level of concern when it came to his quarterbacks, Belichick didn't say much during a conference call on Sunday.
Ryan, like the rest of us, will probably have to wait for the Patriots to release an injury report before he learns about the status of either young passer. And until then, he'll have to prepare for both.