The New England Patriots self-inflicted wounds are back-breaking

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders / Chris Unger/GettyImages

On October 8th ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported this mind-boggling stat - the Patriots had been outscored 45-0 on turnovers! Well, since then they’ve conceded three more points after the Raiders converted Mac Jones’ interception into a 53-yard field goal on Sunday.

Three teams have turned the ball over more than the Patriots, the Vikings, the Raiders, and the Browns. But of those teams only the Browns have a winning record, so that’s not the sort of company you want to keep. In total the Patriots have given the ball back to their opponents 11 times, which is obviously, almost two a game and, again, obviously, terrible. 

To compound how terrible, it is the Patriots’ defense is dead last for takeaways! They’ve managed a poultry 3. So, they give the ball away twice a game and only get it back 0.5 times, you can see how that would be a problem. 

Who are the main culprits when it comes to turning the ball over? Well, obviously Mac Jones is purely because he touches it more than anyone else. Not many wide receivers are throwing interceptions, are they? Only one quarterback has thrown more interceptions than Jones this year, Jimmy Garoppolo. The Patriots’ inability to run the ball hasn’t helped out Jones either.

He’s attempted 201 passes already, or 34 per game. As a rookie he averaged fewer than 31 per game and last season he was closer to 32 per game. That means his interception rate isn’t as dreadful as it may seem. Five quarterbacks have worse rates than Jones. Jordan Love, Justin Fields, Ryan Tannehill, Daniel Jones, and Jimmy G are all ahead of Jones. All of those quarterbacks have been sacked at least 10 times this season too.

Jones isn't just throwing interceptions though, he also leads the team in fumbles, which is hardly surprising when he’s been sacked 12 times in 6 games. Zeke Elliott and Demario Douglas have also lost fumbles this season, both in the game against Miami. 

It’s not all bad for Jones though. According to FantasyPros, 10 QBs have thrown more poor passes than him. And he’s had 9 passes dropped, that’s the 6th highest number in the league. So, everyone needs to be better. 

That sentiment is echoed when it comes to team discipline, only two teams have conceded more pre-snap penalties than the Patriots. Carolina and Chicago are the worst offenders, surprisingly the Patriots have given away the same number as the 49ers,12. Two a game when your offense is already struggling isn’t going to help build momentum. In total, the offense has been penalized 22 times and that’s the fourth-highest number in the league.

Will they though? Well, they might. Zeke Elliott was back to gaining 6.1 yards per touch in Week 6, but Bill O’Brien decided to only give him 8 touches! The only win so far this season came when the Patriots actually managed to run for more than 100 yards. That was against the Jets in some very miserable weather. Pro Football Network rank the Patriots offensive line 19th in the league this season and with no instant fix (although more 12 personnel and trap blocks would be nice) it looks like the 2023 Patriots offense is very much a case of “what you see is what you get”. 

They face the Bills this week who are allowing 5.4 yards per rushing attempt, the only team allowing more than that is the Broncos. So, if someone could let Bill O’Brien know that Zeke Elliott averages 5.92 yards per carry against the Bills that’d be great. 

These problems are all fixable, but when a coaching team has allowed them to persist for a third of the season there’s no evidence they will be.