The New England Patriots did not get off to the start they were hoping for with a 20-7 in Miami on Sunday. While the defense surrendered just 13 points, the offensive struggles from the summer continued into the regular season.
As the page now turns to the upcoming game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England will look to avoid starting 0-2. Just 11.3 percent of those teams have made the playoffs since 1990.
So, let’s empty out the #PostPulpit mailbag.
@BostonEvan11 How’s the offense get fixed?
To start, the Patriots do not have the offensive talent to play the way they did in Week 1. While they have a nice collection of pass catchers, DeVante Parker and Jakobi Meyers are no Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins or a healthy Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. They do not threaten opposing defenses, which means New England has to get more creative with how they use them.
In Week 1, the Patriots’ game plan was extremely vanilla. While a blitz-heavy Dolphins team may have limited New England’s playbook, the Patriots used play-action just twice. That number needs to drastically increase. The unit also used very little motion, making things easy for Miami’s defense from a mental standpoint.
Also, more RPOs. Mac Jones is good at them, he showed that at Alabama. They worked on them in training camp, but did not call one on Sunday.
More window-dressing at the snap is a good starting point for the offense, which will help them just by creating chaos and mentally stressing defenses. Just look at the Dolphins, who used play-action 17 times under new head coach Mike McDaniel against the Patriots. That is where it’s up to Bill Belichick and the offensive coaches to become more creative.
Beyond dialing up the creativity, playing Kendrick Bourne would be an easy solution. We all know by now the summer he’s had, but he was one of the team’s most explosive playmakers last season. As we mentioned, the personnel isn’t a group of game-changers, so leaving Bourne on the bench is questionable.
Perhaps the eventual return of Tyquan Thornton could help the group as well, while more touches for Jonnu Smith and Rhamondre Stevenson would also be a plus.
@ForbesSumner Why Miles Bryant over Marcus Jones? Is it really because BB values exp over talent? If so, does he need to adjust his approach?
Myles Bryant is a reliable player, but he had some bad miscues in Week 1. He missed a tackle that resulted in a quality gain and couldn’t capitalize on a should-be interception in which he effectively knocked the ball out of Devin McCourty’s hands.
Bryant has proven to struggle in man-to-man coverage, especially against quicker receivers. He seems best fit for a depth role that can provide versatility throughout the secondary.
As for Marcus Jones, his speed and physicality makes him a much more intriguing option moving forward. After playing just six snaps against Miami, the hope is they get him on the field more.
@ScottyBEASTMODE How much did Jabril Peppers play in week 1? Couldn’t find the info anywhere.
@BrysonPost Jabrill taking more snaps now that Phillips is injured?
Jabrill Peppers played 18 defensive snaps in Miami, which was just 30 percent. The thought here is he is still may not be full-speed ahead after rupturing his ACL last season. They were very slow increasing his usage throughout the preseason, perhaps lingering into the regular season here. However, if Adrian Phillips (ribs) is forced to miss time here, Peppers should see an uptick in snaps.
@Demolition71 Can’t help but think that this year is an experimental and clearing cap space kind of year. If that’s the case and results are poor, could Pats go conventional next year and appoint an actual OC?
Yes, New England has plenty of cap space projected next offseason. But, they also have an owner who has made it vocal he wants to win now. As Robert Kraft explained this past offseason, he does not only want to make the playoffs but win playoff games — something his franchise has not done since its victory in Super Bowl LIII.
@Skywal1Thaddeus Is there a possibility that Bill retires after this year as Head Coach, and then Sean Payton takes over as Head Coach while Bill is the GM?
While I do think Belichick’s eventual retirement will be sudden and a surprise, this doesn't seem like the time. I think bringing Matt Patricia and Joe Judge back with key roles on the coaching staff helps that case, as they will most likely be around for the foreseeable future.
If this is it, though, Sean Payton would definitely be on the top of my list if he decides to return to coaching (my guess is he will). Payton was a fan of Mac Jones coming out of the draft, so maybe there would be mutual interest there if the situation presented itself.
@Ted_Pastrick Who would be a good fit if BB ever wanted an OC with a background in offense?
Throughout his coaching career, Belichick has tended to promote coaches from within, which allows continuity and promotes player development. So, it was no surprise when he brought back Matt Patricia last year and Joe Judge this offseason.
The true surprise was when we then heard they were “streamlining” or changing or whatever you’d like to call it to their offense with those coaches. If the Patriots wanted to implement new elements into their offense, bringing in a coach (or coaches) from the outside to help with the acclimation process wouldn't have hurt.
If they decide to do so next season, it would be interesting to see how Belichick handles it. Bringing in the likes of a Bill O’Brien would have to come with an offensive coordinator title. If they look really outside the box, Bills quarterback coach Joe Brady has always caught my eye. He’d likely need the offensive coordinator title too, however. Perhaps not officially naming a coordinator this season leaves those doors open.
@patsdowney How likely is it for Mac to throw 30+ TDs this season
Based off everything we’ve seen so far, not very likely. I’d say the 25-range is more logical.
@MightyFeklhr Who will fix their offense first? The Pats or the Iowa Hawkeyes?
As a Big Ten fan, the Patriots.
@SETHENARRATIV2 you have better quarterbacks on the bench when will they play?
Are we talking about Brian Hoyer or Bailey Zappe here? I’ll take Mac Jones with a bad back and stomach issues.
@WashedIsRyan Do u miss me
Does Kendrick Bourne need more playing time?
@NickTeixeira15 Scote prediction this weekend. I’m thinking pats somehow sweak this out [20-17]
The 20-17 prediction is solid. It will be a low-scoring and tight game throughout. Even with the offensive struggles, I have a hard time seeing New England drop two in a row. I think they make life difficult for Mitch Trubisky and squeak by 17-13.
That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!