Patriots

Rookie Justin Herbert explains what went wrong vs. Patriots defense in 45-0 loss

Patriots

Bill Belichick did it again.

Most rookie quarterbacks have struggled and/or lost to Bill Belichick's defenses since he took over as head coach of the New England Patriots in 2000.

Belichick entered Sunday's Week 13 game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium with a 20-5 record versus rookie QBs as Patriots coach.

Where Patriots stand in our new 2020 NFL Power Rankings

He improved that record when his team dominated the Chargers in a 45-0 win -- the most lopsided defeat in Los Angeles' franchise history.

Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert struggled to generate any kind of offensive momentum. He completed 26 of 53 pass attempts (49.1 percent) for 209 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. His completion percentage was a season-low, and it also was the first game all year where he failed to throw a single touchdown pass.

Patriots Report Card: The Gun Show and another tortured young quarterback

What went wrong against the Patriots defense?

"We just didn't execute (Sunday). They've got a great defense, they're coached really well, and they've got some great guys on that side of the ball," Herbert said during his postgame press conference. "We didn't get to do what we wanted to do, and we definitely didn't execute. It's on us."

In back-to-back weeks the Patriots have done a great job limiting the effectiveness of two excellent young quarterbacks -- Herbert and Arizona Cardinals star Kyler Murray.

The Patriots will need similarly strong defensive performances against young quarterbacks over the next few weeks if they're going to reach the playoffs.

New England will play against Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff in Week 14, Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Week 15, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen in Week 16 and New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold in Week 17. All four of these quarterbacks were drafted in 2016 or later. Allen and Darnold are in their third year.

 
Albert Breer: Cam Newton is the Patriots' best option at quarterback

The Patriots have a 7-1 combined record versus Goff, Allen and Darnold. Allen is the only QB in this group to beat a Belichick-led Pats defense, and he did it in Week 8. Goff is 0-2, including a Super Bowl LIII loss to the Patriots in 2018 when the Rams' high-powered offense scored just three points.

It remains to be seen whether the Patriots will secure a postseason berth. The odds are stacked against them, but if fans are looking for optimism on that front, Belichick's history of success against young quarterbacks (and the four noted above, in particular) should instill some confidence in this team over the final quarter of the regular season.