Mac Jones, offense lay an egg in uninspired loss to Josh Allen and the Bills

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Well, it was more competitive than the last time these two teams played, right?

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That’s about the only positive you can take away from the Patriots’ latest loss to the Buffalo Bills, who unequivocally own them when the two teams aren’t playing in a snow globe.

The defense played better than it had in the teams’ last two meetings, but it wasn’t good enough to stop Josh Allen (22/33, 223 yards, 2 TDs) when it mattered in a 24-10 defeat.

And all that good will Mac Jones (22/36, 195 yards, TD) and the offense built up last week against the Minnesota Vikings? Gone in a flash in arguably their most important test of the season, which raises questions about just what to make of their young quarterback going forward.

Patriots defense puts up better fight against Allen

Hey, the Patriots made the Bills punt this time! Twice, in fact.

In all seriousness, give New England’s defensive coaching staff for realizing what wasn’t working and making changes to keep the team in the game. After getting repeatedly owned in man coverage during the second quarter, the defense started sitting back in zone and forcing Allen to hold the ball and make the right throws. He nearly threw an interception to Kyle Dugger in zone coverage and then gave up a strip-sack to Josh Uche before the end of the first half while trying to escape the pocket.

But in the end, it came down to this: the Patriots still don’t have a defensive back that can cover the Bills’ receivers straight up, especially Stefon Diggs. (It would also have helped if they didn’t just stop covering Gabriel Davis on that second-quarter touchdown throw because they thought Allen was throwing the ball away or out of bounds.)

After Allen started simply started taking checkdowns and showing patience against New England’s zone looks, the Allen-to-Diggs connection just took over the game. Jonathan Jones, Jack Jones, Mike Jones…it didn’t matter who was covering him. Diggs got wherever and whatever he wanted in the second half.

The Patriots’ run defense also wasn’t particularly good up front aside from Davon Godchaux, who racked up 10 tackles and routinely blew up plays in his direction. When the Bills would stretch their handoffs toward the boundary, the cutback lanes up the middle were often huge.

If we’re going to see the forest for the trees here, the defense clearly did its job better than it did in the final two games last season. Holding the Bills to 24 points is definitely an improvement, especially considering the defense was on the field for almost 40 minutes.

But the Patriots are still no closer to truly stopping this Bills offense than they were last year. Allen, Diggs and the rest of the crew are still too good for the Patriots’ defensive personnel, and there’s nothing they can do about it right now.

Mac Jones, offense can’t beat the heat

Things started off strong for Mac Jones as he hit six of his first eight throws of the game, including the long catch-and-run by Marcus Jones.

But when the going got tough, Jones and the offense couldn’t answer the bell.

As the game went on. Jones’ reactions to the Bills’ pressure grew increasingly more erratic as he scrambled backward and ran around like he was doing his best Allen impression. The pressure he faced on the late-fourth-quarter sack he took wasn’t his fault, but running backward and losing 13 yards on the sack in a goal-to-go situation definitely was.

He also threw a grisly should-have-been interception to Jordan Poyer after escaping the pocket to his left and trying to throw late to Hunter Henry. That’s something the other guy can do, but not you, Mac.

If the Patriots had an offense that could carry its own weight, this game would’ve stayed competitive. Unfortunately, because they don’t have a guy like Josh Allen that can don a Superman cape and elevate his offense with sheer ability or an unguardable receiver of their own, they got left in the dust.

This loss wasn’t solely on Mac Jones. After all, he can’t do anything about horribly slow-developing screen plays or overly simplistic offense. But it’s hard not to look at Jones compared to the guy on the other sideline and not see his limits revealed in a big game like this.

Patriots coach not to lose…and lose anyway

That drive to end the first half after the Uche strip-sack was unconscionable.

Even from the first play – a Rhamondre Stevenson handoff (which did gain 14 yards nonetheless), the Patriots were playing for a field goal rather than a touchdown. That was immediately clear once the offense ran a draw play on second down (no gain) and a quarterback sneak on 3rd-and-1 with under a minute left, burning their last two timeouts in the process.

Then, after all that, Nick Folk left a 48-yard field goal short to the closed end of the stadium.

That wasted momentum might well have cost them a chance to stay in the football game. Even though they stopped the Bills on the first possession of the second half, they didn’t sniff points until the end of the game.

The Patriots knew how big this game was to their postseason hopes and knew what kind of opponent they were up against and actively chose not to try to win the game while they had the chance.

If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the state of the Patriots and their coaching, I don’t know what to tell you.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images