3 Takeaways from Patriots' Week 3 Loss
There's already been a ton of chatter about Tom Brady's imminent return to Foxborough, Massachusetts, as the New England Patriots will be hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4. But before that highly anticipated meeting, the Pats hosted the New Orleans Saints in Week 3. And it wasn't a great day for New England.
The Saints jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, handing the Patriots a 28-13 loss on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Through three weeks, New England is 1-2 and has alternated wins and losses. However, it's 0-2 at home, having previously lost its season opener against the Miami Dolphins.
The Pats had only six points through three quarters against the Saints, and they didn't get into the end zone until there was nine minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the fourth. That touchdown cut New Orleans' lead to eight points, but the Saints put the game away with a Taysom Hill four-yard TD run with 2:37 to go.
Here are three takeaways from New England's Week 3 loss.
Jones Didn't Get Much Help from Rest of Offense
Mac Jones' stats did not look impressive at the end of Sunday's game. The Patriots' rookie quarterback went 30-for-51 for 270 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He was sacked twice and had a passer rating of 55.2 in the loss.
But the rest of New England's offense didn't do much to help Jones. It couldn't establish the running game, and Jones ended up as the team's leading rusher with 28 yards on six carries. Damien Harris was held to 14 yards on six carries as the Pats finished with 49 yards on the ground.
Jones may have thrown three interceptions, but one of those wasn't his fault. Early in the third quarter, one of Jones' passes hit tight end Jonnu Smith in the hands, but Smith couldn't haul it in and it got intercepted by Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins.
"Me and him, we're not always going to have perfect days. Nobody is," Jones said, per Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston. "I think it's more about just getting that connection in practice and the timing. That comes with reps. We've kind of been together for a few weeks now, and we've just got to keep growing and turn the page on some of the bad things we did but also learn from them."
So while Jones has some areas in which he can improve, the Patriots' offensive line needs to do a better job of protecting him, and their receivers have to catch the passes that Jones puts on the money. If that had happened Sunday, Jones would have had a better day.
White's Production Could Be Difficult to Replace
After having a down 2020 season, James White's first two games of 2021 seemed to indicate that the running back was going to have a bounce-back year. However, things took a bad turn for the 29-year-old during the second quarter of Sunday's game.
White suffered a hip injury on his lone carry of the day, which resulted in him being carted off the field. It isn't yet clear how much time he will miss moving forward, but it's never a great sign when a player isn't able to walk off the field and needs assistance leaving.
Although White typically doesn't run the ball a lot, he's an integral part of New England's passing game as its third-down back. Over the first two weeks, he had 12 catches for 94 yards and a rushing touchdown.
"Any time the cart comes out, you kind of know it's serious," Patriots safety Devin McCourty said, per ESPN's Mike Reiss. "It's tough any time you watch one of your main guys, one of your leaders [and] flag-bearers, go down. I'll be praying for James."
Until White returns, New England will be missing one of its most important offensive players. And it will need one of its other running backs to step up and contribute to the passing game, whether that's Harris, J.J. Taylor or rookie Rhamondre Stevenson.
Bright Spots on Defense Provide Reasons for Optimism
New England's defense gave up three touchdowns, didn't force any turnovers and had some trouble stopping New Orleans' rushing attack, giving up 142 yards on the ground. But there were some bright spots for the Patriots on that side of the ball, and they came in the form of some fresh faces.
Matt Judon, who recorded his first sack with the Pats last week, added 2.5 more sacks on Sunday. He's becoming a major part of the team's pass rush. Meanwhile, Davon Godchaux, a fellow free-agent acquisition, had five tackles and has been playing well on the defensive front.
It's an encouraging sign for New England that these additions seem to be working out. And while the defense may not be completely clicking just yet, there's reason to think the unit will keep getting better as the season goes along and could have some big performances in the near future.
However, the Patriots are also going to be tested, as they face strong offensive teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers over the next five weeks. They'll need players such as Judon and Godchaux to keep playing well in order to try to slow those opponents.