By: Ian Logue
It’s pretty obvious that the Patriots offense still has a few growing pains to get through.
Following Friday night’s game down in Tampa Bay Tom Brady admitted that his team is still struggling to find a rhythm offensively, and it’s clear there are still quite a few problems that need to be sorted out. They’re still dealing with the fact their offensive line isn’t where it needs to be, which is leading to the veteran quarterback getting knocked around and their runningbacks having some trouble gaining yards.
It was a frustrating night for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. (FILE:USPresswire)
Against a tough Buccaneers defense, like last week against Philadelphia, they struggled. Overall through the first two quarters they had a total of 8 carries where they failed to gain a yard, including three rushes for negative yardage. For Brady he was forced into several bad throws, one of which got picked off and turned into points for the Buccaneers.
It’s not exactly the type of performance they were probably hoping for in what was basically their “dress rehearsal” for the season, and it started on their opening drive.
They opened with an 8-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski, but Stevan Ridley failed to gain a yard on 2nd or 3rd down, which forced them to punt.
On their next drive trailing 7-0 and deep in their own end, Brady was sacked for an 8-yard loss and fumbled the football, with Spencer Larsen fortunately recovering it.
“It was just holding onto the ball too long,” said Brady when asked after the game about what happened. “Brandon [Bolden] was starting to work away from the coverage and they just got me as I was throwing the ball. Gotta try to eliminate those and try to eliminate…turnovers certainly kill us. Those just aren’t very good plays.”
The next play went even worse, with Brady trying to force the ball on 3rd down to Rob Gronkowski who had three defenders around him. The ball ended up being tipped into the hands of Buccaneers safety Mark Barron, who returned it 22-yards for a touchdown and allowed Tampa Bay to take a 14-0 lead.
On their next drive Brady and the offense put together a 12-play 81 yard drive that ended in a 1-yard run by Stevan Ridley, which cut the lead to 14-7. However, they stalled again and punted on their next three drives, including 2 three and outs. Two field goals later the Buccaneers increased their lead and the Patriots trailed 20-7 at the half.
“We didn’t do anything offensively except lose yardage and turn the ball over,” said a clearly frustrated Belichick after the game. “It was tough to watch any of we did offensively, there wasn’t anything. Throw them the ball, can’t make any yards in the running game, third and long all day. Yeah, it was real hard to watch.”
Belichick kept his first offense in the game into the third quarter, but New England went 3-and-out to open the second half, and they punted yet again on their second possession. One more Buccaneers field goal later they trailed 23-7, but New England finally managed to string together a scoring drive that featured a 24-yard pass to Aaron Hernandez up the sideline to put them into Buccaneers territory. The drive later ended with a 16-yard touchdown strike to Gronkowski, ending the evening for the offense but it still left a bad taste in what should have been a statement game for what was thought to potentially be a very potent and dangerous offense.
For now with one preseason game to go they’ll need to try and make sure they’re able to finally have one good showing before they start playing games that count. According to Brady the focus is going to be everyone making sure they’re doing what they need to do individually, so that the end result starts to ultimately work out better for everyone.
“I just think the point is we have to do things a lot better,” said Brady. “It’s every position, it’s every player, we all have to do better job at our job. And if we all individually do that collectively, we’ll be better at it. So hopefully we can put together a good week and go down to the Giants and play a good game and get us prepared for our opener.”