AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
In the offensive-focused NFL, the New England Patriots try to win the hard way.
Monday’s 27-13 win over the Arizona Cardinals without Kyler Murray is a positive step for New England, who lost their previous two games to superior competition. But a 7-6 record and a poor grasp of AFC’s final playoff spot show how precarious the team’s position is at the moment, based on how half of the roster continues to perform.
Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in the history of professional football. It’s astonishing that he’s made the Patriots a consistent winner for over two decades during the most competitive period in NFL history. Yet it is not infallible.
Belichick’s decision not to hire a legitimate offensive coordinator had the expected results. The unit declined and Mac Jones’s development was blocked.
Instead, the Patriots’ seasonal aspirations remain intact thanks to an aggressive defense, not the play call of Matt Patricia (whatever that title means), senior football advisor who turned from defensive coordinator to head coach.
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Jones’ blast during the Patriots’ previous defeat to the Buffalo Bills was an expression of the disappointment bubbling beneath the surface.
“Frankly, I let my emotions take over me,” Jones told reporters. “What I said was about getting the job deeper into the short game. I have to implement that part better. But the short game we went ahead and it worked. But I felt like we needed collective games. I shouted that. to get everybody moving. It’s very emotional. It’s football. I’m passionate about this game.”
Emotions can be positive if used correctly. Tom Brady is known for his tirades on the sidelines, and it occurred quite a few times during his tenure with the Patriots. Jones doesn’t have the same level of transparency yet, but it’s clear he’s passionate and wants more from both himself and New England’s offense.
“It’s an emotional game, and everyone feeds off emotion,” Jones said. during the post-game interview On ESPN after the Cardinals game. “And sometimes I think we’re too straight.”
Entering Monday’s competition, the Patriots finished in the lower half of the league with an average of 20.8 points per game. But New England are leading the league with 85 turnovers this season. ESPN Statistics and Info. In other words, about a third of the team’s goals so far have come with the help of the defence’s big plays.
Against the Cardinals, defender Raekwon McMillan returned a 23-yard fumble for a score.
@Patriots points from your defense! 💪
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What’s more, Matthew Judon and Co. is chasing rival quarterbacks, making life difficult for any opposing attacker. With six sacks on Monday, the Patriots defense ranks third in the category behind the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.
To be fair, New England’s defenders are much more skilled at creating explosive plays. Is it a crime? Not so much, especially with injuries to wide receivers Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker and back runs Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris.
“I see an offense that manages football well. It’s a very conservative passing game – lots of screens, all kinds of screens. That’s what a defender used to call offensive plays – ‘let’s not turn the ball over, let’s throw it four yards’ play and try to burn the clock'”, Cardinals defense coordinator Vance Joseph aforementioned during the preparation week of the team.
“That’s what they’ve been doing and that’s what he’s going to do on Monday night. He’s going to be patient. Maybe he can shoot occasionally. But mostly, the running game, the quick play and the screens.”
[Insert “nailed it” GIF]
As Fantasy Points Chris Wecht noted, Patricia called 11 screens in 39 comebacks. By Warren Sharp In Sharp Football, 44 percent of Jones’ shots were in or behind the scrimmage line, and 60 percent of the team’s third pass attempts were under the sticks.
Worse still, Patricia isn’t even trying to build on her unit’s strengths. New England claim to be the league’s most effective play-action pass, but only used three play-fakes against the Cardinals. Sharp.
Unsurprisingly, Jones was once again frustrated by the offensive’s performance and at least let it be known. two different situations. Despite that, not much will change for the rest of this season.
“I think we need to do better at what we’re doing. I don’t think we’re going to make too many dramatic changes at this point; it’s very difficult to do,” Belichick said in a weekly interview with WEEI’s. Greg Hill Show.
“If we can do what we’re doing consistently, I think we’ll be fine. We haven’t been consistent enough. It’s nothing. One thing once. Something else next time. We just have to play more consistently and coach.”
A few bright spots emerged, especially among the offensive’s rookies.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
First-year supporters Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris carried the ball 13 times for 96 yards and two points. Strong added two catches from the backcourt for another 20 yards. Second-round sprinter Tyquan Thornton collected four passes for 28 yards. As this group continues to grow and become more comfortable, the Patriots offense may be more efficient.
Despite the rookies’ in-season progress, the entire group struggles as they face high-flying offenses from Buffalo, Miami, Kansas City and Cincinnati; three of them face off in the final three weeks of the New England regular season. .
The Patriots are also followed by the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars, who have received outstanding play from quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence. The New York Jets are right up there as well, although they have their own question marks on offense.
New England’s offense is predictable, stale, and lacking in explosive qualities.
“No, I think the most important thing is not to let it affect my game and to bring out the best in the players,” Jones said. replied when asked by reports about the obvious disappointment with the plan of attack.
If the coaches truly believe the unit is good enough to be a legitimate playoff contender right now, the Patriots team is kidding themselves. Defense certainly is.
But anyone watching the New England scrimmage should react the way Jones has done in the last two weeks, because it deserves blasphemous ridicule.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for the Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.