FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ Week 8 win over the Los Angeles Chargers should have been a blowout. The Patriots entered the red zone four times but found the end zone just one time on the afternoon. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski also missed two field goals, so a 21-13 final score could have been 37-13 or even higher.
The Patriots haven’t been this dismal in the red zone all season. They rank 18th in red zone scoring percentage at 50 percent, and they’re 21st in the NFL over their last three weeks.
Wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea, who doubles as a red-zone guru of sorts for the Patriots, seems confident they can pull it together, though.
“I think we look at all parts of our offense and really try to evaluate how we can be better,” O’Shea said Wednesday. “That’s certainly one area that we can improve on. I know that there’s great examples of what our players have really executed really well that we can use as examples to what we need to do moving forward and that’s just be more consistent, because we certainly have had moments where we’ve played and executed very well in the red zone.
“It’s just now be more consistent moving forward. And our players know that. We’ve worked very hard as a coaching staff to try to improve in this area and that’s all we can ask of them is to try to improve and do the things we’re asking them to do.”
The longer wide receiver Chris Hogan, who suffered a shoulder injury in Week 8, is out, the more the Patriots might struggle in the red zone. Hogan is the only wide receiver on the Patriots’ roster who’s over 6 feet, and he was a bright spot inside the 20-yard line earlier in the season.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said it’s not as simple as just making one quick fix.
“It’s a lot of people understanding their job and doing their thing on each play the right way to its completion, and hopefully you string together a lot of those plays during the course of a series down there in the red zone,” McDaniels said. “We’ve been down in the red zone a ton, and that’s a good thing. We’re going to continue to work hard at that, starting today in practice, and continue to focus on that.
“We have a strong belief that we can make something that hasn’t been necessarily a strength of ours into a strength in the second half of the season through a lot of hard work, and our guys are committed to it. We just had a great meeting with them. They’ve got a great attitude towards today and moving forward.”
Tight end Dwayne Allen was expected to be a red-zone threat for the Patriots, but he has yet to record his first catch in a Patriots uniform. If the Patriots can find ways to get Allen, who had six touchdowns last season with the Indianapolis Colts, the ball near the goal line, then some of their issues could be resolved.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images