Some quick thoughts on some things coming off of a disappointing New England Patriots loss on Sunday:
1) Looking back on how things started on Sunday, it was surprising the way New England seemingly set the tone on their first drive, with Mac Jones hitting three straight passes that included four runs split between Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson as they attacked Miami inside.
They started from their own 25 before driving down to the Dolphins 22, with the drive ending in an interception. But prior to the turnover, where the ball was deflected on what should have been a defensive pass interference penalty but ended up getting picked, New England clearly had success moving the football. That was something Belichick talked about quite a bit in two media appearances on Monday, noting that there were simply too many opportunities missed that cost them.
Obviously, the turnover was a frustrating result on a throw were Jones simply didn’t quite get enough under it along with the fact DeVante Parker was held and kept from being able to make a play, which allowed Jevon Holland to snag the deflection for the turnover.
“It was a big play in the game but it wasn’t a seven point play like the other two were,” said Belichick on Monday. “It was a close play. [Xavien ] Howard made a good play on the ball and then it ended up, which most of those end up on the ground, and that one ended up back up in the air and Holland came over and got it. It was a good play on their part, kind of went their way.”
2) The ensuing drive by Miami was probably the first sign that the club was potentially in for a long day, with the 4th-and-1 at midfield ending in frustrating fashion after Carl Davis was called for a neutral zone infraction penalty, which allowed the Dolphins to extend the drive.
From there, a 23-yard catch and run play to Tyreek Hill against Jonathan Jones was tough, although Jones actually made a terrific play to punch the ball out but it ended up out of bounds before New England had a chance to recover it.
The same thing happened on a terrific play by Deatrich Wise to knock the ball out on a 3rd-and-6, but the Patriots couldn’t come up with that one either. Miami ended up kicking a field goal to take the early 3-0 lead. It’s not every day you see three missed opportunities on one drive, but that was a sign of things to come on what turned out to be a rough afternoon.
In the second half, we saw another good start, with New England putting together their first scoring drive of the afternoon on their first offensive possession where they drove 92-yards on 15 plays and it ended with a touchdown pass from Jones to Ty Montgomery to get them back within 10 at 17-7. That was a drive that also saw them go to the hurry up, which oddly enough, they didn’t go back to despite the fact they had success with it on that drive.
But the play calling as a whole felt a little disjointed, with not a lot of calls seemingly being made consistently. While it may have just been week one, that remains a big question but there were enough bright spots to make you believe the talent is there, provided they can figure things out.
3) Belichick seems to firmly believe that and echoed that sentiment, noting that they did a lot of good things to move the ball but just didn’t take advantage.
Looking at the numbers, he’s not wrong. The Patriots finished yesterday’s contest with 271 total net yards, not far off from Miami’s final total of 307. They also had 17 first downs (the Dolphins had 18) and had close to the same conversion rate as the Dolphins on third down (44.4% vs 42.9% for Miami). They also ran just 5 fewer offensive plays (54 vs 59 for the Dolphins). They were also 1-of-1 in the red zone (Miami was 0-for-2) and only had the football for five fewer minutes.
But turnovers and untimely mistakes are what cost them, which Belichick admitted was an issue, along with the fact they just didn’t take advantage of what opportunities they did have.
“We moved it, there wasn’t a lot of three-and-outs in the game,” said Belichick on WEEI. “[We had] the strip sack, that was a bad drive but otherwise, for the most part, we were able to move the ball, we were able to get the ball to or across midfield but we weren’t able to materialize that into enough points. So the drives that come up short, all came up short for one reason or another. We had one touchdown drive but we’ve just got to do a better job of finishing the drives and coming out with points once we get into the opponent’s side of the 50 and we didn’t do a good job of that yesterday.”
4) One topic of conversation that everyone is wondering about is why wide receiver Kendrick Bourne only saw two snaps on Sunday, which came late in the game and one resulted in a 41-yard reception that got New England into Miami territory. Unfortunately, two plays later, Nelson Agholor lost the football after making a reception, which saw the Dolphins recover it and eventually run out the clock.
“I thought KB did a great job of stepping in there when we needed him and made a big play for us,” said Belichick. “He’s a good player and I’m sure he’ll have plenty of opportunities as all of our skill players will going forward. So we’ll see how it all plays out.”
When asked why Bourne didn’t see action until that point, Belichick deflected and wouldn’t give an answer.
“It just kind of worked out that way,” he said of Bourne. “It wasn’t anything that was specifically avoided. It just didn’t work out.”
It was certainly obvious at times yesterday, especially in the heat, that the Patriots could have used another skill position player on the field against a Miami defense that was obviously playing well. Why Bourne was a spectator remains a key question and given the pounding Jones took, having him back out there Sunday in Pittsburgh certainly seems like something we need to see happen.
5) Speaking of Jones, after suffering an apparent back injury yesterday, of which the x-rays reportedly came back negative, his status is now in question heading into this week.
Jones finished the afternoon 21-of-31 for 213-yards along with one touchdown and one interception but given the way Miami’s defense played, every yard was a grind and it’s clear that there is still quite a bit of work ahead.
Belichick, of course, offered little on his status, saying that they’re still evaluating him.
“We’ll see,” said Belichick. “Again, I’ve learned from many years of experience in doing this with so many different players and teams that there’s a lot of different variation on where players are right after the game from where they are 12-18 hours after the game. We’ll see where things are this morning and go from there.”
It’s tough to say exactly when the injury occurred but the second year quarterback was a little slow to get up after getting hit late in the game on a play where a roughing the passer penalty was negated due to a chop block call against David Andrews. Jones was hit both low and then drilled high, twisting him around which saw him land awkwardly on his back. However, he ended up right back in the huddle and didn’t miss a play, although his straight-line throws from that point didn’t look quite right.
Jones is scheduled to talk to the media later today both in Foxboro and in his weekly radio appearance on WEEI this afternoon.
6) For anyone who is lamenting this loss, you can take a little solace in the fact that Aaron Rodgers suffered a comparable defeat by a similar margin out in Minnesota on Sunday after falling 23-7 on the road to the Vikings.
That game, where Rodgers finished with a stat line that wasn’t far off from Jones, saw Rodgers finish just 22-of-34 for 195-yards and an interception.
Green Bay lost that one in similar fashion, with their overall numbers almost mirroring those of Minnesota. Like New England, turnovers and untimely penalties ultimately cost them the game, which saw the Packers also fall on the road to their division rivals to start the 2022 season.
For now, it’s a frustrating loss but there are still 16 games remaining in a season with far more football still left to be played. The Patriots are simply forced to join the Packers and quite a few other teams, who now have to figure out what went wrong yesterday before putting this one behind them and moving on to Week 2.
“It’s a race against time,” said Belichick. “Everybody’s trying to improve quickly and have a good record in the early part of the season and get stronger as the year goes on. That’s the National Football League. It’s the same thing for everybody.”
Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Season
Tags: Bill Belichick Mac Jones Miami Dolphins New England Patriots