WORST PLAY OF THE GAME
Brissett Fumble in the Redzone
One can also consider Gostkowski missing another FG as the worst play, but this one is probably the bigger one. The offense had not been able to push the ball downfield on their first couple drives that began backed up inside their own 15. Thanks to a fantastic catch and run by Bennett, the Patriots were on the Bills side of the field. Regardless of what happened, the Patriots would have atleast put up 3 points if they weren’t able to get into the end zone. Unfortunately, Brissett tried to be a hero, and make a play with his legs, but LB Zach Brown hit him in his torso, knocking the ball out and ending a promising drive.
THINGS TO IMPROVE ON
Through the first 4 games, the Patriots pass rush has been inconsistent. Against the Cardinals and Texans, they were explosive and were able to put pressure on the QB when they needed to. However, against the Dolphins and Bills, their pressure has lacked. Perhaps its more of a reflection of how well the Dolphins and Bills offensive lines were, however, they were still fairly quiet. There is no reason the opposing QBs should be able to take a nap in the pocket.
Third Down Defense
New England is allowing a whopping 46% third down conversion percentage, which is 30th in the NFL. Considering how good this defense is supposed to be on paper, they haven’t been able to get off the field as much as they should be. Yes, the Patriots have a “Bend, Don’t Break” defense, but this stat is troubling.
The offense traveled to the redzone 4 times in the last two games (3 vs. Texans, 1 vs. Bills) and have only scored once. They also rank 25th in the league in Red Zone scoring percentage which isn’t impressive one bit. However, one could easily assume that with Brady back, the Patriots redzone offense will vastly improve. So this isn’t something they should be worried about.
There have been far too many fumbles to start this season. Teams will eventually capitalize on this if the Patriots don’t find a way to hold on to the ball. For example, 14 of the Cardinals points in Week 1 came after the Patriots turned over the ball. If this isn’t fixed soon, it could be detrimental, especially with the defense not creating many turnovers.
It’s unrealistic to believe the Patriots defense will be able to create a turnover on every opposing team’s drive. However, they need to be able to create opportunities for their team to stay in the game. Almost INTs or near fumble recoveries won’t do it. Players need to make THE play.