The Patriots once again started the game like the kickoff was at 8:05 and not 4:05. After sleepwalking through another poor effort in the first half down 13-3, they finally woke up in the second half. But, like so many games before this year, and at the end of 2022, they were so close to winning but played just well enough to lose closely.
With the exception of the Jets game, the Patriots have dug themselves into an early hole and, after self-immolation, find themselves in too deep a hole to climb out of.
Week 1: 16-0 against Philly.
Week 2: 17-3 against Miami at halftime.
Week 4: 28-3 against Dallas at halftime.
Week 5: 21-0 against New Orleans at halftime.
Week 6: 13-3 against Vegas at halftime.
This has been the trend this year, and it doesn’t show any sign of stopping. And the mistakes are self-driven. The Raiders are a middling team but took the opening kickoff on a 15-play drive to kick an early FG (twice on the same drive).
Penalties, turnovers, and sloppy play have been a hallmark of this team. With Buffalo and Miami on the horizon in the next two games, they are staring a possible 1-7 in the face. We haven’t seen that kind of record in these parts in many a year.
So, here are our grades this week for the Patriots-Raiders game.
Mac Jones looked better, but that is faint praise after the last two weeks. He had another terrible first half that culminated with a bad throw for an interception where Hunter Henry was wide open at the end of the half, which led to three points for Vegas.
Of course, his supporting cast wasn’t much help at all. A 74-yard TD pass to Ezekiel Elliott was wiped out by a holding penalty on Henry. And at the end of the game, Jones uncorked a nearly 50-yard pass to Devante Parker that was perfectly thrown. And, of course, Parker dropped it.
To Jones’ credit, he didn’t meltdown after the pick but played much better in the second half. He and Kendrick Bourne were clicking, and the pair hooked up seven times in the second half. He led a 17-play scoring drive that ate up an astounding 9:30 on the clock. We’ll get to that drive below.
Jones finished 24-33 for 200 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT for a passer rating of 75.3. He was sacked three times. Malik Cunningham was the backup QB and got in for a few plays, but on his only drop back, he was sacked.
Running Backs: B-
The Patriots’ running game was stuck in the mud during the first half but showed some life after halftime. Rhamondre Stevenson had 10 carries for 46 yards (4.6-yard average). Ezekiel Elliott had 7 carries for 34 carries (4.9-yard average). Each had a rushing TD in the second half.
Stevenson chipped in with 5 catches for 24 yards, while Elliot had one catch for 15 yards on his only official target, but the called-back 74-yarder really hurt. Elliott and Stevenson both ran hard, and if the team can ever stop shooting itself in the foot early in games, they could actually start providing better production.
Wide Receivers: C-
So, this grade is kind of a two-parter. Kendrick Bourne rates an “A,” and the rest of the group…well, you know. Bourne proved once again that when his number is called, he is more than capable of answering the bell. Bourne was open all game and was targeted 11 times, made 10 catches for 89 yards. He had a very good game.
Ty Montgomery was targeted once and caught one pass for nine yards. Tyquan Thornton was activated off of IR but was targeted just twice and made a single catch for 6 yards.
Parker was targeted three times and had one catch for seven yards. He had that terrible drop at the end of the game that would have put the Patriots in Vegas territory with a minute and a half to go. They only needed to go 10-15 yards for a game-winning FG.
The ball was perfectly placed in his hands, but his refusal to take any responsibility for the drop was even more galling. He was asked about the drop after the game, and his answer was, “Probably hit my fingertips, I think,” Parker said. “But I didn’t get a full grasp of it.” He’s the team’s contested catch (80/20, remember?) guy, and he absolutely, positively has to make that catch.
Jones said last week that the offense had to start having fun again. Stevenson, Elliott, and Bourne definitely seemed like that message was received. Maybe they should play that over and over at practice next week for the guys who missed it.
Tight Ends: C-
Mike Gesicki caught all three passes thrown his way for 28 yards. His scoop just off the turf for 15 yards in the first half was a beauty. But three targets? And why was he assigned to help Vederian Lowe block Maxx Crosby on the final sack play? Gesicki is not known for his blocking.
Henry was targeted three times and had just one catch for seven yards. But his holding penalty on the 74-yard TD pass to Elliott was a killer. That was exactly what the doctor ordered after the Raiders had made it 10-0. Pharaoh Brown had a 15-yard catch on his only target.
Offensive Line: D
The good? The run blocking was better and helped the backs to get a bit of momentum this week. However, the team only rushed for 83 yards on 19 carries and four TFLs. But they averaged 4.4 yards per rush, which is better.
The bad? The pass blocking remains very below par. Patriots’ QBs were sacked four times and hit five times, and Jones was under pressure far too much once again. The rookie guards Antonio Mafi and Sidy Sow struggled. Mafi gave up a sack and was flagged for a bad holding penalty on the final drive for the offense. Sow gave up a sack and had a penalty. They seem incapable of picking up the stunts that the Patriots get hammered with every week.
The ugly? I feel for Vederian Lowe. He’s been getting turned like a revolving door at the airport. This week, he had Maxx Crosby, which is a tough assignment for anyone. But Crosby was getting consistent pressure even though the Patriots tried to get Lowe some help. But Crosby blew past Lowe and Gesicki for the safety like they weren’t even there.
Defensive Line: C+
The defensive line did a very good job at stopping the run of the Raiders, who gained 84 yards rushing but on 33 rushing attempts, which is a 2.5-yard average. Josh Jacobs rushed for 77 yards on 25 carries (3.1-yard average). Christian Barmore was very disruptive and had his best game in a while. He stuffed the Raiders late in the 4th quarter and got the Patriots the ball back for their final drive. He also added a pass deflection.
Lawrence Guy and Davon Godchaux were both stout in the middle of the defense. Deatrich Wise was quiet in this game, and the DL offered little in QB pressure. They had zero sacks and zero quarterback hits. That isn’t good enough. And for a veteran like Wise, he should be leading the way. Keion White was injured early in the game and didn’t return.
Anfernee Jennings had six tackles, while Jahlani Tavai and Ja’Whaun Bentley were the heavy hitters of the group. Tavai had five tackles, a QB hit, and an interception. He was flagged, however, for a 15-yard penalty for throwing Jacobs to the ground.
Bentley had four tackles but registered two QB hits. The Patriots once again registered no sacks and only three QB hits. No one misses Matthew Judon more than Josh Uche, who was invisible during the game until he was injured and didn’t return.
The pass rush has to improve, especially from the edge. Having Bryan Hoyer go 6 of 10 for 102 yards and a passer rating of 94.6 after halftime was not the result I was expecting from this group.
The secondary did an excellent job of taking away Devante Adams, with J.C. Jackson doing the bulk of the work there with safety help. However, Jackson played a very good game. Covering old friend Jakobi Meyers proved more problematic for the secondary. He was victimizing Myles Bryant and had five catches for 61 yards and a TD.
Jalen Mills complained about his usage last week but struggled on Sunday against TE Michael Mayer, who had five catches for 75 yards. Jabrill Peppers, however, had a thunderous hit on Adams and popped the ball up, which was picked off by Tavai. Peppers led the team with seven solo tackles and two passes defensed.
Special Teams: C-
Rookie kicker Chad Ryland made his only field goal attempt. Bryce Barringer was constantly punting deep from New England territory but averaged 46 yards per punt. Bryant had one punt return for 14 yards, and Montgomery had one KR for 23 yards.
But the head-scratcher was the 15-yard penalty on Sam Roberts for leverage on the Raiders’ center during the first of two FG attempts on the Raiders’ first drive. These types of penalties are inexcusable. Luckily enough, it didn’t cost them additional points.
Bill Belichick said that the Patriots were going to start over this week, I guess I was imagining a quick start and possibly putting some pressure on Las Vegas. But that starting over seemed like much of the same stuff we’ve seen all year. They started out poorly once again, like a team running in mud.
I was hoping to see Cunningham used like Taysom Hill a bit, but his usage was for naught. Several coaching decisions were likewise curious. Tight end usage is still very small, and I can’t understand with Parker not producing why he plays so many snaps. On Sunday, it was 75 percent of the offensive snaps. Your supposed #1 WR that plays that many snaps and registers one catch?
The penalty to Roberts I chalk up to coaching. And with 10 penalties for 79 yards. That sloppiness I also chalk up to coaching. Not good.
Well, folks, that’s a wrap for the Raiders. We’re on to the Bills? Lawd, have mercy.
Posted Under: Patriots Report Card
Tags: Bill Belichick Devante Adams Devante Parker Ezekiel Elliott Jakobi Meyers Jimmy Garoppolo Kendrick Bourne Las Vegas Raiders Mac Jones Matthew Judon Maxx Crosby New England Patriots Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rhamondre Stevenson