New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches during an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Are the Pats Done?

Is everything fine in Foxborough? The New England Patriots are 1-2 through three weeks for the first time since the 2012-2013 season.

Here are some things that were going on the last time the Patriots were in this situation:

  • The NHL was in week No. 2 of its player’s lockout.
  • The NFL and NFL Referees Association still had yet to reach an agreement that would bring back the league’s regular game officials.
  • Will Muschamp was in his second year as the Florida Gators Head Football Coach.
  • Rookie Mike Trout was challenging a Miguel Cabrera on pace for the first Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski’s 1967 season for AL MVP.

Here are some players who were still on the Patriots roster:

  • Wes Welker
  • Brandon Spikes
  • Danny Woodhead
  • Aaron Hernandez
  • Vince Wilfork
  • Chandler Jones

So what could be going on?

Who Are These Guys?

Could anyone name a player on the Pats active roster not named Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski?

. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

They played against the Lions in Week 2 without defensive end Trey Flowers and defensive back Patrick Chung. Both of whom are still unclear on playing against the Dolphins.

The Patriots placed Rex Burkhead and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley on IR Wednesday afternoon. 

Here are the currently active receivers for Brady: Cordarelle Patterson, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Matt Slater, Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen. Only two of those players listed are returning targets for Brady plus running back James White.

The only running backs available behind White are rookie Sony Michel and newly signed Kenjon Barner.

Josh Gordon is also still a question mark. This apparent lack of depth and options could be argued are the elements hampering the Patriots.

Let’s Go to the Stats

During 2017, the Patriots ranked second in yards per attempt at 7.5 but now rank just 24th at 6.1. He is also currently 1-16 on pass attempts over 20 yards.

Now, their struggles to vertically stretch a defense by completing the deep ball could be attributed to Brady’s age and the weapons he has.

Patriots Offensive Rankings 

  • 25th in yards per game: 300 (First in 2017 at 394)
  • 29th in third-down percentage: 29 percent (No. 10 in 2017 at 41)
  • 25th in points per game: 19 (No.2 in 2017 with 28.6)
(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

The Patriots are having lapses defensively, too. Lions rookie Kerryon Johnson became the team’s first 100-yard rusher since 2013 on Sunday night against New England.

Teams are currently averaging 70 plays from scrimmage and 406.3 yards per game against the Patriots defense. Both sit at fifth-most in the NFL.

They sit among the league’s worst in time of possession on both sides of the ball. This means teams are able to sustain drives against New England while the Patriots are able to sustain drives themselves.

“In the end, we just have to do a better job of what we’re doing,” Bill Belichick said. “It has been across the board. I think it’s as much a question of trying and effort as it is execution and fundamentals.”

Important Matchup

A loss against the Miami Dolphins would only worsen the team’s position in the divisional race. It would have them sitting at three games back plus a loss within the division.

It would also serve as a confidence booster for a Miami team that has lost three of its last four games against New England.

The result of Sunday’s game could also affect the playoff likelihoods of both teams. The Patriots would 1-3 if they lose and no team in 2017 made the playoffs after starting 1-3 or worse. Teams with a 1-3 record have made the playoffs under 20 percent of the time since 1990.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins would reach 4-0 and the only team to finish 4-0 through Week 4 last season were the Chiefs who ended up winning the AFC West.

About Jake Hitt

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