The New England Patriots lost their second straight game, this time against the lowly Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots looked absolutely lost on offense. Josh McDaniels called another horrible game and Tom Brady was uncharacteristically horrible, throwing two interceptions in the game. The first was returned for a touchdown, the second came after a big catch by Brady. Brady lofted one into the endzone and receiver Brandon LaFell didn’t finish his route and it was an easy pick for the Eagles. Then the Patriots showed a little something. After dropping behind 35-14 they made a game out of it, cutting the lead to 35-28. A failed onside kick with three minutes to go looked to doom the team, but a forced fumble by Jamie Collins gave the Patriots a chance. With one minute left, Brady had to drive the team for a touchdown to tie the game, an incomplete pass to Keshawn Martin ended the Pats chances.
Special teams, long the jewel of Bill Belichick’s teams eyes truly let the team down, as the Eagles scored touchdowns on a punt block and a punt return. The game turned in the second quarter when for some reason the Patriots tried a pooch kick by Nate Ebner. The Eagles than scored 35 unanswered points killing the Patriots and dropping them into the second seed in the AFC.
The Patriots are not a championship caliber team right now, until Edleman and Gronkowski return. The coaching staff has let its players down the last two weeks. For the second week in a row the offense had no identity, until Tom Brady had to take the play calling into his own hands in the two minute drill. The defense played well in spurts, but still had major issues stopping the zone run as Darren Sproles ate up the Patriots defense. Bill Belichick has major questions to answer. The Eagles had come into this game looking like a team that had given up on its coach, and with the Patriots leading they make the dreaded special teams call that turned the game.
The Patriots now have to take on the Houston Texans who are fighting for their playoff lives. The Patriots need to find their winning ways again. The team needs to put teams away. Last week against the Broncos the team gave up a 14 point lead, in large part because of a muffed punt. Just as important is the team’s lack of ability to be a strong physical team. The Patriots have become what fans used to laugh at in Indianapolis, they have become a finesse team on offense. They can’t impose their will on teams, and they can’t run block.
The Patriots always say, that you play your best football after thanksgiving. Two games have now been played after turkey day and the Patriots are playing their worst ball of the season. Last week the Patriots had their destiny in their hands for the one seed. Now because of poor coaching, poor game plans, poor execution and injuries the Patriots face an uphill battle to even get a bye. The Patriots have four games left in the season. Three on the road and one at home. Here is hoping that they can go three and one down the stretch and get a bye week. A healthy Patriots team is still going to be a tough out.
James White. The second year back may not be Dion Lewis, but he led the team with 10 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. He made plays in the fourth quarter when the team needed him to. It is time for the coaching staff to trust him. Brandon Bolden should not be getting snap ahead of White.
Jamie Collins. In his first game back in almost a month, Collins looked good finishing with eight tackles and the forced fumble.
Tell me why? Why did the Patriots try to get cute with the pooch kick? I get it Ebner was a rugby player, but you are leading the game 14-0, why even give the Eagles a chance at getting back into the game. The onside kick attempt, again with Ebner with three minutes to go. The Patriots had two time outs and the two minute warning in their pocket. Pin the Eagles deep and give your defense a chance to stop Philly and give Brady the ball back with a shorter field.
The Patriots need to go back to the drawing board. For the first time in a long time Patriots fans can point at their coaching staff and ask what are you doing?