The Patriots may have squeaked by with a two-point win against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, however, there was no celebrating the Patriots performance on the field.
The game was dominated by turnovers, as the Patriots turned the ball over an unprecedented three-times– one more time than their opponent the Buffalo Bills (which is shocking as the Bills turned the ball over more often than 14 of the 17 teams in the AFC). The turnovers got so bad for the Patriots, that they ended up benching their star running back Stevan Ridley, who was 7th in the league in rushing, because he lost the ball twice in the first half (one of those fumbled got turned back after a review on the field).
The high amount of turnovers come at a bit of a surprise since Patriots averaged just one turnover per game last year which was best in the league. They also led the league in turnover differential with +25 turnovers last season, a big reason why they were able to make it to the AFC championship game.
It was not only the turnovers that were concerning. The Patriots young receivers did not seem to be on the same page as Tom Brady the entire game. Kenbrell Thompkins, who had a terrific pre-season, looked lost Sunday as he was targeted 14 times, yet he only managed to grab four catches for 42 yards. The tight ends, a position that the Patriots have been superior to every other team in the NFL in terms of production, were a non-factor in the game. The Patriot’s tight ends were only targeted three times, with one of those balls bouncing off the hands of rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld for a interception.
The Patriots clearly have some trust issues between the rookie receivers and Tom Brady, who only completed 29 passes on 52 attempts, making his completion percentage for the game far below his career average of 63.7 percent.
The offense was also very inefficient yesterday, as the teams ran a remarkable 89 plays, but were only able to score 23 points in the entire game. Last season, the patriots average 34.8 points per game, yet ran significantly less plays per game at 74.4. (Click here to read why plays per game is important)
On Sunday, it was clear the Patriots did not have the same efficiency and discipline that they have had during their successful seasons. Hopefully, it will return later in the season when star tight end Rob Gronkowski comes back from injury and the new receiving core grows more comfortable with Patriots offense. If it doesn’t, however, the Patriots could be in for their first losing season since Tom Brady became the starting quarterback.