Facing a third-and-4 on their opening drive against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, the Patriots dialed up a pass that appeared to not have a receiver ready to catch the ball right at the first-down marker. Furthermore, tight end Hunter Henry banged his knee on a crossing route, colliding with fellow tight end Jonnu Smith. The injury knocked Henry out of the game and will reportedly keep him out on a day-to-day basis.
As a result of the design and players knocking themselves out of the play, Mac Jones was sacked when he tried to step up in the pocket.
Patriots offensive play-caller Matt Patricia seemed to question the execution of the play when asked what went wrong with it during a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.
“When we went into that play, we had a really [good] play that we practiced, and thought we had a couple of good options on it,” Patricia told reporters Tuesday. “I think we saw the play a little bit differently on the field. We just have to clean that up from that standpoint.”
ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky and NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner each criticized the Patriots' offensive structure in their loss to the Bengals in their film reviews. Orlovsky criticized that play in particular, especially with it being their first third-down play call in a game where their playoff hopes appeared to hang in the balance.
How’s this happen?!?!?!?! pic.twitter.com/b2J8WyEwyU
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) December 26, 2022
Patricia noted that the Patriots rebounded on their third-down conversions after struggling in the first half. After failing to get a first down on their first four third-down attempts, the Patriots got a first down on their last six third-down attempts prior to their fourth-down Hail Mary at the end of the game.
But Patricia still harped over the Patriots' execution on third-down attempts in the first half of Saturday's game.
“Those plays came up later in the game, and we executed them well,” Patricia said. “We obviously didn’t do a very good job on third down in the first half trying to get a feel for some of the different looks that they had. But we came out in the second half, and I think we went 6-for-6 to start the second half. So we got a lot of that cleaned up at halftime.”
Jonnu can’t get off Jam here bc route is straight vertical, not really his job & KB doesn’t clear bc as I described in #QBInsider on NFL+ last week, Jonnu is too tight on his route so it takes a long time for KB to clear him! He needs to widen from the jump & create wider window! https://t.co/teWgGq11L1
— Kurt Warner (@kurt13warner) December 26, 2022