Patriots looking to focus
Inconsistency on offense a problem
FOXBOROUGH - The Patriots consistently focused yesterday on the lack of consistency in their 20-17 overtime loss to the Broncos in Denver Sunday.
The buzzword was frequently connected to the offense, which operated with efficiency in the first half but looked confused and out of sync in the second.
While the Patriots attributed the problems to inconsistency and poor execution, the answers were not clear as they prepare for Sunday’s game against the winless Tennessee Titans.
The Patriots’ 17-7 halftime lead disappeared as New England was shut out in the second half, going 0 for 6 on third down. Even when penalties extended Patriots drives late, they were unable to take advantage.
“Collectively, as an offensive unit, we are not consistently doing things as well as we need to do them all the way across the board,’’ coach Bill Belichick said. “It’s not one position, it’s not one player, it’s not one particular type of play. But overall, we’re just not as efficient and precise as we need to be. There’s no other way to put it.’’
Tom Brady completed 19 of 33 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. His longest pass was a 36-yard completion to Randy Moss, the receiver’s only catch on the day. But it was two passes that missed, one to Moss in the end zone and another to Wes Welker in the fourth quarter that attracted scrutiny.
After the Broncos had scored to tie the game at 17, the Patriots faced third and 3 at their 28. Welker spotted a clearing and continued his route, but Brady, thinking Welker was going to stop, threw short, his pass hitting Welker’s foot. During Brady’s weekly appearance on WEEI, he discussed the play.
“Wes is thinking one thing and I’m thinking another,’’ Brady said. “I think that’s just the way it is. Wes and I need to be on the same page. I see what he was looking at. He understands what I was looking at. That comes up over the course of the game. We should have hit the play, there’s no doubt about it. There’s a great chance for us to make a critical third-down conversion there in the fourth quarter and that’s why we lost because we didn’t make that play and other critical third-down conversions.’’
Brady didn’t blame Welker for the miscommunication, and said, “Wes is one of the best football players that I’ve ever played with. So I’ve got to find ways to do a better job with Wes and with [Moss] to get those guys the ball. I mean we certainly had opportunities to get them the ball and we didn’t.’’
Joey Galloway was inactive for the second week in a row, leaving the Patriots with Welker, Moss, and rookie Julian Edelman as the primary receivers.
Belichick said timing and communication is not something that is not exclusive to Brady and the receivers, but to other positions, and it is a constant process.
“The routes always change a little bit,’’ Belichick said. “The coverages change. The team you’re playing, their personnel changes, you play against different guys week to week so there’s always a little bit of a timing adjustment on a game-to-game basis. We need to do a better job on that all the way around - that’s everybody. That’s all 11 guys out there on the field. It’s not one man in the passing game [and] it’s not one man in pass defense; it’s all 11.
“And it’s coaching, too. We’ve got to do a better job of that as well, the design and the overall execution. So if it’s not getting done well, then that’s also a function that we’re not coaching it well enough.’’
Brady was asked if there was a comfort level with former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who has led the Broncos to a 5-0 start in his first year as head coach. Brady praised McDaniels as a coach but was quick to point out that the Patriots have played good football at times, but haven’t been able to execute consistently.
“There is no magic solution to this,’’ he said. “The solution is to go out and play better.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.