Neither New England quarterback Cam Newton, left, or offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have figured out a way to score any points – touchdown or field goal – in the first quarter in the first seven games of the season. Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini

The New England Patriots haven’t been able to shake their first-quarter blues. Offensively, they have yet to score a single point in the opening quarter.

Seven games have produced a gigantic bagel. From week to week, the strength of the opposing defense hasn’t mattered. The Patriots just haven’t been able to set the tone with successful opening drives, or first-quarter play in general.

If the Patriots want to improve their lot in the second half of the season and keep any flicker of hope for the playoffs alive, they’ll need to change that dynamic. It’s a significant shift, because historically, the Patriots have been one of the NFL’s best at jumping out to first-quarter leads and putting pressure on an opponent right away. The Patriots made a living off being front-runners, and establishing early leads before closing teams out.

That blueprint has obviously changed, and not for the better.

Instead of holding the upper hand, they’ve been on the other side, always on the chase. They’ve fallen short in several comeback attempts, with Sunday’s game against the Bills the most recent example.

No offensive touchdowns, and no field goals in the opening 15 minutes. Their only first-quarter score came with Devin McCourty’s pick-six off Russell Wilson in Seattle in Week 2.

Outside of that, zip.

That’s one of the reasons why the Patriots currently sit in a deep hole in the standings at 2-5, and are likely to have their streak of 11 AFC East titles broken.

They’re always playing from behind. They’ve trailed five times in the first quarter, and were tied in two other games. At halftime, they’ve trailed in four of the seven games, led twice, and were tied once.

Having to play catch-up weighs on an offense, and a quarterback. The results of their first-quarter drives: nine punts, three interceptions.

During a video conference Wednesday, Coach Bill Belichick agreed the Patriots need to do better early in games.

“We definitely want to change it. We need to change it. It’s not what we’re trying to do. But we haven’t done a very good job of it so far,” Belichick said. “We’ll keep working on it, see if we can be more productive in the early part of the game, for sure.”

Last year, with much of the same personnel with the exception of quarterback Cam Newton, the Patriots were the second-best team in the NFL in terms of first-quarter production. With Tom Brady, they averaged 7.1 points per game in the first quarter.

Counting McCourty’s touchdown against Seattle, the Patriots’ average is 1 point per game in the first quarter – worst in the league.

Opening drives are certainly scripted by Josh McDaniels. But with a new quarterback, an evolving offense, and a limited cast of receivers, the Patriots’ offensive coordinator has for the most part taken a conservative approach with his play-calling.

Perhaps he’ll need to attack it a bit differently, or continue to suffer playing from behind. Obviously each game, each opponent is different. Circumstances also change.

Given that the strength of the New England defense is defending the pass, most teams haven’t had the need to abandon their run games. Opponents have rarely been behind to have to pass a majority of the time.

And with the Patriots having one of the worst run defenses in the league, it adds up to trouble – and losses.

“Every game’s different. Whatever (the factors) are, we need to do a better job than we’ve done,” said Belichick. “That’s just not the way we want to play. It’s not a good path to winning football.”

The Jets have the fourth-worst defense in the NFL. Monday night’s meeting at the Meadowlands would be a good time for the Patriots to bust out early, and put another team on the ropes, for a change.

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