Winners and Losers From the Patriots Week 7 Defeat

The New England Patriots dropped to 2-4 after losing in dominating fashion to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon. The 33-6 blowout loss was ugly in every sense of the word. The Patriots had plenty of issues on offense and defense. The coaching also had its fair share of struggles.

In this week’s edition of “Winners and Losers”, we had to search hard to find bright spots from Sunday’s game, but we managed to find a couple. The “loser” section, on the other hand, was unfortunately much too easy to fill up. Without, further ado let’s dive into Sunday’s action.

Winners

Jakobi Meyers

After N’Keal Harry went down with an injury, Jakobi Meyers finally got a crack at some playing time. Before Sunday’s game, Meyers had only played 22 offensive snaps the entire season. Instantly after being placed into the game, Meyers looked like the best receiving on the Patriots. He had 4 catches for 60 yards. Meyers made a couple of very nice chunk plays, which is something the offense has lacked the past couple of games.

Meyer’s didn’t have eye-popping stats, but considering the next best-receiving performance on the night was Rex Burkhead with three catches for 35 yards his performance was noteworthy. After seeing how Meyers performed tonight, we’d love to see him get more opportunities moving forward.

Nick Folk and Jake Bailey

If you’re looking for the brightest spot on the Patriots it was kicker Nick Folk and punter Jake Bailey. Folk has settled in nicely after missing a couple of kicks early in the season. He went 2/2 on kicks Sunday afternoon with his longest coming from 41 yards. He accounted for the Patriots’ only points. Bailey, on the other hand, only punted twice, but both times he pinned the 49ers within the 20-yard line. He continues to be a weapon for the Patriots.

Damien Harris

The run game never got going for the Patriots against the 49ers but that doesn’t mean Damien Harris didn’t once again flash his potential. Harris ended with 10 carries for 58 yards. Rushing the ball for 5.8 yards per carry is extremely efficient. The most intriguing part of Harris’s performance is how hard he runs the ball. He quickly shoots the gap and doesn’t shy away from contact.

Unfortunately due to turnovers and being dominated in time of possession, the Patriots never really had the chance to give Harris more carries. Hopefully, that can change moving forward.

Losers

Cam Newton

It was a rough Sunday afternoon for Cam Newton. He went 9/15 with 98 yards passing, zero touchdowns, and three interceptions. Most of the issues seem to stem from decision making mistakes and not physical ones. For example, he’s not reading or seeing things quickly enough. Just like last week, he seemed to be holding the ball for too long. It almost looks as if he’s lost some of his confidence. Some of the decisions we saw on Sunday were unexplainable. In the clip below, you see a poor decision lead to an interception.

There’s no doubt that the Patriots have a below-average set of weapons, but Newton is the first one to tell you that he needs to play better. He’s clearly capable, we’ve seen him play at a high level this season, but he needs to bounce back. Josh McDaniels could also do a better job putting Newton in situations that fit him better. The Patriots Week 1 and Week 3 offensive gameplans are what we expected the Patriots offense to look like this season, and as of late it hasn’t.

Run Defense

Going into the game, Kyle Shanahan’s zone-run scheme, felt like a bad matchup for the mediocre Patriots run defense and that proved correct on Sunday. The 49ers gashed the Patriots for 197 rushing yards on 37 carries. Jeff Wilson, specifically, ran for 112 yards on 6.6 yards per carry. Meanwhile, backup running back, Jamycal Hasty rushed for 57 yards on 6.3 yards per carry. All of those statistics paint a very bleak picture.

Truthfully, the Patriots aren’t built to stop good rushing teams. For one, they don’t have much defensive line depth. Nick Thurman and Tashawn Bower were both called up from the practice squad for Sunday’s game and they both played snaps. Rookie Anfernee Jennings also got a lot of time on the edge and he struggled mightily. All night long the Patriots had trouble setting the edge. It will be interesting if getting Beau Allen back at some point will improve the run defense.

Second, the Patriots’ lack of linebackers really shows against run-first teams. Because the Patriots don’t have many linebackers, they’ve played with a ton of defensive backs on the field this season. That works well against pass-first teams, but against running teams, they lack the right personnel to get consistent stops. The hope is that Josh Uche will eventually add much-needed depth to the Patriots inside linebacking core.

Wide Receivers (Minus Meyers)

There’s not a lot to be said about this wide receiving corps that hasn’t already been said. Only one receiver caught more than one pass on Sunday and it was Meyers. Damiere Byrd had one, Harry, before injury had one, and Julian Edelman had one. Newton has played poorly lately, but the wide receiver group isn’t playing great either. For the majority of the season, Byrd has been used as the number one wideout, and that’s just not cutting it in today’s NFL. That’s no disrespect for Byrd either, he’s had a good year and because of some errant throws, he doesn’t have as good as numbers as he should. However, in an ideal scenario, Byrd would be more of a number three receiver rather than your number one.

We can’t speak on Harry because he suffered an early injury. As for Edelman, his play this season since Week 2 has been ineffective. It’s very clear that he’s playing through an injury, and while we admire his toughness it’s tough to see him struggle like he is. Additionally, the Newton to Edelman connection has been way out of sync ever since that incredible performance in Week 2. In the second half, their miscommunication on a route resulted in an interception. 

Linebackers in Coverage

The Patriots passing defense wasn’t their biggest problem on Sunday, but they certainly didn’t have their best performance. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 277 yards. The coverage by the secondary downfield was alright, they allowed some catches but for the most part, they did enough for a solid performance. Unfortunately, the linebackers in coverage had a lot of issues, particularly running with the 49ers speed after the catch.

San Francisco isolated the Patriots linebackers one on one multiple times. Ja’Whaun Bentley, who played good last week, had a bad game on Sunday. The 49ers picked on him in coverage and he also missed a key third-down tackle when Garoppolo took off scrambling for the first down. Here is an example of the 49ers speed causing problems for Bentley in the passing game.

The rookie Jennings also had his fair share of problems in coverage. Jennings hasn’t seen many snaps in coverage this season and you can bet Shanahan knew that. Just take a look at this clip. George Kittle fakes a block on Jennings, he bites and nobody else in coverage picks Kittle up.  

A majority of Garoppolo’s passing yards came from dump-off throws that led to long runs by the 49ers receivers, and it was a smart gameplan. Their speed on offense led to big play after big play. Although we should note, it’s unfair to say that it was just the linebackers that couldn’t tackle after the catch. The entire Patriots team, including the secondary, didn’t tackle very well.

Let us know your winners and loser from Sunday’s game!

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