The Patriots’ overall performance in week four against the Packers will be remembered as a true show of toughness and unwillingness to give up. Several players made impactful contributions to keep the team within reach, but many of the usual suspects continued to struggle with consistency and mistakes.
Although New England nearly had the upset win, taking the Packers all the way through an entire period of overtime, penalties and missed opportunities would plague the team once again
Who performed the worst for the Patriots?
With the struggles on offense still at the forefront of the team, Isaiah Wynn’s consistent penalties have been a real damper on successful offensive drives.
In back-to-back plays on the Patriots’ third possession, Wynn was flagged for a false start on a drive that started on their own eight-yard. On the next play, he was flagged for holding but because they had only gained two yards on the play and were so backed up in their own territory, the Packers declined the penalty.
But his bad day didn’t end there. First, he allowed a sack on Hoyer that led to the quarterback leaving the game with an injury. Wynn later failed a block which allowed a strip sack on Zappe during New England’s drive right before halftime. Because of his poor showing, he was eventually benched for much of the remainder of the game for Marcus Cannon, who played significantly better in his return to the field.
At this point in the season, it’s looking more as if Wynn has become a liability on offense. Given his current costly contract, it makes sense that Belichick has persisted on using him. But as his poor play continues to lead to costly penalties and hits on their quarterback, it may be time to keep him out of the games ahead.
When looking at his coverage stats for this game, the story of Myles Bryant’s performance won’t be accurately told. Credited with allowing only two completions on four passes for 35 yards, Bryant’s day wasn’t nearly as good as those numbers indicate.
At one point in the second half, Rodgers noticed Bryant’s weaknesses in coverage and continued to throw in his direction. Although he wasn’t credited negatively for those catches, it was a clear sign that the future Hall of Fame quarterback knew he could exploit Bryant’s struggles.
Bryant was also flagged for defensive pass interference on a Packers third-and-six play, continuing a drive that could’ve easily ended there. Because the game was tied at that point, allowing Rodgers to be on the field longer hurt the Patriots’ chances to win the game.
Overall this season, Bryant has faced challenges with mistakes on returns and slip-ups in coverage. His day in Green Bay wasn’t his best showing, with his margin for error being slim on full display, but if put in the right position and given less of a workload, Bryant can be a good depth piece in the Patriots’ secondary.
The issue of penalties with New England this season couldn’t take a week off on Sunday as the team totaled seven flags for 75 yards.
Unlike last week, the penalties would be nearly evenly split between all three units; three for offense and two for defense and special teams. Isaiah Wynn continued his streak of stacking up penalties this season and slowing down the offense, totaling two himself for a total of six through the last three games.
Special teams would join the flag party with Brendan Schooler nabbing a questionable horsecollar penalty on the Packers’ returner. Despite his obvious lack of grabbing the jersey by the neck to bring the player down, the penalty added an extra 15 yards on what was a great stop by Schooler, putting Rodgers and the Packers’ offense at the 50-yard line.
Cody Davis was flagged for an illegal blindside block on a punt that would’ve given the Patriots’ offense the chance to start at their own 40-yard line. But Davis’ penalty would also push them back another 15-yards.
There needs to be a better emphasis on preventing piling up so many flags in a game. As turnovers continue to be a problem, penalties taking back what would have been successful plays will only prevent the Patriots from winning games.
It’s never a good call to blame the referees’ calls or non-calls for the outcome of a game, and that’s not necessarily the case for the result of Sunday’s game. But the officiating appeared one-sided and preferential to the home team.
There were a few standout misses, the first of which was an obvious uncalled intentional grounding by Rodgers late in the fourth quarter. You know it’s bad when even ESPN’s Mike Reiss tweets about the non-call.
Less than ten minutes later, the pattern of uncalled holding penalties on Judon from last season took place in this game as well. With the game on the line and an obvious hold, the referees looked the other way on this one.
The final standout missed call took place in overtime. On the Patriots’ only drive, Kendrick Bourne was egregiously held on third down. Because Zappe was able to break free of the closing pocket and extend the play, he had the opportunity to throw Bourne’s way. Had he not been held, he likely would’ve broken free of his defender and gave New England a first down.
Brian Hoyer – In the first quarter, Hoyer left with what was said to be a head injury following a hard-taken sack. He was later downgraded to out and would not return. With Mac Jones’ availability in the coming weeks unclear, this is a big hit to the Patriots offense, leaving only Zappe at quarterback for the team.
Jonnu Smith – Midway through the second quarter, Smith hurt his ankle during a play and hobbled off the field. He was shown going straight to the locker room and downgraded to out not long later. Because neither Smith nor Henry has been super involved with the offense thus far, if Smith’s injury is deemed serious, his absence could become another glaring issue for them to overcome.
Other notable injuries: Both Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips were shaken up in the game. Neither were held out or said to be severely injured, but will certainly be worth monitoring throughout the upcoming week of practices.