Tom Brady and his offensive teammates have rendered the New England Patriots‘ offense unrecognizable. They are currently among the worst groups in football, and their defense joined the party on Monday night.
The Kansas City Chiefs deserve every ounce of credit for dismantling the Patriots 41-14 on Monday night. They flew around on defense, hurrying Brady and blanketing New England’s slow receivers. The Chiefs‘ previously cautious offense put up 303 yards before intermission, the most allowed by Bill Belichick in the first half of his career.
After an ugly preseason and Week 1, the Chiefs have played 12 straight terrific quarters, out-gaining the Broncos in Denver, and putting up two convincing wins against AFC East competition. Jamaal Charles looks fully healthy again, scoring three times to go with 108 yards from scrimmage. Tight end Travis Kelce is the guy Rob Gronkowski used to be. Tamba Hali had a great night rushing the passer. But this night will be remembered for how the Patriots were undressed.
New England has earned a playoff bye for four straight seasons, one of only three teams in NFL history to do so. But those squads were carried by dominant offenses, and this group was dead last in yards-per-play entering Monday despite playing mediocre competition. Those games were not played on national television, but this no show was seen by the entire country. (Including the rest of the AFC East, where 2-2 equals first place.)
The offensive line can’t block and Belichick can’t settle on a starting group. They debuted a new starting center (rookie Bryan Stork), a new starting guard (rookie Cameron Fleming), and then proceeded to bench both starting tackles at various points in the contest. Brady has had precious little time to throw all season, but he was also off target far too often Monday night.
The Patriots used to be a team built to make comebacks, but they have no explosive elements in their offense. Gronkowski is moving at half speed, and they didn’t even activate second-year wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. Brady started forcing passes and was not on the same page as his receivers.
With 10 minutes left in the game after Brady’s second interception, Belichick put rookie Jimmy Garoppolo in the contest. He promptly led them to a touchdown drive. Chiefs cornerback Husain Abdullah, who picked off Brady, will not be remembered as the defender that inspired a quarterback change in New England like New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis once did. Belichick laughed off a question about evaluating the quarterback position after the game. But Monday’s game was a stark reminder that the Patriots‘ offense is a shell of its former self.
Belichick and Brady have made their careers from adjusting on the fly, and fixing this offense looks like their biggest challenge yet. Next up: The undefeated Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football. The nation gets to watch a once-great team try to solve a crisis in real time.