LONG SCORES- The Patriots have not had been a part of many long touchdown plays this season. Offensively the longest touchdown reception was 22 yards (Bourne) and their longest touchdown on the ground was 26 yards (Harris). Defensively they've only given up 6 completions over 20 yards (no touchdowns) and 9 rushes over 10 yards (no touchdowns). While we definitely would like to see the defense keep up that pace, a good way to mask the red zone struggles would be to score from outside of it.
RED ZONE- Yes, this is a problem both offensively and defensively. Offensively we are ranked 32nd when it comes to scoring touchdowns in the red zone. This appears to be more than a Mac Jones problem, as we finished last season ranked 24th. Brady's last season with the Patriots, the team was ranked 26th. Currently the Brady-led Buc's are ranked 11th. This is the same ranking they finished last season with. While the Patriots defense has been pretty stingy with giving up points, they have been rolling out the welcome mat at Gillette once teams get inside their 20. On the season opponents have score touchdowns on 5 of their 8 red zone trips. Since the Jets were 0/2, that makes teams a combined 5 for 6 at Gillette, far from a home field advantage.
TURNOVERS- Staying true to form the Patriots are 1-0 in games which they've won the turnover battle and 0-2 in games which they've lost it. Since 2000 the team is 167-18 when winning the battle and 41-49 when losing it. Currently at a net of 0, the Patriots last had a season losing turnover margin in 2005 with -6. Looking back the last decade, they have dominated opponents with their margins: 2019 (+21), 2012 (+25), and 2010 (+28).
SPECIAL TEAMS- Three games in, the special teams unit looks awful. While we don't need any flashy plays, if we could stop with the errors. False starts, kickoffs that go out of bounds, blocked punts......It's one thing when another team makes a great play, it's another when you make unforced errors to put your defense behind the 8 ball.
WHO WILL BE THE CHECK-DOWN KING- Mac Jones has had a lot of success with his short passes. Yes, we do want to see him throw it down the field sometime, but if the offensive line is not able to give him a ounce of protection, then we can't throw the deep ball. Of course with James White now out of the line-up, the short game will need some other players to step up and gain some yards. Future Hall of Famer, Tom Brady, is back to throwing a lot of short passes himself. Of his 141 attempts, 52% of them were thrown 6 yards or less. Here is a quick breakdown of his passes (numbers based on NextGen quarterback charts)
- Behind Line of scrimmage- 27/31 0 TD 0 Int
- 0-5 Yards- 38/33 5 TD 2 Int
- 6 Yards- 9/10 1 TD 0 Int