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MORSE: Twelve Observation From Patriots’ Loss to the Chargers

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
December 4, 2023 at 11:02 am ET

MORSE: Twelve Observation From Patriots’ Loss to the Chargers(PHOTO: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Dec 04, 2023 11:02
🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

Have the Patriots reached rock bottom?  The offense this week reached a new low.   They outgained the Chargers 257 to 241 yards and they shot themselves in the foot time after time.  The miserable weather affected both teams, but you can’t use that as a crutch.  It was the same for both teams.

1) Let’s start with the great game the defense played against a dangerous offense.  In the last three games the Patriots defense has allowed only 26 points and lost all three.  The last time a team gave up less than 10 points in three straight games and lost all 3 games was 1938.    

They held Austin Ekeler to 1.3 yards per carry.  Even better, they held Justin Herbert to 212 yards passing and no TDs.  Keenan Allen, the leagues’ leading wide receiver, was held to 5 catches on 9 targets and Jonathan Jones had a nice pass breakup of Allen.  The Patriots should have won this game.

2) Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai led the defense with 8 tackles each.  Tavai had 4 solo tackles.  However, the Patriots couldn’t pressure Herbert all day and had no sacks.

3) Zappe threw for only 141 yards on 13 of 25 passes.  He threw behind three receivers in the 1st half, but the receivers had their hands on the ball and should have made the catches.  He finally threw the ball to TE Hunter Henry completing 2 of 4 passes but Henry should have caught one of those incomplete passes.

4) Losing Rhamondre Stevenson in the first quarter (on what should be ruled as an illegal hit / Intention to injure) with a hip drop on the back of his legs was devastating.  Stevenson hurt his ankle and couldn’t bear any weight on his leg.  Stevenson had 9 rushes for 39 yards before going down.  The injury caused a fumble at the Chargers 32-yard line and that ended that 13-play drive.

5) It was reported that Chad Ryland missed 5 straight kicks in warm-ups.  The Patriots and Bill Belichick have no confidence in Ryland’s ability to make a Field Goal.  The only reason he is still on the team is that he was drafted in the 4th round and Belichick doesn’t want the embarrassment of having to admit he made another draft mistake.

6) Ezekiel Elliott ran 17 times for 52 yards and had 4 catches for another 40.  A productive day for Elliott.

7) Los Angeles Special Teams outperformed the Patriots.  Punter JK Scott had a tremendous day and may singlehandedly have made a Chargers victory possible.  All 8 punts were inside the 20-yard line.  Four of those were inside the 10, and Patriots Punt Returner Myles Bryant had zero yards in punt returns on the two punts he could return (-5 on the 1st and + 5 on the 2nd). 

The Patriots never had a better starting position than their own 25-yard line (after the two Field Goals touchbacks).  In a bad weather game with an inexperienced QB, having to go the length of the field without any chunk plays is impossible.

8) If you had read my Chargers preview, I had stated that Derius Davis is a dangerous return man.  He gave the Chargers a great starting Field Position after an 8-yard return to the Patriots 47-yard line, 7 plays later Cameron Dicker kicked a 38-yard Field Goal in the swirling rain.  Later in the 1st half, with 1:34 left in the half, Bryce Baringer out kicks his coverage with a 57-yard punt that Davis returns 34 yards to the Patriots 27, setting up the 2nd LA Field Goal by Dicker from 38 yards.

9) DeVante Parker as the go to receiver is ridiculous.  He was targeted 9 times and had 4 catches.  He nearly had a 5th on a deep ball down the sideline with 2:10 left in the game.  He came down with the ball as he landed on top of the Chargers Deane Leonard.  However, his left foot was out of bounds.  Parker did have a 27-yard catch and run.  Later he dropped another 50/50 ball.

10) JuJu Smith-Schuster was invisible with 1 catch on 2 targets for 11 yards.

11) Tyquan Thornton should be cut from this team.  He will never make it as an NFL receiver.  He is gifted with speed as he showed on his 39-yard reverse run.  However, he can’t catch.  Zappe throws a good ball downfield that Thornton with his speed should be able to run under and catch in stride. 

No, Thornton decides to dive and lets the ball pass through his small hands incomplete.  This season is over, it’s time to cut bait on Parker, Smith-Schuster and Thornton.  Give me three ballers off the street that want a shot in the big show.

12) Zappe was sacked 5 times in the 2nd half.  Khalil Mack has two of those sacks and beat each tackle.  Trent Brown split time with Connor McDermott (who was flat out brutal) because of nagging injuries.  I don’t expect Brown to play on Thursday.  Ezekiel Elliott blew a blitz pickup as he looked outside when the safety Derwin James came inside and had a clear path to Zappe.  This was a key play in the game. 

There are also rumors of an illness going through the locker room.  Detrich Wise missed the game sick and Shawn Wade left the game ill also.  That was the worst game Michael Owenu played at Right Tackle since making the switch.  Some scribes intimated that Owenu was playing sick too.  Sidy Sow was beat easily with a swim move and I don’t remember a worse game by David Andrews.  I can remember at least three bad plays by Andrews.  He has had a nice 9-year career as an Undrafted player.  However, Andrews is 31 years old.  That’s old for an NFL lineman.   

The Patriots drafted Jake Andrews from Troy University to replace David Andrews.  The Troy Trojans reeled off 10 straight wins to take the Sun Belt conference championship after starting the season 1-2.  They will take on Duke in the Dec 23rd Bowl Game.

It’s a short week as the Patriots prepare for a Thursday Night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh.  Thanks to the Steelers for losing to the Arizona Cardinals this week putting the Patriots in line for the 2nd overall pick.

Patriots-Chargers Week 13 Report Card: Rinse, Wash, Repeat

About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.

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