Instant Observations Following Patriots' 28-22 Loss to Texans
The sick and injured New England Patriots limped into the Houston area with two planes, and will have two sad and frustrating rides home after this loss to the Texans.
The Patriots' offense seemingly started to put things together late in the game. However, it was too little, too late for Tom Brady and company. They will drop to the second seed in the AFC playoff picture and now hold a 10-2 record.
The Patriots will travel home to play the Chiefs next Sunday in a 4:25 AFC Championship rematch.
However, in case you missed this one, here are some observations from this away loss to Bill Belichick's old friend, Bill O'Brien.
Brady's chemistry with Meyers continues to prove weak
It seems important to point out the main reason Jakobi Meyers is being underutilized in some people's eyes. Patriots fans have been posing the question, asking "Why is Brady not throwing to Meyers more?" Sunday night, we saw another instance why.
Meyers was supposed to cut up the field on a third-down route, but instead stood around. Brady then threw the ball to a spot, a spot he expected Meyers to be, only for the ball to hit the ground.
This has happened on multiple occasions this season, where Meyers has one idea and Brady has another. It has been subtle and mostly ignored by many, but these miscommunications stem back to the first game against Pittsburgh.
The receiver was an undrafted free agent this offseason and he has shown some flashes this season, but by no means is he ready to make any sort of consistent contribution to this receiving group.
Poor playcalling against a coaching group familiar with the Patriots' offensive scheme
Well, if there is one game to call the simplest version of your offense, this is probably not the one. Facing a staff full of former Patriot coaches and personnel members, making all the commonplace play calls that have been staples of the Patriots' offense since before these same guys left is probably not the best idea.
These coaches, like Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, know the Patriots' offense too well to be beaten by the run up the middle to set up dropback passes and the play-action game with crossing routes over the middle.
During one part of the game, we heard Cris Collinsworth reference how desperately New England needed to attack the middle of the field. But it was all covered up. Mohamed Sanu was covered. Julian Edelman was doubled. Meyers and Phillip Dorsett were covered and non-factors.
Crennel prepared well for the Patriots offense and McDaniels never really adjusted until it was too late.
Defense gets punched in the mouth; struggle with the league's two most mobile quarterbacks
New England's defense better hope it does not meet any more mobile quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson or Lamar Jackson for the rest of the year. Those two are the only two to go head-to-head with the Patriots' defense this season and expose it.
Watson did exactly what this week's article "How Patriots Defense Should Attack Deshaun Watson, Texans Offense" said the Patriots' defense could not allow him to do.
Watson got outside the pocket, extended the play, and threw his three touchdowns all on the move. Watson had time to throw and found the open man with great reads throughout the game. He attacked the Patriots' linebackers and safeties early on and then focused his attention to Jonathan Jones and the secondary once the Patriots' defense adjusted.
Mobile quarterbacks have made the Patriots pay in the past and the league's two most dual-threat quarterbacks have been the only two to burn this defense this year. Hopefully, the Patriots do not meet either one again. Additionally, hopefully this does not lay out a potential gameplan for how to attack this defense for any other team this season.
Cannon really struggles, pressure was constantly in Brady's face
Marcus Cannon was getting absolutely bullied all night. Jacob Martin, a second-string outside linebacker, made Cannon look like a dog gate. Martin went around Cannon, under Cannon, and Cannon had no answer.
As a result, Brady found himself constantly shifting around in the pocket, under pressure, with little time to find a guy, when frequently no one was open. Generally, when a quarterback has very little time to throw and no one is open, he is not going to have an overly impressive game.
Gilmore keeps Hopkins mostly quiet, until the end
Stephon Gilmore did not have a repeat performance of his previous week's shutdown of Amari Cooper. This week he allowed five catches for 64 yards to Hopkins, which does not seem like a huge deal, however, late in the game when the defense needed to make some stops, Gilmore was found allowing big, clutch catches to the star receiver.
He now has another big matchup, where he could cover Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce. We will see if he can play the full 60 minutes next week against another star pass-catcher.
James White has big night
Ever hear the noise wanting to feed James White more? I am on that committee. Good things happen when you get White the ball. The offense started moving. They started scoring. White had two receiving touchdowns tonight. He led the team in receptions last year, yet has been underutilized this season in the passing game.
The positives about the offense
Give them some credit as they showed later in the game that they have an actual pulse. They started to really dissect a Texans' secondary that has proven to be shaky for most of this season. The offense showed some toughness tonight. They showed some resiliency and toughness. That is what you are looking for and needed to see out of a squad getting smashed in the face.
It was too little too late but they showed another flash where they can move the ball effectively. Now, we have seen flashes from this offense and from individual players. The name of the game is now taking those flashes and building off them. Preaching more consistency with this offense. Those are all things that will need to be preached in the upcoming weeks, heading towards another playoff run.