Simply put; Sunday's game was absolutely brutal.
Conservative play-calling. Weak pressure on the quarterback. Horrendous third-down stoppage. Need I go on?
The New England Patriots played like the Detroit Lions circa 2008 on Sunday. Jacoby Brissett was decent; I give the kid credit for being a true competitor and playing when he was clearly not 100%. And yes, that was a jab at Jimmy Garoppolo. Brissett was so banged up, he was handing the ball off with his left hand rather than his right. On his fumble, it was noticeable that he re-injured his wrist on the hit that jarred the football loose. As a rookie, I commend the kid.
The Patriots could not rely on Legarrette Blount for anything, as the Bills' tough front-seven limited the running back that entered Week 4 as the leading rusher in the NFL to only 54 yards. With no true threat at running back, the Bills were pinning their ears back and taking dead-aim at Jacoby Brissett. Because of this, the offensive line was jumpy, and penalties were rampant.
Defensively, the Patriots looked completely lost. In his first game back since suffering a knee injury, Dont'a Hightower was a liability five yards off the line of scrimmage. He looked flat-footed and running backs were leaving him in their dust. Like Brissett, I commend Hightower for playing, but there is on reason to rush him back. The Patriots should be able to run the Bills out of the stadium without Hightower. Jamie Collins, who was rated as the best defensive player in the NFL in Week Three, was playing like his hair was on fire. and not in a good way. Instead of wrapping up on tackles and staying at his assignment, Collins was looking to constantly make a big play and his team suffered because of it. While the Patriots only allowed three points in the second half, they allowed the Bills to convert on seven of 15 third-down attempts and relinquished 378 total net yards. They need to be better, as I have been extremely disappointed in this defense in large chunks of three out of their first four games.
Special teams was another terrible unit for the Patriots on Sunday. Rookie cornerback Cyrus Jones had a tough day, as he took multiple balls out of the end zone that should have never been taken out. Matthew Slater (I know he all ready made comments, but just hear me out), Danny Amendola, or Julien Edelman need to either take the rookie under their wing or assume the responsibilities of returning kicks and punts. This isn't the first time this has happened and it simply isn't the Patriot Way. Either do your job or get off the field.
I'm not worried about the Patriots, especially because Tom Brady is slated to come back this week from his suspension in his "role in Deflategate." Additionally, the Patriots have the luxury of facing the Cleveland Browns in Week Five, who are arguably the worst team in the NFL. This will be a good game for the Patriots to get back on track on both sides of the football and put up another goose egg. We will have additional thoughts on this week's game in our weekly Pick 'Ems and Roundtable, as always.