Patriots stock up, stock down following Week 4 loss to Tom Brady, Bucs: Running game fails, Jones impresses


The New England Patriots welcomed back old friend Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers into Gillette Stadium on Sunday and the 44-year-old quarterback showed that he still has a knack for winning even if he isn’t playing at his best. The Bucs were able to hang onto a 19-17 victory in Week 4, moving the Patriots to 1-3 on the season. While there were certainly some positives to take away from this game for New England, losing another winnable game now puts them in a rather significant hole in their hopes to be playing meaningful games later on in the season. 

Before we turn our attention to Week 5 and the Houston Texans, let’s take a look back at this primetime matchup with the Buccaneers and take the temperature and see which way a handful of members of the Patriots are trending coming out up this showdown. 

With Tom Brady looming on the opposing sideline, Mac Jones turned in his best game as a pro. The first round rookie completed 31 of his 40 passes on the night for 275 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He really got into a grove as the game went on, completing 19 consecutive passes at one point. Over that stretch, he threw for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Jones spread the ball around well, completing passes to nine different Patriots (seven catching multiple passes). 

The rookie’s bread and butter continues to be in the short passing game. Against the Bucs, he completed 26 of his 31 attempts for 200 yards and two touchdowns. While throw 20-plus yards down the field are still a work in progress, Jones was also effective on his throws 10-19 yards deep, completing 5 of 6 for 73 yards. 

He was also pretty calculated in where he was attacking the Buccaneers secondary, which has been pretty banged up this season. Jones was quick to target Richard Sherman, who signed with the team just last week. Jones tested his inexperience in the Tampa Bay system and it proved to be successful, completing all eight of his throws against Sherman for 98 yards.

Stock down: Patriots backfield

Not good enough. At all. 

New England’s running game was not only nonexistent, but it was a negative in Sunday’s loss. On the ground, the Patriots rushed for -1 yard, becoming just the third team in the Super Bowl era to finish a game with negative yardage (h/t Mike Giardi of the NFL Network). The only positive rushing play on the night came courtesy of wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Meanwhile, Damien Harris carried the ball four times and logged -4 yards on the ground. 

But that wasn’t the biggest blow to the Patriots chances of winning this game. That came from running back J.J. Taylor, who fumbled a pass from Jones. After forcing a three-and-out to begin the second half, the Patriots had excellent field position and were set to build on their one-point lead, beginning their drive at the Tampa Bay 38 yard line. They moved it 10 yards down the field before Taylor coughed up the ball. 

While the Buccaneers didn’t capitalize on their ensuing drive, this directly took — at the very least — the opportunity at a field goal attempt in what proved to be a two-point game. 

Matt Judon is not only the Patriots best defensive player, but he’s tops anything else the have on the entire roster right now. The outside linebacker continues to apply pressure on the quarterback, totaling five on the night against Tampa Bay which included a sack against Tom Brady. He was the highest-graded defensive player in the game, per PFF, and was a pillar in keeping the Buccaneers offense off-kilter throughout the game. 

Stock down: Bill Belichick

There was a lack of aggressiveness at times throughout this game that contributed to the loss. Two decisions in particular by Belichick had direct implications in why New England didn’t come out on the winning end of this game against Tom Brady. The first was right before halftime when the Patriots elected to punt the football instead of trying to go for it on fourth-and-2 at the Tampa Bay 44 yard line. Yes, you run the risk of handing the ball over to Brady and the Bucs at midfield, but the offense was moving the ball well, scoring a touchdown on their previous drive. After they punted it away, Tampa skipped down the field to kick a field goal prior to the break and bring the Patriots lead down to just one. 

The other questionable decision came at the end of the game where the Patriots again didn’t try to move the chains on fourth down. Down two points and less than a minute to play, New England was in a fourth-and-3 situation on the Buccaneers 37-yard line. It was at that point where Belichick sent out kicker Nick Folk to attempt a 56-yard fiend goal in less-than-ideal conditions as it was raining quite hard in Foxborough at the time. Folk’s kick was no good and clinched the win for Tampa. 

While hindsight is 20/20, those decisions didn’t help the Patriots chances in this one. 

Stock up: Patriots tight ends

Both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry bounced back after a rough go of it in Week 3 against the Saints. Both tight ends were able to catch touchdowns from Mac Jones and hauled in seven of their 10 total targets for 46 yards. While they still have a ways to go in making this offense more daunting for opposing defenses, this was a step in the right direction. 

Stock down: Michael Owenu

The offensive line has been a rollercoaster for the Patriots to begin the year and left guard Michael Owenu was the latest to struggle. He was seemingly benched for Ted Karras in the midst of this game after being flagged for two holding penalties early in the contest. Owenu also allowed one pressure when he was on the field. This situation will be worth watching as the Patriots head into Week 5. Owenu has been one of the bright spots along the O-line over the last few years, so we’ll see if he can bounce back against Houston.

Jakobi Meyers was doing it all out there for the Patriots on Sunday night. He led the team in receiving, catching eight of his 12 targets for 70 yards and also completed both of his pass attempts for 45 yards, which included a 30-yard pass to Nelson Agholor that helped set up a Patriots field goal. For his career, Meyers has completed all four of his pass attempts for 88 yards and two touchdowns. 





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