Five Takeaways from Patriots-Chiefs

The Patriots suffered their worst loss in five years (2009, Week 12 at New Orleans, also on Monday Night Football) to the Chiefs on Monday, to the tune of a 41-14 final score. Let’s take some quick, postgame stock of what we can take away from the calamity that unfolded at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

1. So much for the vaunted defense – Coming into the game, the Pats had the No. 2 ranked defense in the NFL and had allowed 16 points total in the last two weeks. But after this game, it’s fair to wonder if those impressive numbers were due to inferior competition. The Pats were shredded on D by the Chiefs, who ran the ball down their throats, completed pass after pass out of a multitude of different formations and barely broke a sweat. The Pats had two sacks but barely got near KC QB Alex Smith all night. They couldn’t cover tight end Travis Kelce or running back Jamaal Charles, symptomatic of a problem they’ve had for years that appears to still exist. There were missed tackles everywhere. Guys couldn’t even keep their footing.

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At times, the defense as a whole looked like it had never seen certain plays or formations. The Chiefs had 303 total yards in the first half, including 131 on the ground on just 17 attempts, and ran a whopping 53 plays for 387 yards in the first three quarters. Alex Smith was 20-of-26 for 248 yards and three TDs with a near perfect, 144.4 passer rating. And it all may have been worse than it looked.

“They beat us like we stole something,” said Vince Wilfork.

“This is probably the most embarrassing game I’ve been a part of,” said Devin McCourty.

All true. No one played well in any way. It was a complete disaster on that side of the ball.

2. The offense is still a mess – While it was nice to see Brandon LaFell emerge (six catches, 119 yards, TD), there were major problems with the entire operation again. Danny Amendola continues to be completely invisible, posting another donut, and now has one fewer penalty yard than receiving yards (16-15) on the season. Tim Wright, acquired in the Logan Mankins trade, barely played and didn’t catch a pass. Stevan Ridley averaged over five yards per rushing attempt but only got five carries. The line was better but Nate Solder, who gave up a brutal strip sack to Tamba Hali, still looks like a shell of himself and was benched for a stretch. And Tom Brady was horrendous (see below). It’s astonishing to see how far this offense has fallen and alarming at how far away it seems to be from picking itself up.

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3. It’s officially OK to blame Brady – For good portions of the game, Brady had a clean pocket and a little bit more time to throw than he has in the first three weeks but it didn’t matter. He was skittish and uncomfortable all night, at one point even running into Shane Vereen on a simple stretch handoff. His footwork was poor and he threw two interceptions (the Chiefs’ first two of the season!!??) both of which were terrible reads that had no chance of being completed. He frequently ignored open receivers in favor of trying to force the ball to Julian Edelman or Rob Gronkowski and on one particularly stunning play in the second quarter, bypassed taking three extra steps to make a first down so he could try to jam a short pass thrown at maximum velocity to a well-covered Edelman. Brady finished 14-of-23 for 159 yards, a TD, the two interceptions and a fumble, all good for a woeful 59.9 passer rating. He was benched in the fourth quarter after his second pick was run back for a score, perhaps for his own safety, but it’s fair to say that for one of the only times in his storied career, he deserved it.

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4. Personnel decisions and play-calling make little sense – The Pats have been outthinking themselves all year, going back to training camp when they stunningly traded Logan Mankins – a move that’s failed miserably – and Monday night featured plenty more examples. Among them, the decision to deactivate both Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins in favor of dressing five running backs was curious at the time and proved to be mind-boggling when 15 of their first 22 plays called were passes. Dobson has been buried all year while Amendola has now played three straight games without catching a single pass. If you’re going to throw so much, why keep dressing players who have zero impact on the passing game? Can Dobson really be that bad? And we’ve seen Thompkins have success and a connection with Brady in the past. Is Amendola that much of a better option?

And on defense, there were again multiple plays on which Darrelle Revis was in a soft zone playing well off his man. Revis is arguably the best man-to-man corner in the NFL and when he was allowed to play that way in Minnesota in Week 2, he and the defense as a whole thrived. It seems to be a huge waste to not use him to do what he’s best at.

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Bill Belichick always talks about putting his players in the best position to succeed but on Monday night, he and his coordinators consistently put them in position to fail.

5. Thank heavens for Matthew Slater – I count three Patriots who had good games and two of them, Slater and punter Ryan Allen, are special teamers. Slater had two tremendous tackles in punt coverage, cutting down Chiefs return man Frankie Hammond in his tracks both times. There’s a reason Slater is a captain and if there’s a better gunner on any punt team in the league, I’m not sure who it is. He’s a special player.

That being said, if the highlight of your night is the play of the gunner on the punt team, you probably had a bad night. And the Patriots had a really, really bad night.

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