The Patriots have uncharacteristically struggled with substitutions the past two weeks, and that falls squarely on the coaching staff.
It goes without saying that the New England Patriots’ dynasty was built on a reputation of being disciplined and efficient in all facets of the game. This season, however, has unfortunately been an entirely different story for head coach Bill Belichick’s side, which fell to 2-5 after a gutting road defeat against Buffalo on Sunday.
The coaching staff has largely gotten a pass for the team’s struggles this season, as most of the blame has either fallen on the shoulders of Cam Newton or the defense, and both were at fault yet again vs the Bills.
However, Belichick and Co. deserve just as much criticism for not being on top of their game (albeit in spurts) in 2020. For the second consecutive week, the Patriots shockingly struggled making substitutions, an aspect of the game that is usually fluid and well-organized on their end.
For the first play of the second half (!), the Patriots were caught with having 10 players on the field. Luckily for the defense, safety Adrian Phillips signaled to the sideline for help and rookie linebacker Josh Uche subsequently sprinted in late and actually managed to make the tackle.
We can totally see this sort of confusion transpiring during the middle of a quarter, but there is simply no excuse for it to happen on the first play out of the break. If you ask us, that is on the coaching staff more than it is on the players, and that isn’t up for debate. And when you look at how the defense was shredded on that opening drive of the second half, that tells an even bigger story.
This glaring lapse in concentration makes it seem like Belichick didn’t use the intermission to make adjustments from the first half. The most concerning part of it all is that this is the third time in 2020, at least on this big of a scale, that the Patriots have been disorganized in the substitution department.
In last Sunday’s loss to the 49ers, the coaching staff came out flat and New England, playing with 10 men on the field, conceded a seven-yard completion. Back in Week 3 it was even worse, as the Patriots had to burn FOUR timeouts due to substitution problems.
We’ve been consistent in defending Belichick from irrational critics this season, but this is an easily avoidable issue that needs to be nipped in the bud moving forward. Luckily for him, a road date with the winless Jets is next up on the schedule.