The Patriots week one loss to the Miami Dolphins may have been the most un-Patriot loss we have seen. Typically, when you think about the Patriots, you think well disciplined, great ball security and will make the most out of the opportunities they were given. Safe to say that the Pats did the complete opposite in week one.
First and foremost, the Patriots cannot, and will not, win if they are fumbling the ball a total of four times over the course of the game, let alone just once. Many people talk about how great Mac Jones looked in his first game, but don’t want to talk about how he blatantly threw the ball at the ground behind him on his first pass attempt, which took the Patriots out of field goal range. In a one-point game, it is mistakes like this that really hurt the team.
Then there are the two fumbles that the Patriots actually lost. The first one came on rookie Rhomondre Stevenson’s first career reception, which ultimately led to him being put in Bill Belichick’s doghouse, and was not seen on the field for the rest of the game. Then, the most cost-worthy fumble came in the Patriots final drive when the Pats were primed to take the lead until Damien Harris fumbled the ball inside the red zone. These are the mistakes that typically are not made by a Belichick-coached team and will most certainly be emphasized at practice leading up to the week two matchup against the New York Jets.
Although fumbles are arguably the biggest reason the Patriots lost the game, the excess in penalties cannot go unnoticed as these penalties could have absolutely cost the Patriots points. The most noticeable penalty came in the second quarter when left tackle Isaiah Wynn was called for a holding penalty, which ultimately took a touchdown off the board for the Pats. It’s penalties like this—and silly, unnecessary 15-yard penalties—that negate good punt returns and really killed the Patriots' flow on Sunday. Eight penalties for a total of 84 yards will undoubtedly be a point of emphasis for the coaching staff going into week two.
Now we can talk about the positives that they need to carry into week two.
Aside from his first pass attempt, Mac Jones looked poised to make an impact, and with the small sample size that we have, it looks like he has what it takes to at least carry a team of this caliber to the playoffs. In his first game, Jones went 29–39 on pass attempts with 281 yards. He didn’t have too many chunk plays, but he looked like he had control of the game at the quarterback position. Probably the most promising stat was that the Patriots were 11–16, and Jones looked comfortable throwing in third downs as well.
Another positive the Patriots can take out of week one was the fact that there was a noticeable skill gap between last year’s and this year’s receiving corps. After having a quiet preseason, Nelson Agholor popped in week one with five receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown. The tight ends also made an impact, combining for eight receptions and 73 yards. As the season goes on, I expect both tight ends, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, to make a bigger impact, especially in red zone situations.
Week two provides a tremendous opportunity for the Patriots to bounce back in a big way against a clearly inferior team who have a rookie quarterback and head coach. These are the kinds of games the Belichick usually thrives in and exposes the opposition’s weaknesses. However, if for some reason the Patriots lay another egg and drop down to 0–2, I would be willing to dub the season all but over, so let’s hope the Pats fix those mental miscues they had from week one.