3 quick fixes the Patriots’ offense can make heading into the Steelers game


Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins was bad. Here are a few small changes that might help this week.

Mac Jones
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones talks to Matt Patricia during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

At least the Patriots were consistent during Sunday’s dreadful loss to Miami.

New England’s lackluster preseason made it clear that the offense had issues from the beginning. The offensive line’s struggles in pass protection? Not much different than camp.

Mac Jones throwing as many interceptions as touchdowns? It was like that during the preseason games, too. It was actually worse.

The Patriots went to South Florida several days early to reportedly acclimate to the heat. The unorthodox move made Week 1 feel like an extension of the preseason.

So how do the Patriots get out of this rut?

Here are three quick adjustments they can make towards improving their chances against the Steelers.

Figure out the Kendrick Bourne situation

New details have emerged on why Kendrick Bourne‘s playing time was limited on Sunday.

NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran reported that Bourne was late to a preseason meeting and that landed him on Matt Patricia’s bad side. Bourne said after the Dolphins game that he’s not sure why he was benched.

Regardless of what the reason for the benching is, the Patriots have a player who caught 55 passes for 800 yards and five touchdowns last year on the sidelines. And he isn’t hurt.

In a game where New England was starving for offensive production, more than 20 percent of the team’s total passing yards came on one catch from Bourne.

Giving Jones access to one of his most reliable weapons from last season is one thing the Patriots can do to provide an immediate boost.

Let Matt Patricia focus on the offensive line

The biggest issue on Sunday was that the offensive line was unable to protect Mac Jones properly.

And it’s not like the offensive line was bad the entire time. They only gave up two sacks. The run game worked for a bit.

It’s just that the mistakes were huge mistakes.

The momentum swung when Jones was hit on his blindside in the red zone, allowing Melvin Ingram to stroll into the end zone for a touchdown.

Leaving Jones’s blindside completely exposed like seems like more of a focus and communication issue than a talent or schematic issue.

That’s where coaching comes in. The Patriots’ offensive line coach is juggling his responsibilities with play calling duties. It might be time to focus on getting that group right before Jones gets hurt.

And, since the Patriots spent the preseason splitting play-calling duties, they should have the flexibility to make the move quickly.

Run the ball more

The Patriots’ top two running backs, Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, combined for 17 touches on Sunday.

That’s not nearly enough.

The Patriots have had their struggles with run blocking during the preseason. But, to get this offense where it needs to be, they need to trust the run game more.

Part of that was the fact that the Patriots trailed 17-0 at the half and tried to get themselves back in the game though the air.

Still, when Harris is averaging 5.3 yards per carry while the Patriots struggles to move the ball as much as they did, he’s got to have more opportunities to take some pressure off of Jones.

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