Tom Brady and the Patriots have gone three-and-out on all four of their first possessions of games this season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO — These Patriots are slow starters – and so far this season- they have had a lot of trouble getting up to speed.
Through the first four games, the Patriots have gone three-and-out on all four of their first possessions and have allowed their opponent to score first in each of the four games.
Offensively on first drives the Patriots have ran three running plays totaling four yards and quarterback Tom Brady is 3-for-8 with 12 yards passing. Defensively, it has allowed 152 yards and two touchdowns on first drives — an average of 38 yards per drive, compared to just four yards per drive on offense.
“We have a high standard here, and we should,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on a conference call Tuesday. “It’s a very competitive league, obviously, and we need to do a better job on offense regardless of the situation or circumstances. [Whoever] is out there we have faith and confidence in. Like I said, we can coach better and certainly need to. And we can play better. I think every year is a process that you go through, and I don’t think you’re really ever where you’re going to be when you start the year, but I think the key thing for us is we’ve got to improve each week.”
Fast starts are something the Patriots have been notorious for over the years, especially defensively. On opening drives last season the Patriots allowed just one touchdown – they’ve allowed two in the first four weeks of this season. Offensively they had just five three-and-outs on opening drives — one shy of that through four games this season.
The offense has been out of sync to open games. Against the Chiefs Monday, instead of establishing the run against a team in the bottom half of the league when defending the run, the unit threw the ball on all three plays — a four-yard gain followed by two incompletions. A week prior against the Raiders, another team struggling against the run, the unit threw the ball on all three plays — two incompletions followed by a four-yard gain. Against the Vikings in Week 2 it was three straight runs — no gain, two yards gain and a seven-yard gain ‘ leading to yet another punt on the opening possession. Finally in Week 1, it was a run for two yards, a four-yard completion and an incompletion followed by a blocked punt.
None of those starts are what the Patriots are used to as in first quarter scoring it has been ranked in the top 10 in 10 of the last 11 seasons. This year they are 13th. The last time the Patriots scored a touchdown on their opening drive was Week 7 against the Jets last season.
Scoring first has led to tremendous success as since 2010 the Patriots are 26-4 and since 2000 110-25 when having the first score of a game.
When searching for answers as to how the Patriots can get better and more consistent, it may be pretty simple: score first.