The offense struggled all season long, and it eventually cost the New England Patriots the season. The coaching certainly didn’t help, because there were some terrible decisions made along the way, but the real problem was the offense.
Don’t give me Derrick Henry. He had 180 rushing yards, good for him. The Tennessee Titans scored zero offensive points in the second half. They had 72 passing yards the entire game, and the Patriots would force a fourth quarter interception. Meanwhile, New England had four chances on offense down one point after intermission. The Titans had 109 yards of total offense in the second half. Yes, they were 50% on third down, but they gave the Patriots opportunity after opportunity to win the game, and they simply couldn’t do it.
The offense had 85 yards of offense on four drives in the second half, all the time trailing by one point. They crossed the 50-yard line once, getting three whole yards past it after the Duron Harmon interception. That was when I knew the game was probably over. The defense made a huge play and gave the offense great field position, and it picked up a mere seven yards (it would get five more on a defensive penalty). The Patriots offense got a golden opportunity and completely squandered it, as it did for most of the game.
Honestly, it was hard to watch.
Now, the coaching. There was the obvious one where they had first-and-goal from the Titans 1-yard line, and they called essentially the same play three times in a row and got stuffed all three times. It was one of the worst sequences I have ever seen from the Patriots. They ended up settling for three instead of punching it in, which was clearly the difference in the game. But the other one is a little less obvious.
Patrick Chung went out with an injury and was replaced by Terrence Brooks. That’s special teamer Terrance Brooks, in case you are not familiar with him. On the very next play after the Chung injury, Brooks would get smoked in man coverage by all-world tight end Anthony Firkser for a touchdown. Then, with just under three minutes to play, and the Titans still up one point, they faced a third-and-eight. Brooks once again lined up in man coverage against Firkser. I have to assume everyone in the stadium and watching at home knew who the pass was going to, I know I did.
Sure enough, Tannehill would complete an 11-yard pass to the tight end for a first down. One more before I’m done with the coaching staff (I’m not even mentioning the fact that they seems completely unwilling to stack the box against Derrick Henry early in the game), on the last punt of the game, they didn’t put anyone back to catch the ball. I understand that they are trying to block the punt and the ball, which originally hit at around the 30, rolled all the way to the 1-yard line.
If Julian Edelman is back there, he at least catches it where it first hit, and might even have a chance to pick up some yards on the return. I know there was almost no time left in the game, but they only needed a field goal, getting the ball at the 30-yard line or closer, even with under 30 seconds left in the game, at least gives you a chance.
In the end, the most reliable players and coaches were the ones who let the Patriots down. Tom Brady had a bad game, Julian Edelman had a huge drop, and the coaching staff had multiple questionable calls.
As for the future of this team, there are far more questions than answers, and there could be some changes that will completely change the look of the organization. But I’m going to save my opinions on that for a later time. Right now, I’m simply focused on this game. I know we’ve been incredibly lucky to be Patriots fans, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about this game or this year’s team. However, no matter what happens, I’ll still wake up tomorrow just as big a Patriots fan as I am today and was yesterday. Hopefully you’ll do the same.
Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast
Interact with him on Twitter @plane_pats