What Is Going On In Pats Nation?

(Image via cbssports.com)

Volunteer Writer: Aidan Danforth

Email: adanforth@umassd.edu 

We are five weeks into the 2023 NFL season, and New England’s hometown team, the Patriots, are on the verge of one of their worst seasons under Bill Belichick

But Why? Why is a team coached by one of the greatest head coaches of all time doing so badly and currently have a 1-4 record? 

Well, there are a few reasons for New England’s downfall. Many people say it is because of Quarterback Mac Jones, but there are other reasons the Patriots are having such a bad year. 

Mac Jones

The most apparent reason why the Patriots are so bad is because of third-year quarterback Mac Jones. 

Mac Jones was selected 15th overall by the Patriots in 2021, with the team hoping he’d become the next Tom Brady, but that hasn’t been the case for Jones. 

Jones had a solid rookie year throwing for 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and made the Pro Bowl, but ever since his numbers went down, he’s been just an average to below-average starter. 

Jones looked average to start the first two weeks but constantly failed to make big plays and third down and performed terribly under pressure. In the last three weeks, Jones has shown terrible pocket awareness, is afraid to throw the ball deep, and either gets sacked or throws a bad ball in crucial situations. 

Now, this isn’t all Jones’ fault. His offensive line is banged up, and his wide receivers aren’t the greatest. An elite QB such as Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady can find ways to succeed despite a team lacking the talent, but that isn’t the case for Mac Jones. 

So, Mac Jones having any chance of becoming the next Tom Brady for the Patriots is pretty much over due to his lack of confidence, decision-making skills, and ability to step up as a playmaker. 

Again, it’s not entirely Jones’ fault, but a lot of NFL teams can win close games thanks to an elite QB who can lead a game-changing drive. Based on his performances against the Eagles and the Dolphins, that doesn’t seem to be something Mac Jones can do. 

Bill Belichick 

Of course, it’s harsh to blame it all on one player, and part of Jones’ failed success has to be because of Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick simply isn’t adapting to the modern NFL world, and as a result, he went from one of the best coaches in the league to a potential hot-seat coach who may consider retirement.

One of Belichick’s biggest problems is the overreliance on players he’s already familiar with and being afraid to make any big signings or trades. 

Belichick loves to bring back players or coaches he’s worked with before, like he did with Bill O’Brien this offseason. There’s nothing wrong with bringing back old players and coaches, but only doing that can lead to problems. 

An example of this is not pushing hard enough for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins during his hunt for a team back during the offseason. Hopkins was interested in joining the Patriots but signed with the Titans because they met his demands, so the Patriots lost out. 

In the modern-day NFL, a Quarterback needs at least one elite option to throw the ball to, but Belichick failed and instead relied upon wide receivers like Devante Parker and Juju Smith-Schuster. 

The result is that the Patriots have one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the league and have lost two of their last three games by 30 or more points. Even the defense, which is one of Belichick’s specialties throughout the years, is struggling due to a lack of talent and injuries. 

Coach Belichick is still a great coach and is one of the greatest coaches to ever coach football.

 It’s tough to do a lot with a team that lacks the talent to win, but Belichick hasn’t responded to this very well; still relying on his old-school methods to win games and not adapting to the modern NFL has left him in this position. 

Injuries and Lack of Star Talent

Typical NFL fans would stop here and blame a team’s failure on the coach and the quarter under center. However, the main reason for a team’s failure can lie in the team as a whole. 

The Patriots, heading into this year, are expected to be mediocre, mainly due to their lack of star talent on the roster. 

Their offense was nothing special outside their offensive line and breakout running back Rhamondre Stevenson. The defense looked promising with players like Matthew Judon, Kyle Dugger, and rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez.  

The team, on paper, looked like a very average team and was expected to be just that but have the potential to keep games close and be competitive. 

But that hasn’t been the case for the Patriots due to their lack of star talent. Most of their star players on the roster are currently injured or have been a nonfactor this season. 

Judon and Gonzalez have long-term injuries, Stevenson is having a down year, and the offensive line isn’t a consistent unit. Injuries can break an NFL season for a team; however, the Patriots were struggling even with a fully healthy team. 

A team with a lot of injuries and a lack of depth to replace the talent of those players is tough to get past. A team trusting what they got simply doesn’t cut it anymore in today’s NFL. 

If the Patriots just had one or two more stars on offense or if their defense didn’t get bagged up with injuries, this team may have won those close games against the Eagles and Dolphins or could have made games like the Cowboys and Saints less embarrassing losses. 

An NFL team needs talent and a healthy and consistent team to win games and make the playoffs, and unfortunately for the Patriots, they have had nothing but bad luck with both those things these first six weeks. 

The New England Patriots are in their fourth year removed from the Tom Brady era and haven’t had success since then, and based on this season, that looks to continue. 

The Patriots have always been a competitive team. Still, any NFL with a mediocre quarterback under center, an old-school coach, and a star-lacking and inconsistent lineup simply doesn’t cut it in today’s NFL.

New England needs to make changes to this team heading into next offseason, whether it’s allowing Belichick to retire, a change at QB, or an aggressive push at free agency and the draft. 

This team will be interesting to watch during the rest of the season, and they still have the potential to win a few upset games here and there, but that’s about it. 

The Patriots are a team that’s fallen behind with the modern NFL world, and now all that success they had with Brady and Belichick is over, and it’s time to restart. For the rest of the season, all the Patriots can hope for is improvement in their young players and a better future. 

How will the Patriots do the rest of the season with their current problems, and what will it take for them to get back to being competitive with the rest of the NFL?


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