By Matthew Geagan, CBS dangolka
dangolka (CBS) — The Patriots returned to sport motion Sunday following an impromptu two-week break stuffed with optimistic COVID exams, a sudden bye week and little or no apply time. All of that confirmed in New England’s 18-12 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Whereas many anticipated some degree of rust, the Patriots’ full incapability to place a lot of something collectively on offense was a particularly troubling signal from their third lack of the season. A lot of the offensive points will be traced again to an offensive line that’s being held collectively by a shoelace and a few gum. And that MacGyver-like patchwork was stretched to its limits all through Sunday’s loss.
The Patriots entered the sport with out beginning proper guard Shaq Mason, who was positioned on the COVID checklist Saturday night. Beginning middle David Andrews missed his third sport after present process hand surgical procedure final month. Andrews’ fill-in, James Ferentz, landed on the COVID checklist on Friday.
All of that led to Cam Newton’s protectors enjoying musical chairs, with Justin Herron beginning at left deal with, Isaiah Wynn shifting from left deal with to left guard, Joe Thuney getting the beginning at middle, and Michael Owenu and Jermaine Eluemunor on the fitting aspect. The shortage of continuity alongside the New England offensive line was examined even additional when Eluemunor was misplaced to an ankle harm within the first quarter, forcing Owenu to maneuver to proper deal with and Hjalte Froholdt to enter at proper guard.
Newton didn’t actually do himself any favors in his first sport in two weeks, wanting somewhat statuesque within the pocket for a lot of the sport. Wynn didn’t have a great sport in his new place, and the Denver protection feasted on the offensive line, sacking Newton 4 occasions whereas registering eight QB hits. That fixed strain — plus the lack for any of Newton’s targets to get open downfield — led to rushed throws by the quarterback. The Broncos picked Newton off twice, each of which had been initially tipped off on the line.
The Patriots additionally obtained nothing on the bottom, with working backs tallying simply 41 yards on their 15 carries. Newton scrambled for 76 yards of his personal, with 38 of these approaching a key fourth quarter run. However this was not the dashing machine we noticed in three of New England’s first 4 video games, when the Patriots racked up over 200 yards on the bottom
When the Patriots can’t run the ball, the offense struggles to get into any form of rhythm. Their incapability to ascertain the run meant Newton by no means obtained comfy within the pocket, and it left the offense with nowhere to go.
“Effectively it was a giant problem,” Invoice Belichick mentioned of the road’s play all through Sunday’s loss. “Taking part in with out guys, getting guys harm, shifting round, had some guys that haven’t performed collectively a lot, hadn’t practiced collectively a lot. So we have to get on the sector, we have to apply, we have to develop some continuity as a crew, however particularly there.”
“You understand, it’s simply soccer and form of the next-man-up mentality. We’ve obtained a variety of belief within the guys, everybody in that room – the coaches, gamers,” mentioned Thuney, who had a nasty snap that led to a 15-yard loss in New England’s first journey into the crimson zone, leaving the Patriots to accept a discipline objective. “It all the time comes all the way down to execution, you’ve obtained to execute on Sundays. No matter positions, individuals, our complete room has that mentality of subsequent man up and simply obtained to execute higher.”
The execution wasn’t there on many ranges all through Sunday’s loss, however the inefficiencies of the offensive line had been entrance and middle. Newton’s capacity to improvise and choose up massive chunks of yards considerably masked the road’s points over the primary month of the season, but it surely caught as much as the patchwork O-line on Sunday.
The excellent news is that Andrews, the linchpin within the line’s operation, is eligible to return this weekend towards the San Francisco 49ers. His return will permit Thuney to slip again to left guard, and Wynn again to left deal with. And also you’d hope that the crew will get a couple of practices on this week, which might permit the road — both the actual New England offensive line or the mish-mosh they’d to make use of Sunday — to construct some degree of consolation heading into Week 7.
However regardless of which lineman the Patriots ship out subsequent Sunday, they must be an entire lot higher than they had been towards the Broncos. In any other case, it is going to be one other irritating weekend for your entire offense.