Back when the NFL schedule was first released, I predicted this would be a bad team. I only gave them 6 wins on the season. I was wrong, this is a very bad team. Washington is not one of the better teams in the league. The Patriots made them look like contenders. I’ll start by stating which players played well before I pounce on those that contributed to the loss.
1) Ja’Whuan Bentley led the team in tackles with 13 and had two sacks. However, Bentley’s inability to cover a RB out of the backfield is a huge problem. Antonio Gibson had 5 receptions on 5 targets for 42 yards.
2) Demario Douglas looked terrific today, the best receiver on the field. He was targeted 7 times and had 5 catches. He couldn’t hold on to a pass which ended up being overturned. The Patriots were hurrying up to the line to run a play when Washington’s DE James Smith-Williams suddenly dropped to the ground with a faked injury giving the Washington staff a chance to review the play and challenge.
3) JuJu Smith-Schuster had a good game except for the final pass play which he should have caught. Smith-Schuster had 6 catches on 7 targets. His only drop ended up in the Commanders Safety Jartavious Martin. The ball went right through his hands.
4) Connor McDermott played very well at Left Tackle. He was in for the injured Trent Brown and didn’t allow a sack. The best way to describe his play was that his name wasn’t mentioned at all by the announcers.
5) Overall, the Offensive Line played well as a unit. This was the 7th different O-Line combination used this season. They kept Mac Jones upright all day, giving up no sacks. The Patriots had 107 yards rushing but that is skewed by the 64-yard TD run by Stevenson. They only ran 19 times.
6) Stevenson’s 64-yard run was a thing of beauty, especially the block by Jalen Reagor downfield that sprung him for the TD. Stevenson also had 4 catches on 6 targets. He was wide open for a swing pass but Jones underthrew a lollipop pass that allowed the defender to get his hands between Stevenson’s for a big breakup. I would have yanked Jones at that point for making the same mistake he did in last week’s game. Can’t do any worse with Zappe!
7) The Defense made Sam Howell look like an All-Pro QB. I did say in my Preview that Howell is an up-and-coming QB. His performance last week vs. the Eagles where he threw for 397 yards and 4 TDs was followed up by a 325-yard game against the Patriots. He now leads the league in passing attempts.
8) To make things worse they allowed 124 yards rushing including Antonio Jackson’s 6 rushes for 34 yards for a 5.7 average. Washington dominated the Time of Possession 37:10 to 22:50. Part of this discrepancy was due to the Patriots using a no huddle offense. On the Patriots’ 1st 5 series, no Patriots series was more than a minute, and they still managed two TDs.
9) The Defense was burned again for a long TD when they didn’t have a Free Safety. Myles Bryant was beat by Jahan Dotson for a 33-yard TD.
10) The Officiating was brutal. If you are two of the worst teams in the league. I guess you are getting the lowest rated officiating crew. Coming into this game, this crew threw an average of only 8 penalties per game. The Commanders played to the level of this crew and got away with numerous fouls that weren’t called. The 1st penalty of the game was called with 1:53 left in the 1st half. In the 3rd Quarter the Commanders KJ Henry was called for roughing the passer because all his weight came down on Jones. I’ll admit that was a pretty marginal call.
In the 4th Quarter they called Brendan Schooler for a phantom 15-yard Facemask penalty. Later they missed a facemask on Washington. Demario Douglas head was snapped around and the official was standing right there. The best was the offsides called on Mack Wilson rushing the punter. Replay showed he was not offsides. What was not a penalty in the 1st half was a penalty at the end of the game. If anything, they met their quota by calling 8 penalties, 4 on both teams.
11) JC Jackson and Jack Jones were benched to start the game. Shaun Wade started and was burned badly. Jackson was running behind receivers all game. Neither player spoke to the media after the game and the Patriots’ Media Relations had to tell the reporters that Jack Jones had left the building. This needs to be watched. Has Belichick lost the team? I think these are some of the indications that he has.
12) Bill Belichick said this week that Kayshon Boutte had his best week of practice. So he was inactive again this week.
13) It was not Mac Jones’s fault on the final play that led to the interception. That was 100% on JuJu Smith-Schuster. The pass went right through his hands.
14) Patriots’ win the turnover battle and lose the game! Unbelievable.
15) Where are the Bill Belichick prized Defensive draft picks DE Keion White (0 Tackles) and Marte Mapu (5 tackles – none that I remember)?
Too often this year I have criticized the coaches and their play calling and coaching on both sides of scrimmage and in the Special Teams. I put this game squarely on the players. They are undisciplined, which is not the hallmark of a Bill Belichick team. This is a very bad team!
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary