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Patriots vs. Bills rookie review: New England’s first-year players have a rough day

Related: Patriots vs. Bills snap count report: New England keeps rotations tight in 33-21 loss

NFL: SEP 12 Dolphins at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ rookie class was forced to taste defeat for a sixth time this season on Sunday: New England lost 33-21 to the Buffalo Bills. With Rhamondre Stevenson on the Covid-19 list, Shaun Wade and Joshuah Bledsoe both healthy scratches, and Ronnie Perkins still on injured reserve, only New England’s highest two draft picks were active for the game.

With that said, let’s take a look at how they fared — starting, of course, with Mac Jones.

QB Mac Jones

  • Offensive snaps: 64 of 64 (100%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

Mac Jones has had some very good games so far in his rookie career. This was not one of them. The 15th overall selection in the 2021 draft completed only 14 of 32 passes for 145 yards; he also gained 33 yards on six carries and was credited with a fumble on an unsuccessful pitch to running back Damien Harris.

The numbers tell only part of the story, though. Jones was unable to string positive plays together consistently enough against a very good pass defense that tried to mix things up to challenge the rookie’s lack of experience. It also played tight coverage against a Patriots offense missing some key pieces: Nelson Agholor was out due to a concussion, while Kendrick Bourne was a no-factor after spending most of the week on the Covid-19 list.

Jones did have some strong moments as well, and made some good decisions and throws against a tough opponent. At the end of the day, however, he simply did not make enough plays to help lift New England past the Bills.

DT Christian Barmore

  • Defensive snaps: 39 of 52 (49%)
  • Special teams snaps: 5 of 22 (23%)

Christian Barmore continues to be a disruptive presence at the heart of the New England defensive line, and the Bills found out on Sunday. The second-round selection registered a career-high six quarterback pressures and made life hard for whoever was lining up opposite him.

Unfortunately, though, pressuring the opposing QB is only one part of the job description. Another is tackling — Barmore missed one of his four tackle attempts — and showing proper situational awareness. The rookie failed to do the latter late in the second quarter: with the Bills keeping their offense on the field for a 4th-and-7 at the New England 40-yard line, Barmore was penalized for encroachment.

The penalty put the Bills in a more manageable fourth-down position and they ultimately converted en route to scoring a touchdown to go up 17-7. Barmore’s jump could be filed as a ticky-tack call — there is an argument that the center’s pre-snap movement was worthy of a flag in itself — but the youngster still has to err on the side of caution in a situation like this.

CB Shaun Wade

  • Inactive

Despite going up against a potent passing attack, the Patriots decided to elevate practice squad cornerback D’Angelo Ross rather than make Shaun Wade active for a third time this season. It seems as if the team wanted more interior speed rather than bigger bodies on the outside (even though Ross ended up playing only five snaps), leading to Wade spending the game on the sidelines.

DB Joshuah Bledsoe

  • Inactive

The Patriots activated Joshuah Bledsoe off their non-football injury list two weeks ago, but he has yet to see the field. The versatile sixth-round pick was declared a game-day inactive for a second straight game and therefore has to keep waiting for his NFL debut. Bledsoe missed the early parts of the season due to a wrist injury sustained at the Senior Bowl.