Welcome to Season 12, Episode 6 of the Unconventional Preview, a severe but lighthearted, nostalgia-tinted have a look at the Patriots’ weekly matchup . . .
Coming off the worst back-to-back losses in Invoice Belichick’s 24 seasons as coach, the Patriots now face the crew in opposition to whom they suffered their most absurd loss throughout their ongoing backslide.
In Week 15 final season, the Patriots misplaced to the Raiders, 30-24, to drop to 7-7. The Patriots led by a landing with lower than a minute left . . . and someway managed to lose the sport in regulation.
Keelan Cole tied the sport with a 30-yard landing reception with 32 seconds left, and the Raiders have been gifted victory when Patriots receiver Jakobi Meyers inexplicably misplaced all sense of judgment and heaved a backward move that Chandler Jones returned 48 yards for a landing, pausing solely to pound Patriots quarterback-turned-reluctant-tackler Mac Jones into the turf alongside the way in which.
On reflection, that sport may need damaged the Patriots. That loss started a stretch from the ultimate month of final season by the primary 5 video games this 12 months by which the Patriots have gone 2-7. Jones was brutal in opposition to the Raiders and his former offensive coordinator with the Patriots, Josh McDaniels, finishing simply 7 of 23 passes for 65 yards over the ultimate three quarters.
Jones’s struggles have been so overwhelming just lately that his profession seems to be at an inflection level. He has 4 interceptions and two fumbles, together with his miscues main straight to a few touchdowns, in back-to-back losses to the Cowboys and Saints. The Patriots have been outscored, 72-3, and allowed 69 consecutive factors over these two video games. Jones was benched in each video games, however backup Bailey Zappe did nothing aside from remind everybody how laborious it’s to play quarterback within the NFL.
So Jones begins this week, main the NFL’s Thirty second-ranked offense (a pathetic 11.0 factors per sport), behind an injury-plagued and leaky offensive line, with an injury-plagued and uninspiring solid of receivers, making an attempt to keep away from a hat trick of benchings. Contemplating his relative promise as a rookie with McDaniels as his coordinator, it’s surprising that it has come to this.
The Raiders, with outdated good friend Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, aren’t any juggernaut. Garoppolo has been inconsistent in his 4 begins (he missed the Week 4 matchup with the Chargers due to a concussion), throwing seven interceptions to 6 landing passes. The Raiders have scored simply 15.8 factors per sport, tied for twenty ninth within the league, however nonetheless greater than 4 factors higher than the Patriots. They’re coming off their second win of the season, a 17-13 resolution over the Packers Monday night time, and have the sort of high-end expertise the Patriots lack.
Kick it off, Ryland, and let’s get this one began . . .
Three gamers to observe aside from the quarterbacks
Jakobi Meyers: In a very unsentimental sense, based mostly completely on talent set, there was some logic within the Patriots’ resolution to maneuver on from their homegrown receiver this previous offseason and signal JuJu Smith-Schuster as a substitute. Smith-Schuster was higher after the catch, and the Patriots have been seeking to get extra athletic.
The rationale was OK. The result? Effectively, that has been a catastrophe. Smith-Schuster, who clearly stays compromised by a knee damage suffered final season, is averaging a paltry 6.1 yards on simply 14 receptions.
Keep in mind what Randy Moss was in 2007? Smith-Schuster, who is predicted to overlook Sunday’s sport after struggling a concussion in opposition to the Saints, has been the alternative. His yards per reception is .1 larger than Dan Klecko’s 6.0 on three receptions in the course of the 2004 season. Klecko, as you’ll recall, was primarily a defensive sort out.
As a result of the end result has been a catastrophe, it’s inconceivable to withstand questioning why the Patriots so simply dismissed the entire positives that Meyers dropped at the crew. He had constructed a rapport with Jones, led the Patriots in receiving for 3 straight years, and was as dependable because the dawn on third down. He was a player-development success story, having been signed as an undrafted free agent earlier than the 2019 season. He was revered amongst his veteran friends for his work ethic, turning into every thing that ‘19 first-round choose N’Keal Harry did not grow to be. And he wished to remain.
I think he’s going to mild up the Patriots Sunday. He’s solid appropriately because the No. 2 receiver to three-time All-Professional Davante Adams (37 catches, 442 yards, 3 TDs), who should command the brunt of the Patriots protection’s consideration. Meyers has been usually productive for the Raiders (25-274-3), and he ought to get loads of appears to be like from Garoppolo in opposition to a Patriots protection that has only one interception. McDaniels goes to provide Meyers the prospect to grab the day in opposition to their former boss. Tuck this thought away: McDaniels by no means wants a nudge to interrupt out a trick play or two, and Meyers, a former school quarterback, was 4 for 4 with two landing passes with the Patriots.
Maxx Crosby: Yeah, we should always positively put together to listen to Jim Nantz and Tony Romo say his identify typically and admiringly come Sunday. The Patriots have really executed a good job in opposition to the Raiders’ relentless two-time Professional Bowl move rusher. In two earlier matchups, Crosby managed a pair of sacks within the Patriots’ Week 3 win in 2020, however didn’t have any amongst his 5 tackles in final 12 months’s assembly. But it surely’s laborious to fathom, given the accidents and basic porousness of their offensive line, how they may accomplish that this week. Crosby is the reigning AFC defensive participant of the week after contributing 4 tackles for loss and an essential fourth-quarter sack on the Packers’ Jordan Love Monday night time. Crosby has 5 sacks, seven quarterback hits, and eight tackles for loss on the season, and final season he led the NFL in tackles for loss with 22. Patriots proper sort out Vederian Lowe, who has allowed 25 pressures in 4 begins, has no probability one-on-one in opposition to Crosby. And since we’re all second-guessing Belichick’s drafts and personnel strikes over current seasons, right here’s one thing else to contemplate: The Raiders took Crosby with the 106th choose within the 2019 draft . . . 5 picks after the Patriots chosen sort out Yodny Cajuste, who began 5 video games for New England and is presently on the Giants’ apply squad. Ugh.
Rhamondre Stevenson: It’s simple to overlook due to his complicity within the loss to the Raiders final 12 months, having lateraled to Meyers to start the final-play chaos, however Stevenson was a power of nature in that sport regardless of coping with an ankle damage within the days main as much as it that threatened to render him inactive. Stevenson had simply 5 carries for 37 yards within the first half — he didn’t get his first try till a bit of greater than 4 minutes remaining within the first quarter. However he got here out supercharged for the second half, working for 26 yards on his first carry after the break, including a 34-yard landing run, and ending with 172 yards on 19 makes an attempt.
Stevenson has seemed like he’s been working in sand all season, for causes comprehensible (the road is a sieve) and perplexing (is there an damage we don’t find out about?). He had simply 24 yards in opposition to the Saints and 188 on the season, and is averaging simply 2.8 yards per try. The Raiders — who’ve their very own points within the working sport, with Josh Jacobs averaging simply 2.7 yards per carry — rank twenty third within the league in opposition to the run, permitting 129.4 yards per sport. If Stevenson can’t get it going this week, it’s cheap to surprise if he’ll in any respect this season.
Grievance of the week
Nick Folks, traded by the Patriots to the Titans for a seventh-round choose on the finish of coaching camp, has kicked flawlessly for his new crew, hitting all seven of his area objective makes an attempt and all 13 additional factors. Chad Ryland, whom Belichick drafted within the fourth spherical out of Maryland, has not been flawless for the Patriots, lacking 4 of his eight area objective tries. (He has made all 5 of his additional factors, and that he has simply 5 makes an attempt is one more indictment of the Patriots’ offense.)
The hole of their success charges — and the truth that Folks made 89.3 of his area objective makes an attempt throughout his three-plus seasons in New England — has led many amongst us to lament the kicking change as yet another personnel mistake so as to add to Belichick’s ever-growing pile. I don’t suppose that’s honest. We all know why Belichick made the change. Folks is 38 and his lack of leg energy was turning into a priority. All of Ryland’s misses have come from 48 yards or past, some in awful circumstances, others hindered by a foul snap.
He’s enduring rising pains, however within the large image, this was the precise factor to do. There’s loads to complain about with Belichick’s roster development, however this was the precise transfer, even when it hasn’t paid off but.
It’s in all probability not remembered as fondly because it could possibly be as a result of the Patriots finally bought stomped into the turf by the Bears in a 36-point loss in Tremendous Bowl XX. However the Patriots’ run by the AFC playoffs in 1985 was in all probability the franchise’s biggest achievement till Tom Brady and Belichick arrived to make Tremendous Bowl victories the norm.
The ‘85 Patriots received three playoff video games on the street — a 26-14 wild-card win over the Jets, a 27-20 divisional-round win over the Raiders, after which a 31-14 takedown of the Dolphins within the AFC title sport.
The Patriots’ win over the Raiders was eventful not only for the efficiency on the sphere — Craig James ran for 104 yards and a landing and Jim Bowman’s fumble restoration for a landing within the third quarter supplied the margin of victory — however for what occurred afterward.
Within the moments after the sport, Patriots basic supervisor Patrick Sullivan bought right into a confrontation with Raiders gamers Howie Lengthy and Matt Millen. Sullivan admitted afterward that he had been heckling Lengthy, a Charlestown native who had been vital of the Patriots group, for a lot of the sport. Lengthy was not impressed. “He’s the jellyfish of Foxborough,” stated Lengthy, who stated he faked like he was going to hit Sullivan. “I want there weren’t legal guidelines to guard this man.”
Millen really did get a shot in, hitting Sullivan, by some accounts together with his helmet, others say together with his fist. Sullivan, who was then 33 and described, tale-of-the-tape fashion, as “of common dimension” within the Related Press report of the incident, managed to maintain his wits about him.
“I used to be seeing a few stars and my gamers pulled me away,” he stated. “Was I going to go after him? That will be fairly foolish.”
Prediction, or do you suppose Lester Hayes nonetheless slathers himself in Stickum? . . .
The Raiders’ motto, a minimum of throughout their soiled, rotten ‘70s heyday, was “Simply win, child.” The loss to the Saints satisfied me that the Patriots’ motto this season needs to be the alternative. The roster is devoid of high-end younger expertise, save for injured cornerback Christian Gonzalez. The third-year quarterback, a former first-round choose, isn’t going to be worthy of an extension. It’s time to go full rebuild, whether or not or not Belichick is right here past this 12 months. Thankfully, in a bizarre form of blessing, the Patriots are able to dropping with out resorting to doing so intentionally. Simply lose, child. Raiders 19, Patriots 13.
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