New England Patriots: What happened to these 3 players in Week 3 loss?

New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (CP 2)
New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (CP 2) /
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New England Patriots
New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey (7) Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

What happened to these 3 key New England Patriots players yesterday?

No. 3: Jake Bailey

Jake Bailey has quickly developed into one of the most consistent punters in the game. He earned Pro Bowl and All Pro honors in just his second season, and was one of the few bright spots during a lost season for New England in 2020. Bailey hasn’t looked as good to open the season though, and had one of the worst games of his career yesterday against the Saints.

Bailey’s overall numbers on the day aren’t initially awful. He was called into action five times, and netted an average length of 56.6 yards on his punts, with a long of 68. But a deeper dive shows some big issues with Bailey’s performance.

For starters, he only pinned the Saints in their own 20 on one of his five punts. Two of those punts ended up going through the back of the end zone, allowing the Saints to start at their own 20 yard line. Bailey has been one of the best in the business at pinning teams inside their own 20, but he couldn’t seem to get the job done against New Orleans.

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Not counted in the five punts is the sixth one that Bailey had that got blocked. It was the first time that Bailey has had a punt of his blocked throughout his career, and while it didn’t end up hurting them due to New Orleans kicker Aldrick Rosas missing a chip shot field goal, blocked punts typically lead to points for the opposing team which is never a good thing.

The final cherry on top of Bailey’s poor performance was a kickoff that he booted out of bounds, gifting New Orleans great starting field position at their own 40 yard line. It was the second time this season that Bailey has done that, and it surely got head coach Bill Belichick’s blood boiling.

Bailey has been a pillar of consistency throughout his first couple of seasons in New England, so it was odd to see him labor through such a poor performance yesterday afternoon. Bailey has earned the benefit of the doubt at this point though, so here’s hoping he is able to bounce back whenever he is called upon next.