The New England Patriots defense has played really well throughout the 2022 NFL season, and you could argue this unit's best performance came Sunday in a 26-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
The defense tied a team record with nine sacks, pressured Colts quarterback Sam Ehlinger all game and returned an interception for a touchdown. The Colts gained only 2.1 yards per play.
While the Patriots defense has mostly shined, the offense has often struggled.
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The Patriots offense ranks 26th in total yards per game, 24th in passing yards per game, tied for 25th in rushing yards per attempt and 16th in points scored per game. This group also has tallied the fourth-fewest passing touchdowns and is tied for the most interceptions.
Can the coaching staff fix these offensive woes before the 2022 season ends?
Tom Curran and Phil Perry tackled that question on the latest episode of NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Talk Podcast.
New England Patriots
"I look at these offensive line lapses, and as they go into the bye, in my opinion, this offense is not truly fixable for 2022," Curran said. "The offensive line is not going to heal sufficiently between the concussions for Marcus Cannon and David Andrews and as they come back, and between the level of play you've gotten from key guys on the offensive line -- Isaiah Wynn for the majority of the season and Cole Strange lately. So you don't have the individuals who are playing well enough, they're not healthy enough and you don't have the staff or the supervision for that group because Matt Patricia is spread thin, to extract from (the offensive line) a level of play that's going to make the offense anything but an anchor on a team that has a really good defense and some promise to it."
One of the primary issues with the offensive line over the last two weeks has been Cole Strange, the rookie left guard who played just 15 offensive snaps in the Week 9 win over the Colts.
"To me, it does start with the offensive line, and that's why I think it's hard to envision how they fix this thing," Perry said. "They get an immediate upgrade whenever Andrews gets back from his concussion. That's great, and it might help Strange quite a bit at left guard, because he has struggled and struggled hard these last couple weeks. I don't know if he's dealing with something physically or if other teams have just gotten a read on him and how they can beat him."
The Patriots have played against some quality front sevens in recent weeks, but there are many more teams on the schedule that feature strong pass rushers, including the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.
"Listen, it's the NFL, every week you're going to see some powerful guys on the interior," Perry said. "The Bills have one of the best defensive lines in the league, especially when it comes to the pass. I think they lead the league in pressure rate this year, and they don't blitz because they have a bunch of talented guys up front. The Dolphins just added Bradley Chubb. So, yes, you saw two good defensive fronts over the last two weeks, but there are real concerns over what you have on the offensive line, whether it's Strange or Wynn, who doesn't look like a very good backup at either spot, tackle or guard. How long can you survive with two or three spots along the offensive line that are real concerns?"
We'll get our answer soon enough because the Patriots' schedule after the Week 10 bye is the second-toughest in the league, based on combined win percentage of their remaining opponents.