After an uncertain last couple of days, the New England Patriots were able to play their previously postponed Week 4 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night. Unfortunately for the Patriots, the game resulted in a 26-10 loss. Looking at the score alone doesn’t tell the full picture though. Even without Cam Newton, we feel the Patriots beat themselves. Several missed opportunities lived to haunt the Patriots.
In our latest “Winners and Losers” we look at the positive takeaways from Monday night’s game, as well as the players who struggled.
The Patriots secondary hadn’t played up to their elite level thus far in the 2020 season, but Week 4 changed that. New England made the high-powered Chiefs offense look average. Patrick Mahomes, in particular, had a tough time with the Patriots secondary. He ended 19/29 for 236 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interception performance, but that stat line is very deceiving. Mahomes threw two should-have-been interceptions that were dropped. Devin McCourty dropped one and J.C. Jackson dropped the other. Additionally, Mahomes threw a would-be-interception that was blown dead by the officials (more on that later).
In terms of holding Mahomes, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, in check that’s the best we’ve seen a defense do in awhile. The Chiefs’ two biggest weapons, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill were held to only seven combined catches.
A guy we’d like to mention personally is Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore reminded everyone why he’s the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He had lockdown coverage all night long. His most impressive play came when he forced a fumble in the red zone to save a potential Chiefs score.
Bill Belichick’s defensive gameplan and the secondary’s execution deserve a ton of recognition. It’s not easy to slow down this Chiefs offense and they did it handily. Every single player in the secondary deserves a ton of credit.
If it feels like every week Chase Winovich is on our winner’s list, it’s because he’s always making big plays. Winovich registered one sack, one quarterback hit, and all night he seemed to cause problems for the Chiefs pass protection.
However, the biggest takeaway from Winovich’s performance in Kansas City was a few of the plays he made in run defense. All offseason long the number one question surrounding Winovich was if he could turn into a three-down player and he’s clearly shown he can. On Monday night, Winovich had two tackles for loss. One of those tackles for loss came in the clip below.
The growth of Winovich has been great to see through four games this season. Winovich is now an integral part of the Patriots’ defense.
The run defense was really good Monday night and a big reason why is Lawrence Guy. We said it all offseason and it remains true this season as well; Guy is one of the more underrated players in the NFL. Guy had three total tackles and one tackle for loss. More importantly, he ate up blocks, and clogged the running lanes, in other words, he did his job. We’ve always said Guy doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because he doesn’t have eye-popping stats, but he’s great at what he does and his impact on the field Monday night was obvious.
Guy and the Patriots run defense held the Chiefs to 94 yards on 25 carries, which resulted in 3.8 yards per carry. Holding a good young running back with a very solid offensive line under 100 yards deserves a lot of props.
If Monday night was any indication, Damien Harris may just be the Patriots’ new early-down back. It’s only one game but it’s hard to ignore his immense upside. Harris had 17 carries for 100 yards, good for 5.9 yards per carry. Despite missing the first three weeks of the season, it looks as if his strong training camp has carried over to the regular season. Harris has got some legit speed in the open field.
With Sony Michel moving to the injured reserve, Harris has a great shot to seize the starting role while Michel is out and at the very least earn himself split snaps in the lead-back role when Michel gets back.
We really can’t say enough about how impressed we are with the Patriots offensive line. Aside from Joe Thuney and Isaiah Wynn, the Patriots relied on three backups to fill in upfront and they did not disappoint. James Ferentz, a veteran depth piece, started at center in place of David Andrews, rookie Michael Onwenu started in place of Shaq Mason, and fellow rookie Justin Herron played in place of Jermaine Eluemunor. Even with all the injuries, the offensive line aided the Patriots in rushing for 185 yards on 35 carries, good for 5.3 yards per carry.
Our specific standouts along the offensive line are Thuney and Onwenu. Thuney is one of the best guards in the NFL and he showed why again on Monday night. He made some excellent pull blocks. As for Onwenu, he’s going to be a staple on the offensive line for a long time. He’s is an absolute mauler and he shows it every time he’s out there. He’ll only get better as he gains more experience. The depth and youth of New England’s offensive line is very promising.
Brian Hoyer was never going to come in and light it up, but the mental mistakes from Hoyer are what put him in the “loser” category. We won’t pretend to know Belichick’s mindset, but the idea to start Hoyer likely centered around the idea that he would manage the game and not turn it over.
Unfortunately, for New England, that’s not how it worked out. Not only did Hoyer struggle statistically going 15/24 for 130 yards and one interception, but Hoyer had two CRUCIAL mental mistakes in the red zone. In the clip below, you see Hoyer taking a sack, thus running out the clock before half time costing the Patriots a chance at three points. We don’t want to pile on but that’s more of a rookie mistake than a veteran mistake.
The other costly error was a fumble in the red-zone. Hoyer held the ball way too long and lost it, once again costing the Patriots a chance at points. Again, we aren’t saying Hoyer should have played lights out, but the mental mistakes are one’s you just can’t have as a veteran quarterback. If Newton can’t go against Denver we’d like to see Jarrett Stidham start.
Julian Edelman flat out wasn’t good on Monday night. He had three catches for 35 yards and two drops. Drops have been a problem for Edelman and it seems to be intensifying this season. Edelman’s second drop of the game proved costly as it led to a pick-six.
Edelman will turn it around, but tonight was a tough one. The reality is this offense needs Edelman to be Edelman. They don’t have enough weapons to survive bad games from their best wideout. As long as Edelman is semi-healthy, we’d expect to see him back to his normal self against Denver.
Non-Patriot Honorary Loser: The Officiating
Look, we aren’t one to blame officials for losses and we won’t do that here but it’s hard to ignore the impact of the missed call below.
This is an awful call. The explanation given is that Mahomes was ruled down and forward progress had been called before he threw the errant pass that was intercepted by Shilique Calhoun. It’s very hard to understand why he was ruled down. As NESN Patriots reported Doug Kyed pointed out, would that Mahomes have been ruled down if he completed the pass while falling to the ground? His answer was no and we very much agree. It’s a bad call and one that likely cost the Patriots points.
Let us know your winners and losers!