Red zone, Patriots
Tom Brady is wrestled to the ground by the Chargers defense this past Sunday. Getty Images

If it seems like the bye week always comes at a perfect time for a respective football team, it’s because it does.
 
With the physical toll these players take on a weekly basis, the bumps and bruises add up quickly. That’s certainly the case with the Patriots as they’ve already lost a couple key players for the season, and try to manage the injuries of others along the way.

Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan looks to be the latest addition to the injury report after leaving Sunday’s 21-13 win over the Chargers with what the team called a shoulder injury.
 
At 6-2 and on a four-game winning streak going into the bye week, the Patriots are where everybody expected them to be, atop the AFC East and considered one of if not the best team in the AFC.

But while a win is a win, they’ve had enough ugly ones through the first half of the season to have many people wondering if they’re going to be able to put it all together by the playoffs.
 
Over the first four games, the offense seemed to be on the right track, while the defense was off the rails, allowing an average of 32 points per game. Over the last four games, though, the defense has shown great improvement, allowing an average of 11.25 points per game. 
 
But now it’s the offense that’s beginning to stall a bit, as Tom Brady has had trouble finishing drives with a touchdown. Sunday’s win over the Chargers was another example of that. The Patriots got just one touchdown on four trips to the red zone, but also had three drives stall out on the 25-yard line, two of which ended up as missed field goals. So they were 1-7 from the 25-yard line or closer.
 
That’s a lot of points being left out on the field, and the reason that the Chargers had a chance to tie it up on the final play of the game despite another strong performance by the Pats defense and special teams.
 
“Yeah, we’re obviously not doing a very good job in that area and that’s something we have to do better at,” Bill Belichick told reporters after the game. “No question about it. We’re giving up too many big plays on defense and can’t convert on third down in the red area. Those are two huge issues.”

Brady missed Brandon Cooks on 3rd-and-2 from the 6-yard line and couldn’t connect with Danny Amendola on 3rd-and-8 from the 18, both resulting in second-quarter field goals.

While not technically a “red zone” opportunity, Dion Lewis returned the opening kickoff of the second half 71 yards to the Chargers 25-yard line… three incompletions and a missed the field goal later, a golden opportunity was wasted.

They kicked another field goal late in the fourth quarter after a failed 3rd-and-8 conversion from the 12-yard line.

The Patriots found the end zone on 64-percent of their red zone trips last season. After going 3-for-9 from there over the last two weeks, they are down to 50-percent this season (17-for-34).

So while the team will use the bye week to get some much needed rest and recovery, you can bet that Belichick, Brady, and the rest of the offense will be spending some extra time going over the film and figuring out what they can do to improve upon their red zone production.