New England Patriots

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are 2-6 on the 2023 season after falling to the Miami Dolphins by a 31-17 final at Hard Rock Stadium. Here are 11 players graded either “UP” or “DOWN” based on the game…

DOWN: QB Mac Jones

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 29: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots attempts a pass during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 29: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots attempts a pass during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

Jones had a good touchdown drive off a Dolphins turnover to give the Patriots an early lead, and another good scoring drive late in the fourth quarter to keep the game within reach. But in-between, Jones was underwhelming.

After a clean game last week against the Buffalo Bills, Jones couldn’t avoid a turnover in this one. And this time it was a bad decision and a bad throw, at one of the worst possible times. On the Miami 23-yard line with a chance to tie the game heading into halftime, Jones instead lobbed a floating outside pass attempt toward Kendrick Bourne, which Jalen Ramsey intercepted with ease.

Bourne was technically open, but Jones only had a chance to make that play if he gunned it as hard as he could. Instead of potentially tying the game, the Patriots ended up at halftime down 17-7 after the Dolphins grabbed a field goal off his interception.

Jones has a solid opportunity to rebound in the coming weeks, with games coming up against the Commanders, Colts, and Giants. But it’s possible that Jones has made too many crucial mistakes at this point in the season for the Pats to have a chance to crawl out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves.

  • DOWN: CB J.C. Jackson

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (29) commits defensive pass interference on Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (29) commits defensive pass interference on Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Jackson committed a killer penalty on the other side of the ball, taking a tug at Tyreek Hill’s jersey to draw a flag for pass interference. The play would’ve been incomplete and forced fourth down. Instead, the Dolphins got first-and-goal from the 1 and scored a demoralizing touchdown. Tough play at a tough time for Jackson, earning him a “DOWN” for the day.

  • UP: WR Kendrick Bourne

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 29: Kendrick Bourne #84 of the New England Patriots celebrates a receiving touchdown during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 29: Kendrick Bourne #84 of the New England Patriots celebrates a receiving touchdown during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

    Unfortunately, Bourne will be making headlines more for a knee injury that forced him out of the game. But before that, Bourne caught 3-of-4 targets for 36 yards and a touchdown. If he’s out for significant time, that’ll be a tough blow to the Patriots, whether they planned to play him or trade him.

  • DOWN: RB Ezekiel Elliott

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) runs the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) runs the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Elliott had a couple of tough runs on the Patriots’ final touchdown drive, but that wasn’t enough to make up for a rough day leading up to it. At one point, Elliott had four carries for just seven yards, and he was fortunate not to lose a fumble in the first half.

  • UP: S Kyle Dugger

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger (23) intercepts the a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger (23) intercepts the a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Dugger set a good early tone for the Patriots with a first-quarter interception, and led the team with eight total tackles, including a sack. One of his tackles on Durham Smythe prevented a touchdown at the goal line. Dugger bit on the play-fake that led to a late Jaylen Waddle touchdown, but that play was a team breakdown. Overall, a productive day for him.

  • DOWN: LB/S Marte Mapu

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 29: Tyreek Hill #10 of the Miami Dolphins catches a touchdown over J.C. Jackson #29 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 29: Tyreek Hill #10 of the Miami Dolphins catches a touchdown over J.C. Jackson #29 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

    Mapu (not pictured above) appeared to be the deep safety responsible for helping over the top against Tyreek Hill when the receiver caught a 42-yard touchdown. The rookie linebacker/safety hybrid has potential as a versatile coverage player, but that was a big mistake that ended up costing the team.

  • UP: DT Christian Barmore

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kayshon Boutte (80) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmore (90) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Barmore now has consecutive games with a sack after bringing Tagvoailoa down in the first quarter, and getting good pressure again on the throw that led to Dugger’s interception. The Dolphins appeared to adjust well to Barmore as the game went on, but Barmore has been playing that well. He requires extra attention. If the Pats defense is going to be dangerous at all in the second half of the season, Barmore will have to play a big role in it.

  • DOWN: TE Hunter Henry

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Jalen Ramsey (5) and Miami Dolphins cornerback Eli Apple (33) bring down New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Jalen Ramsey (5) and Miami Dolphins cornerback Eli Apple (33) bring down New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Henry had just one catch until the fourth quarter, and finished with three catches for 28 yards. The Patriots’ tight ends certainly have had a lot of blocking responsibilities amid problems on the offensive line, but Henry needs to do more for them as a pass-catcher, especially against an opponent like the Dolphins.

  • UP: DE Keion White

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Keion White (99) reaches for the pass of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Keion White (99) reaches for the pass of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    White had three tackles, one for a loss, and was more disruptive than the stat sheet would suggest. He’s been good in recent weeks after having to take on a bigger role in the absence of Matthew Judon.

  • UP: LB Jahlani Tavai

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 29: Jahlani Tavai #48 of the New England Patriots tackles De'Von Achane #28 of the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

    MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 29: Jahlani Tavai #48 of the New England Patriots tackles De’Von Achane #28 of the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

    Seven tackles and a pass breakup for Tavai, who had one of his better games as a Patriot. It was for naught, and Tavai can only do so much himself, but he gets a thumbs up for this game.

  • DOWN: CB Myles Bryant

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) catches the football against New England Patriots cornerback Myles Bryant (27) during the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) catches the football against New England Patriots cornerback Myles Bryant (27) during the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

    Bryant was responsible for Tyreek Hill on the third-and-9 catch that kept the Dolphins’ final touchdown drive alive. A better angle and tackle could have stopped Hill short and forced a punt. Hill is of course a tough matchup for any cornerback, but Bryant has shown in the past to be a better tackler than he’s shown lately.

  • Next Ups & Downs will come after the Patriots return home to play the Washington Commanders in Week 9 at Gillette Stadium.

    Click here for complete New England Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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