Pick Six:  Observations from Game Ten

The Patriots seemed to start their bye one week early, as the team barely got off the bus in their beat down from the Tennessee Titans, 34-10, in Nashville. From the opening 58-yard kickoff return the Titans showed – at least for this Sunday – that they were the better team. Before Tom Brady was pulled from the game halfway through the 4th quarter, the Patriots’ offense went scoreless on seven consecutive drives. The misery included a missed 52-yard field goal, a sack at the end of the first half, four punts, and one failed fourth down conversion.

Six Observations from Game Ten

1. Perhaps nothing encapsulated the Patriots’ frustrations more than the sequence of events that occurred early in the 4th quarter. On third-and-seven, New England dialed back up a trick play they called in Super Bowl 52: receiver Julian Edelman took a handoff and threw back to Tom Brady up the left sideline. Brady couldn’t keep is feet, and fell a yard short of the first down. On fourth-and-one, right tackle Marcus Cannon was called for a false start, and then on fourth-and-six Brady’s pass over the middle to Julian Edelman fell incomplete. On the ensuing Titans’ drive, Tennessee ran a similar quarterback throw-back, and Marcus Mariota looked smooth on his 21-yard catch-and-run. Five consecutive Derrick Henry carries later the running back had gained 37 yards and scored the final touchdown to put the game away.

2. Coming into the game NextGenStats reported that Tom Brady’s average yards to go on third down was 5.6, lowest in the NFL this season. On Sunday, Brady faced and average of 7.6 yards to go on third down. On 12 third-down drop backs, Brady completed four passes, threw five incompletions, and was sacked three times. The Titans’ pass rush was so effective that by the second half Brady could be seen bracing himself for contact on throws.

3. Shaq Mason’s (injury scratch) replacement at right guard, Ted Karras, was beaten by blitzing linebacker Wesley Woodyard for a quarterback sack on third-and-eight in the 1st quarter. Early in the 2nd quarter Karras was overpowered by defensive tackle Austin Johnson in route to his blowing up a third-and-two quarterback dive. In the 3rd LaAdrian Waddle – who replaced Trent Brown (back injury) at left tackle – was badly beaten to the outside by linebacker Brian Orakpo, who tackled running back James White for a five yard loss.

4. The New England offensive line problems wasn’t limited to back-ups. Trent Brown seemed to laboring throughout the game, like when linebacker Jayon Brown speed rushed around the big left tackle to sack Tom Brady on third-and-nine in the 3rd quarter. At the start of the Patriots’ next drive, Brown watched defensive lineman Darius Kilgo run right past him, nearly killing Brady with a hard hit to force an incompletion.

5. The box score indicates that Tennessee receiver Corey Davis was nearly unstoppable with ten catches, 125 yards, and one touchdown on 10 attempts for a 145.8 quarterback rating. In the 1st quarter Davis picked up gains of 24 yards, 16 yards, and a pass interference penalty against cornerback Stephon Gilmore man coverage on in-cuts on first down. In the 2nd quarter – on third-and-14 – Davis faked the in-cut and then broke outside for an easy 20 yard gain against Gilmore. Gilmore was also victimized by Davis on a stop-and-go route for a 23 yard touchdown off a trips bunch formation in the 1st quarter.

6. Early in the 3rd quarter New England tried a zone defense, and it didn’t take long for Marcus Mariota to figure it out. Receiver Cameron Batson got wide open along the left sideline for 26 yards between Devin McCourty and JC Jackson. A couple of plays later, Corey Davis was uncovered for 27 yards on a crossing pattern as the linebackers watched the run fake.

Originally posted on PatsPulpit.com

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