By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
It’s really beginning to look like a tale of two teams with the 2018 New England Patriots. You have the same familiar squad on their home field at Gillette Stadium, and you have the road version. Which … how do you even begin to describe how the Patriots look on the road, after a debacle like this?
The Patriots offense continues to be inconsistent at best away from Gillette Stadium, averaging just over 17 points from that unit in their last three on the road. It took another leap back in Nashville, as the Tom Brady-led Patriots amassed just 284 total yards en route to 10 points. They reverted to the inept unit that showed up in Detroit earlier in the season, and despite slightly better yardage numbers, this one looked and felt much worse.
It’s hard to pinpoint just a handful of thoughts about a disaster like the Patriots just had against the Titans, but here are some quick-hitters on an embarrassing defeat for New England.
— Patriots continue to look like a different team on the road. Even after winning two straight on the road to get to 2-2 on the season, the Pats hadn’t quite put together a complete effort in any of their road games so far this season. They saved their worst performance yet for Sunday in Nashville, somehow looking even worse overall than they did in a 26-10 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 3.
The Patriots are now 2-3 on the road with a point differential of minus-5. Besides an inept performance by the Buffalo Bills, the defense has had all kinds of issues, particularly against mobile quarterbacks. And the Brady-led offense has been consistently inconsistent, and reached frustrating levels of ineptitude on Sunday.
— Besides maybe Julian Edelman, nothing goes right on offense. Even Edelman had a throw clang off his facemask and missed two other targets. But he ended up with an empty nine catches for 104 yards as the Patriots struggled to move the ball throwing it to just about everyone else. Josh Gordon made a couple of big catches, but caught just four of his 12 targets. The offensive line struggled to keep Brady upright or give him time to throw for most of the game. James White made a few plays but was otherwise contained well. The Patriots’ biggest questions for the rest of the season should be on offense, especially with how poor they’ve been on the road.
— Brady feels the heat. As badly as everything went for the Patriots offense, the biggest problem was the pressure that Tennessee consistently brought to Brady. New England went just 3-for-15 on third down, with Brady often having to eat the ball for a sack or throw it away. No. 12 was off with some throws of his own, as he wasn’t able to make up for the lack of time he had to throw or the inefficiency of his receivers.
— Defense takes a big step backward. What is it with the Patriots against running quarterbacks? The Pats look like they’re turning a corner with a strong performance against passing extraordinaire Aaron Rodgers, but against the not-particularly-accurate Marcus Mariota they’re a sieve. The edge control up front wasn’t great, as Mariota was consistently able to escape the pocket and make plays down the field. But there was one glaring difference in this group today that made one of the biggest differences in the game…
— Bad day for Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore shadowed Titans wideout Corey Davis for most of the day, and decidedly did not have a lockdown day like he’s had at many other points this season. Davis absolutely toasted Gilmore to the tune of seven catches for 125 yards and a touchdown in a stunning regression for a guy who was mostly shutting guys down to this point in the season. This defense doesn’t have a ton of high-end talent to begin with, so when Gilmore has a down day, it’s going to be tough for them to keep teams off the scoreboard.
This loss will sting extra-long, since it comes as the Patriots hit their bye week. It could be a blessing in disguise for a team that has to get healthy, regroup, and find a way to play better on the road, score more points, and defend with more consistency.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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 Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.