by Myles Ribeiro
At this moment, the New England Patriots stand at 2-4 on the season. This includes 3 back-breaking, last-second losses to the Cowboys, Dolphins, and Buccaneers. With the 12th best scoring defense in the league, many point to the New England offense as the unit that is holding the team back. Rookie signal-caller Mac Jones has stood out, leading all rookies in passing yards, passing touchdowns, passer rating, completions, and completion percentage, but his offense still ranks ninth worst in yards gained (Pro Football Focus). This leaves many wondering where the blame should lie, and it starts at the top. Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick are to blame for the uncharacteristic lack of offensive production.
Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels are two of the most respected coaches in the National Football League. They have won multiple Super Bowl titles and few can rival their resumes. However, most of their success came with Tom Brady at the helm, and the legendary coaching duo does not look nearly as dominant without him. Belichick is 64-77 in games without Brady, and the missed connection between signal caller and head coach is starting to show. Many fans and experts alike are starting to notice the difference.
Jones is a rookie quarterback, who has turned the ball over eight times, so being conservative is understandable. However, to unlock his full potential as a passer, the Patriots need to open up the playbook and put their trust in Jones. Jones ranks 24th in average yards per attempt (ESPN). This can be attributed to the Patriots lack of intermediate or deep routes being run by pass catchers. It is clear the Patriots are handicapping Jones through six weeks and that is a problem. This is a player who showed a knack for throwing the deep ball with impressive accuracy and touch as a member of the Crimson Tide, but that skill is not being utilized at the next level.
“I think that the organization has to believe in Mac,” said Carl Nicks, a Patriots season ticket holder for 28 years. Nicks sounded-off on the Patriots offensive struggles, saying, “The kid will never grow his confidence if the coaching staff doesn’t allow him to. The fans are behind him, the players are behind him, we’re waiting on the play-callers to be behind him.” Nicks and others have some basis to their claims. In a stat that uses Win Probability gain per play and situation to determine the aggressiveness or conservativeness of offenses, the Patriots rank dead last through six weeks (rbsdm.com/stats). The rate of the Patriots going for it in these high-leverage situations is zero. The New England Patriots have gone for it on fourth down during late-game drives zero times and that is another piece of the problem.
Seven weeks through the season, the Patriots sit at 3-4 and desperately need a change. In order for New England to turn this season around, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels need to trust Mac Jones before the failure to do so costs New England their season.