Sunday, September 26, 2021

Sloppy Patriots Fall To Saints, 28-13

The Patriots fell to the Saints, 28-13, in a messy game that won't make the highlight reels for either franchise. The loss dropped them to 1-2, a game behind division-leading Bills. Next week the Buccaneers come to town, sporting some quarterback and tight end who used to play here.

This game was a huge blowout in all but the final score (which was a blowout but not huge). The Saints missed two field goals and went way too conservative too early in the second half. That's the only reason the Patriots lone touchdown got them to within one score of tying things up.

I thought before the game the Patriots needed to win the turnover battle to win the game. But they lost it, 3-0 (and 4-0 if you consider the blocked punt a turnover, which I always do). All three official turnovers were Mac Jones interceptions, but only one of those was on him (the first one). The other two came on (1) a tipped ball that should have been caught instead, and (2) a desperation throw at the end of the game.

And the turnover battle wasn't the only problem. Here were the offensive issues in summary:

  • Jones got hit 11 times and sacked twice
  • They ran for just 49 yards (Jones was the leading rusher)
  • Jonnu Smith dropped multiple passes and caused an interception
  • Brandon Bolden was used way too often with the game in question
  • Really poor execution on every single screen pass
  • Most of the receivers can't get separation quick enough
  • Still no speed threat so teams just load up short zones and blitz
  • Almost all of Mac Jones' throws with the wind sailed long
Things were slightly better on defense, but by no means great:
  • They must have missed five sacks on a pocket quarterback
  • Some good run stuffs were offset by gashing runs in key situations
  • The secondary looked overmatched by mediocre WRs
  • They lost discipline against the Wildcat offense (again!)
  • Had trouble getting off the field except when N.O went conservative
Special teams wasn't pretty, either:
  • Kicked off out of bounds, second time in two weeks
  • A Saints defender came free on another punt and blocked it
  • Angled a punt to go out of bounds but it bounced into the end zone instead
As for coaching, they needed to recognize that Jones had trouble throwing with the wind and call shorter routes going that direction. The blocked punt was likely a film-study issue the Pats should have corrected. 18 penalties through three games is way above the norm for New England. And they had yet another slow start on offense, indicating their game plans coming in aren't up to snuff.

And for the love of my Aunt Loretta, why in the world was Bolden taking so many snaps with the game still in doubt? The team's mantra this year should be: "When in doubt, go with youth." JJ Taylor should have gotten those snaps. At least he would have given them a chance at a decent play.

Who *is* playing well, or at least improving? Wideout Jacobi Meyers, linebackers Matthew Judon and Ja'Whaun Bentley, defensive tackles Lawrence Guy Jr. and Davon Godchaux, corner JC Jackson, and kicker Nick Folk. Other than that, every player needs to get better, including longtime stalwarts Dont'a Hightower and Devin McCourty.

It's obvious the team won't have nearly the level of success I thought they'd have before the season began. So... 

Where does that leave us? 1-2 with two home losses isn't where they need to be. (Trivia question: when was the last year the Patriots started the season 0-2 at home? Answer below.) With the defending Super Bowl champs due in town next Sunday, a 1-3 record is well within the realm of possibility. Time to get it together or start preparing for 2022.

Biggest on-going concern: The overall sloppiness of their play. Too many penalties, loose with the football, missing assignments, costly missed tackles, and sooo many special teams gaffs. I know, the health of James White and the teams seeming inability to stop the run are big. But if they don't clean things up nothing else will matter.

Non-QB MVP: Yeeesh, I guess Meyers because he was the one reliable receiver they had (9 catches for 95 yards). But really, this is like choosing the best rotten apple in the bunch :(

Statistical oddity: For his career, New Orleans quarterback Jameis Winston throws an interception on 3.5% of his drop backs, a very high number these days. But against Bill Belichick, he's thrown no interceptions in 67 career attempts.

Water-cooler wisdom: "A year that held the promise of mirroring 2001 looks more like a repeat of 2000."

Keep the faith,

PS. 1-2!

PPS. Trivia answer:

The last time the Pats started 0-2 at home was 2000, when they had a rookie quarterback on the roster who sorta made something of himself.

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