This was a shocking loss for the New England Patriots against a bad Denver Broncos team Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. The performance defensively wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but they shouldered the load in keeping the team in the game. Offensively, the Patriots did all they could to lose the game. I am aware there were injuries, and players out of the lineup for Covid issues, but in the past when this team was presented an opportunity to win a game they should surely lose, they found a way to win.
I do have empathy for Cam Newton trying to run the offense with little to no practice time, and his offensive line did him no favors, but I was waiting for ‘Supercam’ to show up and lead the team to a win. His huge 4th quarter run to set up the Patriots lone touchdown was more of what I was expecting. It was very clear that Denver Head Coach & defensive play caller Vic Fangio was not afraid that Newton would make plays in the passing game as Fangio blitzed Cam and the offensive line early and often.
Not a lot of running room for this trio of running backs (Harris, Burkhead, White) to work. James White was the leading receiver, but if felt like it was a struggle to get him the ball in space. This unit needed to be productive to open up the offense and there were just too many inconsistencies for this unit to excel. I do continue to see great fight and all the backs excelling in pass protection.
Julian Edelman had 2 nice throws in the game…..
Otherwise there was little separation from Denver defenders. This unit provided ZERO octane to the offense. It seemed across the board none of these receivers could get open consistently because of a lack of running game. This unit is not as bad as they showed Sunday. But these receivers must prove moving forward that they can get open even if there is no consistent play action to help with creating separation from defenders.
When Ryan Izzo gets his opportunities to catch the ball and gain the trust of the coaching staff, he must hold onto the pigskin. Izzo’s 3rd quarter fumble was a killer as it was in Denver territory, still a 15-3 game, and a touchdown or field goal builds some 2nd half momentum offensively. This unit struggled in the running game as did the offensive line.
I understand that James Ferentz was out and Jermaine Elumenore got injured during the game. But Shaq Mason didn’t start in KC, and Michael Onwenu along with Justin Herron started that game and neither did not play as bad as they did Sunday. Isaiah Wynn had his worst game of the season IMO. He looked tentative at guard and had issues with his footwork. Tough job for Joe Thuney to nail down the shotgun snaps but he can’t have a bad snap on 1st down in the red zone. Inconsistent all the way around.
Including the defensive ends like John Simon, this unit held up pretty well. Adam Butler cut into the ‘Big Boy’ depth up front and overall these guys gobbled up blockers to allow Ju’Whaun Bentley to have a great day statistically. The pass rush was disruptive at times, no real flash plays, but good grunt work.
Ju’Whaun Bentley played his tail off in this one. I thought he was physical, active, and when asked did a nice job rushing the passer. I will lump Adrian Phillips into this group for his job in the running game. Both of these guys had 2 tackles for loss in the game. Bentley and Phillips managed pretty nicely considering there were a lot of guys in front of them who were rotating on a nearly constant basis.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: A
I can’t quibble with the overall results. If you look at the Drew Lock’s passing stats, 103 of his 189 yards came on 3 plays. And the two longest yardage plays, (41, 35) to Ben Patrick were fantastic catches against really good coverage. Every team the Patriots play will look to make plays against Jon Jones and Kyle Duggar in one on one coverage. On Sunday those two, and their mates, did a nice job whether in man or zone coverage.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+
The kickoff coverage was very good, but I’d like to see the Patriots take the touchback as much as possible when receiving the kickoff. Jake Bailey was his usual self with good punts, including a 60-yard rip. Folk did his job when called upon. (**Note how big a weapon Brandon McManus was for Denver, the Pats need to find their McManus)
3 THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- 1) If Shaq Mason is healthy, lets see if Thuney stays at center with Onwenu to his left, at least until David Andrews gets back.
- 2) I expect more motion from the offense next week in trying to help free up wide receivers to get into route.
- 3) I do not think the Patriots are immune from the inconsistencies that befall most NFL teams. Their Brady buffer is gone.