Image courtesy of Associated Press/Telegram & Gazette
By Jon Lyons
Video of Jonathan Kraft appearing to say “We’re not good enough” during Sunday’s loss to the Commanders has gone viral and added to the sense of dread already surrounding the Patriots. New England sits at 2-7 after nine games and has found a variety of ways to lose, from blowouts, to turnovers, to not getting feet in bounds, to special teams mistakes. The sad fact is, Kraft is right. In every facet of the game, the Patriots aren’t good enough.
Sometimes in sports being not good enough is worse than being terrible. Offensively, the Patriots have been a mix of both, but mostly terrible. Their offensive line has stabilized the past few weeks, but it was among the worst units in the league during the first six weeks of the season. The porous offensive line often gave Mac Jones little time to throw and rarely opened up running lanes while New England was losing five of it’s first six games. Jones has been widely inconsistent in his own right. He’s 17th in passing yards, 21st in completion percentage, 17th in touchdown passes and is tied for the league lead with nine interceptions. His 80.2 quarterback rating is 27th in the NFL.
Jones and the offensive line have constantly been let down by a paltry receiver group whose best option is rookie Demario Douglass. Fellow rookie Kayshon Boutte made two key mistakes with his foot placement in a Week 1 loss. DeVante Parker had arguably the worst route of the year on a Week 2 Jones interception and had a critical pass hit off his hands in the loss to the Raiders. Speaking of passes hitting off hands, how about Jalen Reagor and JuJu Smith-Schuster against the Commanders. Their two critical drops cost the Patriots points and a chance to win.
As bad as the Patriots offense has been, the defense can’t be left off the hook. The defense played well enough to win six out of the team’s first seven games. However, the past two games have been deeply concerning. The Patriots gave up several chunk plays to Miami on third down two weeks ago (two of which set up easy fourth down conversions) and against Washington, the Commanders went 9 of 17 on 3rd Down and held the ball for 37 minutes. The defense is far from the main problem on this team, but they rank 16th in yards per game, 26th in points per game, and 12th in DVOA. Again, not a massive problem, but not good enough considering what has been invested on that side of the ball.
The Patriots’ special teams has been a particular disappointment. After investing in free agency and spending draft picks on a kicker and punter, the Patriots rank 29th in special teams DVOA and have committed 12 special teams penalties, which is the second most in the NFL. The Patriots offense is the biggest problem, but their special teams is a close second.
In New England, we are used to seeing elite football. The Patriots have always been smarter, more disciplined and just as if not more talented than every team they play. That has changed over the past two years. They are talented on defense, but their offensive talent is near the bottom of the league. The routinely make fundamental mistakes that we used to laugh at other teams for making. A team that spent 20 years finding ways to win every week is now finding ways to lose.
Simply put, they aren’t good enough. And that sucks.