After an extended wait, the Patriots finally played the Broncos! The bad news though, the extended wait seemed to rear its ugly head. The Pat coughed up the ball three times and looked completely out of sync on offense for most of the game. Additionally, the Patriots offensive line got physically dominated in the trenches struggling to protect Cam Newton.
The good news though is despite how poorly they played, they still were able to claw their way back into the game and have a chance at a win. Moreover, another positive is that the team continues to be disciplined with penalties. They commited just one penalty for four yards all game (a defensive holding on Stephon Gilmore that was not a good call).
Unfortunately, I think everyone saw how important practice time is on the field. The product does suffer if you’re not able to prepare.
More good news though, the Patriots have a chance to rebound at home and will have plenty of practice time this week.
Here is what’s happening in week six:
First Down: Earlier this week Bill Belichick gushed over George Kittle’s skills and his talent. Belichick called him, “a great player”. However, the compliments don’t end there with the most notable comment being, “He’s as good as anybody that I’ve coached or as good as anybody we’ve played against”.
That is a heavy compliment from a guy looked at as the greatest coach in the history of the NFL. However, that shouldn’t surprise anybody. First off, Kittle is the best overall tight end in the league. He is a dominant blocker, and a nightmare after the catch. Simply put there is nothing he can’t do on the field.
Some people have theorized that this comment is a shot at former Pats’ tight end Rob Gronkowski. Maybe there is some minor dig at him there, it would make sense. However, the more likely scenario is that Kittle is that good of a player. Moreover Belichick pumping up opposing players in nothing new. He routinely does it to everyone, exaggerating how good opposing players are.
So he likely is exaggerating on Kittle, who still is a great player in today’s game. There also may be a subtle small dig at Gronk, but most likely he is just pumping up the opponent again.
Second Down: This year has proven challenging for every NFL team. There have been a lot of injuries with players not getting the same offseason work and struggling with adjustment of game speed, in addition to the usual flow of injuries.
Perhaps no team though has been hit with the injury bug than the 49ers. The 49ers currently have Ezekiel Ansah, Nick Bosa, Tevin Coleman, Dee Ford, Solomon Thomas, Richard Sherman, and Jordan Reed on injured reserve. They also have Kwon Alexander, Raheem Mostert, Jaquiski Tartt, and Jimmie Ward out this week. Moreover Trent Williams and Jeff Wilson are also questionable.
There is no doubt the injury bug bites every team, some more than others. However, this is an insane amount of injuries to a very talented core.
Third Down: One major storyline this week is no doubt the return of Jimmy Garpoppolo. The man who was supposedly the major mistake of the Belichick era. This year the Garoppolo trade tree finally finished and if you are interested in who New England acquired for that second rounder check out Michael Hurley’s piece here.
Despite the fact Belichick liked Jimmy Garoppolo, I think it is easy to see that the right call was made. Jimmy has proven himself to be a good, but not great quarterback on his best days. But on his worst days, he looks more like a backup. Moreover, Belichick and Brady went to the Super Bowl that year and the next, winning in the 2018-2019 season against the Rams.
In New England it is easy to see how fans’ views could get distorted with the recent success of the team, but most teams would sacrifice anything to get to a Super Bowl and have a chance to win it. The Pats went to two straight with Tom Brady and won one. That is a tremendous success, especially when considering Garoppolo’s injury history and inconsistent and sometimes erratic play. Jimmy G may still be developing, and may still develop more, but hard not to classify the deal as a win.
Fourth Down: After a hot start to the year with very few turnovers and penalties, the Patriots have fallen down the rankings. The Patriots now stand with a turnover differential of 0, in the bottom half of the league at 17th overall. There is a solid chance the turnovers will lessen over the coming weeks as Cam gets back into a rhythm and the offensive line gets healthy (David Andrews will likely be back this week), but they are trending the wrong way.
The other side of the equation, they are once again one of the least penalized teams. In fact, they are averaging the least penalty yards per game at 27.8 yards per game.
Prediction: Patriots 27, 49ers 23
This game could go either way. The 49ers have a lot of explosive weapons and Kyle Shanahan is a very smart coach who always has a creative plan on offense. That being said, I have a hard time believing New England would love three straight games and end up two games below .500. Maybe the 49ers come in and dominate, but with the effort put out last week I think the Patriots come out with some anger and passion and dominate early on before the 49ers make a charge late.
–David Albiani is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @david_albiani