Who would you blame for the Patriots offense being this bad? If you are a Patriots fan then last Thursday night should have put things into perspective for you. This Patriots team is not good enough to compete in the AFC this year. When looking at the entire landscape of the AFC playoff picture there is one team that the Patriots have proven they are better than and that’s the lowly New York Jets.
Excluding the Jets, the Patriots are winless against playoff teams this season. In the four losses they have against playoff teams they have lost by an average of 11 points and have scored an average of 17 points in those games. Not to mention that they still have to face Cincinnati, Miami, and Buffalo to finish the final three weeks of the season.
Patriots Offense Against The Bills
New England’s inconsistencies this season have driven fans to the point of complete and utter madness with their ineptitudes. When looking at last Thursday’s game against the Bills, the only touchdown the Patriots could create would be from a “trick play” on a screen pass to cornerback Marcus Jones. Understanding that screen passes in nature are as simple of a play as possible but throwing it to your punt returning cornerback is not the best way to generate offense when you spend the second most money on receivers in the NFL. You know looking from the outside in that there is a problem when you have a receiver, who you drafted in the second round, who you don’t trust to throw the ball to in that situation.
The Patriots offense had 14 first down compared to Buffalo’s 22. The Patriots offense was 3-12 on third down while Buffalo was 9-15. If the Patriots want to compete with the top teams in the AFC they are going to have to do much better than that.
Matt Patricia Needs To Go
I have been beating this drum all year long and I am going to continue doing so. Matt Patricia needs to be relieved of play calling duties. Patricia has no situational awareness as a play caller and also just seems to have no feel for it either. I place about sixty percent of the Patriots offensive problems on him. If you look at the play calling throughout the season it has just been terrible, and on third down consistently.
The play called on third down, especially the passing plays, make you think about what is going on. Example, the Patriots passing attack on third down should have the receivers either going at or beyond the first down markers and rarely if ever is that the case. Patriots players are even critical of the third down play calling.
Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne was very critical after the game against the Bills.
“We need to scheme up better,” Bourne said. “… That’s not my job, my job is to just run the call, but as we all can see, they had what — 30 first downs and we had eight? So something they were doing against us is working and something we’re doing against them isn’t working, so it’s just about figuring it out each week. We’ve still got life, but we need to hurry and pick it up.”
The Patriots offense currently sit at 25th in the NFL on third down at 36% but in their last three games they are 26% on third down. If you are a playoff team you don’t go 26% in third down and expect to win.
Although Belichick has stated that he has no intention of changing play callers at this point of the season, I think he will have to think long and hard about what he should do for next year because that decision could ultimately cost him his job at some point.
The Patriots offensive line is about twenty to twenty five percent of this issue. The offensive line, especially the tackles, have struggled for the majority of the season. Trent Brown looks absolutely lost out on the field at times and Kirk Herbstreit made a very interesting point on the broadcast Thursday night. When discussing why Trent Brown was cut blocking during a replay he said that it was because when all else fails as a pass blocker, cut him. When your 6’8” tackle cannot even block someone and he is resorting to cut blocking to protect his quarterback then you are in trouble.
Patriots fans may have noticed him in the Minnesota and Jets games doing the same thing at times. Although he was battling through a sickness on Thursday and gutted it out to play, his performances this year have gotten Jones and Zappe almost hurt and got Hoyer hurt for sure in Green Bay. If the Patriots even make the playoffs it is just going to be another game of watching Mac Jones run for his life. Also the Patriots offensive line coach, Matt Patricia.
Mac Jones is 93/132 for 970 yards and four touchdowns since his return. Yes he did throw a ball that should’ve been picked by Jordan Poyer and he should have thrown that ball away for sure. If you sit here and say Mac Jones is not the guy for the future I will entertain those thoughts but if you think he is this offense’s problem as of late you are flat out wrong.
Yes there are times that he does something that makes you scratch your head but he also is starting to take more shots at times. Thursday was a game in which play calling was a huge issue and they could not take shots downfield because the offensive line could not block the Bills three man rush but Jones needs to take some accountability here.
One thing that all good quarterbacks in this league do, regardless of their individual situations, is that they make the players around them better. As we were spoiled here in New England for so many years with Tom Brady he was able to do so. We saw him elevate receivers like Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson at times in 2013. We also saw him get the ball out fast to his playmakers when the offensive line struggled at times.
I see Jones trying to get the ball out fast to his play makers before the line collapses in on him but his throws at times are inconsistent. I do not think that he elevates players around him, I think that he takes the easy option and likes to pad his stats at times. He was clearly frustrated with the play calling, as so many Patriots fans are too, and he voiced his frustrations on the sidelines.
When the Bills were rushing three and four for the majority of the game and then they can have eight guys drop back in coverage just smothering the receivers what else can Jones do? The point is that you cannot win football games when your offense is in shambles like this. It is impossible to fix at this point of the season and all the Patriots offense can do is bandaid it up until the offseason when they address these issues.