What happens after I lose the winning game?
The Patriots are about to find out.
After emphasizing the importance of kicking off at Buffalo every Sunday, the Patriots became 15 yards shy to defeat the building and start a U-turn in the season. If they win, it is possible that they did not complete that U-turn. Alternatively, this series of moral victories will suddenly become a series of real victories.
What is clear is that the Patriots’ failure last weekend led to a growth pattern. Limited pass game. Leaky Rand Defense. While accumulating some small mistakes, big mistakes cannot be avoided. The fourth-quarter tightrope walk, which the franchise has successfully completed most of its 20 years, is now rebounding the Patriots almost every other week.
The Patriots found their foothold on Sunday, but nevertheless fell.
The grades by position from the latest loss are:
Quarterback: C +
That’s all Pat could ask Cam Newton for, and that’s exactly what they received. He did what sharp, slightly aggressive coordinator Josh McDaniels asked him to eliminate all pointless mistakes. Almost 60% of his dropbacks were either play action passes, screens, or single lead rollouts. Those plays were safe and successful.
Newton also showed a smoother mechanic and went on strike in the downfield in the face of pressure. His completion rate when adjusting the drop and throw away was solid at 85%. He’s not Superman again, but he’s far from the disasters that centered around Denver and San Francisco.
These are all good signs, although they cast a shadow over the most costly mistakes of the season.
Running back: B
As soon as Damian Harris proves reliable as an electric shock pickup and receiver, he will be back in full.
As an early downrunner, he ran hard and broke tackles against Bills on a regular basis. He avoided traffic jams and created a garden for himself in a small space. In general, the Patriots had a better run block than the all-season, but Harris was there when O-line needed a rare bailout, averaging about 3.5 yards after contact.
So did Rex Burkehead. The veteran back showed excellent balance and determination in the third down conversion run in the second half. However, while James White hurriedly surrendered, he also allowed a QB hit with pass protection. With the exception of one 28-yard catch-and-run, this was White’s quietest game of the year.
Wide receiver: C +
Welcome, Jacobi Myers.
In his second year, Wide Out, after patiently waiting for six games behind poorly performing Julian Edelman and N’Kiel Harry, led the team at the reception last week and again topped the charts at Buffalo. In addition to the game’s best six catches, Myers called back two receptions with aggressive penalties, bringing the game’s total close to 100.
He was the only wide receiver Newton trusted. Damier Leverd delivered late and caught the back slope and comeback route in the fourth quarter. He and Newton were able to carefully recognize Presnap and move the chain to what they started developing as a drive that could win the game. Elsewhere, Isaia Zuba made one 13-yard pass on the screen, and Gunner Orscheski became catchless with 42 of his career’s best attack snaps.
Tight end: D +
Izzo made two clutch catches towards the end of the first half, then made a full extension in the second half to pull Pat into the field goal and finally cut Bills’ lead to 7-6. But apart from those receptions, the sledge was hard.
As a blocker, Izzo allowed Sack, Hurry, QB Hit, and Run Staff. He was regularly asked to crack down on the block at the defensive end, and it started well, especially on the outside run. But he couldn’t provide much with nine snaps of path protection.
Given that rookie Devin Asiasi (for personal reasons) and Dalton Keene (knees) could play, it’s no wonder how tight-end snaps were split.
Attack line: C +
A rare game where the Patriots run blocking outperforms pass protection.
Newton was under pressure for 40% of the dropbacks in Buffalo, and Joe Tony tied Izzo to the team with the worst three pressures. Tony worked on the last drive of the Patriots in the first half, and Newton was attacked every time he passed. In total, he was responsible for one holding penalty in addition to two rushes and QB hits.
Center’s David Andrews and light guard Shaquille Mason were in a hurry, and aggressive tackles Isaiah Wynn and Michael Onwenu shut out without a goal. Mason was devastating as a run blocker, especially when he pulled a counter run that demanded that the unblocked defenders at the end of the line of scrimmage be erased. Harris recorded a 22-yard touchdown behind Mason and Jacob Johnson in fullback.
Defensive Line: D +
This position group is changing from being injured to being helpless.
Bill Belichick’s exclusion of nose guard Bo Allen during the Monday season doesn’t seem to provide any reinforcement of the starting caliber towards the Buffalo-pushed D-line. Bills has achieved everyday success by targeting the training team’s defensive tackle, Nick Thurman. John Simon was folded inward several times by Dion Doukins on the left tackle and was unable to set the required edge for the run.
Dietrich Wise and Adam Butler were the only putts to record pressure in the second half. Butler ended up with two people. He, Byron Kwart, and Lawrence Guy all scored QB hits, but that wasn’t a problem. Seeing this D-line, Bills transformed from the worst rush team in the league into a powerful bulldozer.
Linebacker: D +
On the bright side here, Josh Uche has the potential for a bright future.
His athletic ability is a welcome sight at the second level, where he shows the sideline-to-sideline range in Ja’Whaun Bentley’s injury relief and as an edge rusher over most other snaps. Dropped down. Speaking of Bentley, he was disappointed again. He missed more tackles than any other patriot and repeatedly shot himself from play that fired too aggressively into the gap.
But at least he could see the field. Chase Vinovich’s Rand Defense must put him in the kennel. Because he was limited to a total of 5 (5!) Snaps, all shot in clear passage situations.The practice team Tashawn Bower saw more snaps than Winovich, Derek Rivers and Sirike Calhorn. Join Sunday. It criticizes the prosecution as well as any of the Patriots edge groups.
Defensive back: B-
JC Jackson primarily held his own shadowing Stephen Digs, and the rest of Pats’ defensive back had a serviceable game at worst. Jason McCourty finished one drive with a pass breakup and Devin McCourty didn’t allow the catch, but in the second quarter he gave Bill a new downset with an offside penalty and then missed the tackle. Terence Brooks whisked once, with the best 58 snaps of the season.
Jonathan Jones stuck to Cole Beasley for most of the game. Given that Beasley was Josh Allen’s occasional security blanket, it was an underrated success. Jones was also sent in three slot blitz, but couldn’t go home. Adrian Phillips probably played his worst match as the Patriots, had no effect on the run, and didn’t even play as Blitzer.
Special team: B
Jake Bailey’s onside kick was performed reasonably as expected, despite the results. He also launched his first touchback of the year, dropped another punt in the 20s and registered a 64 yard long. Kicker Nick Falk achieved field goals of 43 yards and 33 yards in the second quarter.
Orshewski set up the putt in a great field position with his only punt return of 15 yards, but with an average kick return of less than 18 yards, he retreated a few yards.
Coaching: C +
The Patriots undoubtedly kept Newton training wheels too long, given how he was delivering in the face of pressure and finding a receiver in the downfield in the first half. McDaniels was also slow to use 21 people in full back. This puts the most efficient group of attacks into the kickoff. Deployed in a few snaps in the third quarter, it quickly led to Harris’ first touchdown.
Defensively, the Patriots played dimes and quarterback packages almost exclusively in the field of 6 and 7 defensive backs. The trade-offs of padding pass defense at the expense of land defense are clear and ultimately costly. Passes are generally much more efficient, but if the offense averages 5 yards per carry, the trade-off between pass defense and run defense is a loser.
WR Jakobi Meyers He is the Patriots’ best wide receiver. It’s time for his snap count to begin to reflect that.
OL Michael Onwenu The rookie is officially one of the Patriots’ best players. No qualifier is required.
LT Isaiah Wynn The Patriots managed to get rid of the tackle to the left more quickly than any other spot on the attack line. Win deserves a lot of praise for it and his all-around performance.
The back of the pack
DT Nick Thurman He is not the two natural gappers who were forced to act because of an injury. Severe outing.
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley Three tackle failures and more play helped create a running lane and injure in the second half. Another downer.
DT Byron Cowart He was swept away as often as Thurman. Ideally, Cowart would be his second year backup, but this is a situation where defense finds itself.