The Patriots quite literally fumbled their road to victory against the Miami Dolphins last week. While New England gained more yards, first downs, and time of possession over Miami, penalties and turnovers decided the game. A very “un-Patriot” like game in Foxboro, especially to open the season.

A Bill Belichick-coached team often features discipline, efficiency, and fitness. All aspects the Patriots seemed to lack on Sunday. Players appeared tired, visibly breathing heavily in Brian Flores’ uptempo game plan. A game plan normally orchestrated by Bill Belichick. The Patriots will have to prove themselves to the NFL as the league is not sure what this Patriots team is. Here’s how they do so in Week Two against the New York Jets.

Pressure Pressure Pressure

Rookie Quarterback, Zach Wilson, was sacked six times and hit ten times in last Sunday. An already weakened Offensive Line has become even weaker as tackle Mekhi Becton will miss 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. One of the areas listed in 12 Reasons Why The Patriots Will Win 12 Games in 2021 was the “rebirth of the pass rush”. If New England wants to make Zach Wilson uncomfortable, the front seven is going to have to get to him often.

Take Matt Judon’s explosive QB hit on Tua Tagovailoa which led to a crucial interception. Or when Josh Uche demolished left tackle Liam Eichenberg for his first sack of the season. Speaking of Uche, he continues to earn himself a starting role on the edge. Henry Anderson got the start last week, but only played 6% of defensive snaps to Uche’s 28%. Long story short: Josh Uche should be starting. Perhaps we will see more blitzes with Safeties Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips to further create disruption for Zach Wilson.

Give James White More Carries

As great as James White is as a receiving and blocking back, he is a reliable runner. White only registered four carries on the ground last Sunday. Damien Harris earned his RB1 role, but it was clear Harris was exhausted before fumbling late into the 4th Quarter. Harris should still serve as the lead back for the Patriots, but James White needs to be involved more.

Throw More In The Red-Zone

One of the main reasons why the Patriots lost last week was due to Red-zone inefficiency. The team only scored once out of their four trips inside the 20. In fact, the three drives that extended beyond 10 plays all resulted in field goals. Here’s what happened when New England entered the red-zone:

Drive #1 FIELD GOAL

  • Mac Jones incompletion
  • Damian Harris run
  • Mac Jones 6 yard completion
  • Mac Jones 7 yard completion

Drive #2 TOUCHDOWN

Drive #3 FIELD GOAL

  • Damien Harris run
  • Mac Jones 6 yard completion
  • Mac Jones incomplete pass

Drive #4 FIELD GOAL

  • Damian Harris run
  • Damien Harris run
  • Mac Jones incomplete pass       

Another part of the 12 Reasons Why The Patriots Will Win 12 Games in 2021 article discussed the importance of the red-zone. It is why the team spent big on Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. Although the Patriots did throw the ball in their first few red-zone trips, they were short completions. The biggest fault perhaps was going with back-to-back runs in the 4th Quarter.

Spread The Ball Around

One of Mac Jones’ biggest strength is his ability to get everyone involved offensively. In the first half of Sunday’s game, he mainly looked to Agholor, Meyers, and White. Considering the constant pressure Jones was facing, these targets are understandable. But it wasn’t until the second half where the offense found a strong rhythm. For instance, Hunter Henry and Kendrick Bourne were both held without a catch in the first half. Jones will have to get those guys going earlier come Sunday.

Contain Corey Davis

Patriot fans will remember what Corey Davis did to Stephon Gilmore during his DPOY reign. Besides Davis’ no show in 2019, he has feasted on New England. In three career games, Davis has recorded 12 catches for 188 yards and 3 TDs against the Patriots. Davis has become a security blanket for Zach Wilson, hauling in five passes for 97 yards and 2 TDs in Week One.

The Patriots will play the New York Jets this Sunday at 1:00pm

(AP Photo of Patriots QB Mac Jones/Steven Senne)

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