Skip to main content
Publish date:

Patriots’ Lessons-Learned from Week Five Victory over the Texans

The Patriots continue to struggle in certain areas, but show some promise in a come-from-behind to the Texans in Week Five.

Faced with the possibility of starting the 2021 season with an 1-4 record, the New England Patriots took the field at NRG Stadium for their Week Five matchup with the Houston Texans determined to make their mark in the win column.

In a battle of rookie quarterbacks, New England’s Mac Jones outdueled Houston’s Davis Mills as the Pats defeated the Texans 25-22. Jones completed 23 of 30 passes for 231 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Damien Harris would rush for 58 yards and one touchdown, while tight end Hunter Henry led all receivers with 75 yards on 6 receptions with one touchdown.

Though the spirits in New England’s locker room are considerably higher than that of last week, there are still plenty of lessons to be learned from the Pats performance on Sunday in Houston, Texas.

Read More

Lesson One: Mac Jones is not just the future, he is the present.

Though Jones was not perfect on Sunday, he turned in a strong performance when his team needed it most. Once again, the rookie demonstrated a poise beyond his years, leading the Patriots on what will be credited as his first game-winning drive, culminating in Nick Folk’s 21-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. He also appears to be developing quite the synergy with tight end Hunter Henry, who was on the receiving end of Jones’ 13-yard strike to tie the game. The 23-year-old now has 135 completions, tying him with Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow for the most by any rookie quarterback in his first five starts in NFL history. Jones did make at least three ill-advised throws, only one of which was intercepted. However, he is exhibiting a great deal of accuracy. He is completing just over 71 percent of his passes on the season; including a 78 percent completion percentage on Sunday. Jones was also quite efficient off play-action, where he completed 9-of-11 passes, averaging 11.6 yards per attempt. Perhaps his most impressive stat in Week Five was his 70 percent conversion rate (7-of-10) on third down. While the future looks bright with Mac Jones under center, the present is looking pretty solid as well.

Lesson Two: The Pats can make-do with a ‘makeshift’ offensive line

Despite entering Week Five with only one regular starter and a host of questions surrounding their offensive line, the Pats’ provisional unit performed well, given the circumstances. New England started Justin Herron at left tackle, James Ferentz at left guard, David Andrews at center, Ted Karras at right guard, and Yodny Cajuste at right tackle on Sunday against the Texans. Surprisingly, the line held up relatively well in both run and pass protection, two areas in which New England has struggled this season. The Patriots rushers were able to run the ball with a 39 percent success rate on the ground. As for protecting the quarterback, the Texans’ defense only managed four hits on Jones, surrendering one sack. With Trent Brown temporarily sidelined, and Shaq Mason’s future availability in question, the Pats’ reserves may have played their way into a more significant role as the season progresses. Both Karras and Cajuste were particularly impressive on the right side. With the return of both Isaiah Wynn and Michael Onwenu, the Pats may be making strides in correcting some of the woes along the offensive line.

Lesson Three: The Patriots’ secondary missed Jalen Mills on Sunday

In the wake of trading Stephon Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers earlier in the week, the Patriots entered their Week Five matchup with the Texans knowing that all eyes would be on the defensive backfield. New England struggled early, as J.C. Jackson mistimed a would-be interception, leading to a 67-yard touchdown reception for Houston. Though Jackson would tighten his defense, the opposite spot on the outside continues to be a challenge. Cornerback Jalen Mills had been the team’s primary option as their starting second cornerback. Through the first four games, Mills had amassed 12 total tackles (nine of which were solo tackles) and one pass defended. As such, he was expected to be a key factor in the Patriots’ pass defense on Sunday. However, Mills was inactive on Sunday, as he continues to deal with a hamstring injury. In his absence, cornerback Joejuan Williams got the start. The Vanderbilt product struggled in the role, ending up on the backside of the Texans’ flea flicker from Davis Mills to Chris Conley for the 37-yard touchdown in the third quarter. While much of the secondary was fooled on the play, Williams was meant to be the secondary edge force. He over-played the run, and was badly beaten as a result. Williams has yet to emerge as a match with New England’s press coverage schemes. As a result, the Patriots may continue to have difficulty at the position until Mills returns to the lineup.

Lesson Four: Ball security is still a problem

The easiest way for a running back (or any player, for that matter) to end up on the Belichickian equivalent of ‘double secret probation’ is to exhibit an inability to protect the football. Unfortunately, for New England, the Pats’ rushers continue to struggle with fumbling. Perhaps equally as unfortunate, is the fact that the Pats are no longer deep enough at the position to banish an abundance of bodies to the bench. For the second time this season, Damien Harris fumbled as he approached the end zone. The would-be touchdown would have given New England the lead, and could have swung the momentum definitively in their direction. Harris also committed a costly fumble in the Pats’ season-opener against the Miami Dolphins, costing the Pats a potential win. Rookie Rhamondres Stevenson also lost the ball in Week One, only to be recovered by Miami. In Week Four against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, running back J.J. Taylor fumbled the ball during a key drive for the Pats, when the team was already in field goal range. Taylor was a healthy inactive for Week Five. With three out of their four runners all demonstrating difficulty in securing the football, the Patriots coaching staff (particularly running backs coach Ivan Fears) have a great deal of work to do, in hopes of improving on what is becoming a liability for the team’s offense.