Almost nothing went well for the New England Patriots in their Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
The Patriots began the 2022 season with a 20-7 loss to their AFC East rivals. To add insult to injury, second-year quarterback Mac Jones suffered a back injury that forced him to get x-rays before leaving the stadium, per the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride.
Jones didn’t miss any snaps during the game, but he was not allowed to talk to the media after the loss, and word quickly spread that he was getting his back examined, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
Shortly after the game was over, a report from the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero indicated the x-rays were negative for Jones and that he would be re-evaluated once the team got back to Foxborough.
There is a chance an MRI could reveal an issue the x-rays didn’t show, but there is also reason to be optimistic about Jones’ injury. According to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones, the Patriots QB had already been scheduled to meet with the media virtually on Monday and in person on Wednesday.
The positive spin here is that if Jones were more seriously injured, he probably wouldn’t have concrete media responsibilities in place before the new week has even started. The hope is obviously that Jones is healthy enough to play in Week 2 when the Patriots face the Pittsburgh Steelers, but there are deeper concerns overall after the Patriots’ offense laid an egg against the Fins.
Patriots Vs. Dolphins – Week 1 -What Went Wrong For New England?
When the game was over, Bill Belichick met the media, and he raised a few eyebrows when he said Sunday’s contest was “a pretty even game.” Belichick pointed to two key plays being the difference in the result.
Belichick’s assessment was pretty accurate–at least statistically.
The Dolphins had just one more first down than the Patriots. Miami had a lower third-down efficiency rate, just 36 more total yards, worse red zone efficiency, and fewer sacks. The Patriots lost this game because of their inability to generate chunk gains on offense and the two plays Belichick referred to during his postgame meeting with the media.
At the end of the first half, the Dolphins didn’t just convert on a fourth-down conversion; they turned it into a 42-yard TD strike from Tua Tagovailoa to Jaylen Waddle. The other crucial play in the game was a sack, a forced fumble, and a TD for the Dolphins in the first half.
Safety Brandon Jones came on the blitz off Jones’ blindside to force the fumble, and Melvin Ingram picked it up for the score.
The Patriots had opportunities to respond, but they could never sustain drives long enough to put more than a single TD on the board.
New England Patriots Bright Spots in Week 1 Loss to the Miami Dolphins
Despite the loss, the Patriots’ coaching staff should be proud of their defense. Aside from the breakdown on the fourth-down conversion that turned into a TD, New England contained Miami’s speedy receivers.
Tyreek Hill ended with eight receptions for 94 yards, but he didn’t get in the endzone and didn’t have a reception for longer than 25 yards. The Patriots held the Dolphins to just 65 yards rushing and 2.8 yards per carry.
If New England can continue this level of defensive play, they can focus most of their attention on improving the offense’s performance.