What’s most irritating about the 2018 Patriots is the lack of an apparent purpose for his or her wildly inconsistent offense.
Actually, what can we level to?
The Pats are remarkably wholesome. The Josh Gordon acquisition has gone in addition to anybody might have hoped. He’s amongst the NFL leaders in yards per reception. Coming off an ACL tear, a 32-year-old Julian Edelman has exceeded expectations. He’s racking up 71.1 yards per recreation, even higher than his common from a career-best 2016 season. At occasions, the offensive line has bulldozed defenses and appeared like one among the prime run-blocking models in the league.
Rob Gronkowski isn’t the similar participant he as soon as was, however that’s about it.
And but the Patriots simply turned in a 10-point clunker for the third time this season.
For context, that’s solely occurred in eight video games over the previous decade. Previous to this yr, right here have been the different occasions the Pats scored 10 factors or fewer: A Jacoby Brissett begin towards the Payments in 2016, a weird 20-10 loss at Miami in 2015 (the notorious Steven Jackson/Brandon Bolden recreation), a meaningless Week 17 loss to the Payments in 2014 that featured rookie Jimmy Garoppolo and offensive backups, a 13-6 defeat at the Bengals in a monsoon in 2013, and a 16-9 loss to the Jets in 2009.
There are asterisks related to these video games. It’s a lot more durable to discern precisely why the offense retains flopping this season.
Right here’s our newest try, as we hand out the grades from a 17-10 defeat at the Steelers…
Tom Brady’s worst play of the season was his Patrick Mahomes impersonation towards the Chiefs, when he scurried behind the line for 10 seconds and ultimately fumbled.
His interception on Sunday towards the Steelers is true up there with the Chiefs fumble.
Dealing with a second-and-goal from the Pittsburgh 16-yard line (sure, penalties have been a significant factor on this recreation), Brady panicked beneath strain, retreated, and heaved the ball towards the sideline off his again foot. Joe Haden got here down with the interception, preserving the Steelers’ 14-10 lead. Brady wasn’t underneath speedy strain on the play. He had time to make a greater determination.
This was a theme on Sunday. The offensive line had its points, however too typically Brady bailed underneath the assumption that he’d be hit. Too typically he tucked the ball and have become unsettled by the strain that was kinda, sorta there.
His remaining three throws to the finish zone have been about as low-percentage because it will get. On the final one, Brady pale away and hit the turf regardless of not being touched by any defenders.
RUNNING BACK: B-minus
The operating recreation was a shiny spot.
New England’s greatest drive got here halfway by means of the third quarter when Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead churned out carries of 5, 5, 2, 9, 10, and Four yards on consecutive performs.
James Develin threw nice blocks on Burkhead’s carries of 9 and 10 yards. On the second run, Burkhead stored his legs driving and gained an additional three yards.
Michel ran via Joe Haden to realize seven yards after contact on a 13-yard carry to open the second half.
Burkhead picked up a rusher on Tom Brady’s 63-yard landing connection to Chris Hogan.
James White wasn’t closely concerned. The Pats at the moment are Zero-Four when White receives seven touches or fewer.
WIDE RECEIVER: D
Julian Edelman dropped two passes and dedicated penalties on back-to-back snaps.
Josh Gordon let a move undergo his palms on a third-down slant route at the starting of the third quarter. Gordon caught a single move for 19 yards. Tom Brady didn’t look at him on the last drive.
Provided that Pittsburgh devoted a lot consideration over the center to Rob Gronkowski, Gordon’s lack of utilization on the perimeter was puzzling.
Cordarrelle Patterson gave the Patriots strong manufacturing, together with a third-and-5 conversion on a comeback route alongside the sideline. It’s nonetheless exhausting to justify Patterson over Gordon for the remaining play, although.
Edelman’s 34-yard reception on the remaining drive was a big-time play.
TIGHT END: C-minus
The Steelers made positive Rob Gronkowski wouldn’t single-handedly beat them but once more. There can be no repeat of 2017, when Gronk toyed with security Sean Davis in one-on-one protection for 69 yards on the game-winning drive.
Pittsburgh doubled Gronkowski in key conditions. Tom Brady pressured the ball to Gronk late, however there was nothing there.
Gronk caught two passes on 5 targets for 21 yards. He transformed a 3rd down in the pink zone, however general made little impression.
OFFENSIVE LINE: D-minus
Marcus Cannon struggled with the velocity of T.J. Watt.
Watt hit Brady on an early third-and-5 throw that fell incomplete. He sacked Brady with 6:06 remaining in the third quarter, placing the Patriots in a third-and-long. Brady appeared involved with the matchup all afternoon. He seemed like he was all the time anticipating strain from Watt.
The run blocking was a plus, and with the exception of some performs the safety was effective. Trent Brown did a pleasant job with Bud Dupree.
However the penalties dedicated by the offensive line completely killed the Pats.
4 of the 5 linemen have been flagged. Cannon tackled Stephon Tuitt on a first-and-goal operating play from the 5-yard line, bumping the Patriots again to the 15-yard line. The drive ended with Brady’s interception.
With 37 seconds remaining and the Patriots on the 11-yard line, Shaq Mason was flagged for a maintain towards Tuitt. It was an apparent name.
DEFENSIVE LINE: D
The Patriots have been a catastrophe towards the run for the second straight week.
This time, it might have been partially by design. They performed dime protection — six defensive backs — for nearly the complete recreation.
Assume the Knowshon Moreno recreation towards the 2013 Broncos. The Pats have been begging the Steelers to run. They’d take Jaylen Samuels beating them over Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
That’s exactly what occurred.
Although the gameplan made issues simpler for Samuels, the Patriots defensive entrance nonetheless bombed. Samuels ripped off runs of 25, 17, 15, 14, and 10 yards towards the dime look. Adrian Clayborn allowed Samuels to bounce outdoors on the 14-yard run. The Pats couldn’t get off blocks.
The cross rush was ineffective, as properly.
A four-man rush of Clayborn, Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, and blitzing cornerback Jonathan Jones couldn’t get anyplace close to Ben Roethlisberger on a third-and-9 conversion late in the recreation.
Lawrence Man offered the greatest play, beating Steelers deal with Matt Feiler to pressure a Roethlisberger intentional grounding.
Kyle Van Noy sacked Ben Roethlisberger on a wonderfully timed blitz in the first quarter.
Aside from that? Not a lot to say.
Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower couldn’t cease the run. Elandon Roberts hardly performed, as the Pats opted to make use of an additional defensive again.
A four-man rush of Hightower, Van Noy, John Simon, and Trey Flowers offered zero strain on Roethlisberger’s opening-drive landing to Vance McDonald.
Van Noy missed a deal with in the first quarter, permitting seven yards after contact to Jaylen Samuels.
On Samuels’ 17-yard run round the left finish, Hightower acquired pinned inside by tight finish Jesse James.
DEFENSIVE BACK: A-minus
Hey, a superb grade.
This was the first time all season that Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster failed to mix for 100 receiving yards.
Undrafted rookie J.C. Jackson locked down Smith-Schuster. His move breakup on the third-down deep ball to the finish zone was certainly one of the greatest particular person performs of the recreation.
When overlaying Antonio Brown, Stephon Gilmore allowed two receptions for eight yards on 4 targets.
Jason McCourty was the weak hyperlink. McCourty was in protection for Brown’s 17-yard landing and a 24-yard reception. He additionally received beat twice by rookie James Washington, the first on a jumpball alongside the sideline, after which on a brief hitch route that was a 24-yard achieve as a result of McCourty missed a deal with.
Duron Harmon picked off Roethlisberger twice. Credit score Gilmore with knocking the ball free on the second.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus
The acrobatics from Jonathan Jones and Rex Burkhead will certainly make the minimize for Invoice Belichick’s favourite performs of all-time.
That was as spectacular a downed punt as you’ll see.
Stephen Gostkowski nailed each of his kicks. Ryan Allen twice pinned Pittsburgh inside its personal 10-yard line.
General, this was a robust outing for the particular groups.
Defensively, the gameplan was clear: Take away massive performs in the passing recreation (verify), pressure the Steelers to transform third downs with inexperienced operating again Jaylen Samuels, and capitalize when Ben Roethlisberger inevitably obtained antsy and made a dangerous throw (examine).
This wasn’t a nasty plan. However the Pats in all probability underestimated Samuels’ capability to learn blocks and run with endurance and imaginative and prescient (in any case, he had by no means been a full-time operating again in his life). They couldn’t have imagined Samuels would common 7.5 yards per carry. The Pats merely received overpowered at the level of assault. They caught with the plan, although, and the protection finally gave the offense an opportunity to tie the recreation.
Offensively, this was a multitude. A 3rd-and-Four display move to Julian Edelman had little probability. The choice to sub out Josh Gordon for the remaining play was inexplicable. The final three performs couldn’t have been worse.
The Pats discovered a rhythm operating the ball in the third quarter, however their offense was set again by penalties so typically that it’s exhausting to decipher what the preliminary game-plan appeared like.
HEAD OF THE CLASS
J.C. Jackson: He’ll be a think about the playoffs. He’s additionally a lock to be the staff’s No. 2 cornerback in 2019.
Stephon Gilmore: Doesn’t typically cowl small, shifty receivers, however Gilmore did a terrific job versus Antonio Brown.
Sony Michel: Ran a lot better this week.
BACK OF THE PACK
Tom Brady: Lacked his typical composure at occasions, particularly down the stretch.
Marcus Cannon: T.J. Watt decisively gained the matchup.
Run protection: Overwhelmed by the Pittsburgh offensive line from the starting.