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New England Patriots Fall To Miami Dolphins, 20-7

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots fell to the Miami Dolphins, 20-7, in a turnover-filled season opener. Mac Jones and the offense only garnered a meager 271 yards of total offense at Hard Rock Stadium in Matt Patrica and Joe Judge’s first regular season game running the offense. And, while this game is only a small sample size of what is to come this season, it revealed several things worth noting about this Patriots team in 2022. 

New England Patriots Couldn’t Keep Up With Miami Dolphins in Week 1

Jones Stumbles Out Of The Gate

The Patriots, while only committing one holding penalty, had problems throughout the game, picking up and corralling Miami’s blitz-happy defense. After a promising first drive ended in a questionable no-call interception, the relentless pass-rush by Miami forced Jones into some uncomfortable spots and threw him off his game. Jones was sacked twice, with one resulting in a strip-sack fumble recovery for the Dolphins first touchdown. 

But Mac Jones was not infallible on Sunday afternoon just because of the pressure he faced. Jones threw for 193 yards on 21-30 passing, with an average of six yards per completion, but frequently missed targets over the middle. With an uneasy pocket throughout the game, Jones was never quite able to set his feet and unload the ball with confidence at any point during the game. On several occasions, Jones found himself forcing passes into tight coverage down the field, instead of opting for safer throws underneath the defense. 

Joe Judge and Matt Patricia Running The Offense

Though the Patriots failed to put more than a touchdown on the scoreboard, turnovers snuffed out several encouraging drives. In addition to Jones’ interception on the first drive and the strip sack, a Nelson Agholor fumble ended the Patriots chances at mounting a comeback. Were those turnovers all Judge and Patricia’s fault? It would be hard to argue they were. 

Despite the often apocalyptic prognostications about the offensive coordinator situation, Patricia and Judge called a fairly ordinary game. Could they have dialed up a gadget play or two to jumpstart the offense? Certainly. But did the Patriots line up on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage and forget to play football altogether? No.

Save for a few judgment call plays, the Patriots ran an offense similar to how Josh McDaniels ran it for the better part of the last ten years. As they get their footing calling offensive plays, things will improve on offense. Is it an ideal situation to be in? No, but neither Judge nor Patricia fell flat on their faces in their first game running the offense. And Judge and Patricia will define their season as offensive coaches in how they make adjustments and adapt throughout the season.

For now, however, it is too early to tell. 

Related: Marcus Cannon Signed to Practice Squad

Too Few Takeaways

Most games in the NFL are decided by the turnover margin. New England’s game in Week 1 was no exception.

The Patriots forced two fumbles against Miami but were unable to recover either. And, following a turnover on downs late in the fourth quarter, Myles Bryant failed to haul in a potentially game-changing interception. Had all three resulted in turnovers, the Patriots would be looking at a different game. Moreover, had the Patriots not allowed an unforgivable late-in-the-half touchdown pass to the Dolphins, the conversation about this defense would look markedly different. 

But the “what if” game is fraught and speaks to the fact that the Patriots could not execute when needed on Sunday. The turnover margin seldom misleads, often being the decider of who wins and who loses. For this defense to make its mark in the league and stop dynamic NFL offenses that they will face like the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, and Las Vegas Raiders this season, it will need to capitalize on its opponent’s errors.

Bright Spots For The New England Patriots

Seeing through the bad is difficult, especially after as frustrating a loss as the one the Patriots endured in Week 1. That said, there are several points of emphasis for Patriots fans to hang their hats on. 

The Defense Only Allowed 13 Points

Despite not generating a single turnover in the game, the Patriots defense only allowed thirteen points. With the strip-sack fumble recovery being the only other touchdown scored, the Patriots “bend-don’t-break” philosophy on defense is alive and well. And with the simple fact that the Patriots will not face Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle every week, there is room for optimism that the better days are ahead for the Patriots cornerbacks. 

Jones Is Spreading The Ball Around

Though Jones had a rough game, even getting an X-Ray for an apparent back injury post-game, he did get the ball to several targets. Jakobi Meyers, Jonnu Smith, Ty Montgomery, and Nelson Agholor all had three catches or more. As the offense gets into more of a rhythm as the season progresses, expect to see some of those catches turn into touchdowns for New England. 

There Are Still 16 Games Left

If there is one thing that fans can sleep well knowing, it is that Bill Belichick is known for his “flush-it” mentality. Following a tough loss, Belichick always preaches to his team that they must put it behind them. For this team to have success, Belichick and the Patriots will need to leave their lackluster and uninspired performance against the Dolphins in Miami.

With the Steelers next in Week 2, it goes without saying that New England “is on to Pittsburgh.” 

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