Watching what I could of the game yesterday, it was difficult to believe that the Patriots were coached by Bill Belichick. They turned the ball over thoughtlessly. The execution was poor. They seemed hesitant to seize the moment in front of them. And they played with reluctance not confidence.
These are not the hallmarks of how Bill coaches. But these are hallmarks are how games get lost.
Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Kyle Van Noy, Dont'a Hightower, David Andrews, Devin McCourty, Lawrence Guy, and James White have given their all for the last 3 titles the Patriots have won. Most of these players are on their way out the door. Somewhere in the next 2 seasons, it is very possible that most of these players will be on other teams. If not out of football altogether.
I could probably name a few more players who have made contributions to the last title that the Patriots won. But most of those players are in the prime years of their careers.
The Patriots are a team in transition. They need to find out who can help them as they move forward with a new mentality. When injuries happen to players like James White, it just highlights that fact all that much more. It falls on the coaching staff to start trusting guys who are further down the depth chart. And see what they truly have to offer.
After yesterday, whatever is going on with Jonnu Smith needs to be dealt with. The team drafted Devin Asiasi in 2020. He looked good during the preseason. And I heard good things about him during training camp. He's been inactive for the first 3 games. It is time to get him on the field and find out how much he can help the team.
With James White's injury, it is time to start trusting Rhemondre Stevenson and J.J. Taylor with larger roles. And it will allow them to complement Damien Harris. Not sit them on the sidelines and have them watching everything go by.
The struggles of the offense isn't on one man. But it does stand to reason that Coach Belichick is as responsible for why the offense has played as bad as they have as Josh McDaniels is. I'm not ready to kick Josh out yet. He does have a pedigree of calling timely plays. But the character of the Patriots' offense right now is not a good one. IF there is a character to this offense at all.
I feel that part of the reason the offensive line has not clicked has to do with the starting offensive line played with Cam Newton during the preseason mostly. And Cam didn't play long as we all know. One or two series per preseason game seems like a difficult way to build cohesion in an offensive line that hasn't played together. And is dealing with a lot of change.
I put the offensive line on the head coach.
The rest of it, falls on Josh. I feel the 2 TE usage comes across as forced. As neither Hunter Henry nor Jonnu Smith have had games where they have taken over. Smith seems like he's not himself. And I think the team should bench him in favor of Asiasi.
I also feel that Damien Harris ran better with a FB in front of him.
Yes the offensive line has struggled to open holes for the backs. Or protect Mac Jones efficiently. But I feel that Harris runs a lot better with a FB in front of him.
The last thing offensively that sticks out to me is that Sean Payton, Saints' head coach, had a good first touchdown drive that made sense. Come out run the ball. Throw to your backs and Tight Ends to move the ball down the field. With the Saints first touchdown, it allowed them to put pressure on the Patriots to match them. And New England could not do that.
But he protected his quarterback with his play calling. And it put points on the board.
It is hard to know what NE's game plan was completely. But the execution of what NE did yesterday didn't work. And it's not all on the line either. I'm asking where is the no-huddle offense so that Mac can build a rhythm. And put pressure on the opposing defense. Where are the 2 TE, 2 back sets so that you can give the defense a different look. But still create favorable match ups if you want to throw the ball from that formation.
It also seems that Josh is quick to abandon the running game.
I'm just seeing a lot of stagnation on offense. And a lack of creativity as well.
I'm hoping that both Rhemondre Stevenson and J.J. Taylor will force the hand of the coaching staff. So that both players can stay on the field more.
I am also hoping that Asiasi and N'Keal Harry can aid the offense. The Patriots need a shot in the arm to get moving in the right direction. But they have pieces to work with to help them win games.