New England Patriots

 

Is that Bill Belichick wearing a Clive Rush mask?

Perhaps we have reached a point at which one ongoing debate can be ruled as settled:

Should or should not the Patriots cease competing and tank the rest of the season to better their position in the NFL Draft?

Sunday’s performance made it clear that the Patriots need not wave a white flag. They have become so bad that they need not declare their intention to tank over the last 12 games.

Their offense is awful, from the tackling dummies they have placed on the line to the quarterback who is regressing at lightning speed. Their defense, battered and bruised, lines up each down looking dazed and confused.

The head coach – their presiding GOAT – is helpless. There is so much that needs fixing that it will take an active, aggressive off-season – maybe more than one – to weed out the bad and nourish the good.

After looking moribund in a loss at Dallas, the Pats dug themselves a little deeper resting place. They have been outscored 69-0 since that miserable display began.

Not even the Rod Rust Patriots can match this degree of putridity. Or the Dick MacPherson Patriots. One has to tunnel back to the Clive Rush Patriots to consider just how bad this has become.

Oxt. 18, 1970, marked the last time the Patriots were shut out at home. And it wasn’t really their home. They lost to the New York Football Giants, 16-0, at Harvard Stadium, one of several temporary shelters, their last room over the garage before moving to Foxborough..

New Orleans arrived in Foxborough on Sunday with problems of its own, enough so that the general opinion was that this must be the Patriots’ second win of the year.

Well, fate responded with a sneering no. 

There are no gimmes for the 2023 Patriots. That ball on the lip of the cup, threatening to fall from the force of a moderate breeze? Mac Jones could knock that off the green with one quivering yip.

The end of the first half said it all. Escaping another failed third-down stop by a toenail, the Patriots defense left the field. Jabrill Peppers called for a fair catch and bobbled it out of bounds. The offense came on the field, to a grumble of boos.

The biggest decision: Take two or three knees to ensure that the Saints don’t score again before the half expires, or risk yet another pratfall?

They taunted caution and stumbled through a series, ending with a sack. 

Their second half with a 1-yard completion and a misfired pitch that Rhamondre Stevenson bobbled into the arms of Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan.

It got no better with time. It is impossible to tell if it worsened.

The Patriots’ offense has become a steaming pile of misadventure. 

It has passed the point of being unbearable to watch.

Now, it’s on to Las Vegas.

Mark Nov. 12 on the calendar.

The Patriots cannot possibly annoy anyone that day.