The Patriots had a halftime lead and won the turnover battle against the Commanders yet still lost. They’re +3 in turnovers over the last four games and have even scored some early points. Does that progress mean anything? Why have the results mostly looked the same?
Other than the Bills game anomaly, the Patriots offense has been stuck scoring 17 points over the last 3 out of 4 games. That’s just not going to get it done in today’s NFL. Until the Patriots figure out how to put points on the board without the benefit of a short field as a result of some of those turnovers, the results will look the same. What winning the turnover battle has helped is avoiding the disasters that were the Cowboys and Saints game. -Fred Kirsch
I would say the offense continues to struggle, even with the benefit of some early positive plays. They haven’t been able to consistently move the ball, whether that was due to shaky protection, lack of a running game or a lack of execution in the passing game. Aside from the occasional short field, the offense hasn’t shown the ability to move down the field without making mistakes. -Paul Perillo
The progress the Patriots have seen the last few weeks in regards to the turnover battle and scoring early means nothing because they are unable to be competitive in a league where you must be able to score a lot of points. Winning games with only 17 points is hard to do in 2023 in the NFL, when there are so many high powered offenses that can beat you in a lot of ways. The Patriots can play a perfect game offensively and still not win because they don’t have the players to produce the points necessary to beat good teams. – Tamara Brown
It speaks to the whole outdated philosophy that if you win the turnover battle and play with a lead you’ll win games. The bottom line is that good teams nowadays can play behind schedule in all phases and win games on offense. For example, the Pats defense held Miami to 5-of-14 on third down. The problem was the Dolphins just went for it on fourth-and-short or scored touchdowns on early-downs. That’s the NFL now. It’s an aggressive, offense-driven league. You can protect the ball and get up 7-0 all you want. If you can’t keep scoring, and your main goal is to avoid turnovers, the league is going to pass you by literally and figuratively. – Evan Lazar
It just hasn’t come together yet in any of the three phases yet. The offense is sporadic at best and can’t take advantage of mistakes the opponent gives them while the defense is seeing too many coverage breakdowns and big plays that easily offset the turnovers they’ve produced. Meanwhile special teams are even hurting the cause as well with multiple penalties down the stretch last week. Injuries have also delivered a major blow to their playmakers. Bottom line though, the offense just can’t produce enough points to really make this team a threat. -Mike Dussault
Rhamondre Stevenson had the longest touchdown run of his career against Washington. What kind of impact can his resurgence have for this team?
One run does not make a resurgence. That said, a dependable running attack could take some of the pressure off Mac Jones and his depleted weaponry. One step/run at a time. -FK
At this point the offense needs whatever production it can find. Stevenson has shown some of his trademark toughness while breaking tackles the last couple of weeks. Keep leaning on him and see if he can break down the defense for some more big plays. -PP
Rhamondre Stevenson’s resurgence the last few games can help move the needle for a Patriots offense that has been struggling to find success through the air. Taking the pressure off of Mac Jones and allowing him to get the Patriots offense back to the bread and butter of running the football could help calm him down and not have to worry about the pass rush coming his way the entire game. – TB
This is probably the most positive development for the Patriots over the last two weeks. Stevenson is back to creating yards after contact, and the scheme/blocking is opening up rushing lanes for him to get downhill on defenses. Plus, I thought Rhamondre was better with his routes in the passing game against Washington as well. If they’re going to get 2022 Rhamondre, they can ride that to an extent. – EL
I think it could be a pretty good boost and maybe make things a little easier in the passing game. However, Rhamondre can’t produce enough points to really take this offense to the next level, which is ultimately on Mac Jones and the passing game. -MD
What’s one change you’d make from the Commanders game this week against the Colts? Schematic, player change, etc…
Let’s stop considering Mike Gesicki a wide receiver and get Boutte out there. Might as well reach down the depth chart and see who can play. -FK
I don’t have any one thing that I would do other than continuing to allow young players to gain some experience and hopefully emerge as pieces to the puzzle. Demario Douglas has been able to do that after a slow start. Maybe some others (Boutte?) can do the same. -PP
One change I would make coming off the Commanders game is the amount of effort that the Patriots showed on the field. The secondary played arguably their worst game allowing numerous plays over twenty yards and the front barely got any pressure on Sam Howell who had previously been sacked 41 times this season. I’m not sure what is going on with JC Jackson and Jack Jones not starting against the Commanders but that duo and the secondary as a whole needs a better showing against the Colts. – TB
They have to be more tied together defensively. I give defensive play-caller Steve Belichick credit for going down swinging with three consecutive blitz-heavy plans. But if you’re going to blitz like this, which this defense needs to generate pressure without Judon, they need to be structurally sound in the backend and get home when they send all-out pressure. The Commanders lit up the Pats blitz schemes because there were coverage busts or the pressure didn’t get home. This team will keep losing winnable games if they’re giving up big plays like they did last Sunday (six plays of 20+ yards). – EL
I’d like to see Kayshon Boutte get a chance. He won’t make a huge difference even if he flashes, but we’re just not getting much of anything from Tyquan Thornton and Jalen Reagor so why not throw the rookie in there and see what happens. I feel similarly to Marte Mapu, just seeing his role expanded and maybe a little more focus at linebacker. -MD
What is one positive element you’d like to see come out of this Colts game for the team as they head into the bye?
Just give me a dub, however that comes. One thing that we can’t complain about is the effort. It’s been there throughout. Keep that up. -FK
I’d like to see the defense get big contributions from Keion White and Christian Barmore up front. Those two young players have the potential to form a powerful tandem on the inside moving forward with the potential to disrupt games. -PP
Although the interior pressure with DeForest Buckner worries me, this Seattle-3 defense that Gus Bradley runs is a favorable matchup for the offense. Mac needs to settle down, let O’Brien schemes guys open against zone coverage, and make some plays in the passing game. You can throw on this Colts defense, which runs zone at a league-high rate (87%). Indy doesn’t play the man coverage schemes that have given the Patriots problems. Let’s see a good game for Mac. – EL
I think at this point the win is what matters most to this team. It’s hard to see what their trajectory might be if they fall to 2-8 with a week off to let it marinate. Ultimately I think it’s up to Mac having a good game, stepping into these throws and hitting his open receivers and maximizing what the design of the offense gives him. -MD
What do you think is the Patriots biggest key to getting a win over the Colts?
It’s a ridiculously obvious answer: scoring points. Take care of the ball, get rid of the untimely penalties and put the ball in the end zone. As a small, green, wise humanoid alien once said, “There is no try, only do.” -FK
The Patriots have to cut down on the mental mistakes that are hurting the team. The penalties have been crucial to their struggles. Improved tackling would also go a long way towards picking up a victory in Germany. -PP
The biggest key to the Patriots leaving Germany with a win over the Colts is containing Jonathan Taylor. Two seasons ago he ran all over the Patriots in Indianapolis and if that happens again in Frankfurt, it could be a long day for the Patriots. – TB
Mac settling down in the pocket and trusting the play to read it out. Jones looked sped up against the Commanders and wasn’t letting plays develop. Not to mention the skittish footwork in the pocket. Mac needs to slow down his internal clock, get his footwork in order, and make good decisions. There should be plays to be made on Sunday. – EL
No big plays from the defense and the offense has to find some way to consistently move the ball and score points. Those are simple things but that’s where this team is at. -MD
Bonus: What’s one thing you’ve got to do while in Germany?
I’m really looking forward to the trip to experience a part of Europe I’ve never seen but more often than not we’ll be working so I’m not sure what else we’ll get to do. -PP
This is my first-ever trip to Europe, so I’m excited to see what all the fuss is about. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do over there. Maybe some schnitzel. That’s German food, right? – EL
Food! This is my first time going anywhere in Europe and I am excited to see what culinary opportunities present themselves! -MD