Patriots-Cowboys film review: Bill Belichick’s fingerprints all over latest blowout loss

You can say this a lot for probably the most lopsided Patriots lack of the Bill Belichick period, a regular-season calamity.

At least it was sobering.

Sunday’s 38-3 thumping at Dallas delivered a stinging readability for the Patriots. It spoke on to the fact of their teaching, quarterback play and roster development.

Turns out, Mac Jones is basically the identical passer he’s all the time been. He stays a pocket-bound level guard with mediocre arm power, plus accuracy and a candy tooth for dumbfounding selections. Jones made three expensive selections Sunday, two of which led to Dallas touchdowns.

The Patriots know Jones is a quarterback who can’t elevate an offense by himself however can thrive when comfy. He was harassed and hurried Sunday. They misplaced.

Elsewhere, the Pats’ misplaced their solely Pro Bowl-caliber defender to damage, their weapons backfired and their suspect offensive line depth was uncovered — once more. More than a 3rd of the Patriots’ rushes had been stopped at or behind the road of scrimmage, whereas they allowed a 35.3% stress fee on passing downs. The crown jewel of their offseason, large receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, has one catch in every of the final two video games.

Sunday’s final lesson informed us no quantity of teaching acumen can paper over such roster holes. Not that there was any whiff of a Belichick grasp plan in Dallas, anyway.

Through 4 weeks, Bill O’Brien’s offense is averaging 13.5 factors per recreation, second-worst within the league. Belichick’s protection has yielded 10 factors on its first two sequence in each recreation besides the Jets win, a bite-sized illustration of getting out-schemed. And on particular groups, the Cowboys squeezed an additional level out of the Patriots as a result of they had been too predictable.

Dallas Cowboys defensive finish Dante Fowler Jr. (56) strips the ball away from New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) within the first half of an NFL soccer recreation in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. The fumble was recovered by linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and returned for a landing. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

The Pats are taking up water from all sides. They should not 1-3 strictly due to accidents, dangerous luck or a minefield schedule (although the schedule has confirmed to be as taxing as anticipated).

The Patriots are 1-3 as a result of they need to be. They’re a staff that’s been out-scored by 42 factors in 4 video games, undone by a shaky roster basis Belichick laid over current offseasons with a number of strikes that had been questioned on the time. Now, he oversees a membership dedicated to dangerous penalties, gradual begins and dumb turnovers, habits which have prevented the post-Brady Pats from beating good groups just like the Cowboys for 3 years working.

Until they show in any other case, that is who the Patriots are. This is who they’ve been. The catastrophe in Dallas left no extra room for debate.

Here’s what else the movie revealed about Sunday’s loss:

Mac Jones

12-of-21 for 150 yards, 2 INTs

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones sits on the bench late in the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones sits on the bench late within the second half of an NFL soccer recreation in opposition to the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Accurate throw share: 66.7%

Under stress: 3-of-9 for 57 yards, sack

Against the blitz: 3-of-6 for 29 yards, INT

Behind the road: 3-of-3 for 8 yards

0-9 yards downfield: 3-of-11 for 23 yards, 2 INTs

10-19 yards downfield: 5-of-6 for 77 yards

20+ yards downfield: 1-of-1 for 42 yards

Notes: Sunday’s efficiency was equally disastrous and weird for Jones. Arguably the worst of his profession.

A sharpshooter inside 10 yards of the road of scrimmage, Jones accomplished only a third of his passes within the brief space of the sector, the place he additionally tossed each his interceptions. But downfield, he completed 6-of-7 for 119 yards and no turnovers.

The actual story: Dallas’ stress broke him inside 1 / 4 and a half.

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After his strip sack, Jones imploded at any signal of a Cowboys move rusher; a painful regression from the primary three video games when he performed like he was nearly impervious to stress. Jones’ cool allowed the Patriots to hold with the Eagles and Dolphins and rating their solely landing in opposition to the Jets. But the fixed menace of stress in Dallas — Jones was solely sacked as soon as — wore him down.

Jones’ incapability to deal with stress ended 5 of the Pats’ first seven drives. He killed these sequence with a strip sack, his pick-six, the second interception and two passes he threw shut at Cowboys defenders. Post-game, Jones was proper.

This loss, greater than another participant, fell on him.

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Critical areas

  • Turnovers: Patriots 3, Cowboys 0
  • Explosive play fee: Patriots 7.3%, Cowboys 7.2%
  • Success fee: Patriots 31%, Cowboys 48%
  • Red-zone effectivity: Patriots 0-1, Cowboys 1-4
  • Defensive stress fee: Patriots 21.6%, Cowboys 35.3%


Game plan

Author’s word: The following personnel and play-calling statistics solely seize drives led by Mac Jones, who was benched going through a 28-point deficit with 3:41 left within the third quarter.

  • Personnel breakdown: 35% of snaps in 11 personnel, 35% snaps in 12 personnel, 22.5% snaps in 13 personnel, 7.5% in 21 personnel.***
  • Personnel manufacturing: 5.6 yards/play in 11 personnel, 3.1 yards/play in 12 personnel, 5.3 yards/play in 13 personnel, 7.0 yards/play in 21 personnel.
  • First-down down play-calls: 53% run (3.1 yards per play), 47% move (5.4 yards per play)
  • Play-action fee: 25%

Callahan: Why do you have to consider within the Patriots anymore?

Player stats

  • Broken tackles: Rhamondre Stevenson 2, Kendrick Bourne
  • Pressure allowed: Team 5 (5 hurries), RT Vederian Lowe 4 (sack, 3 hurries), LT Trent Brown 1 (hurry), LG Atonio Mafi 1 (hurry), C David Andrews 1 (hurry)
  • Run stuffs allowed: Team 3, RG Mike Onwenu, TE Hunter Henry, Andrews
  • Penalties: Onwenu (2 false begins, holding), Andrews (holding), Mafi (blindside block), LS Joe Cardona (holding on a punt)
  • Drops: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Henry


  • Setting Jones’ self-sabotage apart (revisit that part if you have not crimson it already), Sunday represented an entire failure by your complete offense. Let’s begin with teaching.
  • Bill O’Brien successfully blended run and move by numerous personnel groupings on his opening drive, an effort to disguise his intention of pounding away at a comfortable Dallas run protection.
  • Rookie receiver Demario Douglas ripped off the Patriots’ longest play of the day on that possession, a 42-yard catch-and-run. The downside? Douglas, by far the staff’s most explosive offensive participant, caught one move for the remainder of recreation.

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  • Worse but, Douglas noticed fewer snaps (18) than third-string tight finish Pharaoh Brown (22). It’s attainable the Patriots restricted Douglas for errors, like working into DeVante Parker on his 42-yard acquire. But these are the rising plains Belichick should reside with, having constructed a receiving corps that depends on a sixth-round rookie for its explosion.
  • O’Brien’s insistence on utilizing Brown, a profession journeyman, revealed a reluctance to ditch his run-heavy recreation plan regardless of a recreation script that instructed in any other case (the Patriots trailed by 25 at halftime). O’Brien known as runs on seven of the Pats’ preliminary 11 first-down performs.
  • Not amongst these runs was the failed fourth-down quarterback sneak that killed the Patriots’ second drive. The referees missed Dallas defensive deal with Johnathan Hankins lining up within the impartial zone, however contemplating the offense wanted greater than a full yard and the Cowboys had stacked the field to cease that play, one other play-call might have been clever.
  • Another tight finish, Mike Gesicki, may need a gripe with O’Brien. Through 4 weeks, he is been run-blocking on the next fee of his snaps (33%) than another season of his profession, per Pro Football Focus; a transparent misuse of his skills as a mislabeled, jumbo slot receiver.

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  • Gesicki served as a lead blocker on a number of performs Sunday, which partly contributed to the Pats’ 35% stuffed run fee. Without a gradual run recreation (2.3 yards per carry), the Patriots had been all the time doomed in opposition to the NFL’s high protection by stress fee.
  • Up entrance, the Cowboys additionally jumped the Patriots’ most well-liked zone runs behind mountainous left deal with Trent Brown. They averaged one yard per keep it up 5 makes an attempt behind Brown.
  • Another issue slowing the run recreation: Rhamondre Stevenson, whose common yards after contact (0.6 per carry) is now lower than a 3rd of what he averaged final yr (2.1). Stevenson has not flashed something near the elusiveness he demonstrated in 2022 when he ranked among the many NFL’s finest rushers.
  • Also from the yards after contact division: JuJu Smith-Schuster hasn’t damaged or slipped a single deal with this yr. He struggled to separate versus man protection and ran rounded routes, even because the “pick” participant on two-man route mixtures in opposition to man-to-man.
  • When going through man protection, the Pats went 7-of-13 for 101 yards and an interception. The longest receptions belonged to Douglas (42 yards), Hunter Henry (21 and 12 yards) and Gesicki (12). That, greater than something, highlights an ongoing battle for Smith-Schuster and the opposite receivers to separate 1-on-1.
  • That failure additionally revealed itself in opposition to the blitz, when Jones wanted a receiver to spring open. He completed 3-of-6 for 29 yards and an interception in opposition to further rushers.

Bill Belichick has ‘doubts’ Patriots will give Bailey Zappe first-team apply reps

  • Douglas and Kendrick Bourne are far and away the Pats’ two finest yards-after-catch receivers. They deserve extra targets.
  • Aside from the stress that prompted Jones to overthrow Gesicki ultimately zone on the Patriots’ opening drive, Brown posted a clear sheet. Left guard Atonio Mafi was additionally liable for a single hurry, however he didn’t persistently impose his will as a run-blocker.
  • Right guard Mike Onwenu managed to pack one of many worst video games of his profession into two quarters, committing two false begins and a holding penalty.
  • The worst offender up entrance stays proper deal with Vederian Lowe, who allowed 4 pressures with one sack and three hurries. Lowe is liable for 9 allowed pressures the final two weeks. It’s honest to query how for much longer the Patriots will stick by him with veteran Riley Reiff obtainable to return off injured reserve and Calvin Anderson hanging on the bench.


New England Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon (9) walks off the field with teammates and staff after suffering an unknown injury in the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
New England Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon (9) walks off the sector with teammates and employees after struggling an unknown damage within the second half of an NFL soccer recreation in opposition to the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Game plan

  • Personnel breakdown: 48.5% three-safety nickel bundle, 26.4% dime, 17.6% three-corner nickel, 7.5% base.****
  • Coverage snaps breakdown: 59% zone, 41% man
  • Blitz fee: 37.8%
  • Blitz efficacy: 6.2 yards allowed per dropback, TD, 1 sack

Player stats

  • Interceptions: None
  • Pass deflections: Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jahlani Tavai
  • Pressure: DL Deatrich Wise 2 (sack, hurry), OLB Josh Uche 2 (sack, hurry), OLB Matt Judon 2 (2 QB hits), LB Jahlani Tavai 1 (sack), S Kyle Dugger 1 (QB hit)
  • Run stuffs: Team 2, Jabrill Peppers, Wise
  • Missed tackles: Myles Bryant 2, Shaun Wade 2, Peppers 2, Wise 2, Jalen Mills 2, Keion White, Dugger
  • Penalties: DL Christian Barmore (face masks)


  • The tenet of the Patriots’ defensive recreation plan gave the impression to be avoiding the deadly mistake that value them in opposition to Dallas two years in the past: permitting Dak Prescott to throw from roomy pockets. After halftime, Prescott confronted stress on fewer than 18% of his dropbacks and led the Cowboys to an additional time win.
  • On Sunday, defensive play-caller Steve Belichick tried to warmth Prescott up with zone blitzes, which theoretically ought to have additionally protected his wounded secondary. Belichick blitzed Prescott on nearly 40% of his dropbacks.
  • The bother was Prescott usually beat the stress, going 10-of-13 for 96 yards, one landing and a sack. His first-half landing to CeeDee Lamb provided a crushing instance.
New England Patriots rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez walks on the field before playing against the New York Jets last Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New England Patriots rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez walks on the sector earlier than enjoying in opposition to the New York Jets final Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
  • Rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez had simply left the sector, changed by third-year backup Shaun Wade. But as an alternative of attacking Wade, Prescott went after nickelback/security Myles Bryant who allowed the 20-yard rating to Lamb.
  • Bryant grew to become a frequent goal for Prescott, who went 5-for-5 for 59 yards and a landing when attacking him in single protection. Bryant was additionally victimized on two jet sweeps that he didn’t comprise, although he tracked receiver KaVontae Turbin down within the second half to drive a fumble on the finish of Dallas’ longest play from scrimmage.
  • Wade, in the meantime, allowed three catches for 43 yards on 5 targets. Prescott efficiently focused him twice on comeback routes after which a third-down conversion the place the Cowboys baited Wade into considering he was leaping a slant.
  • Without Gonzalez, Belichick adjusted by trimming his man-coverage calls by roughly 30%. The Patriots performed a ton of Cover 2 and Cover 3, however it wasn’t sufficient in opposition to Prescott who had loads of time, going through stress on one-fifth of his dropbacks.
  • Part of the dearth of stress was Matt Judon’s absence within the second half. Judon tallied a number of pressures in all 4 video games to start out the season and will now miss the remainder of the yr with a torn bicep tendon.
  • Judon will probably be unattainable to exchange 1-for-1, not solely due to his uncommon move rush however how he tilts opponents’ move safety schemes. The Patriots have manipulated offensive strains by dropping Judon in opposition to an anticipated double-team, chip or slide protections, which freed Josh Uche, Deatrich Wise or Christian Barmore for 1-on-1 matchups.