Some quick thoughts on this Wednesday:
1) The Patriots should definitely spend this week exploring what they have behind Mac Jones at quarterback. Whether that’s Bailey Zappe, Will Grier, or even Malik Cunningham, players need a new motivation heading into these final seven weeks, and unfortunately, Jones has continued writing the same story over these last 10 games.
Given some of the reports, it sounds like players have also lost confidence in the locker room, and even as bad as it’s been, they’re squandering too many defensive efforts that potentially could have yielded different results if they could have at least put points on the board.
That can’t continue, and it will be interesting to see who ultimately emerges when they take the field in two weeks against the Giants.
2) Seeing Robert Kraft’s reaction on Sunday likely ends any internal debate he may have been battling with when it comes to Bill Belichick vs Mac Jones.
While he’s probably wondering if things might have been different based on Belichick’s handling of his young quarterback, Jones has simply made too many mistakes that were in his control for Kraft to believe that backing his young QB over his coach is the better move.
Jones showed a lot of promise and it felt like the Patriots potentially caught lightning in a bottle for the second time when he landed in their laps with the 15th overall pick in 2021.
Belichick built the team with the intention of providing Jones with a good defense, likely hoping he could make enough plays to put up points and play the type of mistake-free football he did in college.
While the argument could be made about the lack of talent both in front of him and around him, the problems extend deeper from there. Jones has seemingly spent too much inside his own head, no longer looking like the quick, decisive player he did as a rookie.
He’s instead been indecisive and careless with the football, which now has him in a tough spot at the midway point of his third NFL season.
The tough part is, he’s also a player who is likely headed to the bench in the coming weeks, and Kraft likely has to understand why that’s necessary.
Meanwhile, what happens from here will probably put the focus back on Belichick, with the 71-year-old coach likely hoping his club can at least finish out 2023 in a more positive fashion once they make a decision on who will replace Jones under center.
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3) With Sean McDermott firing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey following Monday night’s loss to the Broncos, it’s hard not to wonder if that move might not come back to bite him.
With Dorsey out and the reigns now handed over to quarterbacks coach Joe Brady, McDermott no longer has anywhere to hide over these final seven weeks. Bills fans are already calling for his head while also questioning Josh Allen at quarterback, and things are beginning to take a serious turn.
It’s probably going to get worse for the Bills, who, at 5-5, are now slipping to the point where they may be spectators in January while squandering a championship window many already believed was closing.
After having 12 men on the field in a critical moment Monday night, McDermott needs to look in the mirror and realize their woes can’t be pinned on one guy. Although, he’ll likely be the one who will fall on that sword if they continue to slide in the coming weeks.
4) Across the state, things aren’t going so well for Brian Daboll with the Giants. At 2-8, his club is among teams in contention with New England for a top draft choice, and it would be interesting to see if Daboll could end up potentially making a return to Buffalo if the Giants ultimately decide to make a change at the end of the season.
However, it’s hard not to wonder if Daboll’s return could instead see him take the place of McDermott, should things go south for the Bills in the coming weeks and they decide to really shake things up.
Daboll obviously brought the best out of Allen during his tenure there, and Bills ownership would probably rather salvage their quarterback than start over. So they may view that kind of crazy move as worth it if things continue to play out that way.
5) The next question would be the future of Bill Belichick, which, if he moves on from the Patriots after this season, might see him as a favorite to take over for Daboll in New York if the story ultimately unfolded that way for the Giants.
Everyone knows the Giants are a team Belichick holds dear to his heart, and it would probably make the most sense for him to finish things out there if it’s not here in New England.
A lot of that will likely depend on things go here over these next seven weeks. If Belichick can turn things around and put the club in a position where the future is bright heading into 2024, it’s possible he may want to see it through.
He could also instead decide with Kraft on a mutual parting of ways and hand things over to Jerod Mayo and move on, trying to at least leave things better off on his way out than they currently appear.
That’s a sentiment that has been discussed locally within the media, and the X-factor is likely whether or not an opportunity in New York might sway him to leave the club he’s spent the last two decades coaching to a historic run.
With seven weeks to go, there’s still a job to do and it remains to be seen if he can close out 2023 on a high note. What happens after that remains a mystery, and with the Giants up next, it should be interesting to see how it plays out.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary