Foxborough, MA - There are two things to make clear at the outset of this article. The first is that no one feels bad for the New England Patriots or their fan base because they’ve put on the greatest dynasty in NFL history and are still 10-5 and primed to make the post-season yet again, while some teams fight tooth and nail just to reach a .500 record. (Are they really in bad shape or they’re just worse when compared to previous seasons?) The second is that every plan to fix a struggling team has to start with what the team is doing right.
And, frankly, there are three major things that the Patriots have done right during 2018. For one, the offensive line has been incredibly strong as led by Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon, both of whom have also struggled with injuries, but have strill propelled the line to be the statistically eighth best in the league. Secondly, the special teams unit for New England, at least on defending returns, has been very capable of making big plays when it matters most. Third, the secondary has been excellent as the Patriots have not allowed for wide receivers to torch them as they were want to do in years past. (Look no further than Stephon Gilmore for this tone being set.)
However, there’s obviously a lot that the Patriots need to do better. Their rushing defense has looked abysmal, especially since they let Jaylen Samuels, the third string running back of the Pittsburgh Steelers, run all over them last Sunday. When watching plays, the Patriots’ schemes seem reluctant to stack the box and when they do get to the quarterback, there are definite issues with actually finishing the sack.
Finishing is also a problem with the rushing game of the Patriots. Sony Michel does not have the bounce back ability he once seemed to and his inability to catch passes in the backfield makes him more of a hindrance than a complement to James White, who has been almost abandoned altogether in recent weeks.
Also, the receiving corps for the Patriots is immensely depleted, but if there’s any quarterback who can make something out of nothing: it’s Tom Brady.