Patriots Report Card!
The stakes had been excessive sufficient.
Then the Chiefs raised them by turning Sunday’s AFC Championship Recreation rematch right into a high-risk, high-reward proposition play after play after play.
Offensively, Kansas Metropolis coach Andy Reid insisted on dialing up repeated deep pictures. On protection, the Chiefs blitzed the hell out of Tom Brady. The Pats had a solution for one and had been repeatedly burned by the opposite.
It explains how once more a Patriots-Chiefs battle got here right down to the ultimate moments. Regardless of 23 straight factors from Kansas Metropolis, play managed to even out over the opening 58:50. Then, on the Pats’ remaining offensive snap, the Chiefs rolled the cube once more and rushed eight defenders at Brady. Their stress yielding a game-sealing incompletion.
By then, nevertheless, the die had been loaded. Blitzing Brady proved to be a successful components due to the lack of his offensive teammates to beat additional stress. In flip, the Patriots have now by no means felt extra stress this season, losers of two straight whose grip on a first-round playoff bye loosens by the week.
Listed here are the position-by-position grades from the Pats’ third loss:
Tom Brady is amid one of many worst seasons of his profession. Many of the offense’s latest struggles can’t be pinned on him.
Each might be held as true and had been once more Sunday.
Brady’s misfires had been closely outnumbered by his teammates’ miscues. He did overlook a wide-open Jakobi Meyers on the ultimate play, a sign he had locked onto Julian Edelman pre-snap. It’s arduous in charge him.
Edelman was the Pats’ solely productive wideout all recreation, and he’s been Brady’s go-to goal on key downs because the begin of final season. Brady additionally stood in in opposition to the blitz higher than he did earlier within the season. What was lacking from Brady on Sunday was just a few intermediate throws and open targets downfield he handed up for checkdowns; essentially the most forgivable errors on an evening filled with them.
RUNNING BACKS: C-plus
It’s time to make James White a three-down again. He’s by far the best of this bunch.
Sony Michel performed his manner out of the sport after just a few sequence with tentative runs. His lone catch for one yard. Rex Burkhead, a extra succesful cross catcher and protector than Michel, spelled White for full drives however doesn’t scare any protection. Brandon Bolden doesn’t both, however he set a brand new profession excessive by scoring his fourth landing of the season.
White, in the meantime, led the Pats with a 5.5 yards per carry common and accomplished a 35-yard halfback cross. He additionally caught 5 passes whereas heading off regular double groups on third down. That kind of defensive consideration says every thing about how very important he’s grow to be to a sinking Pats offense.
WIDE RECEIVERS: D-plus
Except for Edelman, this group was a catastrophe.
Jakobi Meyers dropped two passes. N’Keal Harry was given two offensive snaps. Phillip Dorsett noticed two targets and did nothing with them, except for draw a questionable cross interference whistle because the ball landed ft behind him.
Mohamed Sanu nonetheless doesn’t look fairly proper. He made a troublesome 13-yard catch over the center to maneuver the chains within the first half and wasn’t heard from once more. With out Sanu, it’s the Edelman Present, and that was good for eight receptions, 95 yards and a landing final night time.
Are you able to think about the place the Patriots can be with out him?
TIGHT ENDS: C-minus
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels believed the Pats had been finest positioned to beat Kansas Metropolis with tight ends Matt LaCosse and Ben Watson on the sphere alongside two receivers and a operating again.
The Patriots opened in that personnel grouping, relied on it closely within the first half and returned to it some within the second. The outcomes had been poor. LaCosse and Watson aren’t the dominant blockers the Pats would ideally have after they run the ball. As receivers, LaCosse and Watson transformed seven targets into three catches for all of 21 yards.
They’re versatile, to make certain, however Sunday felt just like the previous phrase about quarterbacks: You probably have two tight ends, you actually have none.
OFFENSIVE LINE: D
Each time Brady dropped again to cross Sunday, he would possibly as effectively have flipped a coin.
Heads, he will get hit. Tails, he has time.
Brady was pressured on 47.5 % of his dropbacks, a brand new season worst. As anticipated, most of these pressures had been allowed by the offensive line; particularly, the 4 linemen outdoors of Joe Thuney. Thuney posted a clear sheet.
To Thuney’s left, Isaiah Wynn was the worst offender in cross safety, yielding a sack, two hurries and a pair of QB hits. He additionally false-started. Third-string heart James Ferentz and proper sort out Marcus Cannon allowed the opposite sacks.
On the bottom, the Pats averaged 3.7 yards per hand-off. Kansas Metropolis entered kickoff because the third-worst dashing protection within the league by DVOA. By recreation’s finish, the Patriots made them look effectively above common, and defensive sort out Chris Jones like an All-Professional.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B-minus
Talking of floor video games, the Pats’ defensive entrance stopped the Chiefs from bleeding the clock out. Defensive sort out Lawrence Man was on the heart of a number of run stuffs, even when he and Danny Shelton did not handle stops on just a few short-yardage runs. Shelton made up for it with two hurries.
Total, the D-line offered a so-so cross rush highlighted by Deatrich Clever Jr.’s sack of Patrick Mahomes, the Pats’ solely sack of the night time. John Simon chased Mahomes down within the first quarter for one of many Patriots’ most forceful QB hits. He quietly performed a robust recreation, regardless of being the closest defender to stopping Travis Kelce’s four-yard landing run.
The Pats’ defensive recreation plan put extra on the secondary than every other place group Sunday.
The linebackers had been a detailed second.
Most ‘backers effectively doubled as defensive linemen, as the Patriots opted for light personnel packages all night. Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower commonly defeated O-linemen as run defenders and helped contribute to a number of run stuffs. Neither flashed as cross rushers, although, combining for just some hurries.
Elsewhere, Jamie Collins broke up a red-zone cross and added a QB hit. Chase Winovich received to Mahomes as soon as, and Shilique Calhoun pressured a fumble within the third quarter. Ja’Whaun Bentley was stable in his six snaps of labor.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: B-plus
Veteran Jason McCourty missed solely two video games as a consequence of a groin harm earlier than returning for Sunday’s recreation. In that quick span, he might have misplaced his beginning spot.
J.C. Jackson’s excellent play this season continued with an opening-drive interception of Mahomes. Opposing quarterbacks have had worse luck throwing at him than every other Patriots defender. Stephon Gilmore surrendered two catches and was referred to as for defensive holding on his six targets. He has gotten the perfect of Sammy Watkins in three straight head-to-head conferences.
Devin McCourty’s pressured fumble will go down as one of many Pats’ finest performs of the yr. He was once more very important to their plans of maintaining a deep security over high of Tyreek Hill. Jonathan Jones, who shadowed Hill for the night time, principally stored up, however nonetheless allowed a team-worst 5 catches, plus Mecole Hardman’s landing. He additionally missed three tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus
There’s no query Nate Ebner’s blocked punt within the third quarter sparked the Patriots’ close to comeback. However as Belichick famous on Monday, Kansas Metropolis might have carried out them a favor by blowing an tried faux. With out it, who is aware of how the play finishes.
On their very own punts, the Pats downed two of 4 contained in the Chiefs’ 20. They once more did nothing with their returns. Overlaying kicks and punts, they principally restricted the damaging Hardman. Nick Folks had his first discipline aim blocked, then nailed a 29-yarder.
As talked about earlier, the Patriots received a agency deal with on half of Kansas Metropolis’s recreation plan.
Defensively, they bottled up the deep passing recreation and compelled Mahomes and Co. to play patiently. They disguised successfully and bounced successfully between man and zone. Offensively, McDaniels bounced round his play sheet from one unsuccessful thought to the subsequent. Too typically, the Pats went to their hurry-up outdoors zone runs.
McDaniels referred to as runs on seven of the Pats’ preliminary 9 1st-and-10s, which led to the Chiefs loading the field after which teeing off on Brady on second-and-longs. It was Kansas Metropolis defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s first transfer to remain a step forward for many of the night time. The Pats had no actual reply for the all-out pressures and produced most of their offense by way of Edelman and trick performs.
Head of the category
S Devin McCourty The defensive captain posted a team-high 9 tackles and made the play of the sport. Moreover, with out him, the Pats’ disguise-heavy recreation plan would’ve been inconceivable.
CB Stephon Gilmore Had been it not for a untimely whistle, Gilmore might have added a fumble return landing to his stat line. Virtually shutting down Watkins was nonetheless ok.
OG Joe Thuney Kudos to Thuney on a tough day for his O-line mates. With out him, Brady might solely now be peeling himself off the Gillette Stadium turf.
Again of the pack
OL Isaiah Wynn A serious step again for the second-year sort out. Chiefs defensive finish Frank Clark had his manner with Wynn.
WR Jakobi Meyers Two drops, one catch. Says all of it.
CB Jonathan Jones Jones will get an A for effort. Chasing Hill round is without doubt one of the hardest jobs within the NFL. However the outcomes can’t be denied.