New England Patriots

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are 2-8 on the season after losing 10-6 to the Indianapolis Colts in Frankfurt, Germany. Here are nine players (and one entire unit) that we graded “UP” or “DOWN” based on their performance on Sunday…

DOWN: QB Mac Jones

Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) is forced out of bounds by Indianapolis Colts defensive end Adetomiwa Adebawore (95) in the third quarter during an International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) is forced out of bounds by Indianapolis Colts defensive end Adetomiwa Adebawore (95) in the third quarter during an International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It really is incredible how Jones consistently comes up with his worst plays at the worst possible times.

For much of the game against the Colts, the problem wasn’t so much the quarterback as the receivers’ inability to get open or protect the ball, and at times the pass-blocking. But there’s no excuse for Jones’ late-fourth-quarter interception that essentially sealed the Patriots’ fate.

Jones was facing a little bit of pressure on the play, so it looked like a quick decision was necessary for him to avoid a sack. But Jones still rushed the throw off his back foot, despite having Mike Gesicki open in the end zone, resulting in an ugly underthrow and a pick.

Once again, Jones had a chance to deliver a clutch drive to go ahead and possibly escape Germany with a win, but came up woefully short in a pressure situation. That could be the story of Jones’ career, even if he continues to start games and gets a better offense around him. His decision-making under duress is at times abysmal, and this Patriots team isn’t nearly good enough to overcome them.

  • DOWN: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (11) talks with New England Patriots wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (7) after an NFL International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (11) talks with New England Patriots wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (7) after an NFL International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Smith-Schuster had more penalties (2) than catches (1). A false start late in the second quarter stalled a drive, then an illegal shift in the fourth quarter wiped out what should’ve been an 18-yard run by Ezekiel Elliott.

    The Patriots are basically playing Smith-Schuster out of necessity at this point. But he continues to be a net negative for an offense that really needed him to make an impact this season.

  • UP: WR Demario Douglas

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas (81) carries the ball against Indianapolis Colts running back Trey Sermon (27) in the second half during an NFL International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas (81) carries the ball against Indianapolis Colts running back Trey Sermon (27) in the second half during an NFL International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Douglas did his part. For this Patriots offense, six catches for 84 yards is a monster game. Douglas’ late 21-yard catch-and-run helped set up the Pats’ late scoring opportunity, which ended with the Jones interception.

    At least the Pats know they have one skilled player on offense that can be a building block for the future.

  • DOWN: TE Hunter Henry

    FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 12: Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots misses a catch in the endzone as Julian Blackmon #32 of the Indianapolis Colts applies pressure in the fourth quarter during the NFL match between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots at Deutsche Bank Park on November 12, 2023 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

    FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 12: Hunter Henry #85 of the New England Patriots misses a catch in the endzone as Julian Blackmon #32 of the Indianapolis Colts applies pressure in the fourth quarter during the NFL match between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots at Deutsche Bank Park on November 12, 2023 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

    Three low-impact catches for Henry in this one, but he punched his ticket to “DOWN” land when he fumbled the ball early in the second quarter. Henry was fortunate that teammate David Andrews dove on the loose ball to keep it in the Pats’ possession.

    Henry hasn’t been playing his best football over the course of the Patriots’ most recent losing streak. He’s another guy they can’t afford to have struggle on the field.

  • UP: RB Ezekiel Elliott

    FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 12: Ezekiel Elliott #15 of the New England Patriots runs the ball in the second quarter during the NFL match between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots at Deutsche Bank Park on November 12, 2023 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

    FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 12: Ezekiel Elliott #15 of the New England Patriots runs the ball in the second quarter during the NFL match between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots at Deutsche Bank Park on November 12, 2023 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

    Elliott is one of the few (only?) Patriots players that seems to have improved as the season has gone along. He ran hard and decisively on Sunday, averaging 4.2 yards per carry and catching two passes for 34 yards. Had the Pats pulled out the win in the end, Elliott would’ve been a big reason why.

  • UP: LB Jahlani Tavai

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots linebacker Jahlani Tavai (48) reacts after a play against the Indianapolis Colts in the third quarter during an International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots linebacker Jahlani Tavai (48) reacts after a play against the Indianapolis Colts in the third quarter during an International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

    Myles Bryant came down with the interception on Gardner Minshew in the third quarter, but it was Tavai who actually made the play when he leaped and tipped the pass midair. Tavai’s excellent season continues. A rare bright spot in an otherwise demoralizing season.

  • UP: C David Andrews

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) calls a play at the line against the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter during an International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) calls a play at the line against the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter during an International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

    Andrews gets an “UP” for recovering that fumble from Henry, and for his work in the run game. He’s had a solid season overall, and he’s set a good example by continuing to work hard and compete on game days despite the Patriots’ trying season.

  • DOWN: RG Sidy Sow

    FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 12: Ezekiel Elliott #15 of the New England Patriots runs the ball in the first quarter during the NFL match between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots at Deutsche Bank Park on November 12, 2023 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

    FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 12: Ezekiel Elliott #15 of the New England Patriots runs the ball in the first quarter during the NFL match between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots at Deutsche Bank Park on November 12, 2023 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

    Sow had trouble with some of the pass-rushing concepts the Colts were throwing at him, which contributed to Jones taking five sacks. He’s a rookie and has looked promising at times, and he’s played a role in stabilizing the offensive line in recent weeks. But a game like this reminds you he’s still got a lot to learn.

  • UP: P Bryce Baringer

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots punter Bryce Baringer (17) and place kicker Chad Ryland (37) react after a missed field goal against the Indianapolis Colts in the second half during an NFL International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots punter Bryce Baringer (17) and place kicker Chad Ryland (37) react after a missed field goal against the Indianapolis Colts in the second half during an NFL International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    The kickers today looked like they were in Denver. Baringer averaged 62.5 yards on his punts with a long of 79, pinning one inside the 20. He did have two touchbacks. But Baringer deserves an attaboy for this one, because he he’s seldom looked that good in his rookie year.

  • DOWN: Return Coverage

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (6) celebrates after a 42-yard kickoff return against the New England Patriots in the second half during an NFL International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (6) celebrates after a 42-yard kickoff return against the New England Patriots in the second half during an NFL International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    This Patriots team can’t afford to give up long returns. Isaiah McKenzie’s 42-yard kick return in the fourth quarter was a killer, as it helped set up a Colts field goal. It’s hard to blame any one player for the bad coverage, so we’re giving the thumbs down to the whole unit, players and coaches.

  • Next Patriots Ups & Downs will come in Week 12, as the Pats have their bye in Week 11 then will try to get back in the win column against the New York Giants.

    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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