Two games into the season, the New England Patriots’ offense remains a work in progress. The challenges for the unit will not get any easier this week: the Patriots will have to go up against on a talented New York Jets defense on Sunday.
One of the Jets’ star players on that side of the ball is cornerback Sauce Gardner, who was voted first-team All-Pro in 2022 and is the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. On Wednesday, the 23-year-old was asked his opinion of the Patriots offense so far this season.
“They don’t really have a complex offense,” he said. “It’s pretty simple for the quarterback to get. The gap scheme, everything is really simple, but they excel at it. What they try to do is get other people to mess up and make mistakes. They just do everything right.”
While Gardner’s evaluation sounds like a backhanded compliment, he is not wrong. Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, by design, prefers simplicity in order to allow his players to perform at a fast pace and limit the potential for errors.
Of course, the entire system is dependent on playing mistake-free football — something New England has failed to do in each of its first two games this season. The result is an offense that has moved the ball well at times, but turned those opportunities into points at a below-average rate.
“Obviously, we try to run our plays to the most perfect,” said wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster when asked about Gardner’s remarks. “Not every play is perfect, there are times when we may mess up on something. But I guess what he’s saying is somewhat right. We do go to 100 percent, full speed, and we try to make less mistakes than them, and we try to capitalize on those.”
After losses to Philadelphia and Miami — two of the best teams in football right now — the Jets present a welcome bounce-back opportunity. Of course, the Patriots are well aware that even a team they have beaten 14 straight times and is facing major questions on offense itself is far from a pushover.
That is especially true for a New England squad that has yet to stop shooting itself in the foot.
“We have to go out there and perform well,” said Smith-Schuster, “and not make a lot of mistakes and play to the best of our ability. That’s a great defense — from the D-line to the linebackers to their DBs, it’s an all-around great team.”