Patriots continue to find ways to lose close games to good teams having bad nights.
Up four with the ball in a two-minute drill ending the first half and getting the ball first in the second half, and you lose. You have the ball with a little over two minutes left in the game with the lead, and you lose. You get the ball first in overtime, and you lose.
Another game of taking multiple leads and still losing.
Does this sound like Patriot’s football to you? Because for the past couple seasons that sounds right to me. It used to blow my mind whenever I saw a loss that should’ve been a win based on the progression of the game because I rarely saw that growing up. This team used to always be in such control of everything. But now losing games like this really doesn’t surprise me anymore.
Since this is pretty much going to be mostly pessimistic let me get all the positives out of the way first.
The Patriots finally got a big chunk play touchdown this season. A 75-yard touchdown pass to Bourne. It was great to see as a fan but looking at it objectively, that throw wasn’t the cleanest and a bit of a floater where good safety coverage on that play probably would’ve picked it off.
Not that I’m complaining but since the biggest criticism on Mac Jones right now is his arm strength that’s something to really look out for once we get to the winter and play windier games.
Unfortunately, the biggest play of the Patriots season to date came with too much time left on the clock. However not only was the play exhilarating to see unfold as a fan but it showed great vision from Mac to be able to see the broken coverage there and having the confidence to go back to Trevon Diggs the play after he got a pick six off him. It shows guts and great mental toughness on Mac Jones part.
Mac has shown physical toughness all season as well as in this game but this game was what really highlighted his mental toughness. To get that out of a rookie six weeks in is really exciting, let’s just hope that physical toughness keeps up because with this line he really needs it to.
On the other side of the ball Matthew Judon is not only the best player on this entire team but one of the best defensive players in the league and will no doubt be a pro bowler this year. Unfortunately, he seems to really be the only playmaker on this defense. Yet to be fair, Ja’Whaun Bentley did have a good game leading the team with eleven tackles and deflecting a pass for an interception in the first half.
Turnovers immediately after big penalties
For about 15 seconds New England had just gone up 20-7 in the second quarter, Jakobi Meyers scored his first career touchdown, and the Patriots had the Cowboys on the ropes in the first half. Then a holding on Ferentz took back the 25-yard touchdown pass, costing Meyers a nice moment but more importantly costing the Pats a touchdown. The following play Mac Jones was strip sacked for a lost fumble.
The Patriots had a chance to really ice the game late with two and a half minutes left when they were up one and really only 2-3 first downs away from winning the game. On 2nd down they got a delay of game penalty because Harris apparently wasn’t set but they all still took too long to get ready anyway and at the end of the day that’s on Bill. Now that essentially forced them into a throwing situation and the following play Kendrick Bourne drops a ball that leads to a Trevon Diggs pick six.
Kendrick Bourne and Mac Jones would each redeem themselves shortly after with a 75-yard bomb.
Questionable play calling and decision making in big moments
The first and second down play calling worked great in the first half. So great that the offense didn’t even see a third down until midway in the second quarter after 13 plays. But they went away from that in the second half and became a lot more predictable on the early downs often forcing the offense into ‘must have’ third down plays, which they didn’t do well on by the way.
Given what Josh McDaniels decides to do at times I’m starting to understand why Brady and Josh used to really get at each other on the sidelines sometimes.
Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels are … sorting things out. pic.twitter.com/T96qJRSwsk
— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) December 3, 2017
The play calling can be flat out frustrating and I can’t imagine what that feels like for a quarterback. You know Brady audibled out of plays much more often than Mac is which is understandable but could also be making a difference.
Once again Bill made decisions that made you think he was managing how a loss looked more than truly going for a win.
The decision to punt at mid field on 4th and 3 in overtime not only felt like one of the most cowardice decisions in NFL coaching but analytically it turned out to be just as bad.
NE decided to punt to DAL from the NE 46 on 4th & 3 with 7:53 remaining in OT while tied 29 to 29.
With a Surrender Index of 23.12, this punt ranks at the 98th percentile of cowardly punts of the 2021 season, and the 97th percentile of all punts since 1999.
— Surrender Index (@surrender_index) October 17, 2021
I also thought it showed that Bill had no feel for how the game was going at that point and for him to think they could hold the cowboys from not even getting a field goal then was a misjudgment in my opinion.
Then the decision to kneel with a minute and a half left in the first half. He’s coaching afraid! He’s afraid of things getting worse in the game which shows you his faith in this team, which he built as the GM.
I opened this article talking about the ‘Bill Belichick classic’ which is having the ball last in the first half and starting with the ball in the second half. It’s not very effective when you take a knee instead of even trying to score on that possession in the first half and then go three and out on your first possession in the second half.
Defense is really what’s killing this team
Going into the season we all expected the defense to be who would win you games while the offense would be a work in progress that hopefully kept you in games. Yet it’s mostly the defense losing you these games and it’s from a mix of bad coaching, underperforming personnel, and a lack of execution.
The offense may turn the ball over sometimes but this defense generates turnovers too. It’s not turnovers that’s killing the team but it feels like it’s this defense letting other offenses control the game while getting beat down just enough to lose.
Bill is thinking like this defense is still what it was years ago because they have Collins, Van Noy, Hightower, and McCourty but they just aren’t the same players anymore. Besides Judon who looks like the best player on the entire team, the rest of the defense is heavily underperforming and a lot of the guys that may have been big contributors on previous Patriot defenses do not look anything like they used to.
The play everyone should remember is the 3rd and 25 play at the end of the fourth. There was also a 3rd and 15 play with a similar result earlier in the game that led to a 4th and short conversion. But this was truly embarrassing for the defense to let up a play like that at that time. There was no blown assignment, it wasn’t the fault of any personnel, it was just a really really bad defensive call.
The Cowboys were ready to lose this game. They had a ton of penalties including two when they had just gotten into field goal range. The penalties pushed them significantly back out of field goal range. It’s 3rd and 25 so they have one play to get in range, which is just about where the first down is, or two plays to get the first down with 31 seconds left since they have 2 timeouts left. Well they get 24 yards on that play, not enough for the first down but still setting them up to hit the game tying field goal on 4th down to take the game into overtime.
The opening on that play in the defense should’ve never been there and it apparently only was because of the play design. Bill needs to take over completely from Steve Belichick, Jerrod Mayo, and Matt Patricia on defense because this defensive scheme looks awful.
O-line slowly getting better but not good enough to win yet
The offense had a pretty bad game on 3rd down. They couldn’t convert, especially when they only needed to pick up 1-2 yards which shows a continued weakness in the line. Mac’s pass protection has been improving but that isn’t saying much for what it was and it’s still not great. Their biggest weakness right now is at both of the tackles but there’s still really no one in particular who looks good on this offensive front.
Their inability to pick up short yardage in big pressure plays kills the confidence of this offense and the confidence of the man who keeps taking them off the field on 4th downs. If this line looked like how they should, or were expected to look, this team would have a lot less problems.
Mental weakness shows in overtime
Agholor had an awful wide-open drop on the first play of overtime which really set the tone for this team’s nerves while playing sudden death football. Everyone watching the game, except apparently Bill Belichick, knew that if the Patriots didn’t score on their opening overtime drive, then it was just about over.
Because of how it was going at that point, I thought they had no shot of preventing a field goal from Dallas. The Cowboys got the stop and then said we’ll just take the touchdown anyway.
Ceedee Lamb was wide open on the game winning 35-yard TD pass, but Jalen Mills made sure to get there just to shove him to the ground after he had already scored and won the game, only to be embarrassed even more by Lamb shortly after with a taunt that would’ve probably been a penalty if it didn’t end the game.
But you have to respect it so much that even the NFL tweeted this before deleting it shortly after.
LOL the @NFL account deleting a tweet of them celebrating what would’ve been called a taunting penalty if the game wasn’t over pic.twitter.com/Mh0NEvSIoF
— Chris Infante (@Infante54) October 18, 2021
The game eventually passes by every great coach. How soon do we start asking if the game has passed Bill? As a GM and a coach.
I heard someone say on the radio the other day “I wonder if it’s driving Bill crazy that his life’s work is being diminished by the week”. Is that really true? Because I think it could be.
When you look at the money put into this team, are we just being impatient when we’re showing our frustration with the return or is that stock not really supposed to rise until next year?
It felt like the first half went according to plan but talent caught up with the Pats in the 2nd half, and even what still felt like a significant coaching advantage wasn’t enough to pull out the win. Honestly, I think the coaching wasn’t good enough for what the expectations are.
There were plenty of sloppy coaching moments too like burning timeouts on both sides of the ball from personnel issues, probably could’ve used some of those timeouts late in this game… just a thought.
And the lack of balls on 4th down. Bill is coaching gutless right now. Could it be a result of not having Ernie Adams there anymore who used to make what apparently seems like all of the 4th down and challenge decisions?
The Pats have only gone for it 3 times so far this year, tied for the second least in the NFL with the Chiefs and behind the Seahawks. New England has still converted on two of these three 4th down attempts.
Similar to the Tampa game, it seemed like Bill was managing a loss before going for a win. Afraid to take chances with the offense and maybe he has good reason for it but what’s the point because what he’s done so far hasn’t worked. Maybe he doesn’t trust the offense yet but it’s starting to become time to if it hasn’t well been enough already.
At the end of the day the record speaks for itself. Last 28 games. 11-17, going roughly two years now. 11 of those 17 losses are 1 score losses.
So then, knowing it wasn’t ALL Brady, how close are we now to saying that Bill is closer to nothing than he is to something without Brady and Ernie Adams?
Season Record Prediction: 7-10
Since you’re only playing the Jets this week that means that after 7 weeks of the season you will be able to safely say that this Pats team has not beaten anyone good. Also, Miami continues to show you every week how embarrassing that week one loss to them at home really was.
0-4 at home by the way, last time that happened? 1993 – The year I was born and the year where both rookie quarterback Drew Bledsoe and head coach Bill Parcells started their tenure with the Patriots. They went 5-11 that season.
They don’t have the easiest schedule remaining so this could get ugly down the stretch. I don’t like the Patriots odds of beating any of the good teams remaining on their schedule. Maybe one but then they’ll drop one they shouldn’t. That’s why my prediction on the season has changed from wild card appearance to 7-10.
My biggest issue honestly is with the missed opportunities on offense from not ever going for it on 4th and coaching too conservatively which I think is killing chances to win games. I don’t see Bill changing his approach anytime soon.
Let’s hope I’m wrong.