15 Observations of Game 3 versus New Orleans Saints
To honor Julian Edelman, I chose to “borrow” the title of his popular segment on Inside the NFL. The title is “What are we doing?” I decided to write this article while I am steaming mad at the Patriots’ performance today. I screamed “What are we doing?” several times during the game. This may have been one of the worst home losses I can remember.
- The high-priced talent that Bill Belichick signed this off-season is just not working out. Jonnu Smith should have immediately gone into the witness protection program. His play on Sunday was criminal. Four drops, one for a gift pick 6 TD for New Orleans to start the second half. Add to that a holding call that was refused. However to be fair to Smith, that was not holding but a pancake block.
- The James White injury seemed to be innocuous. It wasn’t! I am no doctor, but that looked like his femur got jammed into the hip socket. Bo Jackson’s career ended on this type of injury. Hoping for the best, especially for everything that White has gone through the last couple of years. He only signed a 1-year show-me type of contract. I did read that Dr. David Chao, a former NFL Doctor tweeted that it was a subluxation of the hip (partial dislocation). This was similar to what happened to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Expect White to be put on IR. I hope he will be able to return, but he is likely gone for the year and his career might be in jeopardy. He was sorely missed.
- Jones threw 51 passes. If they are going to continue this pattern, they are going to get Mac Jones killed. Jones has a knee injury, which he aggravated while sliding after a run. He eventually tossed the knee brace. Jones was pummeled in the game as New Orleans registered 11 QB hits and 2 sacks. Jones was 31 of 50 for 270 yards, 1TD, and 3 INTs. The first Interception was when he got hit by blitzing LB Kaden Elliss. The second was a gift from Jonnu Smith that led to a pick 6 and changed the game. The final interception was at the end of the game when Jones was forcing it. I don’t blame Jones for this loss. His play didn’t lose the game. He was under constant pressure. One telling stat was his 12 passing attempts of over 20 yards, he only had one completion and threw one INT. Evan Lazar had an interesting tweet about his discussion after the game with Mac Jones about those running plays to Brandon Bolden in the red zone. Jones admitted he needs to stick with the play that was called, alluding that he checked out of the play sent in. He has to know his personnel better than to check into those runs especially 3rd and 1 with the Special Team /4th string RB.
- Damien Harris was benched after he whiffed on a pass block of blitzing CB CJ Gardner –Johnson. That was on the second series for the Pats. The 5-yard sack made it 2nd and 15 from the NE 20. JJ Taylor came in for Harris and the patriots telegraphed they were running a screenplay and Taylor lost another yard. Poor play-calling and execution. Harris didn’t play again until late in the 4th quarter.
- Josh McDaniel’s play-calling and personnel package decisions were awful all day. Inside the Red Zone, the Patriots still have not attempted a pass to the end zone. On the Brandon Bolden runs inside the Red Zone, I thought the first run was going to be a nice change-up after so many passes, it wasn’t and Bolden was stopped for no gain. On the second run, Evan Lazar reported that Jones admitted to him that he checked out of the original play. The play calling gets conservative when they get in the Red Zone.
- The lack of speed of the Patriots’ WRs is showing. Several of the long passes Jones made should have been caught if the WRs had any speed. Kendrick Bourne is no faster than Jokobi Meyers, who went undrafted because of his lack of speed. Agholor is supposed to have speed but I haven’t seen it yet. On the other side, Deonte Harris made three big catches mostly based upon his speed.
- The Offensive Line was truly offensive! Eleven QB hits and two sacks on a total of 53 dropbacks. Justin Herron had a rough day trying to singlehandedly block Cameron Jordan. Six total pressures by Jordan (3 QB hits and 3 QB Hurries). Isaiah Wynn is also not playing well, giving up 3 QB pressures. The only lineman playing well is Michael Onwenu who is ranked as the #2 OG in the league. He had a 90.0 rating by PFF. The #1 OG is Zach Martin and he has only played 62 snaps so far this year. Owenu did give up one of the sacks. The return of a healthy Trent Brown is imperative. I think the Patriots are wearing thin of the play by Isaiah Wynn and wouldn’t be surprised to see Yodny Cajuste given some snaps at LT. It all starts with OL and they are not handling the stunts the opposition is throwing at them. The best example was the 1st interception of Jones with 2:54 left in the 2nd. It was 3rd and 10 and the Saints blitz ILB Kaden Elliss for 5 rushers on 6 blockers. Bolden stayed in to help block Cam Jordan at LDE. Tanoh Kapassagnon, usually a DE, lined up at LDT and he looped left across David Andrews’s face. Elliss came down from Left ILB and picked off Andrews, driving him back towards the line of scrimmage. Elliss then reversed pivoted right into the space that Mac Jones was stepping up into. Jones was unable to follow through and the ball fluttered for the INT.
- Kyle Van Noy’s play has been abysmal. The lack of communication on the 11 yard TD catch by Kamara was just awful. Another of those “What are we doing?” moments. Van Noy was playing outside leverage on Kamara and seemed to just let him go to the inside. There was nobody home. It appeared that Adrian Phillips trailed a Saints receiver across the middle and created that huge hole. Kyle Dugger said today that it wasn’t a miscommunication or breakdown. If that is the case then it’s poor coaching to leave KVN one-on-one vs Kamara. On another pass play, Van Noy was ineffective blitzing and was held up at the LOS. Winston is scrambling around and Van Noy has given up on the play and is just standing around. I can see why Miami got rid of him so quickly. I also noticed that Dante Hightower was again relieved in the late stages of the 4th quarter by Jahlani Tavai who was just elevated from the Practice Squad for the game.
- The Patriots started the game with three straight 3 and outs (3 plays and failure to get the 1st down). Poor execution and poor play calling. Harris had a 7 yard run on the first play then 5 straight passes. In the second series, Harris missed his block on blitzing CB CJ Gardner- Johnson for a 5-yard sack. The Patriots had no 1st downs in the first quarter.
- Players that had a good game for the Patriots included Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux. Barmore had 3 QB hurries. Kyle Dugger also was noticeable on the field making plays behind the Line Of Scrimmage.
- How did the defense not come up with the Interception when Dugger had Winston around the legs and he threw up a prayer into the end zone that Marquez Callaway came down with over Jon Jones?
- The defense actually played pretty well up until the final drive of the game. On that drive, New Orleans ran the ball 10 times for 56 yards and a TD. The big play was the 3rd and 11 catch by Deonte Harris for 12 yards and a 1st down that kept the drive alive. For the game, the Saints ran 38 times for 142 yards. In that last drive, they were 10 rushes for 56 yards and a TD. Taysom Hill ran the wildcat for 32 yards and the TD. If you took that last drive away, the Saints were 28 for 86 and a 3-yard average.
- Since we mentioned Deonte Harris, the Assumption WR was a huge performer for New Orleans. On their 1st scoring drive in the 1st quarter, it was Harris’ 12 yard gain on 3 and 11 that kept the drive alive. In the 4th quarter on that final drive, he again kept a drive alive. He had a 3rd catch for 7 yards and had a 25-yard punt return. Harris also made a good decision not to field a Kickoff that went out of bounds at the 1-yard line. That moved the ball to the 40-yard line for excellent starting field position. How did the Patriots miss this gem in their own backyard?
- New Orleans’s defense, especially their run defense is one of the best in the league. They held the Pats to 49 yards rushing and made them one-dimensional. They put pressure on the kid and forced him to take the underneath throws which they could defend. When healthy they have two excellent CB’s in Lattimore and Gardner-Johnson. So credit must be given to them for holding down the Patriots’ offense.
- Take away the 1st TD by making the stop on 3rd down 10 (Harris catch for 12). Then the INT return to the 9-yard line, Hail Mary toss by Winston into the End Zone that should have been INT, instead caught for a TD. Third, Jonnu Smith gift INT for a pick-six and finally the long drive at the end that could have been stopped yet again for a clutch play by Harris on 3rd and long for another 12-yard catch and 1st down to keep the drive alive. The Patriots just had too many breakdowns all over the board as David Andrews said in his interview after the game. We need all 11 players doing their job, one breakdown, and the play is broken down. That sums it up perfectly. Too many breakdowns from coaches, to players on offense, defense, and special teams. Let’s hope we get to .500 by the 8th game of the season and see what kind of team we have then!
Bonus – Poor Special Teams – when is the last time you saw the Patriots outplayed on Special teams. They had a Punt blocked, Kicked a kick-off out of bounds, and gave up a 25 punt return. So far this year, they are a far cry from the number one Special Teams unit in the NFL. Bill Bellichick has 8 players dedicated to special teams play on the roster. That’s too many for this type of poor performance.
Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Season
Mac Jones has a knee injury? Says who? AFAIK, he’s wearing that knee brace to prevent an injury, not because he has an injury.