By Michael Hurley, CBS dangolka
dangolka (CBS) — Admit: As just lately as final Saturday, you had been mapping out the Patriots’ course to an 11-5 season. It’s OK.
Beat the Broncos, simple. Deal with the 49ers, who’re an injured mess. Growth, 4-2. Break up the 2 with the Payments, sweep the Jets, win three out of 4 within the Texans/Cardinals/Chargers/Rams stretch. That permits you to go 1-1 vs. Baltimore and Miami, and hey, 11 wins. Identical as all the time, child.
But if the final eight days have executed something, they’ve served as a reminder that issues can change straight away within the NFL. And now as an alternative of a street map to 11 wins and a division title, it’s a really actual look of staring down the barrel at 2-5, with the season mainly crashing down earlier than Halloween.
My preliminary response was that even these of us who anticipated a large step again for the 2020 Patriots didn’t fairly see this coming. This is a bit a lot.
So the place do they go from right here? Actually, it’s onerous to say. We’ll get there, although. For now, we would as effectively look again at that 33-6 thumping by the hands of the 49ers to see what on this planet is happening.
–Nope, simply checked. There aren’t any solutions on movie.
OK, simply kidding. NOW it’s leftover ideas time.
–The run protection was atrocious, clearly. However don’t let the breakdowns on San Francisco passing performs off the hook.
First drive of the sport, fifth play of the sport. I’m actually unsure who could be answerable for Deebo Samuel coming off this faux jet sweep motion, however absolutely it ought to have been any person, proper?
Very subsequent snap: Rookie Anfernee Jennings thinks it’s going to be a cross behind the LOS for Brandon Aiyuk. Rookie Anfernee Jennings utterly abandons all-world tight finish George Kittle.
Rookie Anfernee Jennings made a mistake:
One would assume — on the faux Nationwide Tight Ends Day, no much less! — that overlaying No. 85 would have been some extent of emphasis for the crew in blue. But on the sixth play of the sport, he was left on their lonesome.
And whereas the Niners’ passing offense didn’t have to do an entire lot, there was additionally this breakdown within the third quarter, when it seemed like Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones weren’t on the identical web page (or studying the identical ebook) when it got here to switching assignments off a decide route:
For the entire Patriots’ points, their secondary needs to be some extent of energy. However they’ve the NFL’s fourth-worst protection on the subject of yards allowed per passing play. They’re not giving up a ton of touchdowns they usually’re making numerous interceptions, so it’s removed from a complete catastrophe. But it surely’s positively been underwhelming.
–The Cam Newton factor is perplexing. He was legitimately good to start out the season. Twin menace, fearless, assured. Since getting back from the COVID listing, he barely seems like an NFL quarterback in any respect. It’s baffling, actually.
One factor I seen was that it appeared like there might need been directions to Cam to run much less. No less than, that’s what I gleaned when he had THIS MUCH open house staring him within the face …
… and right here’s yet one more take a look at the big operating window …
… however he selected to hold within the pocket and search for a receiver. And guess what occurred? He missed the temporary window to hit N’Keal Harry, and he ended up taking off operating anyway. After the lengthy delay and dance within the pocket, it went for only a achieve of 4:
As an alternative of a brand new set of downs, the Patriots confronted a third-and-4. They got here up a yard quick and settled for a area objective.
That play struck me as odd, and it seemed like Newton was doing rather more considering within the pocket than he needs to be. Whereas he can not run each play and take that beating … a vacated area looks like the best time to drag the set off.
–Whereas Newton didn’t truly cope with signs from COVID, the time away from the crew clearly set him again.
Newton’s passer ranking pre-COVID listing: 89.7
Newton’s passer ranking post-COVID: 43.2
The Denver sport sort of made sense. Getting worse after every week of observe? Not a lot.
–And possibly this isn’t shocking, however Sunday’s 39.7 passer ranking was the third-worst single-game mark for Cam Newton in his profession. He was worse towards New Orleans in 2014 (10-for-28, 151 yards, zero TDs, 1 INT) and towards Atlanta in 2017 (14-for-34, 180 yards, 1 TD, three INTs). The passer ranking components is sort of foolish, although, as a result of 9-for-15 for 98 yards with no touchdowns and three picks appears worse than these video games.
–Tight Finish George Kittle vs. Reigning Defensive Participant of the 12 months Stephon Gilmore, man-to-man, third-and-11, first quarter:
George Kittle, you’re a monster, buddy. That ain’t proper.
–Whereas Patriots followers are little doubt bummed out after that drubbing, at the least they don’t have to listen to about how nice and great Jimmy Garoppolo is, proper? On this blowout win, Jimmy was … Jimmy. Which is to say he was there, he was good-looking, and he didn’t screw all the pieces up for his crew. That’s sort of his factor.
He did kind of appear to strive his greatest to mess issues up although, didn’t he? I imply, Jimmy. James. What are we doing right here?
YEAH DEV!@McCourtyTwins | #GoPats
: @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/yby6qXw1zL
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 25, 2020
–Jimmy placing this Oscar-worthy Superman dive on tape was impolite.
Credit score to Chase Winovich, although, for standing up for himself. It doesn’t take a genius to grasp that Belichick was informing Winovich that Garoppolo was 10 miles from the play and thus the block was utterly pointless, whereas Winovich was arguing that it was a flop of the very best diploma.
Whereas Belichick continues to be right on this occasion, it’s nonetheless attention-grabbing to see a younger, second-year participant rise up for himself on the sideline like that.
In what could also be a associated story, Winovich performed a season low 19.7 % of the Patriots’ defensive snaps, after enjoying in a season-low 34.Four % of the crew’s defensive snaps every week in the past.
–Again to Cam: Even when he made the best learn Sunday, it was a step too late. Living proof: the ultimate play of the primary quarter, when N’Keal Harry suffered a concussion. The cross was a hospital ball within the truest sense of the time period, and it took Harry off the sphere for at the least the remainder of Sunday’s sport and probably longer.
Cam was watching Harry proper from the snap and knew he was open, however he took an additional second to launch the cross, permitting the security to shut on the receiver and jar the ball free with a violent hit.
Now, that basically ought to have been a 15-yard penalty for successful to the pinnacle on a defenseless receiver, however that’s irrelevant. A flag wouldn’t have stored Harry from struggling that harm, and whereas the cross was on the cash, it was only a second late, thereby bringing about some very horrible outcomes.
–Newton’s decide on the throw to Julian Edelman was likewise a late determination. Edelman was in place to make a catch, however Newton didn’t throw to him, so Edelman tried to maneuver to search out more room on the similar time that Newton made the late determination to uncork a cross.
That stunk. No less than no person acquired harm.
–Jarrett Stidham, as soon as tabbed as the nice and apparent successor to Tom Brady (for some unknown purpose) has thrown 27 passes within the NFL. 4 of them have been intercepted.
That might be … 14.eight % of his NFL passes getting picked off.
He does have one landing although … a landing that got here instantly after he threw an interception which was referred to as off for a penalty.
Cue the image!
Will Jarrett Stidham take the the throne? pic.twitter.com/ZdknwuApEz
— dangolka Cream (@itsbostoncream) January 6, 2020
(I don’t assume that Jarrett Stidham goes to be the nice successor to Tom Brady. Possibly that’s simply me.)
–Possibly that is imply, I don’t know. I do know it’s the reality, although.
Right here’s a play from Denver on Sunday:
The Patriots misplaced to that crew.
That one sorts of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
–Another factor on Cam: I need to present you 4 completely different passes that present two completely different quarterbacks.
Right here’s a cross late within the first half:
That was perfection. Standing tall within the pocket, making a number of reads, stepping as much as purchase time, then delivering an absolute bullet for an ideal strike the place solely his receiver might make the catch. Great play from Cam.
But it surely didn’t rely. Holding on Joe Thuney.
How did Cam reply? With this:
One other good play. Persistence within the pocket, and precision and velocity on the cross. A 20-yard achieve.
That’s the quarterback we noticed for the primary three weeks of the yr.
Then, the very subsequent play … this:
Going deep and there's @Mannymoseley! No. 41 with 49 yards on the return!#SFvsNE on CBS pic.twitter.com/yK9AkTokeI
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 25, 2020
Newton had a clear pocket, and he had James White releasing into the flat as a security valve.
As an alternative he launched an extended bomb to Meyers, with two defenders again to make a play on the ball. It was, in a phrase, horrible.
The fourth cross on this miniseries got here on the Patriots’ earlier drive. Third-and-Four on the New England 38. Damiere Byrd is open on a easy hitch to maneuver the chains. Newton sees him. Newton throws. Aaaand …
There’s so much occurring with Newton. Maybe an excessive amount of. It’s in all probability time for Josh McDaniels and crew to simplify the offense, get again to what labored, after which strive a second time to construct from there. As a result of this present route is busted.
In different phrases, the Patriots have to unplug and plug themselves again in once more. Typically, the best repair is one of the best.
You may electronic mail Michael Hurley or discover him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.