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Three Up, Three Down: The Good And Bad Of The Patriots’ 37-26 Loss To Baltimore

The Patriots, while showing signs of serious improvement in a number of areas, suffered a 37-26 loss to the Ravens, bringing them to a 1-2 record. We break down what went well and what didn’t.

The Positives For The Patriots

Devante Parker

Coming into this game, Parker was a big question mark for the Patriots. Both of Mac’s interceptions till then had been in the direction of Devante, and off four targets, he had only one catch for nine yards. Given that he was being lined up like a number one receiver in both games, the Patriots needed number one receiver-level production from the former Dolphin. And on Sunday, they got it. Devante’s biggest strengths are his speed, agility, crisp route running and football IQ, and all of those were on display.

He set the tone early for the game, exploding for 31 yards on the Patriots’ first game from scrimmage and never put his foot off the gas, having 156 yards off five catches, with a whopping average of 31 yards per catch. Most importantly, it felt like Mac and the offense was utilizing him in the right way and bringing out the most in terms of his productivity. He made catches in traffic as well, got plenty of yards after the catch, and overall was able to win his matchup more often than not.

With uncertainty coming at quarterback after Mac Jones’ absence, having a receiver who can have that number one-like presence and then a littany of solid albeit not flashy guys behind him will reduce the burden on whoever starts next week’s game against Green Bay.

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Deatrich Wise Jr.

This moment was slowly building over time. Wise was working harder than almost anyone on that defense, and was gradually getting better and better with every passing season and game. He’s always been a fundamentally sound lineman, having uncharacteristic athleticism for his size, but plenty of strength and good technique. But on Sunday, Wise exploded, sacking Lamar Jackson three times, all of which were in the first half. In total, he recorded six tackles, four of which were for loss.

Wise played with a ferocity Patriots fans hadn’t seen from a pass rusher in some time. His playstyle this season has been reminiscent of Chandler Jones, the only other Patriot in the last ten years to record three sacks in a half. He is showing himself to be the most disruptive pass rusher in a well-rounded and potent front seven. With a number of dynamic quarterbacks coming in the Patriots’ upcoming schedule, having someone like Wise there will be useful.

Jonathan Jones

Jon has established himself as a clear starting corner for the Patriots, but also as one of the better corners in the league. He’s shown an ability to read plays well, and lately, he’s starting to chase after the ball and be more aggressive. Most importantly, he has kept up with his man and not really allowed anyone to get going against him, even with tough matchups every week.

With primarily Rashod Bateman as his man this week, he had a fantastic game. He had four tackles, a pass deflection and the only interception of Lamar for the game, on an athletic play where he read an underthrown pass from Jackson and got it right before it fell on the ground.

While he hasn’t been a shutdown corner, he has slowed opposing receivers down as much as reasonably possible, and with more potent attacks coming, this is important. While Jalen Mills is also having a fine season, Jon is making a real case to be the CB1 of the team, and more importantly, he’s helping the secondary tremendously.

The Negatives For The Patriots

Mac Jones

The decision to put him in this category wasn’t entirely related to the play. First of all, it’s worth noting there were a number of positives from Jones. He finally crossed 300 yards and was explosive, with a number of downfield passes. The 30-second drill at the end of the first half showed great poise. And his initiative to use his mobility yielded fruitful results, and he even scored a rushing touchdown.

However, takeaways negated a lot of the positives from this, and his three interceptions happened at important times, where without them the Patriots could have taken the lead. Furthermore, they were on poor ill-advised throws. His chase for increased aggression with an arm that has been improved by his work with Tom House is at times compromising the great decision-making that served him so well last year. He’s still working on finding the right balance.

The big negative, though was his injury at the end of the game, officially diagnosed now as a high ankle sprain. It could take him out for up to six weeks, which doesn’t bode well for the progression of him or the team. It remains a question mark what the team will be like without him, but in the meanwhile, wishing him a speedy recovery.

Myles Bryant

This is starting to become a recurring theme on this series. In a secondary that is otherwise performing quite well, Myles is simply being too leaky. He is certainly athletic and physically capable, he’s making a number of poor reads and winding up in a mismatch. He has had only one pass deflection this season and no interceptions, and no notable contribution on Sunday. As a punt returner, while he has had a couple of impressive returns, he has also muffed multiple punts, and on Sunday, he muffed another one and was lucky to recover it.

The team has started to take notice too, starting to give some returns to Marcus Jones and reducing the number of snaps Myles plays. The secondary, as it is now, will be in much better hands with the athletic rookies starting to take Bryant’s snaps for the time being.

Takeaways

Not too much to say here than the obvious. In addition to Mac’s three interceptions, Nelson Agholor gave up a fumble, leading to a total of four turnovers. All of these came in key moments that altered the game, multiple in situations where the Patriots were knocking on the door, about to score. These simply can’t happen if the Patriots are to win moving forward, and ball security will be an important part of the upcoming stretch, especially with a few games coming where the Patriots will likely not have Mac as their quarterback.

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