Patriots vs. Chiefs Instant Overreactions: Offensive woes a huge problem for Pats

Patriots vs. Chiefs Instant Overreactions: Offensive woes a huge problem for Pats

FOXBORO -- The New England Patriots lost more than their 21-game home win streak in a 23-16 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

The Patriots have fallen a game behind the Baltimore Ravens for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff race, and it's going to be very tough for the defending Super Bowl champions to reclaim that spot, especially since the AFC North club holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. 

New England's defense played well against the NFL's third-highest scoring offense, but again, the Patriots' own offense failed to score enough points late to complete a comeback.

Let's take a look at four instant overreactions from the Patriots' loss and assess their merit.

1. The Patriots offense is a huge problem
: Not an overreaction

The Patriots can't do anything well offensively right now. They can't run the ball effectively (particularly on early downs) and wide receivers are unable to consistently get open.

Let's start with the rushing attack. Sony Michel has been a non-factor most of the season, and the sophomore running back hasn't scored a touchdown in six consecutive games. He also doesn't have a 100-yard rushing game in 2019 after tallying only eight yards on five carries (none in the second half) versus the Chiefs.

The passing attack didn't fare much better. Julian Edelman is the only wideout who quarterback Tom Brady can depend on. Edelman caught eight passes for a team-high 95 yards and a touchdown. No other wide receiver tallied more than a single reception all game. Rookie wideout Jakobi Meyers made one catch overall and dropped a pass on a critical third down in the first half. The Patriots ultimately turned the ball over on downs one play after Meyers' mistake. The team's other rookie wide receiver, N'Keal Harry, didn't play many snaps and caught just one pass. The young receivers aren't the only problem, though. Veteran wideout Mohamed Sanu has failed to make an impact following an impressive performance in a Week 9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. In fairness, Sanu has been banged up with an injury over the last couple weeks and didn't play versus the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12. Still, if he's going to play, he needs to give the Patriots more than six receptions for 31 yards and zero touchdowns over his last three games.

Two of the Patriots' best offensive plays were a 37-yard touchdown pass on a flea-flicker and a James White pass to Meyers that picked up 35 yards. 

The Patriots have scored an average of 17.6 points over their last five games, and that's nowhere near good enough, even if they have one of the league's best defenses. New England was struggling on offense late last season and switched to a power-running game that benefited them in the playoffs. An effective adjustment similar to that doesn't appear to be in the cards this season.

2. Pats-Chiefs was one of the worst officiated games of 2019 
: Not an overreaction

Jerome Boger and his crew should receive a poor grade for their performance Sunday. Many flags were thrown and later picked up, showing a clear indecision amongst the crew. The worst stretch of the crew's day came in the second half, however.

The Patriots knocked the ball out of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce's hands and Stephon Gilmore scooped it up and ran downfield. Gilmore likely would've scored a touchdown, but the officials blew the play dead and ruled Kelce down by contact. A challenge by Bill Belichick ultimately gave the Patriots the ball, but the decision to blow the play dead and not let it play out probably cost New England a touchdown. On the ensuing Patriots drive in the fourth quarter, Harry caught a 12-yard pass and appeared to have reached the end zone. He was ruled out of bounds short of the goal line, even though replay showed the rookie wideout clearly didn't step out of bounds. The Patriots couldn't challenge the play because it had to burn a challenge reviewing the Kelce fumble and had no challenges remaining. New England settled for a field goal to trim the deficit to 23-16.

The Chiefs made more plays than the Patriots and overall were the better team, but the referees certainly cost the Patriots points. If Harry's play was ruled a touchdown, the Patriots could've kicked a field goal on their last possession to tie the score. Instead, the Patriots needed a touchdown and failed on a fourth down throw to the end zone on their final drive.

3. The No. 1 seed is gone for good
: Not an overreaction

We mentioned last week how the Patriots' loss to the Texans made it very difficult for them to get back the No. 1 seed. Well, this defeat all but closes the door on that goal. The Patriots are not mathematically eliminated from earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but their best chance is winning out and having the Ravens lose two of their final three games. Baltimore finishes the regular season with matchups versus the New York Jets, at the Cleveland Browns and versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Can you find two Ravens losses in there? The likeliest scenario is Baltimore winning all of those games, unless they lock up the No. 1 seed early and don't need to play all their starters against the Steelers in Week 17.

Going on the road for an AFC Championship Game isn't an impossible task for the Patriots, as we saw last season, but it's hard to envision this particular team winning in Baltimore in January.

4. The Chiefs are the second-best team in the AFC
: Not an overreaction

The Chiefs are the only team in the league who've beaten both the Ravens and Patriots. Kansas City has now won three consecutive games following a bad 35-32 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 10. The Chiefs still need the Patriots to lose once more to earn the No. 2 seed, but with reigning MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes healthy again and a defense much-improved from last season, this Kansas City team is going to be a very tough out in the playoffs.

Latest Odell Beckham Jr. trade rumor will excite NFL fans>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Here's why a lot of Patriots recent draft picks have Senior Bowl experience

Here's why a lot of Patriots recent draft picks have Senior Bowl experience

Bill Belichick was there. Josh McDaniels was there. The Patriots had a large contingent down in Mobile, Ala. for this week's Senior Bowl practices (the game will air Saturday on NFL Network at 2:30 p.m.), which should come as no surprise.

Just look at how the Patriots have drafted of late. 

In 2019, they selected Jarrett Stidham, Byron Cowart and Jake Bailey -- all of whom participated in the Senior Bowl. They also signed undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers, who played in the game. 

In 2018, they grabbed Isaiah Wynn in the first round, Duke Dawson, Ja'Whaun Bentley and Braxton Berrios after they'd competed in the Senior Bowl.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Three of their four draft picks from 2017, plus two undrafted rookies, were in the Senior Bowl. 

From 2013-16, they brought aboard 20 Senior Bowl participants as rookies.

"The great thing about the Senior Bowl is that you're seeing some of the best players," Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said last spring. 

"There have actually been some underclassmen who have been incorporated into that mix. So you're seeing them against good competition and it's a different dynamic or different situation that they've been placed in. You're kind of taking them out of their environment that they've been in and kind of giving them something new and seeing how they handle it against good people."

The small-school players -- or the players who are asked to do something they didn't do much as collegians -- are the ones who have an opportunity to really land on radars during Senior Bowl work. For the Patriots, who constantly harp on the benefit of having seen players work against great competition on a regular basis when they hail from an SEC program, seeing some of the best in the country work against one another matters.

"It’s one thing if they do it against a lower-level team," Caserio said back in 2016, when asked about the Senior Bowl. "I mean, look, not all teams are created equal. Not all conferences are created equal. That’s just a fact. We can’t control that. So when you can see them actually play against really good players or good players that are at a comparable level of competition that they’re going to see every Sunday, that has to be a part of [the evaluation], no question."

The next year, the Patriots took two Senior Bowlers from smaller programs: Youngstown State's Derek Rivers and Troy's Antonio Garcia. 

"Where [the Senior Bowl] probably helps a little bit is players on a lower level that maybe haven’t competed against the same level of competition," Caserio said back in 2017. "Obviously, they’re making a big jump. . . Garcia was down there. That’s going to be a big jump in competition because this is what they’re going to be playing against. 

"With all due respect to whatever conference Youngstown State is in, there’s not a lot of NFL players in that conference. I mean, that’s just the way that it is. You’re going to have to see him against NFL competition, which the Senior Bowl is usually a pretty good indication of that because you’re talking about the top seniors in the country. It’s a part of the process. You’re not making a decision based off of that, but maybe a player who doesn’t have as much experience against that level, you’re going to see how he fares, and then you just kind of continue to move forward."

Some small-school prospects who may have caught Belichick's eye this week? 

Dayton tight end Adam Trautman was already considered one of the better tight ends in the draft class and seemed to only help his stock.

Safety Kyle Dugger -- who hails from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University -- impressed. Ditto for Division III offensive lineman Ben Bartch out of Saint John's, who saw rushers from Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Ole Miss and other high-end programs and reportedly held his own.

Perhaps the most recent success story out of Senior Bowl week for the Patriots wasn't with a small-school prospect, though. It might've been with Shaq Mason, a guard coming out of a run-heavy system at Georgia Tech. The Patriots simply hadn't seen him do much in the way of pass protection for the Yellow Jackets.

But Mason got to the Senior Bowl, took to the coaching he received, and the Patriots took notice. 

Click here to listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: 

"The thing I’ll say about Shaq," Belichick said after drafting Mason in 2015, "is just watching him at the Senior Bowl, I mean it was only one week, but he made a huge improvement just in those, whatever it was, four or five practices, whatever it was down there. His stance is different. You could see each day progressively how he was taking to the coaching down there and his footwork and his hand placement and his body position. I know it was basic. It wasn’t like it was a big scheme thing at the Senior Bowl, but just doing things on a daily basis better than the day before, looking more comfortable doing them. And it was different than what they did at Georgia Tech."

Big school. Small school. Everyone had something to gain in Mobile this week. And that includes the Patriots. That's why -- with more time off this year than recent years -- they were well represented down there.


NFL Rumors: Patriots hiring ex-Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch

NFL Rumors: Patriots hiring ex-Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch

The New England Patriots reportedly have made an addition to their coaching staff.

According to Jim McBride of The Boston Globe, they've hired ex-Los Angeles Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Fisch's official role with the Patriots offense is to be determined. But now that there's an opening at wide receivers coach with Joe Judge joining the New York Giants, Fisch could be a candidate for the job.

He brings plenty of experience to the table having coached Denver Broncos wide receivers in 2008 and Michigan receivers from 2015-16. Fisch also coached Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks in 2010 and was the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive coordinator from 2013-14.