FOXBOROUGH — In a rarity, the Patriots are last in an offensive category.
Despite putting up 23 points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, including two touchdowns on five possessions within the Buccaneers’ 20-yard line, the Patriots are 32d in the NFL in red zone efficiency.
The Patriots were foiled multiple times against the Bucs in the red zone when a Tom Brady pass was intercepted by safety Mark Barron in the third quarter and failed to get a first down on a 4th-and-inches in the fourth, settling for two field goals on other possessions.
Failing to get into the end zone has become a bit of a trend after the Patriots went 0 for 3 inside the 20 against the Jets, marked by a lack of offensive symmetry with the team’s young wide receivers. And for that, Brady takes his share of the blame.
“We’ve been practicing it quite a bit,” Brady said. “So we’ve definitely left some points on the board [last week]. Just poor execution. I’ve been one of the main culprits, so hopefully I try to improve that.
“I mean you got to get down there and score points, especially when you play good teams. You can’t leave points out there. Like last week, we had a great opportunity. There was seven points. Not only did we not get seven, we didn’t get any. You gotta be able to capitalize on scoring opportunities.”
The Patriots have had 13 possessions within an opponent’s 20-yard line, second in the NFL to only the Green Bay Packers (14) and Seattle Seahawks (14). The Patriots have scored only four touchdowns and have kicked five field goals, good for a 30.8 touchdown percentage and 69.2 percent scoring rate. It’s a point of emphasis for the team.
Brady was asked if the return of Rob Gronkowski could possibly boost the red zone numbers, given the tight end’s large frame and catch radius.
“We’ve played with him for a long time so you realize the caliber of player he is. But, you know, look, we’re 3-0 without him out there,” he said. “So we’re just gonna play as long as we need to play until he’s healthy enough play. Whenever that is, who knows. We’re focused on trying to be a good offense no matter who is out there and whenever guys get back they’ll have to deal with a different skill set. But we’re just focused on the guys who have done the job for us thus far.”