Patriots Report Card: New England Fails to Respond, Drops Two in a Row
The New England Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday afternoon.
Here’s how the Patriots graded out in week 13. —
The Patriots were short-handed on Sunday and fell flat on their face. Poor blocking, subpar receiver play and almost no run game brought the once juggernaut offense to a fault. Tom Brady made some questionable decisions and clearly looks frustrated by the unit’s performance.
It’s clear this offense isn’t the same without Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. Defenses are able to dictate coverages and New England seems to be searching for answers. While the offense use to be able to matriculate the ball down the field with ease, they are now favoring trick plays and deep shots, with little-to-no faith in their current personnel.
New England’s defense didn’t lose them the game Sunday, but they didn’t win it either. The Eagles offense didn’t put up big numbers. In fact, they only scored 14 points on the afternoon. But they made plays when they needed to. Both Philadelphia touchdowns came on third down, an area that’s troubled the Pats defense in recent weeks.
Jamie Collins returned in a big way, making plays all over the field and stripping Eagles tailback Kenjon Barner in the fourth quarter to give New England a late chance.
Logan Ryan has been solid, showing development over the past several weeks, but back-to-back weeks he’s given up plays when the unit absolutely needed to get off the field. Riley Cooper’s third down catch in the fourth quarter was a punch in the stomach as the the Pats tried to rally.
Special Teams: F
Special teams was the main factor in New England dropping their second loss of the season and their first back-to-back losses since 2012.
The Patriots dominated opponents in special teams through the first ten weeks, but against the Eagles, New England had too many mental and psychical errors to overcome. Anytime you have a blocked punt and punt return for touchdowns you’re facing an uphill battle.
Joe Judge, New England’s special team’s coach, has received praise throughout the course of the year — but the team wasn’t ready for this week’s challenge.
There’s a fine line between aggressive and arrogant, New England crossed it Sunday. Up 14-0, they attempted a rare dropkick with Nate Ebner that gave the Eagles a short field. Philadelphia scored on the drive and momentum shifted, their sideline was given life, after punting their first four offensive possessions.
The onside kick attempts later in the game aren’t as important. New England was looking for a play, it worked once, failed the subsequent time. It happens. But the unit’s game-changing errors early on in the contest were simply too much to overcome.
This was an incredibly frustrating loss. New England is a better football team, but give the Eagles credit, they capitalized on their errors to win this contest. You don’t see the Patriots make those type of mistakes very often. Bill Belichick got caught up trying to out-trick the unorthodox Chip Kelly, but it came back to bite him.
As much praise the Patriots coaching staff receives, deservedly so, they also deserve blame for this loss.
Sure, the team is banged up and missing key players, but no blaming the officials this week. Instead, Pats fans watched their team give up two touchdown leads in consecutive weeks after starting the year unbeaten. It won’t get any easier this week, going on the road to face the Houston Texans in primetime Sunday night. Back to the drawing board.
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