Worth the Watch: Yay or Nay? Week Three — Patriots vs. Saints

In the wake of the New England Patriots loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week Three of 2021 season, Patriot Maven provides analysis for the players on whom Pats fans might have wanted to keep watch. Were they worth the attention?
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The return to the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts did not exactly go as planned for the New England Patriots on Sunday. The Pats fell to 1-2 on the year with a 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The story of the day for the Patriots was their inability to execute when it was needed most. The Patriots were largely ineffective on offense, showed a lack of consistent aggression on defense, and made mistakes on special teams, as well.

Prior to this Week Three matchup, Patriot Maven highlighted three players on offense and three players on defense on which the fanbase might want to keep watch.

Let’s examine whether this six-pack of Patriots was ‘worth the watch’ on Sunday:

Jonnu Smith/Hunter Henry — Nay

The Pats tight ends each saw declines in their time on the field, arguably with good reason. Hunter Henry took 52 total snaps on offense, garnering just five receptions on six targets for 36 yards. He was also called for an ill-times offsides penalty, which forced the Patriots out of consideration for attempting a fourth-down conversion with time winding down in the second quarter. Jonnu Smith saw only 30 snaps on Sunday, catching just one pass on six targets with two drops (one of which he fumbled directly into the hands of safety Malcolm Jenkins, who ran it back for a pick-six.) Through three games, Smith and Henry have combined for 20 catches for 183 yards, with zero touchdowns. Suffice it to say, the Pats return on investment on their top tight end targets has been minimal, at best, thus far in 2021.

Isaiah Wynn — Nay

For the third straight week, Isaiah Wynn was on the field for 100 percent of the Patriots offensive snaps on Sunday. This type of reliability indicates Wynn to be in good health. Unfortunately, his on-field struggles continued. Through three games, Per Pro Football Focus, Wynn has allowed ten pressures; three of which he allowed on Sunday. The Pats starting left tackle has also committed three penalties since Week One. The former Georgia Bulldog continues to have difficulty with his initial push out of his stance. He has also surrendered his edge a bit more often. Normally an aggressive pass protector, he has been a bit slow when positioning himself on schemed pressures. This was evident on Sunday on the Pats’ first offensive series. Facing third down, Saints defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon easily moved through the left side of the offensive line to force quarterback Mac Jones to make a quick throw that fell incomplete. While Wynn alone was not solely responsible for the Pats offensive line woes against the Saints, his performance will need to improve for New England to keep Jones upright and productive.

Nelson Agholor — Nay, Sort of…

Agholor was on the field for 58 of the Patriots 72 offensive snaps on Sunday. He would finish the game with two receptions for 17 yards on eight targets. Following is five-catch, 72-yard, one touchdown performance in Week One, Agholor has been a bit quiet on the stat sheet. Still, he was present on the field for 81 percent of the Pats offensive snaps. Agholor was targeted on a couple of deep shots taken by Jones, which would have easily changed his Week Three fate. On the plus side, the 28-year old seems to be making strides in take it advantage of his speed and ability to get open over the top.

Matt Judon — Yay

Since arriving in New England, Judon has proven that he has both the versatility and adaptability to become the team’s number one player on the edge. While there was some concern about his health earlier in the week (he had been listed on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s injury report with a knee ailment), Judon looked strong against New Orleans. The versatile linebacker consistently makes plays in the backfield and has been the Pats top defender on nearly every snap. On Sunday, Judon recorded 2.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. He continuously put pressure on Saints’ quarterback Jameis Winston, while helping to funnel New Orleans’ running game to the middle. Thus far, he has been the Pats most productive free agent acquisition.

Christian Barmore — Yay

While he may be a rookie, Barmore continues to perform with a talent and insight beyond his years. The Patriots have utilized Barmore’s quick hands and flexibility to develop him into being a disruptive pass-rusher. His ability to push the pocket and assist in coverage earned him playing time on several of New England’s pass rush downs. While his numbers may not stand out on the stat sheet, Barmore has consistently played with good leverage, and has demonstrated great range for a player of his 6-foot-4, 310-pound frame. Should his progression continue on the same track, Barmore has the potential to be an eventual three-down player in short order.

J.C. Jackson — Yay

Whether deployed in man coverage or zone concepts, Jackson continues to show impressive instinct, Jackson entered Sunday’s game with six tackles and two interceptions, thus far in 2021. He recorded four solo tackles against the Saints, allowing 34 receiving yards, without allowing a touchdown or recording an interception. As Jackson remains the number one option at the position (in the absence of Stephon Gilmore), he continues to prove himself worthy of the spot. Though the fourth-year cornerback has had some difficulty in man-to-man coverage, he has taken great strides towards correcting that issue in 2021. Jackson may have had a quiet statistical performance on Sunday. However, his efficiency in not allowing big plays (as well as keeping his targets in check) made for a mostly-positive day for the 25-year-old defensive back.