Check out what the experts are saying about the Patriots heading into Week 5
Are we done with the nostalgia? Can we let it go of Tom Brady’s feelings for a bit? Sunday Night Football on NBC ushered in their Pats-Bucs coverage last week with Adele’s ‘Hello’, and now I’m saying goodbye. Time to move on to Houston in Week five. It’s not likely the media will be so quick to hype the reunions involved with this matchup, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Former Patriots now with the Houston Texans include Danny Amendola, Rex Burkhead, Marcus Cannon, Brandin Cooks and Derek Rivers, among others. Nick Caserio and Jack Easterby are also still with the organization. Probably still numb from hearing too much Belichick-Brady divorce talk, but I’m not feeling even a single drop of “they know us too well” anxiety. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. The Texans are bottom of the barrel right now, so it’s barely on the radar.
What I do know is that the Bills destroyed the Texans on Sunday, 40-0. That sets a high bar for the Patriots defense, but a shutout isn’t necessary to a satisfying win. Instead I’m thinking this is the week, and the right opponent, to loosen the Pats gears on offense and grease the skids in the red zone. Main thing I want to see is a better disciplined team all around with fewer penalties, no turnovers, positive yardage in the run game and an O-line that isn’t a mere speed bump for rushers getting to Mac Jones. Now, that would be something to say ‘Hello’ to.
Pats do their job and win this one easily.
Around the AFC East:
17th – Danny Kelly (The Ringer): The Muddled Middle category. [+2]
17th – Consensus (Bleacher Report): The NFL is a results-driven business. All that matters from Sunday’s matchup between the Patriots and Buccaneers is that the Pats couldn’t squeak out a win as Nick Folk’s potential game-winning kick doinked off the upright. But there’s room for optimism about the future in Beantown.
Facing one of the league’s better defenses in a game where the Patriots couldn’t run the ball, rookie quarterback Mac Jones held his own: 275 passing yards, two scores, one pick and a passer rating north of 100. …
… The schedule cuts the team a break. In Weeks 5 and 7, the Pats face the Texans and Jets, respectively. That those games are sandwiched around a home date with Dallas is…less than ideal.
18th – Jenny Vrentas (SI): The Patriots are here because they are the best 1–3 team in football. It’s clear the rebuild is still underway, and that certain pundits (me) may have overestimated how quickly it would come together. But the way Mac Jones played on Sunday night certainly was a solid piece of evidence that the Patriots just may have gotten their QB pick right. It’s been interesting to watch how Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have chosen to break in a rookie QB, which so far looks like they’re bringing him along at a measured pace. They’re playing the long game with him. [+4]
19th – Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): Mac Jones played well, and that was a positive. He was efficient and gave his team a chance to beat a very good Buccaneers team. The Patriots need more explosive plays out of him, which is why they rank 27th in points and 26th in yards. But it will take time, and Jones’ first steps are promising. [-1]
19th – Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): They showed well against the Buccaneers. The best news is Mac Jones is improving each week. [+1]
19th – Dalton Miller (ProFootballNetwork): The Patriots simply don’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with some of the better teams in the league. That was evident in Week 3 when they fell behind the Saints and struggled to move the ball or mount a comeback attempt.
Bill Belichick is a defensive wizard, and New England’s defense will typically keep things close. But when push comes to shove, Mac Jones and Co. have neither the weapons nor the firepower to claw their way back into games. They need to play their brand of ball-control football, and that style is becoming increasingly more difficult in the modern NFL.
Against a Buccaneers team down all three of their starting cornerbacks, the Patriots were unable to take advantage, managing only 17 points. New England’s defense stymied Tampa Bay’s offensive attack, but the offense couldn’t do enough to win the game — despite Josh McDaniels getting deep into his bag of tricks. [+1]
19th – Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): Tom Brady has more wins at Gillette Stadium this year than Bill Belichick. Then again, so does Tua Tagovailoa.
20th – NFL Nation (ESPN): Biggest surprise: Struggling offensive line. Why it’s a surprise: The group of Isaiah Wynn (LT), Mike Onwenu (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG) and Trent Brown (RT) was supposed to be a strength of the Patriots’ offense, but rookie QB Mac Jones has taken 34 hits through four games. Also, the running game has been inconsistent, as evidenced by gaining minus-1 yard on eight carries Sunday night against the Buccaneers. Brown’s right calf injury, which has knocked him out of action for everything but the first series of the season, has been a factor in the performance, but is far from the only reason for the struggle. [-1]
20th – Mark Maske (Washington Post): The Patriots without Tom Brady continue to far underperform Brady without the Patriots. But even though they lost Brady’s homecoming game Sunday night, there were reasons to believe the Patriots are better than a typical 1-3 team and can regroup. The defense played well. The offense needs to protect QB Mac Jones better. But TEs Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith had TD catches. This team could get better as the season progresses and still might be a factor in the playoff race. [-3]
20th – Nick Wojton (TouchdownWire): Speaking of homecomings, the Patriots held very tough in Tom Brady’s return to Gillette Stadium. Had the weather been better, one wonders how close this game would’ve been, but the Pats were right there and missed the game-winning kick… granted it was from 56 yards out. Still, New England’s record is 1-3. We have a long ways to go here. [+1]
21st – Justin Leger (NBC Sports Boston): The Patriots came up just short vs. Tom Brady and the Bucs in the GOAT’s return to Foxboro. Nick Folk’s 56-yard field goal attempt in the rain doinked off the left upright, and Brady left Gillette Stadium with the 19-17 victory.
Still, this was an impressive showing by New England’s defense and a gutsy one from rookie QB Mac Jones. Even though it resulted in another loss, it was an encouraging showing heading into a Week 5 matchup vs. the lowly Texans. [+1]
21st – Nate Davis (USA Today): They’re 0-3 at home for the first time since Robert Kraft bought the franchise in 1994. Burning it all down might be an option … if Houston wasn’t next on the schedule. [+1]
21st – Harris Ahmadzai, Dylan Fraychineaud (New Arena): The Patriots had a chance to beat Tom Brady in his return to New England, but that chance ended with a doink. Playing amidst a consistent rain shower, New England’s defense limited Tampa Bay’s potent offense to one touchdown. Despite allowing 380 yards, the Patriots’ defense clamped down when it mattered most and kept Brady and Co. out of the end zone. Offensively, Mac Jones outplayed Brady — 275 yards, two touchdowns — and led his team to 10 points in the final quarter. In the end, Nick Folk’s 56-yard field goal attempt clanked off the goalpost in the final minute of the game. Tom 1, Bill 0.
22nd – Ryan Dunleavy (NY Post). [+1]
22nd – Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): The irony is that Bill Belichick would never have settled for that 56-yard field-goal try in steady rainfall if Tom Brady was still his quarterback. Mac Jones had played an extremely efficient game to that point, but gaining Belichick’s trust in game-deciding moments remains a work in progress. So, facing fourth-and-3 from the Bucs’ 37, Belichick instead sent out Nick Folk, who clanked the ball off the left upright in a 19-17 loss to the defending champions. It was a difficult ending to an evening in which the Pats’ defense didn’t surrender a touchdown pass to Brady and held Tampa Bay to its lowest point total of the season. Still, Brady’s team found a way at Foxborough. The same old story … with a twist. [+1]
22nd – Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots fought as hard as they could against the Buccaneers with Mac Jones playing well, but the Bucs just had too much with Brady in the end. As well as Bill Belichick can coach to get the best out of them, it’s not close to a playoff team. [-1]
AVG RANK: 19.8 [+0.8]