Credit for Super Bowls and breaking passing records can’t last forever. The New England Patriots are getting worse, which means the same for quarterback Tom Brady, who looked bad in the slightly embarrassing 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, which mostly signaled what could be the end of an era for the team and player.
This wasn’t the first time over the last couple of years that Brady looked abysmal against a pass rush that abused him. The Kansas City Chiefs are far from a complete team, but they have an excellent front seven and are excellent when running the ball. They sacked Brady a couple of times, but he saw a lot more pressure that forced him into 14-of-23 for just 159 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, which were mostly on him.
Brady can’t complete long passes. Yes, his receivers are struggling to get open, but Brady is missing them as well. His passes miss the target more than any other quarterback so far this season except for Nick Foles at 25.5%. He completed just one pass for over 10 yards in the loss and is completing just 22% of his attempts for 15 yards or longer, the worst in the NFL along with Ryan Tannehill among quarterbacks who have started all four games this season.
But this isn’t just Brady. Bill Belichick the general manager seems to have put the Patriots and Belichick the coach in a bad position. The decline and crumbling of the offensive line might be the biggest issue, as not until very late in the game, the Patriots simply couldn’t get anything going on the ground. Both Shane Vereean and Stevan Ridley were stuffed at the line, while Hussain Abdulla, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali made it a nightmarish performance for Brady, fumbling the ball twice and turning it over on one of those sacks, hit from behind by Hali.
The Chiefs were up by 27 points before the Patriots got things going in their direction – way too late. Jimmy Garoppolo came on in the final minutes and completed a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. Jamaal Charles had 21 touches and scored three touchdowns, two of them as a receiver. Knile Davis put in another huge day on the ground, rushing for 107 yards and averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Alex Smith wasn’t troubled for the most part, completing 20-of-26 passes for three touchdowns (one to Travis Kelce) and 248 yards.
Before the game Belichick spoke about nothing working right now for the Patriots, especially on offense. Talking about fixing things apparently didn’t hold ground, as the Patriots finished below 300 yards yet again, this time putting up only 290 total yards of offense. Maybe the secondary has improved but it’s not enough to cover for their inability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks or stop the run against good teams. The noise from the fans, setting a new record in that aspect, didn’t help either.
This isn’t the end of the New England Patriots or Tom Brady. There’s still football left in both entities, one connected to the other. But Brady wasn’t great in 2013, and seems to be heading in the same direction this season. For Belichick, the image of a football genius is slowly fading away, but it won’t be shattered until the Patriots actually don’t make the postseason. It’s still too early to tell if it’ll happen this season, but at the moment, that won’t be a surprise to anyone.
The Kansas City Chiefs are 2-2, but winning two games in a row, and looking better by the minute. Andy Reid has some offensive line glitches to work out but now that the offense has its main playmaker at full health again, the struggles of the first couple of games will probably be a thing of the past. The AFC West is a very difficult division excluding the pathetic Oakland Raiders, but the Chiefs look once more like a team that’s good enough to make the playoffs.