The New England Patriots 21-game home winning streak came to a frustrating end in Sunday’s matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. While the officiating throughout this game was undoubtedly some of the worst we have seen in recent seasons, the Patriots still deserved to lose. New England’s offense is struggling mightily on every level. The offensive line cannot consistently hold up in pass protection or run blocking. Also, outside of receiver Julian Edelman and running back James White, the skill position players have been atrocious.
New England Patriots Offense Struggling Heavily
Offensive Line Struggles
New England’s offensive line struggles throughout this season have been well documented and Sunday’s game provides yet another example. The biggest disappointment of this team’s offensive line unit has been right guard Shaq Mason. Since being drafted in 2015, Mason has shown steady growth and in August of 2018, Mason inked a five-year, 50 million dollar contract extension. What seemed to be a bargain, the contract made Mason the tenth highest paid right guard in the NFL.
However, after Mason had arguably his best season just a year ago, he has taken major steps backwards in 2019. With starting center David Andrews being placed on season ending injured reserve before the start of this season, the team needed Mason to elevate his play even further. Mason has done quite the opposite and his regression, along with the Patriots entire offensive line was exploited in Sunday’s loss. Backup center James Ferentz and Mason got smoked in pass protection by Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones. Quarterback Tom Brady rarely had a clean pocket to throw from and had to avoid the rush on multiple occasions.
Additionally, New England’s rushing attack has been nowhere near what it was last season. In 2018, the Patriots offense featured the league’s fifth best rushing attack with an average of 127.3 yards per game. Sunday proved to be yet another example of how this season has been a different story. Entering this game, Kansas City’s rushing defense ranked an abysmal 30th out of 32 teams. The matchup provided a perfect opportunity for New England to lean heavily on the run as well as get their overall running game back on track. Annoyingly, the Patriots failed to find any success handing off the football as starting running back Sony Michel finished the game with eight total yards on five attempts.
Receivers Cannot Get Open
The offensive line’s poor play has been a major factor this season, but the lack of skill position talent has been a huge issue as well. Since week nine, New England’s offense has scored an average of 17.6 points per game while having a record of 2-3 over that stretch. Opposing defenses are double teaming Edelman along with matching up athletic safeties on White, making it difficult for them to get open.
Moreover, defenses have now started to frequently blitz the Patriots, leaving secondary receiving targets such as Jakobi Meyers, Mohamed Sanu, and Phillip Dorsett in one-on-one matchups. Thus far, none of New England’s secondary receivers have been able to win those matchups, which gives defenses even more freedom to blitz Brady. In fact, the secondary receivers have been so bad, that New England has been forced to manufacture offense through trick plays. Nick Wright of Fox Sports provided statistics of this exact issue in a tweet following the Patriots 23-16 loss. The flea flicker, the White pass to Meyers, a 42 year old Brady scramble, and two defensive pass interference penalties accounted for the Patriots five biggest plays on Sunday.
Relying on parlor tricks in order to gain yardage is neither sustainable, nor will it beat playoff caliber NFL teams. New England’s offense needs their veteran players to significantly elevate their game if this team has any hopes of making a championship run.
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