2 big concerns that arose from the New England Patriots Week 12 win

Dontrell Hilliard #40 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Dontrell Hilliard #40 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
3 of 3
New England Patriots
Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots area of concern No. 1: Red zone offense

Nick Folk is one of the most consistent kickers in the league, but I think we can all agree we would like see him used less than he was against the Titans. He attempted six field goals, making five of them, and if it weren’t for Daniel Carlson’s heroics for the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving day, he probably would earn AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. But realistically, this is a telling sign of how much New England’s red zone offense struggled in this one.

The Patriots only punted once, which usually ends with a bushel of points, but they ended up having to settle for field goal attempts on six of their drives. They ended up in the red zone five times, but only turned two of those drives into touchdowns. That just isn’t good enough, and against better (on in this case healthier) teams it’s going to hurt them.

The main reason for the struggles really seemed to come down to some curious playcalling yet again from Josh McDaniels. In fairness, McDaniels has done a very solid job in recent weeks, particularly with finding ways to incorporate all three of the teams top running backs into the gameplan. But it felt very forced in this one, and McDaniels couldn’t seem to adapt.

It’s safe to say Mac Jones had one of his better games this season (23/32, 310 YDS, 2 TD), and he was pretty much getting whatever he wanted in the air. The ground game managed 4.4 yards per carry in total on the day, but most of that was a result of some big runs late in the game, and isn’t indicative of how the unit struggled for most of the game. McDaniels would often take the wind out of the sails with a poorly timed run call, particularly in the red zone.

Both of New England’s first two failed red zone drives were handicapped by McDaniels insistence to try to get the run game involved. It was admittedly early, but Jones was cooking, and taking the ball out of his hands in these situations probably cost the team points. It didn’t really end up mattering in this game, but McDaniels failure to adapt to what the defense is showing or what the offense is producing was a bit frustrating here.

Next. Time to acknowledge Kendrick Bourne's play. dark

Neither of these issues came back to hurt this team, but that won’t necessarily be the case down the line. The New England Patriots now have legitimate playoff aspirations, but in order for them to go as far they can, they need to clean up some of weaker aspects of their game, and these appear to be two of them.

New England got the win, but they have some areas to address before their Monday night game against the Bills next week. Whether or not they can do so in the upcoming week will play a huge part in determining where this team finishes in the playoff race this season.