Patriots Talk Podcast: Pats' awful Pro Football Focus grades show where things are headed

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Justin Leger
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Patriots Talk Podcast: Pats' awful PFF grades show where things are headed originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots got a resounding "F" grade for last week's terrible performance vs. the San Francisco 49ers. And when you look deeper inside the numbers, the season as a whole hasn't been pretty.

After getting blown out in Week 7, the Patriots have some of the worst offensive numbers in the entire NFL through six games. They're 31st in points scored with 115 and 27th in total yards with 2,113.

It only gets worse when you take a look at Pro Football Focus' grades.

PFF's Steve Palazzolo joined Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry in a new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast to break down the Pats' struggles, and how they've graded out to this point.

Patriots Talk Podcast: GROUNDED! Patriots awful grades from Pro Football Focus show where things are headed | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"Obviously the offense is different with Cam running the show versus the guy that has been there for 20 years in Tom Brady," Palazzolo said. "It looked like in that Seattle game maybe they found something and I think what they found was Jamal Adams was trying to cover Julian Edelman and that was a massive mismatch that the Patriots exploited. Other than that though, the passing game looks a lot like last year in that you just don't have explosive plays, you don't have those opportunities, plus you have Cam just seeing the field a little bit slower.

Curran: Newton has a case of the yips, so now what?

"We're used to seeing Brady getting rid of the ball quickly and you have Cam holding the ball for over three seconds ... I think it's the decision-making, it's taking some of the easy stuff underneath and then mixing that in with what Cam does pretty well which is throw the ball outside the numbers. That's essentially where he's been having the most success, but you can't just rely on that. So decision-making, slow, accuracy's not the same, and we have a passing offense that is just not moving the football.

One-hit wonder?

Cam Newton's PFF grade vs. Seahawks

84.4 (5th)

Cam Newton's PFF grade in all other games

54.0 (31st)



So that sums up Newton's struggles, but how about the other side of the ball?

While the Patriots' defensive woes pale in comparison to the offense, this D hasn't been anything close to the dominant unit we saw a year ago. Even elite cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, has seen a dip in production.

"When you look at PFF cornerback grades, they're just volatile in general. We're seven weeks into the season, six games in for the Pats, so it's a few plays here and there. The bigger sample size, these last three years of Gilmore, him being the best corner in the NFL -- best man corner in the NFL -- that still holds true," Palazzolo said.

"But then you have situations where George Kittle got the better of him on Sunday. He's facing some tough matchups. And sometimes you have a tough matchup, you have a quarterback that can get you the ball, you're going to get beat sometimes. So I think Gilmore's still fine ... Much of the pass defense will get a little bit better but certainly overall has regressed since last year."

More notable Patriots grades from Pro Football Focus:

Coverage grades

2019: 92.7 (1st)

2020: 61.1 (11th)

Run defense grades:

2019: 70.8 (16th)

2020: 49.6 (28th)

Stephon Gilmore PFF Coverage Grade/passer rating allowed

2019: 85.4 (4th)/48.0 (6th)

2020: 60.2 (60th)/100.9 (68th)

Highest Patriots grades


Michael Onwenu 89.0

Jermaine Eluemunor 82.6

Shaq Mason 82.3


J.C. Jackson 83.4

Deatrich Wise 75.5

Devin McCourty 72.0

Also discussed on the new episode: What can Bill Belichick do to improve this team quicker? Mathew Slater says Patriots let effort and attitude slip away. Jedd Fisch addresses the hesitancy of Cam Newton when throwing. And why "tanking" this season to move up in the draft isn’t a good plan.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.