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Patriots were outcoached, outplayed, and embarrassed by the Titans

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 11/11/2018 By Ben Volin

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NASHVILLE – Instant Analysis from the Patriots’ 34-10 loss to the Titans on Sunday:

■  The Patriots have been outcoached and embarrassed twice this season, and both have come at the hands of Bill Belichick’s former pupils. Matt Patricia and the Lions dominated the Patriots, 26-10, in Week 3, and now Mike Vrabel and the Titans wiped the floor with the Patriots in Week 10 to drop the Patriots to 7-3 entering their bye week.

The Titans had great game plans on both sides of the football, leaving the Patriots’ offense helpless to move the ball, and the defense unable to slow down Marcus Mariota and the Titans’ offense. And to cap off a brilliant coaching day, Vrabel called the same reverse-throwback pass to the quarterback the Patriots had just tried on the Titans. Tom Brady’s catch went for 6 yards and came up short. Mariota’s catch went for 21 yards and a first down. Vrabel must have had a lot of fun calling that play.

■  Brady looked totally out of synch. The Titans’ defense deserves a lot of credit, and did a great job of pressuring Brady by mixing up their pass rush and coverage schemes. But Brady got tunnel vision, forcing 32 targets to Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and James White, and only six targets to the rest of the team. That’s just as much on Brady not seeing the field as it is on Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett not getting open.

Brady seemed to give up too early on plays, such as one third-and-5 attempt when he had a clean pocket, plenty of time, and still purposely threw the ball at White’s feet. And you could tell how out of synch the offense was when Brady hit Edelman in the back of the head with a slant pass because Edelman wasn’t looking. The Patriots went nine straight drives without a score, their longest drought since a 2015 loss to the Eagles.

■  It’s great that Brady trusts Gordon enough to target him 12 times, but he’s forcing it too much to Gordon. They only connected on four passes for 81 yards, and some of their incompletions weren’t even close. Gordon had trouble with his footing all day, and his dislocated finger from last week seemed to be giving him some troubles as well.

■  Brady was sacked three times and hit an additional three times, but it felt as if he was running away from pass rushers on almost every pass. The offensive line, playing without Shaq Mason and with Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon going in and out with injuries, certainly deserves blame. But it also looked as if Brady had trouble setting the correct protection before the snap, as the Titans got a bunch of free rushes at the quarterback. Another sign that Brady was just off his game.

■  Also, Cannon’s false start on fourth and 1? Come on, man. It was that kind of day for the Patriots.

■  Have the Patriots watched any Titans games this season? They would have noticed that Malcolm Butler has been way too aggressive and has allowed a ton of touchdowns. But Brady threw just three times at Butler all game, completing two passes for 14 yards. There were no double moves, no plays to take advantage of Butler’s aggressiveness. Part of an uninspiring game plan by Josh McDaniels.

■  Stephon Gilmore has had a great season, but he simply could not keep up with Corey Davis. Davis had seven catches for 125 yards and a touchdown, and even on his three incompletions, Davis beat Gilmore by a step. Gilmore also committed two pass interference penalties, one of which was declined on Davis’s touchdown catch. Gilmore didn’t have any safety help all day, and the Patriots seemed to be sending extra pass rushers at Mariota, but Gilmore had a rough day.

■  The defense wasn’t quite as bad as the Patriots’ offense, but it was close. This marked the first game all season the Patriots didn’t force a turnover on defense. And the Titans entered the game with the fewest plays of 20-plus yards in the entire NFL (17 all season), but had seven completions over 20 yards against the Patriots.

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