Patriots Talk: What will be Pats' Achilles' heel in 2021?


The New England Patriots will look to extend their win streak to four games when they host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. While they've bounced back after a 1-3 start to the season, the Patriots still have some issues to work out if they hope to clinch a playoff spot.

To stay hot in the second half of the campaign, New England will have to be more efficient offensively. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones has outperformed his fellow 2021 first-round signal-callers, but the Patriots offense has struggled to find consistency through the first nine weeks.

NBC Sports Boston staffers weigh in on the rest of the Patriots season

So, if the Patriots' 2021 season unravels, what will be the primary reason for their demise? Tom E. Curran, Phil Perry, and Matt Cassel debated that question on a new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast.

Patriots Talk Podcast: What will be the Patriots’ Achilles' heel in 2021? | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"It's the tackle position, the inability to week-in, week-out give protection," Curran said. "And it's also, right underneath that, it's not having somebody on offense who the other team has to go, 'We're going to have to devote one-and-a-half people to that guy.' " Nobody can win dynamically one-on-one. They have 46 receptions so far for Jakobi Meyers, everyone else is around 20. Jakobi Meyers is not an offensive centerpiece in my estimation. ...

"When the Patriots' season ends, it will be because they couldn't protect long enough to get guys open and they scored nine points."


Perry agrees with Curran's assessment of the offensive tackle situation, and how it could lead to New England's downfall.

"If you can't protect Mac Jones, it doesn't matter who's at receiver because you're not going to be able to push it down the field all that often. I'd also be looking at just their depth at corner," he said.

When the Patriots' season ends, it will be because they couldn't protect long enough to get guys open and they scored nine points.

Tom Curran

Cassel echoes Curran and Perry's concerns about the passing game going forward.

"I love the way that they run the ball. They run it with physicality," Cassel said. "At the end of the day though, there's been inconsistency in the pass game. And we've seen it moreso the last few weeks than we have in other weeks. Yes, the high completion percentage, a lot of easy throws here and there, but they struggle to get the ball down the field."

Also discussed in this episode: Are the Patriots only one player away from being a Super Bowl contender? How will the Patriots attack the Browns defense? Would you rather have Baker Mayfield or Mac Jones for the next seven years? Cassel tells the Panthers' Brian Burns, 'Get over it!'. And who’s the scariest defender Cassel ever faced?

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network, or watch on YouTube.