“(Joe) Judge, (Joe) Houston and Cam (Achord) dialed in a really good scheme for that block and saw a weak spot in their goaltending operation. We worked on it during the week and felt pretty confident going into the game .” I just had the right opportunity, I counted my steps right and I timed it well. As soon as the ball snapped, I could feel the momentum carrying it. I knew I would get there. I just wanted to make sure I had my hand on the ball.”
“I’ve never seen that before. It was new to me and I think it was new to a lot of the guys on the team. Like I said, we trusted our coaches and we’re going to go out there and compete.” ” Schooler said, breaking down the play for reporters.
After a disappointing 2022, the Patriots overhauled the kicking game by drafting two rookie specialists and moving Judge back into a special teams role. While it wasn’t enough to win this week, the early returns were positive for the overhauled operation.
2. The Patriots Offense is still at a talent disadvantage at the Playmaker positions
At some point, the Patriots must determine the root cause of their offensive struggles since the second half of quarterback Mac Jones’ rookie campaign.
They are now on their third coordinator with Jones at center. While we can all agree that last year’s offensive setup wasn’t the answer, offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is looking for consistent execution from this group, much like the previous two OVs before him.
The Patriots enter almost every game at a disadvantage in terms of talent on the roster on the offensive side of the ball, and that couldn’t be more evident on Sunday night. Tagovailoa is a really good quarterback, let’s not get it wrong. But the fact is, Tua took the field this week with at least two receivers who are better than anyone Mac is throwing to these days, and the same could be said for Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts last week.
Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are quarterbacks who can create explosive plays and make the quarterback’s job easier. For example, Waddle’s first catch was a 28-yard screen pass on a throw behind the line of scrimmage, and when the deep safety’s attention turned to Hill, Waddle got the ball for a 32-yard completion in single coverage.
New England’s offense, on the other hand, still has to grind out every yard and every point it puts up on the scoreboard, even though O’Brien designed the offense. Gains from the piece aren’t as easy for this group as they were for Miami, and it shows. I’m not here to tell you that the Pats quarterback would be an MVP candidate with a better cast, but very few of the young signal callers in this conversation are working with less.
3. Patriots expose three deep safeties in chess match vs. Dolphins
As we mentioned above, the Patriots’ defensive game plan was to play with three deep safeties designed to mask the coverage to stall the offense, and the top end on defense forced the Dolphins to play together rather than punt. few big gains. Obviously, with a quick-hitting offense like Miami’s, it makes sense to force them to matriculate the ball down the field rather than give up points in one or two plays.
From the Dolphins’ point of view, many Miami offensive players actually spoke after the game about how unique the Patriots’ defensive strategy was, saying they had never seen it before.
“It looked like they wanted to put an umbrella over our two fast guys. And then as the game went on, they started going back to what they would normally run. But I think they’re doing a tremendous job of adjusting in the game. And “You know, that is a really big, big thing I’d say for any Bill Belichick defense,” Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said.
The Patriots continued a three-game trend against these Dolphins where they played zone coverage on 71 percent of Miami’s snaps, reducing their typical man coverage rate to limit explosive plays against coverage-heavy receivers in man-to-man schemes. The Heels mixed in single-high safety coverages (16) and split safety schemes (13) at a fairly even clip, turning the three-safety rotation into double-robber and Tampa-2 schemes.
While it wasn’t perfect, the defense held the Dolphins’ explosive offense to 24 points, just seven points in the second half, giving the Patriots a chance to make the game interesting. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for them once again.
4. Patriots Offensive Line Woes Continue Without Starting LT Trent Brown
After a rocky summer filled with injuries and uncertainty on a daily basis in training camp, it comes as no surprise that the offensive play has been uneven. Although it was an admirable performance against a great defensive front, the film told a less favorable story of the offensive line’s play against Philly. It wasn’t a complete disaster given the circumstances, but it wasn’t nearly as good when you reviewed the Week 1 tape.
This week, the Dolphins began to pile on the pressure on the quarterback in the second half, with the Patriots having obvious passing situations as they tried to mount a comeback. Jones was pressured on 14 of his 46 drop-backs, or 30.4%, per NextGen Stats, and was sacked four times. Obviously, you have to throw when you’re down, so going down a combined 104 times in the first two weeks will create pressure and the defense will pin its ears back.
The pressures, which weren’t as concerning, were a mistake on the assignment of sophomore LG Cole Strange, who appeared to block the Dolphins’ first sack instead of picking up a second-level blitzer, and sacks allowed by LT linebacker Vederian Lowe. , and backup guard Atonio Mafi. Those mental mistakes happen when guys don’t grumble together a lot in O’Brien’s system and O-Line coach Adrian Klemm. He’ll fix that while Brown hopefully returns next week at left tackle, and Onwenu should be able to make the connection again soon.
However, right tackle continues to be a sore spot as current starter Calvin Anderson struggles with footwork and timing to block speed off the edge. Dolphins edge rusher Andrew Van Ginkel recorded a sack and six quarterback pressures against Anderson, who doesn’t get enough depth on his slides to protect his edge, leading to a short corner that Van Ginkel went around several times Sunday night.
With the team too reluctant to kick right guard Michael Onwena outside, Anderson, who deserves some latitude as he works his way back from a nagging illness that limited him all summer, is their best option at right tackle. That’s what they have on the roster right now, opening them up to criticism for not using more resources on OT in the offseason.
If the current situation doesn’t improve at right tackle, the Patriots should continue to aggressively pursue free agent La’el Collins, who was recently released by the Bengals.
5. Aside from getting the O-Line going, how can the Patriots start to play?
While getting the O-Line in order would help, it’s not the only reason the Patriots have produced just 164 rushing yards on 47 attempts (3.5 avg.) through two weeks.
O’Brien’s only criticism in the first two contests is that the running game can have design flaws. For the second year in a row, New England ditched fullback for a one-back move, either from the standard 11-man or two tight end sets (12), which isn’t actually a true “12” if it’s in play Gesicki. . Between leading back Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott, only seven of their 20 halfback rushes were under center. Long story short: The Patriots are trying to run away from spread formations with RPOs with power backs better suited to running from under center (which is why I was hoping for Pierre Strong before the trade).
Along with mostly dialed in spread runs, Mac only had three under-center pass attempts this week with a 10.9% play-action rate entering Sunday night. From that perspective, the Pats haven’t given themselves a chance to run the ball effectively because they don’t rely enough on the run/play-action sequencing under center to get it going.
Given their offensive personnel, the Pats also no longer have the ability to go “big” with the linebacker out of regular formations, which was their way of getting the offense back on track after a rocky stretch under McDaniels. Yes, running back is another problem, but Stevenson is arguably the Patriots’ best offensive player, while the play-action is arguably their most effective way to pass the ball — it’s up to O’Brien to find a way to better scheme it. ground floor.
6. Patriots QB Mac Jones flashes high in Loss to Miami
After last week’s better performance in the box score, my film review was still pretty critical of Jones, who made too many unforced errors in the game against the Eagles for my liking.
We’ll reserve judgment until we see the tape, but Jones made some impressive plays on the road and under pressure. According to NextGen, Jones was 7 of 10 for 58 yards and a touchdown when pressured, with a 117.9 passer rating and an excellent above-expectation completion percentage of +22.4. Mac also completed 4-of-6 throws for 36 yards and a score while moving outside the pocket “on the run,” something he usually fails to do.
For example, Jones made an amazing throw while barrel staring DeVante Parker, where he threw with excellent anticipation out of the mud pocket to hit Parker on a breakaway route on third down. We talked so much about Mac needing to throw from a solid base to get zip on the ball, but he used timing and enough speed to get it there.