The New England Patriots will have their work cut out for them containing rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, but a clear mismatch could ultimately tip Sunday's game vs. the Los Angeles Chargers in their favor.
That mismatch won't be on the field. Rather, it'll be on the sidelines as Bill Belichick aims to outcoach Anthony Lynn. Lynn finds himself on the hot seat with his team 3-8 on the year despite having a Rookie of the Year candidate under center.
Just how much will that lopsided matchup between Belichick and Lynn impact what is a pivotal game for New England? Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis and NBC Sports joined the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast to share his thoughts.
"The clock management is so terrible and the situational football is just so terrible. But I would even take a step back and look at the biggest overarching issue, was the entirety of the gameplan last week,"Sharp said. "This team goes into Buffalo trying to pull off the upset of Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, a really good team with a really good record, and they get Austin Ekeler back. ... The Chargers go into this game giving him 30 touches. They are down 24-6 and to give him 18 touches in the second half. This is your gameplan?
"You've got Keenan Allen, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL who runs precise routes, is almost always able to get open and you targeted him just two times the entirety of the second half because you're so in love with the new infatuation which is Austin Ekeler, who you got back from weeks of injury? ... Just in general, it's poor coaching. It's hard to put a finger on what specifically it is.
"Everything I've heard about Anthony Lynn is he's a great person. And we know he was a former running backs coach, but his ability to diagnose the easiest path to victory in certain games against each opponent, and his ability to manage situations late in the game or in critical areas like two-minute or third-down, is far below average. I truly believe this is the biggest coaching mismatch you could have in the NFL: Bill Belichick vs. Anthony Lynn."
Also discussed on the new episode: Laying out the Patriots’ path to the playoffs, why putting pressure on Herbert will be key on Sunday, Matt Cassel ranks QBs around the NFL he would build his team around, and how should Patriots’ offense attack the Chargers’ defense?