It was fitting that the New England Patriots wore their red throwback uniforms in Thursday night’s blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Pat Patriot design might be flawlessly timeless, but the same can’t be said about the football team.
In the year 2022, the Patriots look slow, boring and outdated.
Even when they trailed the Bills 17-7, there wasn’t a moment when it actually felt like they had a chance to win the game. Outside of the early touchdown reception by cornerback Marcus Jones, when Buffalo fell behind briefly, the Patriots were never really in it.
On one side, there was Josh Allen throwing a cross-body touchdown pass, while hovering mid-air out of bounds like Namor the Sub-Mariner (absolutely ridiculous, by the way). Stefon Diggs was eviscerating ankles like the football version of Allen Iverson with his incredibly smooth and elite route-running. And then there was the Bills’ offensive coaching staff deploying a sensible game plan, despite the fact that they were missing their starting left tackle, Dion Dawkins.
Meanwhile, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones was running for his life behind a busted offensive line that couldn’t stop tap water. Marcus Jones, a rookie special-teamer and defensive back, made his offensive debut and was the team’s leading receiver. Oh, and the offensive play-calling for New England was bland, boring and completely unproductive.
It would be easy to just point the finger and blame the team’s offensive play-caller, Matt Patricia, for all of the things wrong with the Patriots right now. While Patricia has clearly stunk things up on the offensive side of the ball, Bill Belichick should be the one batting away the flies at this point.
It was the decision of the head coach/de facto general manager to turn a longtime defensive coordinator into the offensive replacement for Josh McDaniels. Not only was Patricia allowed to take over the offensive play-calling, but he was also appointed to oversee the offensive line.
And what about the receivers still not consistently being able to create separation? The same issues that made legendary quarterback Tom Brady look average under center in 2019 are now making Mac Jones look even worse.
And Brady didn’t even have to deal with the Patricia fiasco. The Patriots are the exact same football team, but these days, they’re moonwalking even further into regression.
A good defense, no elite deep threat receiver and Belichick micromanaging everything on the team—what has really changed since Brady left outside of the atrocious play-calling?
The Patriots haven’t evolved offensively, and they’re leaning on the same plug-and-play formula with guys like DeVante Parker and Nelson Agholor, while the rest of the AFC East is off to the races with home run threats like Diggs and Miami Dolphins’ star receiver Tyreek Hill.
Whoever said defense wins championships obviously hasn’t run into Allen with the Infinity Gauntlet of offensive weapons at the skilled positions. Being good isn’t enough to stop something like this.
You better be special.
The bottom line is the Patriots need more offensive firepower and a legitimate offensive coordinator that can see the notes on a play sheet and make music on the field.
Newsflash, this isn’t the early 2000s.
The Patriots aren’t going to survive by merely hoping they can hold all of these high-powered offenses to low scores, while constantly running the ball, throwing short passes and kicking field goals. Mac Jones needs more protection, and the offensive line needs better coaching. The play-calling needs to improve drastically, and Belichick’s philosophy when it comes to acquiring receivers needs a tremendous overhaul.
Thursday night wasn’t just a loss for the Patriots. It was a wake-up call to Belichick that the league is passing him by. I don’t want to hear about New England hanging around with the shaky Minnesota Vikings, sweeping the New York Jets or bullying a bad Indianapolis Colts team.
Go ahead and pound your chest with those moral victories if you must, but they aren’t getting the team any closer to playoff contention, much less Super Bowl contention. The Patriots went head-to-head with a real bully when facing the Bills in the primetime spotlight at Gillette Stadium, and not even the red jerseys could save them from getting smacked senseless.
Let’s just hope there’s enough sense left to fix what’s already broken by leaning on the future instead of wishful hopes of manifesting change by clinging to the past.