Some news and notes on this Monday:
Bad Time For a Reboot
Given that whatever changes the New England Patriots will need to make this week to “start all over” will likely need to transpire on offense, this is certainly not the greatest week for that to happen.
That phrase came from head coach Bill Belichick following Sunday’s loss, but he’s got a tough situation ahead of him. As he tries to help his club rebound, he’ll likely be bringing a depleted group to the desert next Sunday when the Patriots take on the Raiders, with both Demario Douglas and JuJu Smith-Schuster each having left the debacle against New Orleans after being placed in concussion protocol.
If history is any indication, that likely means they’ll both miss this weekend and hopefully be back in time for Buffalo to visit in two weeks. That means New England might be down to just DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, with both Kayshon Boutte and Tyquan Thorton as possible options for Sunday.
That’s, well, not ideal.
They were also without Cole Strange on Sunday, who is arguably their best run-blocker. With him sidelined, they again struggled to run the football consistently, which allowed the Saints to tee off on Mac Jones and shutout an offense that couldn’t do much of anything.
Looking back at the film, it was all bad. Both tackles Trent Brown and Vederian Lowe played poorly, and with Strange sidelined, along with Michael Onwenu also leaving this one, neither rookie Atonino Mafi nor Reilly Reiff had much luck against Carl Granderson, Cameron Jordan, or Marcus Davenport, who each had their way against this group at various times on Sunday.
With all of those issues to deal with, it’s going to leave Belichick trying to rebuild this group with nothing but duct tape and string against Las Vegas, who will be coming off a short week against Green Bay. Those two teams are set to meet tonight on Monday Night Football.
The plan? It’s not encouraging.
“Play the best players we can,” said Belichick. “Coach the best we can. We need to do better than that.”
Based on the last two weeks, there’s now reason to be afraid. At 1-4, it’s been a while since it felt like they were in real trouble. In the past, there was a reason to believe they could turn things around and potentially get back into it one week at a time.
This season, they may not have the manpower on offense to do it.
As a result, Belichick is now at a critical point in his coaching career where there will likely be some late nights ahead.
The bad news is, he now has to figure out how to fix this mess with what little parts he gave himself to work with, which, unfortunately, is why they’re in this position to begin with.
Numbers Continue to Be Poor
Looking at the totals from Sunday’s contest, the numbers don’t lie. There’s a disconnect that doesn’t feel fixable, especially when it comes to the guys who are supposed to be the key targets in this offense.
Jones finished Sunday’s contest 12-of-22 (54.5%) for 110 yards and two interceptions while struggling to get anything going consistently.
Here’s the breakdown of New England’s targets:
E.Elliott: 3/3, 9yds
J.Smith-Schuster: 3/4, 6yds
K.Bourne: 2/3, 43yds
D.Parker: 2/4, 20yds
D.Douglas: 1/2, 24yds
M.Gesicki: 1/2, 8yds
M.Gesicki: 1/2, 9yds
E.Elliott: 1/1, 8yds
T.Montgomery: 1/3, 5yds
Parker finished with another 50% completion rate with Jones, with the two connecting on the same 2/4 last week against Dallas. Parker failed to come down with yet another 50/50 ball on Sunday on one he actually went up and got his hands on, and he remains a point of frustration in New England’s offense.
Meanwhile, Jones connected with Smith-Schuster three times for just six yards on Sunday, which is another area of irritation. He’s grossly underperformed, given who he was replacing as he was supposed to be a guy who got yards after the catch and moved the football. To this point in 2022, Meyers was averaging 13.1 yards per catch. Smith-Schuster is sitting at 6.1.
Meyers had been their go-to guy on third down in recent years, and Smith-Schuster hasn’t come close to being that player.
On Sunday, the Patriots were just 1-of-14 (7.1%) on third down, with both Jones and Zappe combining for 3-of-12 with just one first down. In fact, their lone first down came on the deep play to Douglas early in the contest that went for 24 yards, which saw him take a hit that would ultimately see him come out of the game. They were blanked the rest of the way.
Overall, it’s just ugly. To this point in five games last season, both Jakobi Meyers (20 receptions, 261yds 1TD) and Nelson Agholor (14 catches, 225 yards 1 TD) were the Patriots’ leading receivers. Smith-Schuster currently has 14 catches for just 86 yards, while Parker has 12 receptions for a mere 129 yards. The only player to eclipse the 200-yard mark to this point is Bourne (18 catches, 218 yards), with Hunter Henry sitting behind him with 17 catches for 176 yards.
Needless to say, it’s not good.
This is a team that has a long way to go, with not much time left before they’ll have to start looking to 2024.
The bad news is, this time, they may not have enough to dig themselves out as aside from Thornton and Boutte, there’s not a lot on the shelf to go to at this point.
Blame Falling on Bill
In a Twitter poll on Sunday, as irritated as people are with Jones, the majority of the ire seems to be falling on Belichick.
We posted a poll asking, “Who is primarily at fault for the Patriots’ Issues?”, with people putting the blame largely on both Belichick and their lack of personnel.
POLL: Who is primarily at fault for the Patriots' Issues?
— PatsFans.com (@PatsFans) October 8, 2023
The results overnight after over 700 votes were:
Mac Jones: 15.9%
Bill Belichick: 48.8%
Bill O’Brien: 1.8%
Talent Issues (OL, WRs): 33.5%
While Belichick and the talent issues are somewhat intertwined, it’s interesting to look at the numbers as it relates to what’s going on.
Again, the personnel issues on offense will remain the biggest problem he’ll face in the coming weeks, and whether or not they can pull out of this tailspin will likely decide what might happen beyond this season if it doesn’t get any better.
Odds and Ends:
David Andrews was fairly sullen as he spoke to reporters after the game, and he’s clearly frustrated by the lack of continuity up front with both Mafi and Reiff each moving around on Sunday after Mafi struggled and Onwenu had to leave the game. “I appreciate Riley’s effort getting back out there,” said Andrews. “We’ve just got to find some continuity. Moving people around, we’ve really just got to get a set group, work together and play. But I appreciate his effort and his toughness coming back from his injury.” … Hunter Henry was also clearly frustrated at the podium on Sunday. “Just go back to work, man. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s just not good enough at any level,” he said. “It’s not how we want to play football, it’s not how we want to do things. So we’ve just got to be better. I don’t know if I have all the answers for you right now, to be honest with you, but we have to find those answers very, very fast.” … Deatrich Wise Jr. did his best to stay positive, despite being peppered with some tough questions during his press conference, preaching that they just have to stick together. “As hard as it may be, we have to keep moving forward,” said Wise Jr. “We have to put this behind us, learn from it, correct the mistakes that we made out there. Keep moving forward, keep everybody’s heads in it and remind everybody that we’re still a family and we have a long season to go.” … J.C. Jackson told reporters after the game yesterday he’s glad to be home and that New England is where his heart is. “I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it,” said Jackson on learning of being traded back to the Patriots. “But I was happy and that’s the key. You want to be happy. You want to be happy with what you’re doing, and this place has my heart.” … The same Dallas Cowboys the Patriots got blown out against last weekend ended up suffering the same fate themselves last night in a 42-10 loss in San Francisco. Dak Prescott completed just 14-of-24 for 153 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs, while Brock Burdy was 17-of-24 for 252-yards and 4 TDs.
Posted Under: Patriots News