New England Patriots

Pats rise and fall with the old GOAT

Having mulled over Thursday night’s resoundingly awful performance against the Buffalo Bills, a simple explanation for this lost season has come to mind:

They stink.

There are myriad words one might use in place of, or in addition to, that concise conclusion. Some of them may even be appropriate to share with fans of all ages.

And to be clear, this isn’t in any way meant to suggest that Thursday night marked the first time the Pats have stunk this season. In fact, they may have had worse nights – not to mention days.

But if there is one date on which this team started its deep dive into NFL irrelevance it is Jan. 22, 2022:

That is when Matt Patricia was hired to serve as … something. Sixth months later, Patricia was public knighted as the senior football advisor and offensive line coach.

But another staff member from the great old days, Joe Judge, came back aboard the SS Belichick VIII Ring on Feb. 8. One day before Patricia’s nebulous title became known, Judge was acknowledged as an offensive assistant and quarterback coach.

After leading the New York Football Giants to a 10-23 record over two seasons as their head coach, he was canned on Feb. 7. It’s amazing Judge didn’t get stolen out from under Bill Belichick’s snout in the ensuing three weeks.

It is difficult to pin a specific measure of blame to either one of these Friends of Bill because no one outside the team seems to grasp exactly what they do. Does one of them call the offensive plays? Is one of them in charge of furthering Mac Jones’ education as an NFL coach? Are they both barking plays into the collective Patriots headsets?

Do they fetch coffee and doughnuts for Belichick on a rotating basis?

Who knows?

Presumably, that would be Belichick himself. But it has tough to decipher exactly what he knows about anything that has happened in this drain-circling season, even tougher than the first two decades of gurgling as little as possible about anything of importance.

Who’s calling the plays?

“Well, (snort), that’s (lip-smacking), uh, (cough) (snort, snort, snort).”

To be absolutely clear, since Belichick gets all the huzzahs when things are going well (especially once that glory hog Tom Brady left), he must absorb the criticism when a season so dramatically south.

There have been injuries; that is true for the other 31 NFL teams. There are times when a play unfolds perfectly only to see it submarined by a player’s poor execution, or judgment. The NFL elite endure those frustrating moments, too.

The 6-6 Patriots are now in a stretch of 11 days between games. That may be of interest for everyone who blamed their meltdown on the awkward scheduling of two games in five days Thanksgiving week and another Thursday night disaster the other day.

The Pats will return to play the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz., on Monday night, Dec. 12.

The Cardinals are 4-8. It should require no mystifying feat of preparedness for Belichick to win that game.

If the Pats head to Las Vegas for a game Monday night, Dec. 18, Belichick should take his share of heat.

And the networks must have started vowing not to give the 2022-23 Patriots so much prime time exposure.

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