Getting outscored 71-3 over your last two games could be classified as 'really bad', and let me be the first to say it indeed is. Since the opening drive of the Dallas game, the Patriots have zero points offensively, have allowed three defensive touchdowns, and are now 0-2 against arguably the two worst red zone offenses in Football. Not great!!! Worst of all is that Mac Jones genuinely looks defeated at this juncture, his offensive line's injury issues and poor play have hit a breaking point, and the defense has allowed over 120 rushing yards in three of their last four outings. Safe to say, this was some brutal film to watch, but it has to be done.
"And That's Your Ballgame"
Kind of sad when you knew the Honey Badger ended up getting that pick that was your game right then and there, but it's one of those kinds of years.
The key thing to note on this play is this alignment by the Saints front. You have Cam Jordan and Carl Granderson as wide nines to the right, Bryan Bresee closest to David Andrews as a 2i, then Tanoh Kpassagnon as a five tech on Trent Brown's outside shoulder. This is actually great design by Saints HC/de-facto DC Dennis Allen, because they have Bresee work from David Andrews' left to his right, giving Grandson a wide open lane as he comes back on this stunt, which neither Trent Brown nor Atonio Mafi was anticipating.
Now, had Mac eaten the sack, this would have been one of about another dozen plays squarely on the offensive line, but he decided to try and do way too much. 1) He's way too late getting this ball out, seemingly intended for Kendrick Bourne, and 2) This probably wasn't even going to get to him anyway. A guy like Ty Mathieu is making this play 100 times out of 100, and Jones once again continues to be brutal with his post-snap decision-making.
Wind Out of the Sails
To Jones' credit, he came right back on the next drive and made this great throw to Pop Douglas on a third and seven. The bad news is Douglas got rocked by the contact by Marshon Lattimore, and this was the last meaningful snap he took on Sunday. His loss was not the only thing that factored into this, but after this play, the Patriots picked up only three more first downs through the air through the rest of the game...zero of which came over the final 26 minutes of play.
Regression Beyond the Mean
It felt like there were about four or five different offensive line combinations in this game alone for the Patriots, and each one turned out to be below average in the run-and-pass game. The most disappointing part of this entire game was Trent Brown, and quite frankly, it wasn't even close. He was graded as one of the NFL's best tackles through four weeks, and he consistently got beat up in this one, mainly by Granderson. This first play has made the rounds on Twitter, but here are some other brutal pockets Mac had to work with, not even getting into the run blocking which was significantly worse (with about 20 examples).
"Not Worth The Challenge"
As far as Bill Belichick goes, where he deserves the most criticism was not the lack of a challenge on the Kyle Dugger pick that was ruled incomplete, but rather the explanation as to why he didn't challenge it.
"Based on the replay, it looked like the ball hit the ground. Don't see any point in wasting a challenge on a play that didn't look like it was going to go in our favor. Don't know what good that would've done." - Bill Belichick on Monday Morning
My issue with that statement was this: You were down 24-0, and had you gotten that play overturned, you would have been sitting around your own 35 off a momentum play when you've done quite literally nothing on offense to that point. Now, is there any guarantee the Patriots do anything off of this? Of course not, but the optics of that answer make it feel like Bill had given up by that point. It's one thing to lose games (which I'm on board with at this point), but it's a different animal to quit mid-game, either as coaches or players, and we've seen that two weeks in a row now. Besides, that point becomes moot, seeing as this was the first and only play the Patriots ran on the ensuing drive.
J.C. Jackson Back in the Fold
As you can imagine, it wasn't a full workload for Jackson in his return to Foxborough, getting exactly half of the defensive snaps (36). In that sample size, we didn't see first stint Jackson, but he was better than Chargers Jackson by default. Derek Carr only looked his way twice in coverage, one of which was this deep shot try to Chris Olave.
The Saints clearly did their homework because Jackson had plenty of trouble with Tyreek Hill in Week 1. Olave isn't Hill, but his speed is not too far off. Here Jackson is a tad late kicking it into full gear, but does a good job making this a tight enough window down the seam, and Carr puts just enough under this throw to prevent what likely would have been a big completion. Not a bad rep for Jackson, especially considering he's been inactive the prior two weeks. Before we wrap up, here are a few more snaps in coverage where I thought Jackson was good.
Final Score: New Orleans Saints 34, New England Patriots 0
Gaffney's Three Stars from Patriots-Saints
3rd Star - Kendrick Bourne (2 Catches for 43 Yards)
2nd Star - Myles Bryant (5 Tackles, 1 Sack, Played Every Defensive Snap, 1 Catch on 2 Targets for 14 Yards)
1st Star - Ja'Whaun Bentley (11 Combined Tackles, 0 Missed Tackles, 1 Sack)
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