Patriots football returned to Gillette Stadium on Sunday. Fans packed the stadium to witness a dawning of a new era, the Era of Jones. But, unfortunately, it did not have a happy ending.
The Patriots lost to the Dolphins 17-16 in their home opener. A disappointing outcome caused by too many turnovers and unnecessary penalties, specifically a Damian Harris fumble that eventually ended the Patriots’ chance of a comeback.
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However, there were a lot of positives to take away from the loss. Jalen Mills and Matt Judon made important plays that shifted the momentum towards New England. In addition, Jakobi Meyers continued in his path to becoming a Jules-type receiver.
It is my pleasure to introduce my newest blog series for the NFL season, Peaks and Pits. There are always two sides to every story; I am here to tell it. So let’s begin, shall we?
Mac Jones is the real deal.
The Patriots may have lost on Sunday, but Mac Jones won the hearts of the Patriots nation with his stellar performance. Jones consistently found the open receiver, completing 74% of his passes. He threw for 281 yards and a touchdown. Jones showed to the world he deserved that starting job.
The biggest takeaway from his performance is the fact he did not threw any. Jones finished the game without tossing an interception or fumbling the ball away. The Dolphins’ defense ranked as a top ten defense at the end of 2020; Jones did not let their pressure get to him. Jones has another challenge next week, but at least his receivers proved to be a significant upgrade from a season prior.
The WRs make Jones and fans’ lives easier.
Mac Jones played well, but his receivers deserve recognition. Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne performed well in their Patriots debut, combining for 11 catches, 121 yards, and a touchdown. Jakobi Meyers led the team in targets along with making crucial plays down the stretch.
The Patriots’ offense looked capable of scoring points, which is a different story from last year. The Patriots surrounded Jones with solid weapons; however, sometimes, not everything goes according to plan.
Ball security is job security.
The Patriots running backs impressed the league during the offseason. Rhamondre Stevenson broke out, scoring a touchdown in every preseason game and rushing for a 91-yard touchdown in the first game. Damien Harris played well, even playing a pivotal role in the Patriots’ offense against the Dolphins. But, unfortunately, it fell apart on the final drive.
Both ball carriers fumbled the ball, leading to a turnover. Harris coughed it up at the worst possible time. Mac Jones drove down the field, paying homage to number 12, only to have the ball taken out of his hands and into the defense. Belichick does not tolerate fumbling. As a result, Stevenson and Harris may receive the “Ridley treatment,” forcing both RBs to carry a ball around for a week in preparation for the next game.
I don’t see it being an issue after this week.
The defense did not demonstrate discipline.
The defense played well but is not off the hook in the losing effort. Mills and Judon made themselves at home making big plays. J.C Jackson shut down Devante Parker, for the most part.
The Dolphins dug out some old tricks utilizing the wildcat on a few plays. First, Tua connected on a touchdown pass with former teammate and first-round pick Jaylen Waddle. Then, Devante Parker caused the defense problems catching four passes for over 80 yards.
There were a lot of great plays, but they could not stop them from scoring. It was the first game; they needed time to shake off the rust. The Patriots need a win next week against the new and improved Jets.
Fix the mistakes. Do your job. Get the win. Go Pats.