Teams that start the season 2-1 in their first three games have a 54% chance of making the playoffs that year. On the other hand, teams that start 1-2 have their chances cut in more-than-half to 25%.
So, the New England Patriots have a hole to dig themselves out of.
The Patriots special teams unit was not up to their standard, as they suffered a 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 3. PIC: Eric Adler / New England Patriots
In a disappointing Week 3 performance, the Pats crumbled against the New Orleans Saints en route to a 28-13 loss. It was a crushing loss for a few different reasons, but taking the crown is the clock management & lack of a defensive stop at the end of the game. It marked the second straight loss this season that featured a chance for the Pats defense to make a stop, but were derailed in their pursuits (Dolphins ran out clock in Week 1, Saints drive 75 yards to score a TD in Week 3).
There's plenty to be angry about for the Pats this week. Their special teams unit was atrocious; they surrendered a blocked punt, went out of bounds on a kickoff, and weren't able to make virtually any forward progress on punt returns. The O-line underperformed (we'll get there). James White was carted off. Mac Jones isn't Tom Brady.
Let's dive into what went wrong this week and plunged the Pats into a downward spiral.
A leaky offensive line set the tone...and it crushed the run game.
Whether we'd like to admit it or not, the Pats are best when their run game is moving. Well, unfortunately enough, giving the Patriots' rushing contingent a D- for their Week 3 performance might be generous. Damien Harris, normally the team's best rush option, was almost entirely eliminated from the equation; he rushed 6 times for 14 yards, and ended up with -3 receiving yards (yes, that's a negative) after his two targets from Mac Jones...who led the team with 28 yards. As a quarterback. Sigh.
This mostly starts with the offensive line, who performed well-below average. They only conceded 2 sacks, but allowed the Saints front-four to hurry the QB on virtually every play. Jones, not performing well under pressure, threw 3 interceptions in its wake. The buck stops with the quarterback, but he certainly needs his offensive line to help.
Mac is showing promise, but has a long way to go.
Despite throwing for nearly 300 yards on the day, Mac Jones made quite a few mistakes en route to the loss today. It seemed as though the rookie is still struggling to get his footing in his third game in the NFL; the statistics certainly suggested he was only interested in throwing short. On the first half on throws 15 yards and longer, Jones completed only one pass in his 8 attempts. That was only good for a 17 yard completion. Jones went 9-for-11 for 88 yards in any throw less than 15 yards. Yikes.
Although Jones flashed some promising moments, mistakes were abundant for the Heisman runner-up. He was sacked twice, threw three interceptions, and was quick to give up on the pocket. Jones will slowly, but surely, get more comfortable, but for now we're allowed to be a little frustrated for a few games. His grace period has yet to end.
Where are these "weapons?"
What if I told you the Pats spent almost $160 million in 9 days this offseason with the goal of overhauling & bolstering the team's offensive weapons and defensive line? At this point in the year, I sure hope you would've called me crazy, because this is certainly not what they paid for.
WR's Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, TE's Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, and LT Trent Brown (inactive on Sunday) were key signings for the Pats this offseason. But so far, they've been almost non-factors in the team's success.
Jonnu Smith, coveted tight end that was signed on a 4-year, $50-million contract this offseason, has been the biggest bust of the group. The former Titan was supposed to provide some much-needed stability to a group that was in need of a go-to tight end. Instead, we get just 74 yards and 10 receptions over three games (3.33 rec/24.6 yards per game)...not bad, but I'll let you be the judge on if it's worth $50-million.
The biggest blunder of Jonnu Smith's time in Foxboro so far? This perfectly-led ball from Mac Jones to Smith hit his hands, and went right into the hands of Malcolm Jenkins, who brought it all the way to the end zone.
And sure, Bourne had a garbage-time touchdown that required some heroics to cross the pylon. The game wouldn't have been close without it. Call it luck, call it skill...but most importantly, you can call it a loss.
WTF is Brandon Bolden still doing on this roster?
I mean, seriously...what are we doing here? I thought Brandon Bolden was long-gone after he opted out last year. It seemed as though it was the perfect time to part ways with our much-too-average veteran running back. Bolden has put in some quality time on the Pats, but it's been mostly on special teams and without much success in the backfield. If not for his leadership and the running back injury predicament (both White and Rhamondre Stevenson potentially out next week), I would've expected him off the roster after this game. Only one thing is for sure; Bolden's days in Foxboro are numbered.
Next up (10/3, SNF): TB12 and the Bucs come to town.
Spoiler alert: I'm terrified. Tom Brady is absolutely cooking with the Bucs; pundits say he's never looked better than his 44-year-old form. I'm fully expecting Brady to walk in to Gillette Stadium on Sunday night and carve up the Pats defense that he would routinely tear apart in practices; I physically do not think they are even close of a match to the greatest QB of all-time and the weapons around him. But maybe - just maybe - he won't show up. But we're foolish to think anything otherwise.