FOXBORO — The New England Patriots have long been publicized as a team that does its job and forces others to make mistakes without beating themselves in the process.
So far, the 2022 Patriots haven’t lived up to that billing. In fact, turnovers are suddenly a major problem for the Patriots.
Though Bill Belichick’s squad wasn’t necessarily expected to be 3-0 to start the season, the 1-2 record feels somewhat more disappointing than last year’s because of how it’s happened.
The Patriots’ Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins came down to turnovers and poor execution. Miami's defense was dominant with a defensive touchdown, an interception, and a forced fumble. The Patriots did squeak out a 17-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2, but Jones threw another interception. In Week 3, the Patriots looked sloppy and were hurt by Jone's poor decision-making. Turnovers once again played a role in the team’s loss to Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. Mac Jones threw three costly interceptions, and Baltimore's defense sealed the victory after Agholor caught a pass in the middle of the field but was stripped by Kyle Hamilton in the process.
That’s not something you’re used to seeing: a Patriots team that gives away the ball, much less games.
“There are some contact plays that are contact plays, but ball security is the responsibility of the people that have the ball and the execution of the play,” Belichick said earlier this week. “Quarterback gets strip-sacked because of a missed block or mental error on the protection, or something like that, that’s not really the quarterback’s responsibility. But generally speaking, if you have the ball you have to secure it.
“We haven’t done a good enough job of that. Coaching, playing, accountability, responsibility, we all have to do a better job.”
New England’s eight turnovers (five interceptions, three lost fumbles) are the second-most in the NFL behind only the New Orleans Saints (9).
To put that in perspective, New England's offense, led by Tom Brady, only gave up the ball 12 times all season in 2017, 18 times in 2018 and 15 times in 2019. Even Cam Newton's 2020 offense was middle of the pack with 19 turnovers and he couldn't throw the football downfield if his life depended on it.
Though no one expects the Patriots’ offense to be as predominant under Jones as it was with Brady, New England at least had to be hoping for better ball security than that.
Right now, sitting at 1-2, the Patriots aren’t a great team. To make matters worse, with Jones being ruled out with a high ankle sprain, and likely out multiple weeks, backup Brian Hoyer is starting this Sunday against Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers.
If New England has any aspirations to pull off an upset, they have to limit the turnovers and negative plays.
You can follow Kevin Tame Jr. on Twitter @Kevin_Tame
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