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MORSE: 15 Observations from Week 8 – Patriots at Chargers

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
November 2, 2021 at 9:11 am ET

MORSE: 15 Observations from Week 8 – Patriots at Chargers(PHOTO: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 6 minutes

I stated I would wait until after the Patriots had played the Chargers before I would declare whether the team was a playoff contender or not.  Here they sit at 4-4 and have beaten an opponent with a winning record, on the road, after they came off a BYE week.   The Patriots are in the hunt!  The upcoming schedule is favorable for them to make a run.  Carolina is not playing well and maybe without Darnold (although that may be addition by subtraction), then they have Cleveland another 4-4 team they are competing with at home, then a trip to Atlanta.  All these are winnable games.

With that said, this was not the gem the Jets game was.  The Chargers came out fast (after the BYE week) and drove the field for a score.  They were able to do some self-scouting and extensive game-planning for the Patriots.  They ran the ball better than they have before this, aided by the 75-yard run by Justin Jackson.  The Chargers’ emphasis on the run game was exactly what the Patriots were giving them.  Let them run and minimize the passing game.  Eventually, this plan backfired on the Chargers.   The Patriots held an 8.98 Time of Possession advantage, 33.24 versus the Chargers’ 24.36.  Also, the Patriots ran 74 plays against 55 of the chargers,

  1. This was Mac Jones’s worst game as a Pro. He was 18 of 35, 51.4% for 218 yards, 0 TDs, and 0 INT.  His QB rating was 52.8.  The important stat here is the zero interceptions!  He was not the same after he took that BS cheapshot from Jerry Tillery.  In his post-game analysis on the 98.5 Sportshub post-game show by Greg Bedard where he said that Jones was sped up by the Chargers pressure.  He was never comfortable and struggled.  For the 1st time, he looked and played like a rookie.  However, you must give Jones and the coaching staff credit for that final drive that started with 9:15 left in the 4th  When The Chargers got the ball back there was 2:19 left and the Pats had scored an FG which made it a 10 point game.  Jones was 5 for 5 passing and the players were smart enough to stay in bounds and keep the clock running.  This drive was 14 plays, (no mistakes) and took up 6:56.  Despite the fact he was not having a great game, Jones came through when it mattered for the 4th Quarter, come from behind victory.
  2. Tillery’s hit was clearly after the whistle had been blown. All the Patriots had stopped playing and even Jones relaxed before the hit.  This shot Jones took affected him for the remainder of the half, as he went 2 for 9 for the remainder of the half.  Captain David Andrews was particularly upset in his post-game press conference.  He stated that 21 of 22 guys on the field heard the whistle.  When Bill Belichick was asked during his post-game interview he stated “I think you have to ask the league about that”.  How this was not a 15-yard, unsportsmanlike conduct, late hit, dead ball foul I don’t know.  That non-call could have swung the game for the Chargers.  Patriots would have had 1st and goal at the ½ foot line.  Instead, they try an ill-advised missed fade pass to Jakobi Meyers on 4th and one.
  3. That wasn’t the only screw-up by the officials. The Pats had 3rd and 5 from Chargers 6 yard line when Jones play-action passed to Hunter Henry.  Flag on the play for an obvious defensive holding penalty.  Officials got together and decided there was no penalty because Henry initially engaged to block.  The Chargers defender had his hand inside Henry’s jersey, holding his shoulder pads, and spun him around as he went out to catch the ball.  The ball was in the air and that constitutes defensive holding, if not pass interference.  CBS never brought in the rules expert and the color commentator tried to justify it by saying he was initially engaged.  You can’t hold while the ball is in the air!  There was a third incident when the Chargers defender had Jakobi Meyers around the waist as he came across the middle.  No call again!
  4. The officials had no problem calling holding against Justin Herron (as an eligible TE). They took away a beautiful 28 yard TD Run by Damien Harris.  It was on the opening drive of the 2nd  The Patriots had won the toss and deferred to the 2nd half.  With 10:51 left in the 3rd quarter, the Patriots had the ball at the Chargers 28 yard line, 2nd down and 5.  Two plays later, Kendrick Bourne had a 30-yard reception for what would have been a 1st down, except he fumbled, recovered by LA.   Harris had another big run nullified by a holding penalty by Isaiah Wynn.  It was at the Chargers 34 yard line, 1st and 10 with 5:42 left on the clock in the 3rd quarter.   This time it was a 23-yard run.  Pats settled for a 48 yard Field Goal.  That’s 51 yards that Harris had taken away.  He was much more productive than his stats indicated.
  5. Josh McDaniel’s play-calling left everyone shaking their heads.   He passed when he should have run.  He ran when he should have passed.  The Chargers were the worst team in the league against the run.  Pound that rock!  If LA was loading the box, give Jones the tools to make a call at the Line of Scrimmage (LOS) to change the play.  The worst call was a fade pass to Jakobi Meyers in the end zone on 4th and 1.  That’s not his type of play.
  6. The Defense won this game. They allowed 2 TDs on the first three drives by LA.  I thought at that point it was going to be a shootout.  From that point, the Pats defense held the Chargers to a Field Goal until the final minute Hail Mary TD (which Mills should have battered down).  The secondary held Herbert to 18of 35 and 223 yards (similar to Jones), 2 TDs, and 2 INTs.   Herbert had a 16 Quarterback rating.  His two worst games of his career have been against Bill Belichick and the Patriots.  The second INT was a pick 6, which put the Patriots ahead for good.   Justin Herbert said they were expecting the Patriots to play man defense and they disguised it well and played more cover two zone.  The defense held the Chargers to 4 of 12 on third down, which meant the defense was getting off the field.
  7. The Patriots’ wide receivers are below average. It appeared that Agholor could have made a couple more receptions of those long passes.  Bourne tried an arrow route that Julian Edelman made famous.  He would slide down the line in one direction and quickly go back where he came from.  Bourne tried that move but just doesn’t have the quickness to pull it off.  Hunter Henry was dancing at the LOS and was late getting out into his route, never got his head around and the pass hit him in the thigh.  Jakobi Myers doesn’t have the quickness for the fade pass.  The jury is still out on N’Keal Harry.
  8. With the trade deadline coming up, the Pats could also use a 3rd down back, somebody with the speed that could also run sweeps around the end. Phillip Lindsay of the Texans could fill that role, as could another Texan and former Patriot Rex Burkhead.  A slot receiver that should be available is former UMass Minuteman Andy Isabella.  Somebody would have to go and that would be Harry in my opinion.
  9. Got to give a shoutout to the Patriots fans in attendance at SoFi stadium. They were loud and proud.  At one point the announcer Ian Eagle noted how much noise the fans were making and that it was affection Chargers, QB Justin Herbert.   My friend Barry Inciong and his Patriots Tailgate Group organize away game tailgate parties.  Sand Diego was always one of the biggest and my wife and I had traveled there a couple of times.   The LA trip was not as big, but still, their presence was felt.
  10. Matt Judon was a beast all day and he was aided by the emerging star Christian Barmore.   Barmore was beating double team blocks and being disruptive all day.  Judon was putting pressure on Herbert and had another 1.5 sacks, 8 for the year.  On the flip side, except for a pass block, Deatrich Wise was getting manhandled and run over.
  11. The start of the day on Defense was Adrian Phillips with two INTs, one a pick 6. That was a great game against his old team that gave up on him.  Phillips has been outstanding for the past two seasons.  He is playing that hybrid LB/S.  Both he and Kyle Dugger have been sharing that role.  It was a total team effort on defense as the leading tackler was Dugger but he only had 6 tackles.
  12. Whoever advised Bill Belichick to challenge the holding call against the Chargers as being in the endzone, should be fired. I watched the replay before the challenge was made for that specific thing and it wasn’t even close.  That was the quickest replay review of all time.  The players were at the LOS waiting to run the next play when they came back from the commercial.
  13. How about the 40-second clock still running while there is pushing and shoving after a play is over?  By the time the officials cleared the scrum, the Patriots needed to call a timeout so they wouldn’t get a penalty.  That delaying tactic is strictly an advantage to the defense.  Something has to be done about this.
  14. Gunner Olszewski had a field day against the Chargers with 4 punt returns for 80 yards. He also chipped in with a 26 yard Kick Off return.  Overall the Patriots Special Team dominated the Chargers.  Bailey had 3 punts for an average of 48.66.  However, two of those were downed inside the 20.   The season’s 1st half Most Valuable Player has been Nick Folk with another 4 for 4 on Field Goals with two of those from 48 yards.  He also has another streak going with 24 straight Field Goals on the road!
  15. I have to acknowledge the NY Jets win over the now 5-3 Bengals.  Mike White threw for 400+ yards in the comeback victory.  I think that makes the Patriots pounding of the Jets last week that much sweeter.  Maybe our secondary isn’t as bad as it seemed when White was making his throws.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Patriots Victory & Panthers Preview

About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.

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