With all due respect to Jay-Z, at times this season the Patriots offense has appeared to have 99 problems. One week the running game struggles while the next the pass protection is an issue. Then Tom Brady seems to have trouble with his accuracy, all the while the rookie receivers have worked to refine their games as well. And of course, injuries have played a role too.
It's all added up to an attack that has been quite un-Patriot-like based on the record-setting numbers of the recent past. New England currently ranks near the bottom of the league in passing efficiency, third-down conversions, average per attempt, red-zone offense and a number of other offensive categories.
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Through seven games there is little doubt that the Patriots offensive line has struggled. Unlike so many other aspects of the team, there is seemingly little reason or excuse for the struggles.
New England returns all five starters from a year ago. The group includes a pair of first-round picks and a second-round pick. It's has a $50 million guard and nearly a $30 million right tackle. It sports three of the team's top 10 salary cap numbers for this season. The group seems to be relatively healthy. Yet, Tom Brady has been sacked 13 times in the last three games.
The ground game hasn't been able to establish any real consistency through two months. Dante Scarnecchia may be the best offensive line coach in the game, but his group just isn't getting the job done consistently enough. And the players know it. We saw the frustration on the sideline Sunday in New York from Logan Mankins.
The third-down struggles, the inconsistency through the air and on the ground and even Brady's own pressure-fueled inaccuracy/discomfort in the passing game can all be traced back to the fact that New England's offensive line just isn't good enough right now. And there really is no excuse for it.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. No one has as much power in the Patriots offense as Brady, and therefore he shoulders the greatest responsibility when things don't go well.
Brady has been inaccurate too often this season. He also has missed too many open receivers, more so than he has in the past. Obviously the lack of familiarity he has with his young receivers has contributed to those factors, but Brady is far and away the most talented element of the team's attack and he needs to be at or near his best in order for things to run smoothly.
Many star quarterbacks around the league have dealt with injuries to some of their key players but have found ways to be more productive. Brady is still searching for ways to do that and has been fortunate that the defense bailed him out more than a few times early and allowed the team to win despite the struggles.
Brady is not the problem on offense but we've come to expect more from him. He doesn't need to be at his normal Hall of Fame level all the time, but it's fair to expect him to complete better than 60 percent of his passes and put some points on the board. When Brady improves, so too will the offense.
Now it's the fans turn to cast their vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll.