For once, the New England Patriots defense needed the offense to bail them out in a game. Unfortunately, the offense wasn’t up to the challenge yet again.
The New England Patriots fell Sunday night to the Houston Texans, dropping the team out of the No. 1 seed in the AFC and closing the gap in their own division between the Buffalo Bills and themselves. With the offense still sputtering 12 weeks into the season, it’s fair to wonder if Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have any tricks left up to their sleeves to right this ship in time.
Through misread hand-signals and possible lack of communication, the Pats are continuing to struggle on the offensive side of the ball. Tom Brady’s frustration with the unit is becoming more and more evident, as we’re seeing him throw his helmet on the sideline and try to get his teammates on the correct page through verbal lashings caught on camera.
Going into last week’s game against the Texans, the Patriots had only five wide receivers to utilize at their disposal: Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers, and N’Keal Harry. Unfortunately for the Pats, it wouldn’t be enough to get the job done against the Texans.
Brady had to resort to the playmakers that he trusts the most on the team: Julian Edelman and James White. Edelman had six receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets, while White had 8 receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets.
It’s not odd by any means for James White to be targeted 11 times in a game (White also had 14 carries for 79 yards). But it becomes a problem when the reason that it’s happening is because Brady doesn’t have anyone else he trusts to throw to.
Brady targeted his wide receivers on Sunday against the Texans 31 times, and yet the receivers only caught 14 passes. Although the Patriots have tried to give Brady some weapons over the last few years, it just hasn’t been enough to get the job done.
Against the Texans, it appeared Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers ran the wrong routes after Brady changed it during his pre-snap adjustments. Brady then showed his frustrations with both players after the breakdowns.
It shouldn’t all be on Brady that the offense is operating in shambles, but he does give up on players too quickly during the course of a game, which in turn doesn’t help his rapport with the team… especially his young receivers.
In order for the Pats to come out victorious in what could be a potential shootout against Kansas City in Week 14, Brady and his receivers need to get on the same page.
Even though Mohamed Sanu just arrived in New England and is still learning the playbook, he needs to catch the ball when it hits him in the chest and goes through his hands. Sanu will be looking to regain some more of Brady’s trust on Sunday.
Whether Brady wants to or not, he’s going to have to throw the ball to N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers, with the understanding that there will probably be more rookie mistakes along the way. Brady overreacting over the rookie receivers’ gaffes is not going to help their development in the offense.
It goes to show how truly complicated this offense is, seeing as the only guys who Brady trusts right now are Julian Edelman and James White, both of whom have now been playing in the offense for six or more seasons at this point.
For this upcoming game against the Chiefs, Brady and his offense are going to need to click on all cylinders. The Pats’ rushing attack will look to duplicate their performance from a week ago (145 yards) to help create a more balanced offense.
This game is important because it’ll show if the Patriots offense will be able to keep the score within reach against a worthy opponent… and help take some of the load off of the defense in the process, too.