Tom Brady brought rain from the skies and tears from the hearts Sunday night. New England welcomed Brady back with open arms as he fired his notorious pregame fist pump. From then on, it became strictly business from both ends.
The Patriots opened the gates with an emphasis on pushing the tempo. This week’s essentials list highlighted getting the ball out quick, throwing all night, and letting Tampa Bay run. The result? The Patriots threw the ball 40 times while only rushing eight times for negative one yards. On the other end, Tampa ran the ball 30 times for 119 yards with no passing touchdowns. From a game plan perspective, the Patriots did everything they needed to do to set up a victory. With the right game plan, how did the team fall short?
What Went Wrong?
Tight football games tend to come down to whoever takes care of the football. Ultimately, the Buccaneers won the turnover battle while the Patriots gave up the ball twice. J.J. Taylor’s fumble on Tampa Bay’s 26 yard line hurt the Patriots big time. It cost the team an opportunity to at least come off the field with 3 points. Plays like these make 2-point losses even more devastating.
The Offensive Line…Again
From the first drive of the game, it became obvious Mac Jones would face pressure all night. Isaiah Wynn lost back-to-back matchups with Joe Tyron-Shoyinka, giving up a sack and a hurry, causing the team to punt. Jones was sacked four times while constantly hurried by pass rushers. Michael Onwenu left the game with an injury which would be a huge blow to this team. Onwenu has been one of the highest graded lineman in the NFL.
What Went Right?
Coming into this game, the Buccaneers were tied for the league’s highest scoring offense. The defense held Tom Brady to 19 points and zero passing touchdowns. The defense mainly played man-to-man and won their matchups. The Buccaneers three-headed monster at wideout were held in check as all players were held to under 80 receiving yards. While Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones III combined for 119 yards, it was the correct game plan to let the backfield the Bucs’ offense.
New England’s inability to convert inside of 20 yards has costed the team wins. However, Sunday night, the Patriots made significant progress finishing their drives with touchdowns. The Patriots scored touchdowns in two of their three red-zone trips, their best performance this year. More importantly, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry were on the receiving end of those touchdowns. If the Patriots want to put up points it has to be through the tight ends in the red-zone.
Mac Jones and The Tempo
If there was any game for Mac Jones to step up, it was this one. Sunday Night Football, Tom Brady returns to Foxboro, playing against the defending champs, the lights could not have been brighter. Thankfully, the kid stepped up. If there is anything to gain from Sunday’s loss, it’s that Mac Jones is game.
The game is not too fast for him; Jones is changing plays at the line of scrimmage, running uptempo drives, all while remaining unfazed by relentless pressure. The Patriots have to limit the amount of times Jones has been hit. For Jones, he can improve upon this by subtly moving in the pocket. Nonetheless, Jones is proving he can handle the blitz. To win in this league, teams have to be able to throw the football. For quarterbacks to win in this league, they must be able to handle the pressure and face the music. Even with a loss, Mac Jones faced this music.
1-3 is not where the Patriots wish to be for their playoff hopes. Thankfully, 2nd place in the AFC East is all tied up. While the Patriots have run out of “moral victories” the team has shown potential and legitimate promise. If this Patriots team is more like Week 4, better days will come.
The Patriots will travel to play the Houston Texans on October 10th at 1:00pm.
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)