Revenge is a dish best served with heat. Jacksonville had New England beat before the game even started. The Jaguars came ready for revenge, and the Patriots didn’t put up a fight. Any energy seen by New England evaporated early on with the heat. Following an equally disappointing and embarrassing loss, there are still many takeaways from the game.
Everyone made mistakes during the game, Chris Hogan included. Lack of energy puts every player on New England at fault, but Hogan saved his team from a brutal blowout. The wide receiver wrapped up with 3 receptions for 42 yards (with a long of 29 yards), and 2 touchdowns. Hogan’s touchdowns constituted 60% of the Patriots final score, with his first touchdown pass not being caught until the end of the third quarter. When it takes three full quarters to put a single touchdown on the board, something is definitely wrong.
Running back James White was one of the few players that could be seen with any motivation on the field. White finished the game with 4 carries for 11 yards, and 7 receptions for 73 yards. The impressive part of his game was the fact that he averaged just over a first down (10.4 yards) on every catch he made. It’s unfortunate that the rest of the offense couldn’t convert those first downs into touchdowns. White paved the way for each of Hogan’s touchdowns, and therefore also contributed to lessening the beating Jacksonville handed them.
Rookie Sony Michel took a pounding from the Jacksonville defense. The running back received most of the carries for New England, carrying the ball 10 times for 34 yards. Michel was hard on himself after the game, recognizing that his performance simply wasn’t good enough to win. It’s hard to criticize a player who had just come off of a serious knee injury and was asked to jump back into the game at maximum effort. Michel deserves credit for being one of three noticeable players to truly put in the second effort when no one else would.
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Brady and the Offensive Line
It all began with the temperature. The recorded heat index at the time of the game was 107 degrees. Brady appeared beaten before the game even started, and the weather is part of the reason why. The quarterback has statistically played his top 5 worst games at high temperatures; this past game will certainly make the list. He simply played a terrible game. As the leader of the Patriots, he failed at guiding his team to victory. As the quarterback, he failed at finding holes in the defense. As a teammate, he failed at motivating his team. How much of this is Brady’s fault, though? When the offensive line can’t hold the defense from collapsing on Brady for more than five seconds, how could he possibly have enough time to find a good pass? The answer is he can’t. Thus the reason New England only had 18 first downs, compared to Jacksonville’s 27.
This is where things start to get ugly. Without a doubt, the defense lost the majority of the game for the Patriots. The statistics say it all. The Jaguars had a 71% third down efficiency; the Patriots’ was 31%. Jacksonville also gained 104 yards just by rushing. Blake Bortles was able to scramble 6 times and gain 35 yards; he was his team’s second-best running back. The quarterback should never escape the pocket as many times as Bortles did in this game. Not to mention a handful of those runs resulted in a first down. During the second half, New England did come close to closing the score gap. The offense was just starting to gain momentum when the defense let them down. Each time the Patriots got close, the defense allowed the Jaguars to score again. There’s only so much the offense can do when they play a game with no defense.
The secondary played worse than the defensive line. Chung, Gilmore, and both McCourty brothers were the major factors that contributed to the Patriots’ loss. The secondary became New England’s only form of defense when the defensive line couldn’t stop Jacksonville’s running backs, and they couldn’t stop them either. The Jaguars had 22 of their 27 first downs by passing because Bortles realized there was no pressure. They also had significantly more passing yards than the Patriots: 377 yards vs. 220 yards. The Jaguars aren’t well known for their offense, but at this rate, they will be soon.
This was Jacksonville’s first time beating New England in a regular season game in their team’s history. The Jaguars deserved to win this game and break the silence; the Patriots took their talent for granted. Following a disappointing 20-31 loss, how will New England pick themselves up and turn their game around in time for Sunday?
-Caitlyn Allen is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @caitlyyyn-allen