How Patriots have righted the ship during three-game winning streak to move into playoff contention

For a minute there, it regarded just like the New England Patriots have been on the verge of one other misplaced season. They got here out of the gate 1-3, have been barely in a position to escape the Houston Texans in Week 5 after which fell to 2-4 after dropping to the Cowboys in additional time in Week 6. These first six weeks have been additionally muddled with numerous psychological errors and uncharacteristic play from how earlier iterations of the Patriots have carried out. 

With its again in opposition to the wall, Invoice Belichick’s staff has been in a position to seemingly flip a nook and go on a three-game successful streak throughout which they outscored their opponents, 105-43. This run additionally has New England again within the thick of the playoff race within the AFC and only a recreation behind the Buffalo Bills within the loss column for first place within the AFC East. if the season have been to finish at the moment, they’d be within the postseason. 

So, what occurred? What’s modified with this staff within the midst of this successful streak that has its season again on monitor? As they start the second half of the common season, we’ll check out what the Patriots have been in a position to unlock that has them again in competition. 

Purple zone execution

As Mac Jones continues to develop on a weekly foundation, New England’s offense has began to seek out its groove, significantly within the crimson zone. By means of the primary six weeks, the Patriots have been 8 of 18 within the crimson zone (44.4% conversion price). Over this three-game streak, they’ve gone 9 of 13 contained in the 20-yard line (69.2%). 

A stable quantity of credit score to that enchancment might be given to the rising rapport Jones has with tight finish Hunter Henry. He is caught a landing in 5 of his final six video games and has 4 of these touchdowns contained in the crimson zone. Between 0-19 yards depth of goal, the Jones-Henry connection has yielded a 74.2 completion proportion for 296 yards (11.3 yards per catch) and 4 touchdowns this season. 

This one-yard landing again in Week 7 in opposition to the Jets initially of this successful streak is a stable instance of how a lot confidence Jones has throwing in Henry’s route. The rookie launched the soccer simply as Henry was making his break upfield and needed to throw it over a minimum of two defenders to a spot the place solely the tight finish may make a play. That is high-level ball placement from any quarterback, not to mention a rookie. 

Operating again Damien Harris has additionally been a key think about New England’s crimson zone success, significantly once they get contained in the 10-yard line. This season, he is scored six of his seven touchdowns when the Patriots have the ball inside the ten. 4 of these scores have come inside this successful streak. 

Discount in back-breaking turnovers

The Patriots weren’t solely committing turnovers to start the yr, they have been immediately the distinction between wins and losses at occasions. Within the opener in opposition to Miami, a Harris fumble contained in the 10-yard line with simply over three minutes left within the recreation handed the win to the Dolphins. In Week 2, two of Jones’ three interceptions immediately led to the Saints placing factors on the board. Even within the win over Houston in Week 5, Harris had one other goal-line fumble that took factors off the board for New England and resulted within the Patriots needing a second-half rally and a late discipline objective to win. 

Whereas the turnover bug hasn’t totally disappeared over this successful streak, it hasn’t been as detrimental. During the last three weeks, the Patriots are averaging one giveaway per recreation. The offense has additionally proven a capability to have a brief reminiscence and never have these turnovers pile into one thing greater. Final week in opposition to Carolina, instantly following every of New England’s two first-half turnovers, the offense went out and carried out a 75-yard landing drive. We noticed a bit of little bit of that resiliency from Jones within the Dallas recreation simply previous to this streak when he accomplished a 75-yard landing to Kendrick Bourne after throwing a pick-six on the earlier possession. That bounce-back means is a promising trait for this staff because it continues into the second half. 

Clutch protection

I wrote again after New England’s OT loss to Dallas that the protection wanted to prove it could get off the field in crunch time. To that time, when it wanted to have a cease, it was incapable of pulling one out. That loss was instance of what had been a problem for the membership to start the yr. After Jones hit Bourne on a 75-yard landing to retake the lead within the fourth quarter, the Patriots protection allowed Dallas to maneuver 40 yards down the sphere to kick the game-tying discipline objective and ultimately win in additional time. That drive featured a fourth-and-four conversion to maneuver the chains and a 24-yard completion on third-and-25 that put the Cowboys in discipline objective vary. Rookie quarterback or not, you are not going to win video games in case your protection cannot get off the sphere when it counts. 

Over this streak, the protection has taken a noticeable bounce, significantly relating to creating turnovers. During the last three weeks, the Patriots are tied for the NFL lead with 2.7 takeaways per recreation, which is virtually a turnover increased than their 1.8 takeaways per recreation common for the season. Within the final two video games, the Patriots protection has not solely been maintaining opponents’ scoring to a minimal and creating turnovers, but it surely additionally has put factors on the board with pick-sixes in back-to-back video games.

In Week 8 in opposition to the Chargers in L.A., Adrian Phillips got here up with a clutch pick-six off Justin Herbert that utterly modified the complexion of the sport. With the Patriots trailing, 17-16, with simply over 10 minutes to play, Phillips jumped in entrance of a throw by Herbert and returned it 26 yards for a rating to offer the Patriots a lead they’d maintain for the remainder of the sport. Had it been earlier within the season, the story possible would have resulted in a soul-crushing landing drive by the opposition that put the dagger in New England.  

Discovered proper mixture alongside O-line

After mixing and matching items alongside the offensive line all through the beginning of the season, the Patriots appeared to have discovered a mixture that labored starting in Week 7 in opposition to New York: LT Isaiah Wynn, LG Ted Karras, C David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, and RT Michael Onwenu

That O-line mixture has began for New England the previous three weeks and helped the membership rush for 147 yards per recreation (106.8 yards per recreation common on the season). The Patriots’ sacks allowed per recreation common has additionally decreased over this stretch with this grouping permitting simply two sacks and 12 pressures (4 pressures per recreation). When given a clear pocket this season, Jones is finishing 72.1% of his passes with a yards per try common of seven.7, so maintaining the teenager upright has confirmed to be fairly profitable for the offense as a complete.

The Mac Jones period in New England has begun. Download the CBS Sports app to seek out out! Plus, get perception from our resident Patriots insider, Tyler Sullivan. If you have already got the CBS Sports activities app, ensure to choose the Patriots as your favourite staff for up-to-the-minute information. | How Patriots have righted the ship throughout three-game successful streak to maneuver into playoff competition


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