New England Patriots players aren't happy with their team's recent offensive performances following a second consecutive loss.
First, quarterback Mac Jones profanely called out the offensive play-calling in the Patriots' 24-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night. Jones finished with just 4.9 yards per pass attempt and most of his passes were thrown within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, per Next Gen Stats.
Then, veteran wide receiver Kendrick Bourne flat-out said the Patriots need to come up with better plays on third down:
"We need to scheme up better," Bourne said. "... That’s not my job, my job is to just run the call, but as we all can see, they had what — 30 first downs and we had eight? So something they were doing against us is working and something we’re doing against them wasn’t working, so it’s just about figuring it out each week. We’ve still got life, but we need to hurry and pick it up.”
The Patriots converted just 6-of-22 third-down attempts against the Bills and only 55-of-152 on the season for an abysmal 36.2% conversion rate. That ranks 27th in the league before the rest of the Week 13 slate — right above the Indianapolis Colts and right below the Tennessee Titans. For a 6-6 Patriots team still vying for a playoff spot, that's not going to cut it when teams like the Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs convert more than 50 percent of their third-down attempts.
Bourne's comments are either a compliment to the Patriots' opponents or an indictment of first-year offensive play-caller Matt Patricia, who used to help run the Patriots' defense before he left for the Detroit Lions' head coaching position in 2018.
Now, the Patriots did have one of the toughest schedules heading into this year, according to Sharp Football Analytics, but Patricia's offense has also declined with relatively the same personnel as former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had in 2021 before he left for the Las Vegas Raiders' head coaching job.
Consider this: The Patriots' offense under McDaniels ranked sixth in points, 15th in yards and 10th in third-down conversion percentage in 2021. Patricia's offense, meanwhile, ranks 20th in points, 25th in yards and the aforementioned 27th in third-down conversion.
The only major difference between 2021 and 2022 is Patricia taking over.
Things won't get easier for the Patriots in the final weeks of the season, either. New England faces the ninth-toughest remaining schedule, per Tankathon, including another game against the Bills and the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots also face a playoff-hungry Cincinnati Bengals squad on Christmas Eve.