You won’t hear this often after a loss, especially of 16 points, but this needs to be taken quite lightly. The New England Patriots were obviously not at full strength, missing Cam Newton, Shaq Mason on the line, and even Sony Michel if you want to consider that. The fact that this game was as competitive as it was through about halfway through the fourth quarter is a win in its own right. The defense showed that it’s still elite (a little bit more bend but don’t break, but it gets the job done.) They kept the Patriots in the game until Julian Edelman made what felt like his 1000th drop of the night, which turned into a pick six. That’s what was expected when Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer were originally projected to be in the lineup, and it looked close to coming to fruition at times tonight. That secondary is still elite, and the front 7 did a good job containing the running game and pressuring Patrick Mahomes. With Cam in the lineup, the Pats may have come away with an upset.
Now let’s be clear. Even with Hoyer and Stidham in tonight this game was still very much up for grabs. Twice in the red zone Hoyer made rookie level mistakes that you wouldn’t expect from any quarterback in the NFL. It most certainly took atleast 6 points off the table. You have to think with Newton that a touchdown is in the conversation in atleast one scenario, if not both. It’s amazing that Hoyer is seen as the second QB after this performance. He sailed a couple of throws throughout and just showed absolute incompetency in the red zone. Stidham looked decent, but thank God for Cam Newton.
A more concerning issue that’s been bubbling on the surface for awhile and really came to life tonight was Julian Edelman. He’s been dropping passes with some regularity over the past season now, but tonight was truly awful for him. There were atleast three or four big ones that you’d expect him to have. Maybe he’s harboring some sort of injury or something because he hasn’t been performing to the expected standard. The Patriots need him to be to the go-to-guy that he’s been if this offense is to function as well as it can. The offense will be focused on running primarily, but when you need a first down, Edelman has been that guy before, and he needs to step up in a big way and fast.
For a 2-2 team you have to feel pretty good about them. 2 losses to 2 great teams, but it’s been proven that this team can stick with the best of them. The score doesn’t paint the full picture tonight, as this game was pretty close throughout. Patriots fans should expect a win next week against the Denver Broncos, regardless of who’s at QB, and hopefully they can come off the break fully healthy and start piling up the wins.
(Originally posted on October 5, 2020)