The (7-3) New England Patriots were embarrassed by the (5-4) Tennessee Titans on Sunday from the opening whistle. The Titans returned the opening kickoff past midfield and didn’t look back.
Here’s our instant analysis from the game.
Tom Brady has looked bad the past three weeks.
Brady’s stats over the past three games: 72/121 (59.5%) for 872 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions, with 7 sacks for -57 yards. That’s a passer rating of 84.5 and that’s bad.
Sure, Brady’s missed having Rob Gronkowski on the field, and, yes, Brady’s missed having a rushing attack, and, sure, the offensive line has been in tatters. But there’s no question that Brady’s been missing passes that he used to routinely complete, he’s not felt comfortable in the pocket, he’s forced passes, and he seems to simply go through the motions at times.
32 of Brady’s 41 targets went to Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, or James White. He was locking into his targets and that’s one of Brady’s biggest tells that he’s struggling.
Will vintage Brady return after the bye week? He’ll have to if the Patriots are going to compete in the postseason.
Brady and the offense shut out for an entire half
The Patriots score zero points in the second half, which is extremely rare. While Jacoby Brissett and the Patriots were shut out by the Buffalo Bills in 2016 (L, 16-0), Tom Brady hasn’t been blanked for an entire half since 2014.
The Patriots scored zero points in the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 4 of 2014. They were also blanked in the second half of week 1 against the Miami Dolphins in 2014.
Can someone remind me what happened at the end of that season?
Sony Michel couldn’t save the Patriots rushing game.
Michel had 31 rushing yards on 11 carries in his first game back from injury and the Patriots finished the day with 40 rushing yards on 19 carries. That’s bad.
Shaq Mason was out, again, and Ted Karras was definitely a weak point on the line. Trent Brown was in and out of the lineup because of his illness and Marcus Cannon missed time as he was nicked up and LaAdrian Waddle was also an obvious decline in ability.
But even when the game was close, the Patriots didn’t seem comfortable asking their rushing attack to do anything.
Where the heck is Chris Hogan?
Chris Hogan’s stats over the past two weeks: 3 targets, 0 receptions. That’s bad.
Hogan was supposed to step up with Julian Edelman suspended over the first four weeks of the season and was unable to do so. He produced a little bit when Edelman and Rob Gronkowski and Josh Gordon were available, but he’s been a ghost since Gronkowski was injured.
Hogan had previously produced as the #3 target in the Patriots offense, but he seems to have fallen completely off the radar for Tom Brady and the offense. At this point, there’s no reason why he should be playing ahead of Phillip Dorsett.
Stephon Gilmore was awful against Corey Davis.
Davis finished the day with 125 yards and a touchdown on 7 catches. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe pointed out how Gilmore gave up more yards to Davis than he had in the previous four games combined. That’s bad.
Davis was honestly the engine of the Titans offense and he came through in the clutch time after time after time. Gilmore was supposed to lock him down, but didn’t, with Davis running coverage beater after coverage beater and getting Gilmore to bite on some double moves.
Gilmore will likely get back to his old self, but this was a terrible performance by Gilmore.
The Patriots’ special teams units were atrocious.
The Titans started in Patriots territory three times in the first half and picked up 17 points. They started on their own 42-yard line twice and score an additional touchdown. Basically, 24 of the Titans 34 points came on short field; the Patriots best field position was the 35-yard line to start the second half.
Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal. The punt coverage unit was awful. The Patriots can usually rely on their special teams unit, but not this year.
New England is still 7-3.
When the Patriots started the season 1-2, what would your reaction have been if you were told New England would reach the bye with a 7-3 record? I would have taken that in a heartbeat, with games against the Chiefs, Packers, and Bears on the schedule.
The fact that the third loss came against a seemingly weak Titans team does put a damper on the bye week, but the Patriots are still well-positioned for the final stretch of the season.
Still, New England is now in third place in the AFC, behind the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs and 6-2-1 Pittsburgh Steelers. There is now immense pressure for the Patriots to defeat the Steelers in week 15, or else they likely won’t be able to get a first round bye.