Wow! It’s week 4 and we are already asking if this team can turn it around? Short answer, no. Long answer, 99% chance no, and here’s why:
1.This team can’t get to the opposing QB’s.
The Pats are 19th in sacks. They have 7 and as you saw in Week 1 against Atlanta, some individuals are capable of getting 6.5 sacks in a single game. HC Jon Eagle is hoping 25 year old LE Morris Burgess can be the guy to take over. He has 3 in 3 games so far. He’s definitely not off to a terrible start, but the team was hoping he’d have a couple more already. No secondary in this league can last against a QB with a ton of time in the pocket, but with this Pats secondary it’s even more important.
2. Secondary has to improve
This ties in with our first point. This team is tied for 26th with 2 interceptions. Nobody is exempt from blame here, but the rookie Akeem Spriggs has played consistent and has shown some real flashes of brilliance already. Although, he has also been the victim on some plays already as well. The most important thing for the New England, in regards to the secondary, is CB2 play.
Going into the season we told you rookie 2nd rounder Herschel Busch has won the job, and 2nd year corner Willis Blair has won the nickel position. We also told you it was a possible fluid situation, neither guy is exempt from benching. FA signing Jamal Agnew looks like he could get some possible work in the slot and Blair may push Busch for the #2 spot if things continue.
The Free Safety job is still a lock, because there’s no competition for Duke Dawson’s job. The other safety spot has an interesting development with an early season trade. Pats bring in SS Natrell Jameson who will see a lot of sub packages on the field for passing downs, and could even take Lindsey Porter’s job if Porter doesn’t improve. Porter has always been known as a slower safety, but his play is starting to show more holes in his game than just speed.
3. HB Health/Better play from RB2
Sony Michel has got to stay healthy if the Pats are going to try and be a decent team this year. Pats are 4th in the league in rushing even with the early injury to Michel in their week 3 game. They will certainly fall in this category now, with his recent shoulder tear making him miss up to 4 games. Pats took rookie Antwan Love in the 4th as a nice value pick for depth with the departure of James White in the offseason. However, they never intended on him becoming the workhorse so early in his career, but this a next man up league. Love has got to make a few more plays a game and become a nice stop gap until Michel is healthy.
4. WR/OL Play
Help this kid out. You guys are the vets and the most talented groups on the roster. Both tackles tried to slow down Takk in week 1, and both of them were destroyed. Keenan Allen has become a ghost, who has shown a few glimpses lately that he may be back. He has gone over a 100 yard game once, in his last 19 games! At his salary, that’s just not acceptable. HC Eagle hasn’t even been here for nearly half of those, so that shows he is struggling in any system right now.
Offseason addition Josh Gordon has caught 3 balls in a Pats jersey so far. The stats only get worse as you look further down the depth chart at WR. We know a lot is on Gallagher and the O line as it pertains to the receivers, but someone from this group has to emerge as the playmaker to get this team a win.
5. Improved QB Play
The reason this is at 4 is because the Patriots knew they would have some definite growing pains at QB. You can’t go from a 9 year vet (even one who didn’t play well) to a rookie and expect a seamless transition. Joseph Gallagher has never even been under center coming from Lincoln Reilly’s spread attack at Oklahoma.
However, with all that said he has to show improvement from this point on if he wants to keep his job in his second year, or even later this season. Gallagher has a putrid 55% completion rate right now with 1 TD, 4 Ints, 515 yards, and has been sacked 11 times. Fleming has shown some flashes since joining the Pats and has the superior arm talent, so we may see him if the team doesn’t start winning or the Joe doesn’t improve his own play.
The honorable mention to this list would be the kickoff team. This team has been dealt 2 back breaking kick return TDs already and we are only in week 3. How Special Teams Coach DeAngelo Vickers still has a job is beyond me. These are definitely the biggest issues going forward and they are pretty intertwined as you can see.
The issues are definitely on HC Eagle’s radar and he has been stressing them to his assistants. On Monday of the bye week though, the Pats took a field trip to Laser Quest in Roxbury to let off some steam and try and reset and take it one week at a time going forward.