By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots had their chances to come back in Jacksonville, but in the end, they couldn’t get out of their own way in a 31-20 loss to the Jaguars.
The offense struggled to get going against a talented Jaguars defense, putting the Patriots in a hole that was too deep to dig themselves out of. You can put most of that blame on the New England defense, which took a giant step back from what we saw from them just last week against the Houston Texans. After making life miserable for Deshaun Watson in Week 1, the Patriots defense had no sacks and put just four hits on Jaguars QB Blake Bortles on Sunday.
With plenty of time to do his work, Bortles carved up the New England secondary for much of the day.
“We didn’t do a good enough job in any area,” Bill Belichick said bluntly after the loss.
That includes Belichick himself, who was out-coached by Doug Marrone and his numerous crossing routes on offense. The New England defense didn’t have an answer, no matter who Bill threw out on the field, and spent much of the day running around in circles.
It was obviously a giant disappointment for the Patriots, but at least it’s only Week 2. There is still plenty of time to sort out the mess on defense, and the offense should get better when Julian Edelman returns in three weeks (emphasis on should). The team has struggled in the first month of the season recently, using that time as a sort of extended preseason to iron out the wrinkles, so there are still a few weeks before we can get really worried.
But Sunday was a major step back, especially for a defense that came into the season with so much hype. Here are our Ups and Downs from the game, which unfortunately includes more Downs than Ups.
Fowler Strips Brady
With all the momentum back on New England’s side early in the fourth quarter, Dante Fowler schooled fill-in right tackle LaAdrian Waddle and stripped Brady for a back-breaking turnover.
Flowers, Chung Both Lost To Concussions
The Patriots lost Trey Flowers to a concussion early Sunday after the defensive end took a knee from Keionta Davis in the back of the head. The pass rush was never the same, and losing Flowers for any period of time would be a major blow to the defense.
Safety Patrick Chung was also sidelined with a concussion, which he appeared to suffer just ahead of halftime. This hurt the Patriots in the secondary and on special teams, as Chung was serving as their primary punt returner to start the game.
The Jaguars’ first three drives of the second half ended with a field goal, a fumble and a punt, giving the Patriots a chance to get back into it. But just as the Patriots looked poised to make things really interesting after the D forced a three-and-out, trailing 24-10 early in the fourth quarter, Cordarrelle Patterson decided to take a seat.
The wide out was the motion man on a third-and-4 play at the Jacksonville 26-yard line, and brought in a short pass from Brady behind the line of scrimmage. The problem was he couldn’t stay on his feet, tumbling to his backside, and was hit for a two-yard loss before he had a chance to get up. The Patriots settled for a field goal to make it 24-13, a disappointing end to the drive.
There’s no guarantee that Patterson could have outrun corner D.J. Hayden to the first down marker, but he didn’t even have a chance after tripping over himself. That play made it pretty clear why Patterson has made his career as a return man and not a receiver.
Third Down Defense
“Brutal” would be too kind of a term to use when explaining New England’s third down defense on Sunday. The Jaguars went 5-of-6 on third down in the first half and finished the game 10-for-14. Yuck.
Gronk Shut Down
Rob Gronkowski was not a factor in this one, catching just two of the four passes that went his way for 15 yards. The Jacksonville D deserves loads of credit for keeping the All World tight end in check.
Brady, McDaniels Lose Their Cool
Nobody on the New England offense had fun in the first quarter, and Brady and Josh McDaniels let everyone know it.
That’s a pair of big league meltdowns right there. And rightfully so; the New England offense started the game with a missed field goal and two punts (which included a three-and-out). After Brady and McDaniels threw their tantrums on the sideline, the offense put together a 16-play scoring drive that covered 83 yards. Unfortunately for New England, it only ended with three points on the scoreboard.
But it didn’t carry over throughout the game, as the offense struggled to make the most of some short fields in the second half. It certainly didn’t help that the Patriots converted on just four of their 12 third-down attempts.
He continues to be a steady force on offense, and on Sunday, he was the Patriots’ best weapon against the Jacksonville defense. White led the team with seven receptions for 73 yards.
Hogan Finds The End Zone
After a tough first week, Chris Hogan scored a pair of touchdowns against a tough Jaguars defense.
Holy Smokes What A Catch
Yes, Keelan Cole plays for the Jaguars. Yes, his one-handed catch led to a Jaguars touchdown.
But goodness gracious, that was a snag for the ages. It’s one of those “I’m not even mad, I’m impressed” kind of moments, one we can all come together as football fans and enjoy.