The Patriots came into this week with a chance to get over .500 and become a factor in the chase for a postseason berth. They were heavy favorites to beat a subpar Bears team with one of the league’s leakiest run defenses and whose offense has been awful.
Well, none of that mattered on Monday night at Gillette Stadium. The Bears gashed the Patriots on the ground for a whopping 243 yards, with Justin Fields getting 82 of those, frequently converting third downs. In fact, the Bears converted 11 of 18 third-down attempts and dominated time of possession, holding the ball nearly 15 minutes more than the Patriots did.
The Patriots’ offense scarcely resembled the unit that moved the ball all over the field the past few weeks. In a word, it was awful. The offensive line took the first three series off, and Mac Jones, running for his life on a bum ankle, led the team in rushing with 20 yards. The run blocking wasn’t getting any push against the Bears.
So, here are our grades this week for the Patriots-Bears game.
Mac Jones started the game and only played three series and couldn’t get anything going, mainly because of very poor OL play. Three penalties on the first two drives won’t help matters. The crowd was chanting for Zappe from the first series, which had to be highly embarrassing for the young QB.
But in the third drive, Jones was flushed to his right and made a terrible decision, and even worse throw, off his back foot that was easily picked off. However, the ball may have hit the TV cable overhead as badly as the decision was.
He did run well and gained 24 yards on three runs that weren’t designed but were because of pressure. His night was done after the pick, and he finished 3-6 for 13 yards with 0 TDs and an INT.
Zappe came on to raucous cheers and promptly got much better pass protection and field position, leading the Patriots to a touchdown. He threw a wide-open Jakobi Meyers a 30-yard touchdown pass. After the defense picked off Fields, on first down, Zappe threw a 43-yard bomb to DeVante Parker, who made a tremendous catch. Two plays later, the Patriots scored to make it 14-10.
That was it for the Patriots’ offense. Zappe turned it over three times with two picks and a fumble. He came back to earth.
Running Backs: C
With Damien Harris returning from injury, it seemed like a good night to get the two-headed monster going in the running game. But the holes weren’t there, and the backs struggled to get anything meaningful going.
Harris had three carries for just eight yards and one catch for 2 more. Rhamondre Stevenson only had 11 carries for 39 yards but added a team-high eight catches for 59 yards. He is becoming a bigger weapon in the passing game.
Wide Receivers: C-
DeVante Parker made a tremendous 43-yard catch on a deep ball down the left sideline and finished with three catches for 68 yards. Jakobi Meyers also made a fantastic catch for a 30-yard touchdown while wide-open on a badly underthrown pass.
RookieTyquan Thornton was targeted five times but had just one catch, but it was a nice 19-yard gain. Nelson Agholor was only targeted once but had no catches.
Tight Ends: D
The tight ends were targeted five times and had just two catches for 16 yards.
Hunter Henry was targeted twice and had one catch for 14 yards, while Jonnu Smith was targeted three times and had just a single catch for four yards. The blocking in the running game followed the lead of the offensive line…which was not much. At. All.
Offensive Line: D-
The offensive line was absolutely awful for the first three drives but got better, at least in pass protection, as the team switched QBs. The run blocking all game was abysmal, especially considering that the Bears came into the game with one of the worst run defenses in the league. The Patriots ran for just 70 yards (eerily like last week, except in reverse), but 24 of those were by Mac Jones.
Trent Brown was flagged four times, and Cole Strange was hit with his first penalty of the year. They were dominated in the trenches.
Defensive Line: D-
The Patriots defensive line was part of the front seven that was gashed for 243 yards by the Bears’ running game. They were getting manhandled up front by a substandard offensive line. There were huge gaps for the running backs and the QB to run through untouched to the second level and beyond.
Christian Barmore’s absence was felt in a big way. There wasn’t any pass rush from the big guys up front, and they did a poor job of keeping Fields contained in the pocket.
The linebackers shared in the shoddy run defense, especially in the middle. The tackling was poor, and they couldn’t keep up with Fields’ speed. However, Matthew Judon saved this grade from being worse.
Judon was pressuring Fields (and being held) for much of the night. He notched 2.5 sacks, three QB hits, two tackles for loss, and a tipped pass at the line that turned into an easy interception. Anfernee Jennings chipped in with a sack, and Mack Wilson had a half-sack.
The Patriots secondary wasn’t bad, but they sometimes had their issues. It seemed like whenever they went to zone; Fields would find someone wide open. When they played man coverage, Fields would take off running. Fields only threw for 179 yards, completing 13-21 passes with a TD and an INT. But it felt like he threw for more.
The tackling in run support was lacking, especially after Kyle Dugger left with an injury. But it still seems when an opponent really needs a completion, they target #27 on the Patriots.
Special Teams: D-
Marcus Jones couldn’t get much going on either kickoffs or punts; he returned five kickoffs for 113 yards (22.6 average) with a long of 27 and two punts for 12 yards. The blocking just wasn’t there. The coverage units were shaky, allowing a 27-yard punt return.
Jake Bailey only averaged 40 yards on four punts and hit a short line drive that directly led to Dante Pettis’ 27-yard return. Nick Folk converted both of his extra-point attempts. Marcus Jones appeared in position for a field goal block. I was sure he had it.
The Patriots coaches had the team ill-prepared for Chicago. They were soundly beaten in all three phases of the game. Worse still, Bill Belichick put Mac Jones in a difficult position and not in a good one to succeed. By bringing in Zappe so soon was another mistake, and it just created more questions for his players and coaches. Some even said after the game that they weren’t even aware that the coaches were planning to play both QBs.
Matt Patricia’s offense had no answers for the Chicago defense and didn’t seem to make any adjustments to get the offense going. Defensively, Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo seemed to be a step behind all night, and they didn’t throw any looks at Fields that would confuse him.
Bill Belichick didn’t get to pass George Halas and is stuck at win #324. And it will be another tough game next week heading to New Jersey.
We’re on to the Jets…
Posted Under: Patriots Report Card
Tags: Bill Belichick Chicagp Bears Damien Harris David Montgomery Devante Parker Devin McCourty Jakobi Meyers Justin Fields Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones Matthew Judon New England Patriots Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rhamondre Stevenson Roquan Smith Tyquan Thornton