The Patriots defense did a decent job limiting the dynamic Miami offense Sunday night, but the Dolphins still connected on a couple big plays in their 24-17 win at Gillette Stadium, including a 43-yard touchdown run by Raheem Mostert and a 32-yard pass from Tua Tagovailoa to Jaylen Waddle.
The Patriots offense, on the other hand, failed to hit on a single play of more than 20 yards. Their longest play of the night was an 18-yard scramble from Mac Jones. Their longest passing play – out of 42 attempts – went for just 14 yards.
Making his weekly appearance on The Greg Hill Show Monday morning, CBS analyst and WFAN host Boomer Esiason identified one big reason New England consistently struggles to produce chunk plays.
“There’s a reason for that. I’m telling you, it’s speed,” Esiason said. “Instead of having 4.3 [40-yard dash] guys, you have 4.5, 4.6 guys. The opposing team, if you’re not tricking them or fooling them, can stay with your guys. A couple times I saw deep throws – it wasn’t like they weren’t trying to do that – but it seemed like those guys were all covered or a ball was underthrown by Mac Jones that led to an interception. This whole entire league is built on speed. The dynamic speed that guys like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle bring to a game completely puts the defense on their heels.
“The Patriots don’t have anybody like that. They have good, solid players, don’t get me wrong, but those solid players are not amongst the top 10 when it comes to explosive plays. Like when you watch Bijan Robinson for the Atlanta Falcons, you see a kid that is basically on a different level from everyone else when it comes to quickness and speed, a la Barry Sanders back in the day. Tell me one guy on the Patriots roster that can mirror that type of talent, that type of explosion. They just don’t have it.”
The Patriots were hoping Tyquan Thornton would become that kind of player when they drafted him in the second round last year, but the speedy wide receiver has barely been able to get on the field, never mind be a difference-maker. He missed the start of the 2022 season with a broken collarbone and landed on injured reserve again to open this season, this time due to a shoulder injury. He’ll be out until at least Week 5.