The Patriots Will Improve in Matchup Against the Steelers After Week 1 Loss.

September 16, 2022

The Patriots losing 20-7 to the Dolphins in Week 1 does not foreshadow the 2022 season. It only means that there is a bit more to improve upon than before. The Steelers will be without star pass-rusher TJ Watt. Do we need to worry still?

The loss is not surprising, even though it is disappointing. The Patriots cannot figure out how to win in Miami. Brady struggled during his tenure as a Patriot. It proves to be Belichick’s kryptonite. He has yet to take down Tua since he entered the league, and the hot and humid Miami summer conditions were no help. It’s a brand new week.

The team travels to Pittsburgh this Sunday. Last Sunday, the Steelers shocked the world with a 23-20 OT win against the reigning AFC champion, Cincinnati Bengals. Trubisky played well enough to avoid the media circus. However, it may be short-lived as sophomore sensation Najee Harris seems to be banged up a bit. Add it to the list of obstacles.

Mac Jones is fine; Patriots fans need to take a deep breath.

Patriots Nation needs to count their lucky stars that Jones did not get seriously injured against the Dolphins. He took a beating in the pocket. The offensive line did not do their job.

But they were playing in Miami. So, I’ll let it slide this time.

Mac is not the issue in the offense. In fact, he was releasing the ball quickly and distributing it to the best of his ability. It’s the guys on the sidelines guiding him throughout the game, and his men up front. I said this on the Gillette Gazette Podcast.

“The Patriots offense was like an out-of-tune instrument.” 

Patriot Pitts on the Gillette Gazette Podcast describing the offense.

Once they started to play, something held them back from kicking it into full gear. The blown call resulting in an interception was the first domino, although throwing in the direction of Xavien Howard in the end zone was a bad idea to begin with. Then, the strip-sack fumble touchdown made matters worse. The cherry on top is that Kendrick Bourne played two snaps, despite hauling in a 41-yard screamer on his first and only target. Great job, Matthew. My Patriot Peeps disapprove your decision.

These sorts of avoidable mistakes, both on the field and on the sidelines, made it difficult for the Patriots to get traction in the game, and while it was a handful of plays, it was indicative of some general sloppiness that the Patriots need to fix.

Without TJ Watt terrorizing the golden boy in the pocket, the offensive line needs to step up their play. One less distraction forces them to focus on the fundamentals worked on in practice. They need to outwork them in the trenches. They can do it; the faith is there. There was certainly promise from Cole Strange in his debut, but veterans like Isaiah Wynn, David Andrews and Trent Brown need to play a lot better for the unit to function.

Dear Defense, Keep Doing Your Job.

The final score fails to illustrate the entire game. The defense kept the Patriots in the game until the fourth quarter. They pressured Tua constantly, forcing him to make mistakes and only allowed 13 points, seven of which were on one wild play near the end of the first half. The offense couldn’t give them the necessary support. 

Trubisky is a lot like Tua. They are not known for their arm talent albeit being decent game managers. Both some mobility but also have weaknesses defense can easily exploit, and the Steelers also have gaps at offensive line, making the trenches tough for them. Finally, they are average at best in terms of ability to pick apart defenses. It feels like a good week for the defense to feast. 

Matt Judon, Deatrich Wise, and Ja’Whaun Bentley finished the game with a sack. Devin McCourty led the team in tackles with six. The pass rush from both the defensive line and the linebackers could be the best the Patriots have had in some time. Unfortunately, no one picked off the former national champion, although the opportunistic and speedy Jack Jones came darn close, only to have the ball ripped away by Tyreek Hill. The speedy rookies paired with experienced veterans in the secondary will be looking to generate some turnovers.

An interception needs to be the gameday goal. The easiest way to shake a quarterback’s confidence lies by forcing him to turn the ball over. Once he does that, it turns into a mental chess match he cannot fight off. Jalen Mills stepped up in training camp, declaring himself the CB1 on the defense. The fans are craving it, and with JC Jackson gone from the team, they are impatient to find his replacement. The Dolphins won the turnover battle over the Patriots in week one, and the Steelers dominated theirs in week two. Jalen Mills and his fellow corners will have to be big contributors if the Patriots want to win the turnover battle on Sunday.

The Patriots Find Themselves in a Must Win Situation.

The first hole never counts in golf. The same rules apply in the NFL. Week One is a baseline for a team’s expectations for the season. Expectations are meant to be exceeded. 

Belichick does this every year. He understands that it is a long season. Teams are not supposed to be playing their best football in September; that is what December and January are for. The Patriots are a better team than the Steelers. You will see why on Sunday.

Go Pats.

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