As is usually the case, I felt a lot better about the Patriots offense after reviewing the All-22 game film. They certainly didn’t play great, but 27 points against a good defense is nothing to dismiss. The Chiefs had an effective gameplan and often blanketed the Patriots’ receivers in man-to-man coverage with a single high safety.
It was as if defensive coordinator Bob Sutton dialed up the same old scheme that we saw the Patriots struggle with during times of turnover. When there isn’t a receiver Brady trusted implicitly defenses had success crowding the line of scrimmage and forcing Brady to decipher the coverage. While Brady usually figures these things out, he wasn’t quite on the same page with his weapons for most of the game.
So yeah, put up 27 on a bad night? I’ll take it. Things will certainly get better, this just wasn’t the sharpest game for Brady and offense.
Let’s take a closer look at what stood out on the review.
— Definitely not Brady’s best game but I say that from a mental standpoint not a “physically declining” standpoint. Brady still has all the throws, he was just stuck between forcing it to covered receivers and not throwing to open receivers. I don’t know if it was the single high coverage or the Patriots’ desire to prove they could throw deep, but there were too many shots downfield when there were open receivers underneath who could’ve gone to work on the Chiefs in space.
— I especially noticed James White and Dion Lewis being open underneath while Brady was forcing some throws to Cooks, Hogan and Gronk. I understand wanting to attack downfield, but I’d bet we see a lot more dink and dunk to get the offensive rhythm going.
–As Hogan moved into the slot running more of Edelman’s routes, I also noticed him to be open a few times but Brady looking another direction. It was just one of those weird games where the offense seemed out of sync and I don’t think it’s that surprising without Edelman in there. Again, it just looked a lot like 2013 where they’re really starting from scratch moreso than other seasons. A couple times it felt like Brady was forcing it to Hogan, so it’s still a work in progress as Brady gets used to how Hogan runs those “quick open” routes. But I definitely feel better about Hogan running those routes than I thought I might.
— Didn’t love the end arounds to Hogan, which they ran three of them and only one got any yardage. What I’d like to see is Cooks run those. But things were a little to gadget-y at times in this one which is why I didn’t love the overall gameplan and adjustments.
— Eric Berry did a really good job on Rob Gronkowski for most of the game. I think it’s easy to forget how Gronk’s career was somewhat in question when he went down with another back surgery last season. For his first game back he came through with two big third down catches but was otherwise blanketed most of the game. He’s not 100% Gronk Spike Machine yet, but I’m not worried about him, except for my usual worry that he doesn’t get hurt.
— The more I watched the more I felt James White and Dion Lewis needed to be even more involved in the offense. The Chiefs weren’t afraid of those checkdowns and they had success because of it. Lewis in space would especially be helpful to jump starting the offense. On one of the few downs where the Pats did roll White and Lewis out there together there were missed chances to get them the ball and let them make plays. I really want to see more of that.
— Much of even the successful sustained drives felt a little more plodding than usual, some of that had to do with the inconsistency in the ground game. It’s a good problem to have with four good running backs, but getting them into the flow of the game seemed hard for all of them except White.
— The pass protection was generally really good until the last critical drive that they let start with a sack. Brady had to dodge some traffic a couple times but was usually able to have a nice comfortable pocket from which to take forced deep shots that fell incomplete. As always, if Brady has time the results are usually good. As he gets a better feel for this version of the offense things will start to click a lot more and they’ll break 30 points.
— Really, this game could’ve easily been a Patriots blowout. Two failed fourth-down conversions played a big part in that, but as we know Belichick is aggressive and I like the attitude even if it didn’t work out as well. Despite losing Edelman they were just a couple plays away from sealing this thing up so I think everyone needs to just take a deep breath and remember that.
I don’t think the Patriots expected the same old gameplan they’ve gotten used to from defenses. I think they expected the defense to just automatically respect their deep threats, but the Chiefs did not and that threw the Patriots off a bit. But all the plays were there to be made it’s just going to take some time for the Pats to know what works best for them against various defenses.