MORSE: 15 Observations From Game 4: Patriots vs Buccaneers
It was a terrific, entertaining, and competitive game. For the most part, I think the Patriots effort was strong, but the execution is still having far too many breakdowns.
- The Offensive line is in shambles. I think we need to look to the coaches as part of this problem. Since Dante Scarnecchia is no longer coaching and Carmen Bricillo needs to get some improvement from the players we have. Perhaps personnel changes need to be made. Isaiah Wynn needs to be replaced at Left Tackle. He was brutal, allowing pressures and sacks. Totally ineffective. Left Guard Michael Owenu had an awful game with two holding calls. He was benched and replaced by Ted Karras. Owenu was a Right Guard at Michigan and played well at Right Tackle last season. Perhaps asking Owenu to play on the left side is a mistake. Move him back to Right Tackle, especially since Trent Brown can’t get on the field. David Andrews has his head up his ass. He looks left and double teams the DT and leaves the front door wide open for a blitz by Devin White, who plastered Mac Jones. The ball is tipped and intercepted. Right Tackle is still a mess. Neither Yasir Durant nor Justin Herron can play the position. They are turnstiles. This was one of the worst teams for sacking the QB, yet they had constant pressure on Jones. Trent Brown was a no-go again this week. This injury is the single biggest issue. If this team wants to get better, then they have to improve the offensive line play. If they continue to play this way Mac Jones will not make it through the season. The Patriots had -1 yards rushing on eight carries.
- Kyle Van Noy is hurting the team with his sub-par performance. That interference on Fournette’s swing pass was the cherry on the sundae. That play set up Tampa Bay for the game-winning Field Goal. How does Tom Brady outrun you on your blitz for a key 1st down? Its the 4th quarter, 12:34 left on the clock, 3rd down and 6 and Van Noy is spying Brady, dancing with an O lineman at the line of scrimmage. Brady gets forced to run and Van Noy tries to just push him down rather than wrapping him up. First down, the drive goes on and this becomes the eventual game-winning Field Goal.
- The Officiating in this game was terrible. Mike Evans was pushing off JC Jackson all night. Finally, it was called at the end. Matt Judon was held numerous times around the neck and grabbing the outside of his shoulder pad. Josh Uche was held by Tristan Wirfs, holding the outside of his shoulder pads on a run around right end for a big gain. Brutal non-call. This was at the end of the 1st half, with 1:25 left on the clock and the ball at the Tampa Bay 9 yard line. Brady rolls to his right. Uche is clearly held and tries to break away and is spun around from the hold. Worse off, this should have been a safety and 2 points for the Pats and the possibility for more with a Free Kick coming. Brady, when rolling out, was actually in the end zone when the holding should have been called. I will admit the officials missed an obvious procedure call on Left Tackle Isaiah Wynn late in the game. The reversal of Jakobi Meyers fumble was shocking. I thought it was definitely a catch, football move, and fumble. How do the officials miss the leg whip by Antoine Winfield on the Harris tackle? The officials kept Tampa Bay in the game. Michael Owenu was called for a hold and the replay showed there wasn’t a hold. Lawrence Guy was called for hands to the face and the replay showed there were no hands to the face!
- Slater penalty nixes punt return turnover. The 15-yard personal foul penalty for not re-entering the playing field immediately after getting knocked out of bounds was a killer. Slater the gunner, was double-teamed and knocked out of bounds. Slater continued to run out of bounds and not come back into the field. However, Slater was also pushed again out of bounds by Tampa Bay. The defender crossed out of bounds to hit Slater, which is also a penalty that wasn’t called. Slater is an All-Pro and knows the rules. That penalty theoretically changed the game. The 15-yard penalty pushed them back inside the 20 and forced Bailey to kick from the end zone.
- Mac Jones played phenomenally considering what he was facing. Jones was 31 of 40 for 275 yards, 2 TDs, and an Interception. That interception was off the hands of Nelson Agholor and tipped to Tampa Bay. Jones was under constant pressure from multiple blitzes by Tampa Bay. I loved the no-huddle offense that Jones expertly executed. The Patriots were moving the ball and suddenly the Officials were standing over the ball, preventing the Patriots from running the play. It also allowed Tampa Bay to substitute. On the reverse side, Jones was throwing against a severely depleted secondary. He missed Hunter Henry on the next to last drive and threw to Meyers underneath, short of the 1st Hunter can be seen running free in the frame. On the last drive, the third-down play that was battered down, both safeties were blitzing and the deep middle of the field was wide open.
- The Pats defense didn’t do the job again at the end of the 1st half, allowing a Tampa Bay Field Goal. At the end of the game, the defense couldn’t come up with the big play. Another case of someone having a breakdown and not executing. They did hold Brady to just over 50% completion percentage, but couldn’t get off the field on key 3rd down conversions. Tampa Bay converted 9 of 19 3rd-down plays. The worst was Tom Brady’s scramble with 12:34 to go in the 3ed quarter. Kyle Van Noy took himself out of the play with an out-of-control pass rush and a little fake by Brady sent Van Noy sprawling. That 1st down kept the drive alive and ended in an eventual Field Goal (difference in the game).
- I didn’t like the decision by Belichick to try a 56 yard Field Goal in the rain. Nick Folk has had a wonderful streak of made Field Goals, but asking him to kick that Field Goal in the rain and with an injured plant knee is too much. Folk has not made a 56 yard Field Goal in 11 years.
- This week was all about Tom Brady. I was sick of it by game time. I thought the Patriots fans handled themselves with class. They cheered for him prior to the game, when he 1st came on the field after the tribute the Patriots presented before the kickoff, However, when Brady stepped on the field for the Tampa Bay 1st series, they showered him with boos and let him have it as the opposition QB. His performance was mediocre on the field as the Patriots held him just over 50% completion percentage and no TDs.
- Tampa Bay’s secondary was severely depleted. Perhaps Mac Jones should have done better against this bunch of backups and street free agents. The fact that Richard Sherman started the game after signing just 5 days ago showed how desperate Tampa Bay was. Sherman couldn’t cover my grandmother (and she is deceased). Then they lost Carl Davis and later Antoine Winfield. Jones, should have thrown the ball downfield more.
- The defensive coaching deserves some criticism here as well. This week we have a key 12 men on the field penalty called against the defense. Later we have to take a timeout in the 4th quarter because we can’t get the personnel straight on the field. That’s coaching and Steve Belechick is not doing the job. Close-ups of Steve Belichick didn’t do him any favors as he looks like an idiot with his mullet and tongue sticking out. Does anyone think he would be the defensive coordinator (whether or not he has the official title) if his dad wasn’t the head coach? Having to call a timeout because you can’t figure out who should be on the field was typical of the indecision on the sideline. That timeout was called while the clock was stopped too.
- The JJ Taylor fumble was a key play in the game. The Patriots forced a 3 and out deep in Tampa Bay territory. They got a good Punt Return from Gunner Olzsewski of 11 yards to the Tampa Bay 38. Two plays later it was 1st and 10 at the Tampa Bay 28. With 11:11 on the clock in the 3rd quarter, Taylor flares out of the backfield and turns upfield. The Tampa Bay defender, I believe it was Antoine Winfield, who tackled the ball with his helmet directly on the ball. In Taylor’s defense. He had two hands wrapped around the ball. Perhaps he was running too high, which allowed the defender to put his hat on the ball. Whenever a defender is able to hit the ball with his helmet, the result is a fumble. From that point on, Taylor is sent to purgatory and only played as the kickoff returner.
- The overall defensive game plan was solid. The Patriots utilized a Big Nickel defensive backfield with 5 DBs including Adrian Phillips and Jon Jones. When they went to a Dime package they had Kyle Dugger in. The Patriots dared Tampa Bay to run and they did to some extent. Leonard Fournette had a good day running 20 times for 91 yards. But when he was running, the Bucs weren’t passing. I thought JC Jackson did a great job on Mike Evans. Evans made 7 catches (75 yards) but was targeted 12 times. Several of those catches were because Evans pushed off to get separation. One was when Evans grabbed Jackson to prevent him from making the interception. Jon Jones did an adequate job one-on-one against Antonio Brown who was 7 for 11 (63 yards). An indication that the Patriots were going to employ this type of defense was the call-up from the practice squad of DB Myles Bryant who saw some limited action.
- Nelson Agholor has not impressed me so far this season. He has failed to take the top off the defense with deep routes and has dropped or allowed balls off his hands for an interception. This week he failed to completely come back to the ball and sat down on his route. This allowed the DB to jump the route and nearly pick off the pass for what would have been a TD. Agholor caught it and made the 1st. He was immediately criticized by analyst Chris Collingsworth a former NFL wideout himself.
- This was the best game for the new FA signees. Both TEs were good, Hunter Henry had 3 receptions on 5 targets and a TD. Jonnu Smith was 3 for 5 and a TD. They were an integral part of the offense. Henry was also open on the last play before the go-ahead FG. Matt Judon was a force all night long. He had 7 tackles, a sack, and 2 tackles for loss. He was also held a couple of other times (not called) and had a clean QB hit on Brady. Jalen Mills played well.
- How does the offensive line allow rookie Joe Tyron-Shoyinka two sacks? I re-watched the 1st Patriots series where Tyron-Shoyinka came in clean for the sack. Tyron-Shoyinka moves to the outside of Isaiah Wynn, then cuts inside. Vita Vea has cut across the face of C David Andrews. Normally, Mike Owenu would be there to pick up Vea. However, he is pulling right to sell the play-action fake to RB Harris. Vea rushing upfield forces Jones has to step up, right into the waiting arms of Tyron-Shoyinka who has beaten Wynn in this wide-open area. The second sack is another play by Vea who is shading the outside of Owenu left shoulder and angling in toward Center David Andrews. Vea takes Owenu, and drives him down the line and into Isaiah Wynn, knocking him out of the play. Center David Andrews, seeing Vea going to his left, moved to help Shaq Mason on his right. Tyron-Shoyinka looped right into the vacant hole and sacked Jones. Finally, the Interception thrown by Jones was a direct result of a free rush by inside LB Devin White. It was a delayed blitz where Andrews looks left and helps Owenu. He never looks back and White has a clear path to Jones.
This team could easily be 4-0 this season but for several recurring problems. First, there are far too many breakdowns by veteran players. On every play, they need all 11 players to be on the same page. One breakdown and the play is broken up or the Defense gives up a big play. Second, ball security is not a priority of the playmakers. It is Bill Belichick’s priority but that does not seem to be getting through to the players. Third, the Defense is not creating turnovers. The only win came when they had 4 interceptions against a rookie QB. They are losing the turnover battle. Fourth, the lack of big plays on offense. Jones threw two TD passes, one short of the goal line and the other at the 1 on a play-action that froze the LB and Safeties. Jones needs time to throw downfield.
What would you think if the Patriots could be 4-4 at the mid-point (17 games) of the season? It is a real possibility. Houston and NY Jets should be wins. Can they beat Dallas at home? It is going to take time and as each game comes, Mac Jones will get better and all those new free agent players will become accustomed to the Patriots way. I would have loved to be in the room when Bill Belichick reviewed the game film of last nights game.
Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Season
This analysis is way too negative. Yes, many things didn’t go right, but there were bright spots as well. Just thinking about the game, many people would have been skeptical that the Patriots would be on the verge of taking the lead with less than a minute to go. What a game – I am proud of the Pats for what they we able to get right. I can’t fault BB for trying the FG at the end when the kicker has been so reliable. He hit the goalpost, so certainly not an unreasonable gamble. My biggest concern is the… Read more »