New England Patriots: These 3 players need to amp it up vs Steelers

Rhamondre Stevenson #38 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Rhamondre Stevenson #38 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots opened Week 1 with a pretty ugly loss to the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins didn’t look great themselves, which only added to the dismay of the game, but it’s clear the Patriots have some things they need to improve upon if they want to start winning games this season.

In order to improve their play on the field, it’s clear that there are a few players on New England’s roster who are going to need to play much better moving forward. Let’s take a look at three players on the Patriots roster who are going to have to step up in Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers if they intend on evening out their record early on in the season.

New England Patriots player who needs to step up No. 3: Rhamondre Stevenson

After a strong rookie season, there were a lot of expectations for Rhamondre Stevenson this year. Heck, many people were expecting him to potentially take over the starting role from Damien Harris at some point along the way. It’s safe to say that Stevenson’s season-opening performance against the Dolphins didn’t meet those lofty expectations.

Stevenson finished with just 25 yards on eight carries, while also picking up a meager two yards on two catches. Meanwhile Harris picked up 48 yards on nine carries and ten yards on two catches. Considering how Stevenson and Harris are used in a 1A/1B tandem, it’s clear Stevenson is going to have to be more effective on the ground in future contests.

There wasn’t a lot working in Stevenson’s favor in this game considering the Patriots trailed basically the entire way, but he didn’t do much with the touches he got in this game. That’s going to have to change moving forward. Bad games will happen, but if Stevenson’s role is going to expand, he’s going to need to turn in better performances than he did in Week 1 against the Dolphins.

New England Patriots
Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots player who needs to step up No. 2: Mac Jones

Maybe putting Mac Jones on this list is a bit unfair considering when all was said and done, he had a fairly decent performance (21/30, 213 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT). The interception he threw wasn’t really his fault, and honestly should have been called back for defensive pass interference, and he stood no shot of holding onto the football on his fumble that led to a Miami touchdown.

Still, Jones is the key to everything the Patriots offense does. He didn’t have much support against the Dolphins, but he wasn’t at his best for much of the game. He made some questionable decisions on big plays, and didn’t seem to always have his trademark accuracy despite completing 70 percent of his passes.

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Part of the problem was the playcalling, as New England didn’t ever really air the ball out until the fourth quarter, and by then they didn’t really have much of a shot at winning the game. The gameplan was flawed from the get go, but we will get to that more in a minute.

Jones wasn’t horrible against the Dolphins, but it’s clear he’s going to have to step up in Week 2 against the Steelers if New England wants to get their record back to .500 early in the season. There may be some things working against Jones admittedly, but if he’s a truly great quarterback, he’s going to have to find a way to rise above those things and lead his team to victory. Against the Dolphins, he was simply unable to do so.

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New England Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker (1) (Mandatory Credit: Palm Beach Post) /

New England Patriots player who needs to step up No. 1: DeVante Parker

For much of the offseason, the hope was that DeVante Parker’s addition to the wide receiver room would give Jones a de facto number one target in the passing game. Yet in his debut with the team, Parker was only targeted twice and finished with just one catch for nine yards. The other target resulted in Jones’ lone interception of the game.

Parker obviously was going to have a difficult time getting open considering he was shadowed by Dolphins star cornerback Xavien Howard for most of the day, but it’s clear he’s going to have to do more moving forward. Parker was clearly behind Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor in terms of Jones’ reads, and even Kendrick Bourne, who played only two snaps, managed to outproduced him with one catch for 41 yards.

Not having Bourne on the field at all killed New England in this one, because it allowed Howard to stay on Parker all day long. Chances are that would have been the case had Bourne played, but nobody else on the Patriots offense did anything to warrant Howard switching off of Parker. Bourne did with his 41-yard grab, but again, he only played two snaps.

Even then, New England didn’t do much to get Howard off of Parker. They didn’t motion him at all, didn’t move him off the outside (which makes sense), and simply opted to let him be a non-factor in this game. Parker is going to have to be better, but so is the offensive gameplan as a whole.

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Playing against his old teammate in Howard will be one of his biggest challenges of the season, and Parker should have more room to operate against the Steelers. But the Patriots are going to need Parker to play better than he did in Week 1, otherwise they may not be able to justify playing him over Bourne moving forward.