Phil Perry

No QB can save Patriots from their historic offensive ineptitude

The offense somehow continues to get worse -- and everyone is to blame.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Patriots offense is a special brand of bad right now. No team in the Super Bowl era had allowed 10 points or fewer in three consecutive games and lost all three. The Chicago Cardinals from 1938 were the last team to hit that embarrassing low.

Until this year's Patriots.

This is a level of offensive ineptitude that Bill Belichick has never seen in his nearly 50 years in pro football. And it's happening right under his nose.

There's not one person to blame, but there's also not one person who doesn't share in the blame for what's happening on that side of the ball. Players, coaches, front-office personnel. They all have had a hand in the direction this offense has taken. And here they sit, now last in the NFL in scoring average (12.3 points per game) and on pace to be the lowest-scoring team in the NFL since 2011 (Rams, 12.1).

Not surprisingly, Belichick would not commit to a starting quarterback during his Monday conference call with reporters. He's been consistent in that regard. Maybe because he knows deep down it really doesn't matter. 

There have been countless hours of television, radio and podcast programming devoted to that position over the course of this season. Why has Mac Jones regressed? What is Bailey Zappe capable of? Why not give Malik Cunningham a try? 

But the reality is that New England's issues go much deeper than that.

What Zappe did as Sunday's starter actually represented a slight up-tick in performance in some ways, particularly in the second half. There were times when he eluded pressure. He made accurate throws down the field. He didn't turn it over. 

Yet the team's production was worse against the Chargers -- one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL coming into Week 13 -- than it was in dreadful performances against the Giants and Colts in Weeks 12 and 10, respectively.

🔊 Patriots Talk: Did the Patriots get any ‘Bailey bump’ vs Chargers?  | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The Patriots had an offensive success rate of 39.7 percent against the Chargers, down from 41.2 percent against the Giants and 52.2 percent against the Colts. They averaged 5.0 yards per play against Indy and 4.2 yards per play against New York, but that number fell to 4.1 against Los Angeles. Their yards per pass, including yardage lost when sacked, was just 3.6 against the Chargers. Against the Giants (3.7) and Colts (5.4), they were still bad... but better.

They're somehow getting worse. And they probably haven't bottomed out, hard as that may be to believe. The Chargers rank just 28th in defensive DVOA this season. New England's next two opponents rank seventh (Pittsburgh) and eighth (Kansas City) in that metric.

Relative to the championship-era Patriots and the record-breaking offenses those teams fielded, this is the bizarro version. It's unrelentingly ugly.

And until the arrival of the offseason, until there's an opportunity for significant change, there's really no end in sight.

Contact Us