New England offense struggling to put up Patriot-like numbers
Take a look at the latest NFL stats and you won’t find the New England Patriots’ productive offense anywhere close to where it’s become accustomed to being five weeks into the season.
It’s un-Patriots-like to say the least, which is the direct opposite of what we’ve come to expect from a Tom Brady-led team since taking over as their starting quarterback midway through the 2001 season.
Going into Sunday’s game with the undefeated New Orleans Saints in Gillette Stadium, the Patriots have been frustrated by a lack of big plays from their receivers and the absence of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who hasn’t played a down this season because of arm and back issues.
The Patriots rank 18th in total yards (343.4) and 14th in rushing (116.4). More shockingly, they’re 21st in passing (227.0) without Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, who replaced Wes Welker and has played in only two games because of a groin problem.
Through it all, the Patriots managed to win their first four games before being effectively shut down by rainy conditions and the Cincinnati Bengals defense in a 13-6 loss last Sunday.
With their two field goals against the Bengals, the Patriots are averaging just 19.0 points a game to rank 24th in the 32-team league — raising the frustration level of Brady even more.
“Well, I mean our job is to go out there and score, so we’re not doing a great job of that,” Brady said when asked about the work his team puts in without seeing the results. “The execution has to be a lot better. That’s what we’re working on.
“We’re trying to improve in all areas,” he added. “It’s frustrating when we don’t score, but we’re going to try and do better this weekend.”
The Patriots would like nothing better than to change that Sunday against a Saints defense that has allowed just 14.6 points per game to rank fourth in the league.
That would certainly alleviate some of the growing frustration for Brady, who’s obviously going through growing pains with rookie wide receivers Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce and two tight ends who’ve caught five passes so far — about a good half for Gronkowski.
“I just want us to score points … so whatever it takes to score points, that’s what matters,” said Brady, who’s completing just 56.6 percent of his passes with only seven touchdowns and three touchdowns. “I think you let your emotions get into it and feelings and so forth.
“I mean, realistically, you have to come up with a plan. We have to figure out to score points. I said after the game, we’re not going to win many games scoring six points. So, if we score six points this weekend, we probably won’t win. We’ve got to do a lot better than that.”
As tough as it was under the conditions, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said his team did enough good things to be in the game until the end.
“We did enough things to make it a real competitive game, to go down to the wire, but we just couldn’t make enough plays that we needed to make to turn it in our favor — as we have a couple other times this year,” he said. “We just have to keep working.
“We can do a better do job coaching; we can do a better job of playing. We just need to need to keep working harder and correct some of the mistakes that we had and improve our execution.”
And, he noted, the breaks that have gone the Patriots’ way earlier this season and in the past didn’t happen against the Bengals.
“I think you just have to live with those and you hope that they all even out in the long run,” Belichick said. “I think what’s more important is to control the things that we can control. That’s what we just need to do a better job of.
“There are things that we can control, and that’s where I think our focus really needs to be.”
According to Brady, they need to focus in a hurry against the 5-0 Saints.
“We’ve got to try and score quickly, methodically, whatever it takes,” he said. “hey have a good offense, they have a good team, they play well on special teams. We have to play a very well-rounded game.”