This week, the writers of Patriots Unfiltered weigh in on state of the Patriots following their loss to the Ravens and the injury to Mac Jones, while previewing their Week 4 trip to Green Bay to face the Packers.
Aside from the injury to Mac Jones, what did we learn about the 2022 Patriots in their loss to the Ravens?
DeVante Parker can be the big-play receiver we hoped he'd be. Even just a few penalties can be difficult to overcome. Combined that with losing the turnover battle and it will be a long season. -Fred Kirsch
Unfortunately not a whole lot. It's a team that still struggles with turnovers and stopping the run, which were problems a year ago as well. -Paul Perillo
The Pats continue to be plagued by mental lapses at the worst times. I think they've beat themselves more than the opponent has from what we've seen so far. -Alexandra Francisco
That this is now a vertical passing offense. When Mac returns, it'll be interesting to see if they pull back on the reins a little to limit turnovers. But, through three weeks, Jones leads the NFL in both pass attempts (20) and completions (10) of 20-plus air yards. Who would've thought that? It's a good change if they can cut down on the turnovers while playing a more aggressive style. -Evan Lazar
I was really thinking that was one of Mac's best games until the interceptions started coming late in the game, he impressed me with the zip he had and downfield throws. Alas, the turnovers happened and the defense was the latest to fall victim to Lamar Jackson. Not a lot to take away, but some positive development vibes on Mac for when he returns. -Mike Dussault
What would Brian Hoyer starting mean for the Patriots?
It could give us a sense of what the rest of the offense can do without Mac. Hoyer can run the offense as it is meant to be run. No adjustments will need to be made so that's advantageous when scouting the rest of the that side of the ball. -FK
I think Hoyer could offer some stability as an experienced veteran and could keep the offense from turning the ball over. -PP
Starting the game? That hopefully would mean veteran QB management of the game plan. Starting the rest of the year or for a considerable amount of time? Season in jeopardy. -AF
That the most important players on the Patriots offense just became Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris. The Patriots have the top-ranked rush offense in DVOA so far this season, with Stevenson and Harris ranking as an elite duo. Time to feed the backs and pound the rock. -EL
The Patriots really must eliminate the mistakes and try to make the most of the next six weeks before the bye week. I don't know if Mac will be back before then or sometime in that stretch, but the team is entering a critical portion of winnable games and just after the bye the biggest tests begin.
Who is your Packers x-factor?
Tight end Robert Tonyan. He had 6 catches last week but for only 6.2 yards per. Aaron Rodgers might try and get him going early and test the mid-range defense of the Patriots to see if that ypc average can grow. Like last week against the Ravens, defending the tight end could be a problem. -FK
Aaron Jones is the key to the Packers offense, both as a runner and receiver. He should be the focal point of the Patriots defensive game plan. -PP
Aaron Jones is very good. -AF
Kenny Clark. If the Patriots are going to run to a win on Sunday, Clark is the one guy who can totally wreck that game plan. He gave the Bucs interior O-Line all kinds of problems last week. Quick, good upper-body power, instinctive. Tough dude to block. -EL
Aaron Rodgers. The two-time MVP will have a big say in the outcome. He might be getting used to some new weapons, but if the Patriots can make Green Bay one dimensional it might come down to an unproven receiver core vs. the Patriots secondary. -MD
What is your key matchup to watch?
If Lawrence Guy doesn't play due to injury and Christian Barmore gets more snaps on early downs, I want to see how he does against the Packers interior line and their effective running attack. When Rodgers passes, can Barmore push the pocket and decrease the room Rodgers has to step up and get him off his spot. That said, Rodgers is just as dangerous on the move, so Barmore's push will need to be complemented by disciplined edge play.-FK
The Patriots front seven vs. the Packers running game. There will need to be some significant improvement over what we saw against Baltimore if the Patriots are to slow down Aaron Jones. -PP
Patriots D-line vs. Packers O-line. -AF
Patriots right tackle Isaiah Wynn versus Packers EDGE Rashan Gary. Wynn needs to step his game up, or Marcus Cannon could get the call soon. Six total pressures allowed and four penalties over the last two games isn't going to cut it. Now, he'll see a lot of Gary, who is one of the better power rushers in the league. -EL
Patriots run defense vs. Packers running game. If the Patriots can contain Jones and Dillon they could be able to turn this one into a low-scoring, winnable affair. If they let that duo run all over them it will be a tough day for the Pats. -MD
Your key to a Patriots victory?
Limit mental errors and turnovers. Rinse and repeat every week until there's improvement. -FK
The defense must force some turnovers, lots of them, to help the offense find some "free points." -PP
Run the ball to keep it out of Rodgers' hands, mistake-free veteran execution from Hoyer. -AF
Slowing the Packers early-down offense to get them into drop-back passing situations. As crazy as it sounds with Aaron Rodgers under center, Green Bay is an opening script and Matt LaFleur's misdirection offense right now. They no longer beat teams consistently playing it straight up. If the Pats can limit their play-action and RPO sequencing, the defense will keep New England in the game. -EL
No mistakes and the best defensive performance of the season. It's just that simple. I think. -MD