Listening to head coach Bill Belichick after Sunday’s game, it’s interesting that he appears to be continuing as if his team is 7-2 and not 2-7, maintaining the same approach as he has despite the fact his team is in serious trouble.
The one thing that may allow him to weather the storm is going to be whether or not he can keep the locker room together. Consistency is one thing, but the challenge of keeping a team with just two wins in nine games moving in the same direction may potentially be tougher than he thinks.
As it is, there already appears to be cracks starting in the foundation around that part of things, and the coming weeks will be interesting.
He’s in a difficult spot when it comes to having veterans to help him keep everyone focused and on the same page. Matthew Slater and David Andrews are among the few still left who have experienced any real success. From there, they lack any real impact players on both sides of the ball to help the younger guys navigate through this current sea of adversity, which likely isn’t helping things.
There is no Tedy Bruschi or Julian Edelman to keep everybody in line. Players like that help keep guys from going off the rails, and what happened with both Jack Jones and J.C. Jackson ahead of their match-up against the Commanders is a little alarming.
Reporters spotted the fact that neither player was out there before the game or on the field during the first quarter, leading to speculation of some sort of discipline potentially being involved.
Belichick downplayed their absences after the game, but it was clear something was up.
When they did take the field, the two played a good portion of Sunday’s contest. Jackson ended up seeing 53 snaps (68%), while Jones was in on 30 (38%).
It’s tough to say what the root of the issue is, especially for a team that has certainly put itself out there for both players. Jackson was essentially given a second chance here with the Patriots, with Belichick purposely going after him in a trade to bring him back after Christian Gonzalez got hurt and Jones was on IR.
The veteran defensive back had been having issues out west with his former team, with the disgruntled corner in the middle of a troubled stretch before the Patriots made the move.
So far, his return has worked out relatively well. Jackson has more or less settled back in, giving them the quality depth they’ve needed and re-stabilized the secondary.
Meanwhile, Jones has been a little shaky since he’s come back, with the second-year player still seemingly getting his feet back underneath him. His arrest this past summer put him in a tough spot, yet while they could have easily parted ways with him, that didn’t happen.
The Patriots could have given up on Jack Jones but they didn’t. (PHOTO: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)
Despite the fact Jones appeared to be on the verge of a potential jail sentence, along with their stance when it comes to guns, they stuck with him. They kept him out there at practice and stood by him publicly throughout, and that continued all the way up until the charges against him were eventually dropped.
But Sunday, their absence showed there might be trouble brewing. With the team sitting now essentially out of the playoffs with eight games still left to go, it’s tough to say if things like this will be an anomaly or if it might start to become more of the norm. For an organization that demands so much, these guys are under a constant grind, and that approach will likely begin to wear on these guys if it hasn’t already.
As we know, when a team is winning, it’s easy to keep everyone in line. With things sitting where they currently are, there needs to be new goals and new reasons for putting it all on the line.
If Belichick wants to make the most out of a bad situation, how he approaches things over these final weeks is going to be critical. If they can’t get back to .500, he needs to at least continue taking the temperature of this group and try to adapt as much as possible to get the most he can out of this roster.
Otherwise, dysfunction can be contagious, and there’s way too much time still left for this to spread. Losing the locker room is the first way a coach can potentially really be in trouble, and if Belichick plans on being on the sidelines in 2024, that will likely be his biggest challenge in the coming weeks.
Posted Under: Patriots News