Are players or coaches at fault for Pats' woes? Curran weighs in

Are players or coaches at fault for Pats' woes? Curran weighs in originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

As the New England Patriots limp into the bye week, it's a good time to play the blame game for their disastrous 2023 season.

There's plenty of blame pie to go around. Mac Jones' job as the starting quarterback is in jeopardy after another awful performance in the team's Week 10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Bill Belichick continues to be under scrutiny for his unsuccessful roster-building and his poor head-coaching record without Tom Brady as his signal-caller. Both the offensive line and the wide receiving corps have been major issues all year.

Our Patriots insider Tom E. Curran assessed the situation on the latest edition of Quick Slants.

"The team is getting worse. The players aren’t getting any better," Curran said. "And the one who did, the shining example of the Patriots being able to develop players, that was Jakobi Meyers and the team let him walk. And they brought in someone in JuJu Smith-Schuster who they had never met before to do the job, and he hasn't."

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Are the players or the coaches -- namely Belichick -- more to blame for the team's nightmare season? If you ask Curran, trying to determine who's more at fault is a fool's errand. It's a "chicken or the egg?" scenario that isn't worth debating.

"It starts with the product on the field and the way the players play. So either the players aren’t good enough or the coaching isn’t good enough. Or it’s both," Curran said. "But the bottom line is, we know who’s in charge of it all. Nobody coached Mac Jones to underthrow Mike Gesicki by 25 feet and leave Kraft’s prized possession an international laughingstock. But it happened. And it happened for a lot of reasons. Is the main reason that Jones isn’t good? Or did he make the situation around him get worse and worse to the point he can’t be used?

"Are the Patriots bad because they were so good for so long that it couldn’t be sustained? Or are they bad because Bill Belichick’s made too many bad decisions on too many fronts? Does it really matter? Bad is bad and at this point, it is what it is."

The Patriots enter Week 11 with the third overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. With nothing but draft position to play for the rest of the season, it will be interesting to see how Belichick proceeds at QB. As of Tuesday, New England hasn't made it clear whether it will be Jones, Bailey Zappe, or Will Grier starting under center in Week 12 vs. the New York Giants, who also have a 2-8 record.

As for the Belichick drama, rumors have swirled about a potential trade involving the longtime head coach at season's end. Kraft reportedly "isn't inclined" to fire Belichick mid-season, and Belichick is believed to be under contract through the 2024 season. If the Belichick era comes to an unceremonious end, a trade could be the best way for both sides to move on.

You can watch the full Quick Slants episode below: