This was a challenge for the Patriots, a challenge to see where they were as a team. Offensively, there was a lot to be desired, but as a team they got it done and solidified that they are legit.
- The Patriots Defense: A lot of things went absolutely right for the Patriots defense. With Jonathan Jones out, Myles Bryant stepped in and stepped up. He showed how hard he plays with some gnarly hits. Adrian Phillips, former Charger, had a huge game with two interceptions and a pick six. Christian Barmore has become better and better each week with how he dominates opposing lineman. He brings the pressure and while he only recorded half a sack, he was bringing the pressure. All eyes going towards Barmore means Matthew Judon can do his thing, which he did. Judon recorded 1 and a half sacks to add more names to his list on the season.
- The Patriots Special Teams: I really wanted to take the time to appreciate all the aspects of special teams. While yes there are more seen sides to special teams, I wanna go over some more. Nick Folk did his thing, he’s having a really great year. 4/4 on his field goals and 1/1 on his extra points, Folk continues to be automatic. Jake Bailey also had an awesome game. Bailey averaged 48.7 yards per punt, and landed 2 out of his 3 punts inside the 20 yard line. Gunner Olszewski recorded a 26 yard punt return and returned 4 kicks for 80 yards. Finally I wanna spotlight their Long Snapper, Joe Cardona. Since they drafted him in 2015, Cardona has been one of the most consistent long snappers in the NFL. Cardona does everything a good long snapper does and more.
- The Chargers Pass Defense: Despite no interceptions recorded, the Chargers brought strong pressure and smothered most of New England’s receivers. Mac Jones barely completed half of his attempts and he was hit 4 times and sacked 1 time. Not to mention, Kendrick Bourne fumbled away the ball and they deflected a pass. The Chargers defense out tackled the Patriots defense by almost 25 total. Don’t let the offensive hype fool you, this was a defensive battle through and through. The Chargers’ excillent Pass Defense mixed with questionable Patriot playcalling made this a close one.
- Patriots’ and Chargers’ Wide Receivers: This was a weird week for the two teams as their offensive weapons did purely, okay. Both teams receivers only caught 18 out of the 34 targets. Yes, both teams were exactly 18 receptions on 34 targets. Now the Chargers at least scored twice with a Joshua Palmer and Keenan Allen touchdowns, but in every category they were almost identical with the Patriots. Receiving Yards (NE: 217 LAC: 223), Average Yards Per Catch (NE: 12.1 LAC: 12.4), even Longest Reception (NE: 44 LAC: 41). They were both almost perfectly average and damn near identical.
- Patriots’ and Chargers’ Running Backs: The same can be said for the running backs on both teams, but there are more noticable differences. For starters, the Chargers’ Justin Jackson scewed the overall average with his 26.3 yards per carry. He had 3 rushes for 79 yards, his longest being 75 yards. Damien Harris was fed a lot, but not always in ideal situations. With 23 carries for 80 yards and a score, it seems like a solid game but when you look at the Chargers’ run defense you realize it could have been more. New England rushed a lot more with 39 total carries to LA’s 20, but due to Jackson’s 79 yards the Chargers got 21 more rushing yards than Patriots (NE: 142 LAC: 163)
- Mac Jones and Justin Herbert: A little surprising how bad both of these, usually quality young quarterbacks, played in this game. Both went 18-35, both averaged 6 yards a throw (Jones: 6.2 Herbert: 6.4), and both barely threw over 200 yards (Jones: 217 Herbert: 223). Mac Jones threw 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, essentially playing game manager. He did enough to stay competitive but didn’t really contribute anything. Jones also went 2-8 with 4 total yards when within the redzone. Not fully his fault, some has to go to the coaching and we’ll get there, but still not a good look. Justin Herbert DID throw for 2 touchdowns but he also threw 2 interceptions. Those interceptions gave Herbert a QBR of 18 and a Passer Rating of 66.7. Again, not all his fault, as the Patriots defense was playing on another level.
- Josh McDaniels: Well at least we can tell he has confidence in Mac Jones? An awful Chargers Run Defense entered this game and they left somewhat in tact. Damien Harris easily could’ve had 100+ yards and more touchdowns, but for some reason McDaniels forgot about the stout interior O-line he had or how good his running back depth was. Especially in the Redzone, where he opted to pass the ball instead of getting guaranteed points with Harris. It was infuriating for a fan, but due to the win he gets away from full on scruteny.
- The Chargers’ Run Defense: Don’t get the story twisted, their run defense was still horrible. While the Patriots’ run game was solid, coaching prevented it from flourishing. LA had seemingly no answer for the run game, which makes sense. Their top rusher Joey Bosa is better at getting to the QB, they don’t have any studs to fill up the line, and their line backers are more cover backs. It’s something LA will look to address in the draft, but isn’t a total achilies heel. Unless they play a real run heavy team like the Tennesee Titans.
- Patriots’ Tackle position: This one hurts, because every Patriots’ fan can tell you how big of an impact Trent Brown would’ve had if he wasn’t hurt. This has been a major point in all my articles, so I’ll keep it brief. Michael Onwenu at right tackle seems to be the answer, Isiah Wynn just needs to play better and more consistent. If we can get vintage Wynn, we’re gonna be alright.
Look out for my mid-season review and my Week 9 Good, Meh, Bad soon.