The Patriots have looked like a bad football team in the first three weeks of the season. What exactly does “bad” mean though? It means New England has not shown the consistency to play all three phases of the game of football. When the offense plays well, the defense struggles, when the offense struggles, the defense steps up, but then special teams stumbles as well.
Specifically, the Patriots lack discipline. In both of New England’s losses, the team has lost the turnover battle while committing more penalties than the other team. The defense can’t get a stop when the team needs it most and the offensive line has let up non-stop pressure to Mac Jones.
What Went Wrong?
Almost everything. The offensive line struggled again, leading to Mac Jones eating turf most of the day. Jones was the team’s leading rusher. Special teams committed two penalties while giving up a blocked punt. Jones threw 3 picks and when the defense had eight and a half minutes to stop the Saints, they couldn’t do it.
The Tight Ends
Jonnu Smith may have played the worst game of his life today. Four drops, including a wide open pass which led to a pick-six. It was a game-changing interception that substantially took the wind out of this team. He is a better player than this, but he must show that.
While Hunter Henry showed improvement in activity (5 catches, 35 yards) he had a costly penalty on 4th and 1, forcing New England to settle for a field goal. So far, the Tight Ends have been a major disappointment opening the season. The Patriots will need to get these guys going.
Mac Jones’ Deep Ball
Rough day for the rookie. Although a lot of it had to do with the lack of time given to throw, Jones still made mistakes. His floater to Jakobi Meyers with his back turned was a bad mistake. While Jones did show an ability to make strong throws while getting hit, he needed live with the sack there. The Patriots must’ve heard all the critics for a lack of downfield passing last week. However, Jones could not connect Nelson Agholor, overthrowing him deep multiple times.
What Went Right?
Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, and Matthew Judon. Throw in Nick Folk and Jake Bailey for their legs too. Meyers and Bourne combined for 17 catches, 200 yards, and 1 TD. The play of the game goes to Kendrick Bourne making a terrific leaping grab, staying in bounds, tip-toeing to the end-zone to make it a one possession game. It gave Foxboro life, but a life short-lived. Matthew Judon played his most disruptive game, tallying 2.5 sacks. He now leads the team in sacks and pressures, being one of the few Patriot newcomers making his money’s worth.
Is There Any Hope?
Teams that start 1-2 have a 25% chance to make the playoffs. That is not a promising number. With two ugly losses at home, the Patriots have not built the recipe for success going into a game against Tom Brady. The Patriots errors are fixable, but will not solved in one week. It must start with the pass protection. Improving the pass protection will allow Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry to make more of an impact, especially in the red-zone. Defensively, the team must find a way to stop offenses when they need to. They have done a solid job defending wideouts and getting to the quarterback, but they continue to let running backs feast. The penalty numbers have to come down as well. A lot to ask for next week against a much better team.
The Patriots will play Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday October 2nd, at 8:25pm.
(Photo by Michael Democker/New Orleans Saints)