The Patriots nearly pulled up the upset of the defending Super Bowl champions, and they did it on the strength of an improving offense and the arm of a precocious young quarterback.
Mac Jones very nearly upstaged Tom Brady in the most anticipated regular season game in Patriots history, but New England ultimately came up a field goal short in a 19-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Seventeen points is certainly not going to be enough to win most weeks in the National Football League, but this team was never going to win by outscoring people most games. What’s important is, are they executing to the best of their abilities? Is Jones getting better each week? And are they making progress in the red zone?
Based on Sunday night, the Pats mostly get a check mark in all three areas. Certainly, they had untimely mistakes that cost them potential points on the scoreboard (like J.J. Taylor’s third-quarter fumble), and the pass protection continues to be a struggle in front of Jones (12 QB hits). But as long as they continue this upward trajectory as the season goes along, and overcome the growing pains that are expected with a rookie starting quarterback, the future is brighter in Foxborough than their disappointing 1-3 record may indicate.
“I think we’ve made progress in the passing game, but there’s still, obviously, a lot more to do,” Bill Belichick said Monday morning. “And you know, we’ll just continue to work on it and work harder on it and try to continue to improve it.”
Let’s take a deeper dive into how the Patriots deployed their offense on Sunday night, which turned out to be Jones’ best game of his young career.