It is not yet time to panic, and if the Patriots return David Andrews and Shaq Mason as soon as possible, the offense should improve. But Newton needs more receivers who can win one-on-one on the scrimmage line. It would be nice if this group could add a tight end or accept the November 3 trading deadline.
▪ Where are Edelman and Harry? Edelman had two catches on six targets for 8 yards, and his only real impact came in two completions for 38 yards in the fourth quarter. This is the third week in a row that Edelman has held three or fewer catches and less than 40 yards. The defenders know that if you let Edelman out of the game, the Patriots will have no other offense. McDaniels will have to find ways to get the ball to Edelman.
And Harry caught nothing on just two targets. Since his promising game in Seattle, Harry has had only five catches in 55 yards in three games.
▪ Not training too much in the last two weeks is not a reason for the Patriots. The Titans didn’t practice much, either, and they applied the Bills last week and won on Sunday. The Patriots look rusty with guilt, and the running of the defense is sloppy. Add in three turnovers, and this is not a game to remember for the Patriots. In the two-week preparation, I look forward to better with Bill Belichick and the coaching staff.
▪ It seemed strange at the time, but I disagree with Belichick̵7;s decision to go 2 when dropping 9 points, if an extra point could make it a game point. When following 15, you need to go for 2 at least once. And if you do not change it, it is better to do it with eight minutes left on the clock than one minute. The Patriots still have plenty of time to come back.
When asked if he considered it a challenge, Belichick replied, “No, not really.”
But he did not explain why. Belichick whistled at that one.
▪ The Patriots have significant offensive issues on the line, and they may not improve any time soon. They play three rookies in the second half, and the lone starter in his normal position left tackle Isaiah Wynn. The Broncos got a consistent push and Newton had the length of the game in the face, and the Patriots ’running backs combined for just 15 carried 41 yards.
Even Joe Thuney and Wynn, the two veterans on the line, had tough games. Wynn allowed a sack and he missed the block that led to a blocked pass and barrier in the first quarter. And Thuney made a wild snap that ruined a promising scoring drive in the first half.
▪ It didn’t help that Newton got too close to the ball, either. Of his four sacks, three are probably owned by Newton and his tendency to stay too long in the pocket. But no one seemed to be open in the downfield.
And for a quarterback standing 6 feet 5 inches, Newton is sure to get a lot of passes beaten at the scrimmage line.
▪ Kind of a hot and cold game for the Patriots’ defense. They did not force a punt until 14 minutes remained in the fourth quarter. And they can’t get through the field, allowing drives of 5:54, 5:01 and 9:07 in the second and third quarters.
But if you don’t allow a touchdown, and hold the other team at 18 points and 299 yards, and force two turnovers, and keep the opponent at the end of the zone twice in the red zone, that should be enough to win . In fact, the Patriots were 39-0 under Belichick when they held the other team out of the end zone. Defending the Patriots was not the reason they were defeated, but they had to be good, not just great, to overcome a poor offensive performance.
▪ The Broncos clearly felt they could take advantage of their receiver height against the Patriots’ cornerbacks. Their entire passing game was just Drew Lock throwing a bunch of balls to jump. Tim Patrick came down with some bigs, including a 35-yarder in the third and-21, and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam had some great grabs (though he also dropped two sure touchdowns).
But the Broncos didn’t get any real rhythm in the passing game, with Lock completing a 10-of-24 pass in just 189 yards. And Lock’s dangerous throwbacks he finally reached, along with JC Jackson and Jonathan Jones each with hurdles in the fourth quarter. Lock made some big throws, but he didn’t exactly win this game.
Ben Volin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin.