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We are not used to seeing the Patriots being 4-4 at this time of the season. With Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the worst regular season finish the team has recorded is 9-7 in the year 2002. Yes, that was 19 years ago.
The first year Tom Brady was gone (2020), the Patriots immediately went 7-9. But it seems like Belichick and the front office are determined to turn this ship around and rookie quarterback Mac Jones is an excellent instrument in their hands to achieve exactly that.
Jones is currently 8th in passing yards in the league ahead of names such as Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Ryan. The red zone passing, however, has been problematic for the team and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in particular, as Jones ranks 21st in TD passes.
How have the Patriots fared lately?
The key for New England right now is for the team to find its own identity. It is obvious that the organization is in search of exactly that. If we simplify things, we can state that the patriots are a fumble and a missed Nick Folk kick away from being 6-2 and on top of the AFC.
Another game that could have gone the Patriots’ way (see what we did there) was the overtime loss to the Cowboys. Such games simply show us that inexperience will cost you some narrow games sometimes.
The Patriots did, however, escape Houston with a narrow victory so that even things out. Still, the last two consecutive wins of the team have been statement games.
First, New England proved that they still ‘’own’’ the Jets regardless of who’s under center and regardless of the record of the two teams. Scoring 54 against your old AFC East rival always feels good and proves a lot of things.
Their week 8 victory against the LA Chargers, however, is a true achievement that deserves credit. Yes, LA doesn’t have much of home-field advantage but traveling across the country and beating a contender 27-24 is something to be taken seriously.
Defense is still the key to the Patriots’ success
Belichick is famous for coming up with outstanding defensive game plans each week, especially in big games. When having a young quarterback, the head coach has always tried to make life easier for him by providing tough, effective defensive play.
This year, the Patriots do not jump out of the screen defensively, but they are no joke either. In yards per game, the defense ranks 13th (352.9 yards). In opponent’s points per game, the numbers look significantly better as the New England defense ranks 8th in the league with 20.5 points allowed per game.
This last trend is crucial as this Mac Jones-led offense needs just a little bit more effectiveness, tenacity, and better playcalling to actually become good. Don’t get us wrong – the Patriots average 25.8 points per game giving them the 10th spot in the league.
If the team keeps this up in their next 3 games (@Carolina, vs Cleveland, @Atlanta) they will surely be in the mix for a wild card spot if not for an AFC East championship.