The pre-season doesn't count in the standings, but it has a purpose: smooth out the wrinkles and streamline the roster in preparation for the regular season.
The Patriots seemingly struggled in doing the that the whole way thru their training camp and pre-season games.......at least the offense did anyways.
Those offensive issues continued right into week-1 of the 2022 season as they stumbled their way to a 20-7 loss in Miami.
Matt Jones completed 21 of his 30 pass attempts for 213-yards. He threw one INT and one TD pass and was sacked twice. He finished with a passer rating of 87.2. Not a bad rating, but the issue was the lack of big plays he was able to generate.
Of Jones' 21 completions, only four of them were went for more than 10-yards, and only eight of them were for more than 5-yards. That's not going to stretch defensive secondary's very much.
Jones did hit on a 41-yard completion to Kendrick Bourne down the left sideline late in the 4th-quarter, but that drive was snuffed-out two plays later when Nelson Agholor had the ball punched out of his hands after a 5-yard reception and was then recovered by the Dolphins, all but ending the Patriots chances.
Other than that long completion to Bourne, the only other highlight for the Patriots offense was a 6-yard TD pass to rookie Ty Montgomery in the 3rd-quarter for the Patriots lone score.
Jones took a few big hits from the Dolphins and was noticeably sore after the game and was not made available to the media due to an apparent back injury. X-rays were negative and Jones is expected to be ready next week when the team travels to Pittsburgh.
Perhaps this one could be looked at like a 4th pre-season game, and the wrinkles and warts will be cleaned-up by next weeks game in Pittsburgh, but the lack of improvement from the offensive unit from week-1 of the pre-season to week-1 of the regular season has to be a bit concerning for the players, coaches and fans.
Bill Belichick has said he will take all the blame if his team continues to struggle as the weeks go by, and he didn't get his team off to a good start.
Matt Patrica and Joe Judge have been in the cross-hairs since Belichick appointed them as the coordinators back in the spring, and this game didn't do anything to get the attention away from what many consider questionable hires.
Were the Dolphins that good or were the Patriots that bad? We'll know a little bit more after the week-2 match-up with the Steelers. One thing Mac Jones won't have to worry about next week is TJ Watt hunting him on very pass play. Watt is expected to miss significant time, if not the season, with a torn pectoral muscle vs the Bengals.
As they like to say in New England......"We're on to Pittsburgh".
The Patriots couldn'tfind the offensive rhythyme they'd been looking for all pre-season.