Instant analysis from the Patriots' 33-6 loss to the 49ers:
▪ It turns out that it wasn’t a lack of practice that was holding back the Patriots. They just stink, as was evident on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots had three full days of practice last week, but were still badly exposed on both sides of the ball. The Patriots' 27-point deficit marks the worst home loss in the Bill Belichick era. This marks their first three-game losing streak since the 2002 season, which ended at 9-7 and no playoffs.
“It’s just embarrassing,” safety Devin McCourty said. “We have to go out and play to keep jobs. I know Coach Belichick, the Krafts, they’re not fielding a team for us to go out and play like that.”
It’s hard to find any positives with the Patriots right now. The quarterback situation is one of the two or three worst in the NFL. The receivers are slow and can’t get open. The offensive line can’t block. And the defense, decimated by free agency and opt-outs, isn’t good enough to overcome a poor offense.
“We were clearly outcoached, outplayed — just out-everything,” Belichick said. “We’re just not performing at a good level right now in any area. So that’s across the board.”
The Patriots have one of the worst rosters in the NFL this year, and they are playing like it. Belichick the GM did a disservice to Belichick the coach by not providing enough talent around the quarterback position.
The trade deadline is a week from Tuesday, and the 2-4 Patriots should strongly consider being sellers. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore could probably fetch a decent return.
▪ Cam Newton deserved to be benched, and probably sooner than it happened, late in the third quarter. For the second straight week, Newton’s accuracy was way off, he looked hesitant in the pocket, he stared down his receivers too long, and he didn’t feel the pass rush. Now we’re seeing why Newton was released by Carolina, and why he was still available in free agency in June.
Newton finished 9 of 15 for 98 yards and three interceptions, and the offense was non-functional with him in the game. The Patriots finished the day with 241 yards, just 21:37 of possession, and went 1 for 6 on third down.
The most amazing stat describing the Patriots' offensive ineptitude — they haven’t scored a single point in the first quarter all season, not even a measly field goal. The only 7 points they have in the first quarter came on Devin McCourty’s pick-6 in Week 2 against Seattle.
After the game, Belichick was asked if Newton is still his starting quarterback.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Belichick said. “Just wanted to give Stid [Jarrett Stidham] a little experience here.”
It’s not time to completely write off Newton yet. But his chances are running out quickly.
▪ But it’s not like Stidham is the answer. He was 6-of-10 passing for 64 yards and an interception, which was the fourth of his young career, in only 20 pass attempts. This wasn’t an easy spot for Stidham, and no one expected him to pull off some magic, but Stidham looks small out there, and still needs plenty of development.
The Patriots definitely need to be in the market for a first-round quarterback in next year’s draft.
▪ Julian Edelman is being wasted on this team. His first target didn’t come until late in the third quarter, and of course Newton threw the ball behind Edelman, who tipped it up for an interception. Edelman had just one catch for 13 yards on three targets, and for the fourth straight game was a total non-factor. The Patriots should just trade him to the Bucs for a fifth-round pick.
▪ Wow, two whole catches for the tight end group on Sunday. Rookie Dalton Keene had one catch for 8 yards, and Ryan Izzo also had one catch for 8 yards. Meanwhile, rookie Devin Asiasi was a healthy scratch. I didn’t expect much out of the Patriots' tight end group this year, but it has been a total black hole. Why didn’t Belichick add another veteran in the offseason?
▪ Kyle Shanahan ran a clinic on the Patriots' defense. The 49ers averaged 5.3 yards per carry; Jimmy Garoppolo averaged 11.1 yards per pass attempt, and 7.4 yards per play while racking up 467 yards. Jeff Wilson rushed for 112 yards on just 17 carries (6.6 average), and the Patriots had no answer for the quick passes to Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel on the outside. The Patriots have no speed in the front seven, and maybe the worst linebacker corps in the NFL. Belichick gets a pass on the defense because of Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung opting out, but the front seven definitely needs a lot of work.
▪ Garoppolo’s 79.5 passer rating is nothing to brag about, but he was efficient on Sunday and made a handful of big throws. He completed his first seven passes of the day, and 20-of-25 overall for 277 yards, as the Niners scored points on four of their first five drives. It can’t be easy for Belichick and Kraft to see Garoppolo efficiently running his offense and leading the Niners to big wins while the Patriots are stuck in quarterback purgatory.
More Patriots coverage
- Dan Shaughnessy: Now it’s the Patriots who look like the Tomato Cans
- Three and counting: Patriots' struggles continue in blowout loss to 49ers
- Chad Finn: Thirteen thoughts on the Patriots' historic loss to the 49ers
- N’Keal Harry’s day cut short after suffering head injury following catch