Beyond the uninspiring backwards pass, followed by an up-tempo Tua TD drive, the Patriots controlled most of this game. The defense forced three straight punts after giving up the opening score as Mac Jones caught more rhythm with each drive.
The Patriots won the third down battle, going 11-for-16 to Miami’s 4-for-11. The Patriots also won the time of possession: 36:43 to Miami’s 23:17. New England garnered more first downs, passing yards, and rushing yards. With almost everything going the Patriot’s way, how could the Miami Dolphins possibly end up with a victory?
Where the Game Went Wrong For The Patriots
Turnovers, penalties, and red-zone efficiency. New England committed eight total penalties, coughed up two fumbles, and only scored once during the Patriot’s four red-zone trips. Don’t expect to win many football games turning the ball over and stalling out red-zone drives. The Patriots only punted twice in the game, but all three of the team’s 10+play drives ended in field goals. Those must turn into touchdowns.
Defensively, Jalen Mills stepped up as the No. 2 corner, but the secondary is still a large concern. Wide Receivers DeVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle averaged 20.2 and 15.2 yards per catch collectively.
Where the Game Went Right
Miami brought constant pressure to Mac Jones and Jones continued to answer with poise and accuracy. His drives improved in every series; each one included more ball movement to the starting unit. Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers started the day hot as Jones’ main targets. Jonnu Smith’s after the catch ability was as advertised while Hunter Henry and Kendrick Bourne started slow and almost nonexistent. However, Henry and Bourne began to make an impact in the fourth quarter, teasing strong potential in this passing attack.
On the defensive side, there is a lot of energy on the front-seven. Kyle Van Noy played inspired early against his former team, getting a quick sack and tipped pass against Tua. Josh Uche continues to earn himself a starting role on the edge, bulldozing Liam Eichenberg to register his first sack of the season.
There are reasons to be excited about the Patriots and Mac Jones. The pass rush looks dominant, but the secondary is thin. The running game is legit, but they cannot afford to turn the ball over. The passing attack looks promising, but the team must continue to let Mac move the football and convert in the red-zone. The Patriots’ season will rely on red-zone efficiency. It is expected that New England will defend well and run the ball effectively, but the potential of this team will live and die in the red-zone and on 3rd down. New England will travel to New York to play the Jets next Sunday at 1:00pm.