The storyline surrounding the 2019 New England Patriots has been the strength and consistency of their defense.
Holding opponents to 10.6 points per game, the Patriots are approaching an NFL record for points allowed in a season. New England still ranks at the top of the NFL in total defense and has allowed just nine offensive touchdowns all season.
While there’s certainly enough on that end to guide the Patriots through the playoffs, there are reasons to be concerned about the Patriots’ offense.
Sure, the Patriots average 27 points per game, but in four straight contests, the offense has mustered 20 or fewer points. There has been a lot of comparison between this year’s Patriots team and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens team that set the record for fewest points allowed in a season at 165.
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That Ravens team only scored 333 total points themselves. But New England is a different animal, with the injuries, difficulty rushing the ball, a 42-year-old quarterback, and a shaky offensive line.
So the question is, can this Patriots team do enough offensively to make another Super Bowl run? And as long as Tom Brady is under center, that answer is yes.
Here’s what needs to change.
The Patriots are riddled with injuries on offense, and it’s a new player every week. The Patriots haven’t been fully healthy on offense all season, with at least one key player out each week. When they are mostly healthy, they can clearly be dangerous, but they’ve yet to be unleashed.
There’s a reason Tom Brady says the Patriots have yet to reach their full potential, and that’s because he hasn’t played with a complete offense this season. If New England is able to get it’s injured players back over the next couple weeks, they can get into a rhythm ahead of postseason play.
Rushing Problems Will Improve
On Sunday against the Cowboys, the Patriots showed they could move the ball more effectively on the ground. Sony Michel rushed 20 times for 85 yards, easily his best performance of the 2019 season.
The reason he improved coincided with the return of Isaiah Wynn. The starting left tackle had been sidelined since Week 3 with turf toe and his return immediately saw Michel thrive with more holes to run through at the line of scrimmage. That will only continue down the stretch.
Play-Calling is a Letdown
The Patriots were matched up against a Dallas team that had struggled to cover tight ends and receivers out of the backfield. So naturally, New England decided to only target those players 10 times on Brady’s 37 attempts. Only four of those passes were completed for a total of 15 yards.
When the Patriots needed short yardage, they attempted to air it out. When they needed a longer gain, the call was typically for a shorter pass. While Brady was certainly off against Dallas and even against Philadelphia and Baltimore in the games prior, he isn’t being helped out by the questionable play calling.