New England Patriots

By Ty Anderson,

In Jacksonville for a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game, but with the venue shifted to Duval County, a similar pattern to that game has followed, as the Jaguars hold a 21-3 lead over the Patriots at halftime.

The opening two quarters featured a lot of… messiness on the part of the Patriots. Especially on the offensive side of the ball, as Tom Brady finished the first quarter with just four completions on eight passing attempts, and without a lick of consistency. Even when the Patriots found themselves within range of a score, Stephen Gostkowski’s missed field goal

The Patriots followed that up with even more nothin’, and with the team down by two touchdowns after Blake Bortles made it look easier than you can even imagine, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels blew a gasket on the sidelines.

But it’s not as if the Patriot defense has done much better, all things considered.

Here are three thoughts from the opening 30 minutes of play in Jacksonville…

Blake Bortles, Jaguar offense gets off to ridiculous start

I found it interesting that the Patriots won the toss and elected to receive. Then I kind of thought about it more: Get the ball first, score, and force Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles to be the guy that has to beat you. (This is how it would have to go with running back Leonard Fournette ruled out for this game, right?) It was brilliant. 

Buuuuut then the Patriots sputtered out of the gate, Gostkowski missed that aforementioned field goal attempt, and Bortles drank some MVP juice to straight-up dominate two scoring drives, going 10-for-12 with 123 yards and two passing touchdowns.

Bortles and the Jags were also three-for-three on third-down conversions to begin the game, and would have been four-for-four had it not been for an illegal hands to the face penalty that made it a third-and-17 for Jacksonville. And if that wasn’t helpful enough, the Jaguars also saw some straight-up absurd grabs from wide receiver Keelan Cole.

This was very quite suboptimal. At least when we related to the Patriots’ original plans that came with that coin toss victory.

Oh, and the Jaguars made sure to add some insurance before the end of the half, with a touchdown pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins with just nine seconds left in the half. Just plain brutal, and not what you saw coming from the Jaguars offense.

Trey Flowers undergoing concussion evaluation

Some more bad news: The Patriots lost defensive nucleus Trey Flowers with a potential concussion.

Not that Flowers’ exit is the only reason why the New England defense struggled (the Jags have attacked New England’s secondary time and time again), but his loss is a definitely noticeable one. Especially when you consider how their ability to make the Texans’ Deshaun Watson uncomfortable in the pocket really forced him into some seriously bad decisions. You’d like to think they could do the same with Bortles, but that likely requires a healthy and moving Flowers in the mix.

Sony Michel makes NFL debut

The Patriots wasted no time trying to get 2018 first-round draft pick Sony Michel, who missed all of the preseason and the first week of the regular season because of a knee injury, going in the first half of his NFL debut.

In the first half, one that saw Michel get significant reps as the Patriots’ No. 1 back before they found themselves down by double-digits, Michel totaled five carries for 12 yards and one catch for seven yards.

And though Michel’s looked capable on certain plays, an unsuccessful third-and-one rush by Michel spoke to what the Patriots lost with the season-ending injury to Jeremy Hill. It’s also worth noting that Michel wasn’t really utilized on all on New England’s eight-minute, 15-play drive for their first three points of the afternoon.

The Jags will get the ball to begin the second half.

Ty Anderson is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.