Well, that high from that Bills win last Sunday was fun while it lasted. As expected, one of the few guarantees in life came to pass, a Patriots loss on the outskirts of Miami, Florida to the Dolphins. Even with their offensive line falling apart at the seams, the Patriots' defense got taken to task early and often, and outside of an early touchdown offensively, were never able to keep up. While the referees in this game were downright horrendous (really leaguewide in Week 8), the Patriots still found a way to lose this game on their own merit time and time again. Mac Jones is back to committing backbreaking turnovers, the defense gave Tua every opportunity to succeed in the passing game, and couldn't match on the other side.
But now at 2-6, with Kendrick Bourne out for the season, and with teams like the Bills, Chiefs, Chargers, and Jets still on deck, this feels like an early end of the line for the Patriots. But if there's any positive to take away, I think the Patriots have the right side of their offensive line set for the foreseeable future.
It was another banner day for a Patriots safety, this week being Kyle Dugger, who led the Patriots in tackles, while also picking up a freebie sack and interception to boot.
We'll get to Mac's interception in a few minutes, but this one felt equally bad, if not worse. Never felt like the window was there to get that ball to Hill with how Dugger was sitting in that zone. But hey, take 'em however you can, and a great job to pick up 15 yards on the return. The sack was also a freebie, but if an offensive line leaves you unaccounted for off the edge, you have to make that count, and Dugger certainly did. Dugger also brought up tackling being something that the Patriots need to be better at after Sunday, but he was on point all day in that area.
The Sidy Sow Show™
A pleasant surprise as of late with these Patriots has been the play of rookie offensive lineman Sidy Sow. According to PFF, the Eastern Michigan product had 90 pass-blocking snaps against the Raiders, Bills, and Dolphins, giving up one (1) pressure between those three games. As someone who was as far 'don't kick Michael Onwenu out to tackle' as humanly possible, Sow has proven he can hang on the interior, against some good interior fronts at that. Against Miami, you saw a guy play with a ton of power, stuck to his assignments, and knew when to pass defenders off up front in pass pro. Here are a few examples, starting with the Kendrick Bourne touchdown. (Looking for big No. 62. You can't miss him).
Having to line up and block three guys like Christian Wilkins, Jaelan Phillips, and Raekwon Davis is a tough assignment for any offensive lineman, and Sow looked like a multi-year veteran against those guys, very impressive. Despite how good Sow has been, these last two weeks, he was only on platoon duty with Atonio Mafi at right guard on Sunday. That's especially odd since in his four prior games he's been out there for every snap. Bill Belichick said that this was always the plan, and given the snap counts in previous weeks, my best guess is this had to do with the fact they were in Miami more than anything else. Either way, they should stick with Sow at right guard from here on out, he was outstanding once again at right guard.
Read Like a Book
After a clean sheet against Buffalo, Mac Jones was back with another horrendous turnover, bringing him to eight interceptions this season. This week, he couldn't have put Jalen Ramsey in a better spot on a play that should have been six the opposite way, quite frankly.
To give credit where it's due, the Dolphins play this beautifully on the back end. Every single receiving option is accounted for. Where Jones messes up here is that he stares down Bourne the entire way, and Ramsey is in the process of reading his eyes. In that spot, Jones should have tried to move him onto Parker, or just eaten a sack. It was a 1st&10 just inside of two minutes to go in the first half so that honestly wouldn't have been the end of the world. It's just every time you think Jones has a groove going, he does something like this.
Failure to Communicate
The two plays that should have infuriated every Patriots fan were the touchdowns by Hill and Waddle because both were entirely avoidable. There was zero communication on the back end, and both were walk-in scores. A free 14 points in what was a 14-point loss for those keeping track.
Now, there are multiple things I dislike about this first play. If the plan is to do top-down bracket coverage on Tyreek Hill, you can't give him a free release playing that far off the line. Whether that was a part of the plan or J.C. Jackson simply not making that presnap adjustment, this cannot happen. Marte Mapu also gets caught peeking into the backfield with the motion from Salvon Ahmed, and while he's extremely fast for his size, he's not keeping up with Hill in that spot.
Now for the Waddle TD. If I were to guess, Jack Jones should have passed off Hill to Jonathan Jones and then fell onto Waddle, but they nor anyone else in the secondary attempts to communicate this, and they both follow HIll. A gigantic mistake. It looks like Dugger is playing spy, Mack Wilson is on Ahmed, and Jalen Mills has Ingold if he sneaks out on the near side. If you're one of the Jones' you have to know the middle of the field is going to be wide open here, so to allow Waddle to get this ball with not a soul in sight is inexcusable. Thought this was the worst day out of the Patriots' corner room in several dozen games. Disappointed would be an understatement. We could also get into the dozens of lowlights from J.C. Jackson, but there isn't enough time in the day. Sunday was comfortably one of the worst games of his career.
Final Score: Miami Dolphins 31, New England Patriots 17
Gaffney's Three Stars from Patriots-Dolphins 2
3rd Star - Sidy Sow (PFF's Highest Graded Patriots OL in 29 Snaps)
2nd Star - Christian Barmore (1 Sack, 5 Tackles)
1st Star - Kyle Dugger (1 INT, 1 Sack, Team-High 9 Tackles)
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