It feels like the Patriots are right back in the thick of the playoff race after the big win over the LA Chargers. The reality is that they are right where they were before the stunning shutout of the Chargers. Every team above them also won.
Let’s put the Chargers game into perspective. I have never seen an NFL team play such poor special teams in a game like LA did. They were always starting from poor field position thanks to Jake Bailey’s punting. LA constantly shot themselves in the foot. Twelve men on the field in punt return gave the Pats a 1st down and continued a drive, a missed FG, giving up a long Punt Return for a TD, and the unforgivable blocked punt for a TD.
Did you know that LA coach Anthony Lynn told his players last week they were not going to make the playoffs? They played like it. They quit in the second half.
Cam Newton was not good, completing 50% of his passes for a measly 69 yards. That is unacceptable. Jarret Stidham mopped up but was 2 for 3 for 61 yards and a TD. His only incompletion was to N’Keal Harry, who was open but the throw was behind him. Stidham was pressured on the play by Bosa, who beat Owenu (one of the few misses all season). Stidham looked like a QB and was fluid in his motion. They let him throw late in the game when it was clearly already over.
The LA Rams are a different story. They are 8-4 in the toughest division in the NFL. They can run, pass, play defense and have good special teams. This is not the same team the Pats beat in the Super Bowl. They have Cooper Kupp available. He didn’t play in the Super Bowl. Gurley is gone. He was a shell of himself and was pulled early in the Super Bowl. McVay won’t be the same “deer in the headlights” he was during the Super Bowl.
Jared Goff threw for 351 yards on 37-of-47 attempts. He is much improved. Robert Woods has really come into his own. Josh Reynolds is their 3rd WR. He would be #1 on the Pats. Former Pat Shawn Jefferson’s son Van is their 4th wideout. I thought the Pats were interested in Van Jefferson during the draft.
At RB they have rookie Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson. Malcolm Brown gets an occasional carry. At TE they have Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. Last week Goff completed passes to 9 different receivers including both TE’s.
On defense all you have to say is Aaron Donald. He is a disruptor. The Pats contained him in the Super Bowl. Nobody has since! The Rams like to play split safeties 50% of the time. I don’t expect they will be that stubborn this time. They will adjust and should stack the box and force Cam Newton to do what he can’t, and that is throw. Josh McDaniel has broken from their tendency to run on 1st down and given Newton a chance at a higher percentage completions. He just can’t throw, is late to diagnose the blitz and makes too many mechanical mistakes to overcome with his strong arm. Don’t be surprised if Newton gets lifted if he can’t get his completion percentage up.
This is a must win game for the Patriots especially with the three remaining games all against divisional opponents. If they can pull out a win on the road, after a short week, against a better opponent, that will boost them for the stretch drive.
Notes: The Patriots signed a couple of player to the Practice Squad. One of them was former BYU DB Danyon Lake (Ghanwoloku). He went by Ghanwoloku at BYU. He played in the NFK Collegiate All Star game. He had a big strip and fumble recovery against … Rashod Berry, Patriots TE/DE. Lake ran a 4.41 40, 4.25 short shuttle and 6.85 three cone drill which is the most important to the Patriots. Lake excels on special teams as well as being always around the ball. He had 7 INTs and 7 fumble recoveries. He was 2nd on the team in tackles while playing Safety.
Berry was called up and returned to the Practice team, but he played well and had a key block on the Olszewski Punt Return TD. I liked his hustle after making his initial block and beat his man down the field and set a screen to insure Olszewski got into the end zone. He even got some snaps on D late in the game.
Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Season