By Ben Babcock
In the week 2 matchup of the New England Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars the Patriots lost two of their top defenders in the first half. Defensive end Trey Flowers left early in the game, followed by Chung shortly after, and were both ruled out by halftime. The effect of their absence was very evident immediately, with the New England defense giving up touchdowns on each of the Jaguars first two offensive possessions, and end the half down 21-3.
The Patriots pass rush had proven to be much improved from last year in their week 1 matchup against the Houston Texans, but it was back to its old self after Flowers left the game. This allowed Bortles to pass for 377 yards and 4 touchdowns with ease, barely being pressured by the Patriots defense in the pocket all game. Without any pressure up front, the secondary’s job gets harder, then you take away 9-year veteran safety Patrick Chung and the secondary struggles even more. It was not pretty. The Jaguars were even without their young star running back Leonard Fournette and you wouldn’t have noticed, they didn’t need him.
While New England’s offense was less stellar than usual they still managed to stay in the game, cutting the lead to 11 points in the 4th quarter before the Jaguars sealed it with a 61 touchdown catch and run by Dede Westbrook. New England answered back but it wouldn’t matter as Jacksonville was able to run down the rest of the game clock and claim victory.
Given that concussions aren’t usually season-long injuries, the loss of Flowers and Chung won’t sting as bad, but the defense will need to step up and perform much better for the Patriots to have a chance of taking the top spot in the AFC again come December.