Loser No. 2: Offensive Line
The offensive line has been an issue for the Patriots throughout the season. The running game has been spotty, and they have had trouble protecting Tom Brady. We saw one area of improvement against the Buccaneers, but one area is still a weak spot.
The Patriots did pretty well running the ball. They averaged 4.9 yards per carry, totaling 113 yards. However, the protection for Brady was a mess once again. The Patriots had the same four players play every offensive snap, the same starters the team had in 2016, but the results have not been the same.
Brady was hit six times and sacked three times. Some of the hits were pretty vicious, as he was folded over once as well. That brings the season total to 32 hits and 16 sacks in five games; he was sacked only 15 times in 12 games last season.
The inconsistencies with the offensive line have hurt the Patriots. They are not playing near the level that they did in 2016, which has resulted in some crushing hits on the 40-year old Brady.
All of the blame cannot be placed on the offensive line, but their struggles have been apparent. They will need to step up their performance if Brady is going to make it through the whole season without suffering an injury. No quarterback would survive a whole season taking some of the hits that Brady did Thursday night against the Buccaneers.