Patriots vs. Saints overreactions: Instant analysis of Pats' Week 3 loss

·4 min read

Patriots-Saints overreactions: O-line, dumb mistakes doom Pats originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots suffered another frustrating loss Sunday in their Week 3 game against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium.

The Saints used an effective run game, a good pass rush and turnover-free football to earn a 28-13 win. It's the Saints' first victory in New England since 1995.

The Patriots had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter after scoring to trim the deficit to 21-13 with 9:22 remaining. The Saints offense responded by going 75 yards on 13 plays, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run from Taysom Hill that essentially put the game away. 

Here are some immediate takeaways from what we saw in Week 3.

Offensive line is a disaster

The Patriots were expected to have a great offensive line this season, maybe even a top five unit. Instead, the offensive line has been a disaster through three games.

Right tackle was the problem spot in the first two weeks, but on Sunday, the whole line failed to protect Mac Jones. The rookie quarterback was sacked twice, hit 11 (!) times and pressured on several other plays. His first career interception, which came in the second quarter, was mostly the result of him getting hit in the pocket as he went to throw the football. 

Jones will not be able to perform at a high level if he keeps getting hit 10-plus times (it's happened in Week 1 and Week 3 so far). No quarterback should be taking that much punishment.

Dumb mistakes continue for Pats

The Patriots have rarely beaten themselves during Bill Belichick's 22-year tenure as head coach. Sunday was not one of those occasions. New England put itself in a bad spot several times with avoidable penalties, silly mistakes and failed execution.

These issues included a false start penalty by tight end Hunter Henry on a 4th-and-1 in the second quarter. The Patriots had to settle for a field goal as a result. Jake Bailey sent a kickoff out of bounds in the third quarter, giving the Saints great field position at the 40-yard line. New Orleans didn't score on that ensuing drive, though.

The Patriots also had a punt blocked. They had a blown defensive coverage on Alvin Kamara's first quarter touchdown, which happened on third down in the red zone. Jones threw three interceptions after avoiding critical mistakes in the first two games.

We could go on, but you get the picture.

Overall, the Patriots lost the turnover battle 0-3 and committed twice as many penalties as the Saints. Combine those mistakes with the offensive line struggling to block for Jones and you have a recipe for defeat.

James White loss is huge

White had to be carted off the field in the second quarter with a hip injury. The Patriots were quick to rule him out for the remainder of the afternoon.

We don't yet know the severity of White's injury, but if he misses any amount of games, that would be a significant setback for the Patriots. This offense is not very explosive. It needs a trustworthy running back who can catch passes on key third downs and pick up blitzes. White does those two things at a high level, in addition to the many other talents he brings to the field. 

White had a fantastic start to the season and was particularly impressive in the Week 2 win over the New York Jets. His absence -- if he does miss game action -- could be an opportunity for rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson to get back in the lineup. Stevenson was a healthy scratch in Week 2 and 3.

Week 4 vs. Tom Brady could be ugly

The Buccaneers entered Week 3 having scored 30 or more points in a league record nine consecutive games. The Patriots have scored a total of 54 points through three games this season.

New England is not well-equipped to compete with Tom Brady and his ultra-talented Tampa Bay offense. The Pats have scored more than 17 points only once in three games, and it happened in Week 2 when the Jets committed four turnovers in a dreadful performance.

The Patriots' pass-blocking issues also are a major concern going against a loaded Bucs front seven. We should expect Buccaneers defensive stars Shaquil Barrett, Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, Lavonte David and Devin White to bring plenty of pressure on Jones. Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles would be wise to dial up plenty of blitzes until the Patriots prove they can block it.

It's hard to envision the Patriots beating Brady's Bucs unless the offense looks much, much better next Sunday.

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