The New England Patriots lost an ugly, embarrassing semblance of a game against the Kansas City Chiefs in front of a national audience tonight on Monday Night Football. Here are five things we learned from the game:
These aren't your same Patriots. We're now a quarter of the way through the Patriots season, and it's obvious this team isn't a Super Bowl contender. That doesn't mean they can't turn the ship around, but as currently constituted, this team is far from contention. The offense is an absolute mess, and the defense didn't look any better tonight. This game was an absolute embarrassment in every way imaginable. Major changes are needed, but it's hard to see where they're going to come from until the inevitable offseason overhaul on offense. 41-14. Think about that.
This defense might not be as good as we thought. Heading into tonight, it looked like this was a defense that was championship ready with an offense that was well behind. That might not be the case. The Patriots defense excelled against weak offensive units fielded by the Raiders and Vikings, but was pretty terrible against an average Miami offense. The linebacker play was weak tonight and the defense sorely missed Sealver Siliga. And the tackling... oh the tackling. I couldn't even count the number of times a Patriots defender slipped or missed a tackle. And the missed assignment in the secondary. And the fact that the Patriots had no gameplan for Travis Kelce even though we knew he would be a featured part of the gameplan. We could go on for a while her.
Brandon LaFell can be a contributor. The Patriots didn't have much in the passing game outside of Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski to this point, but LaFell certainly did emerge in what was an overall dreadful night for the team. LaFell looked crisp in his routes, showed strength after the catch, and had a breakaway third quarter touchdown. He looks like the top option at receiver after Edelman and he might even have something resembling chemistry with Tom Brady.
The Patriots still have no idea what they're doing on the offensive line. Bryan Stork had a good game, so that's a positive. Cameron Fleming was inconsistent, but that was to be expected. But the area where you thought the Patriots were settled, offensive tackle, was a mess. Marcus Cannon, who was bench in favor of two rookies with zero starts, came in at times for Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder. Solder was dreadful in this game. Regardless, the Patriots clearly still don't know what they're doing on the offensive line.
The Patriots just aren't the same aggressive team on offense. In the first half, before this game got out of hand, the Patriots moved the ball into Chiefs territory twice. On both of those drives, the Patriots faced fourth and short scenarios near the 40. Both times, the Patriots chose to punt the ball, and the field position strategy didn't work. This isn't necessarily a coaching mishap, but rather a reflection on how little confidence the staff has in this offense compared to year's past. But do you blame them?
Overall, this was a terrible game. Yes, this was shocking. There are absolutely no excuses. But it's still just one game. They probably aren't going to be the great team we thought they would be. But teams do bounce back from this kind of loss:
Just a reminder: the Patriots crushed the Jets 45-3 on national TV in 2010. The Jets then crushed them in the playoffs. It's not over.— Greg Knopping (@patspulpit) September 30, 2014