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Monday Patriots Notebook 12/4: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
December 4, 2023 at 10:19 am ET

Monday Patriots Notebook 12/4: News and Notes(PHOTO: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Dec 04, 2023 10:19
🕑 Read Time: 5 minutes

Some news and notes for this morning:

Defense Getting Frustrated

Bailey Zappe put up a fairly good effort on Sunday but wasn’t able to get points on the board as the Patriots offense sputtered in the rain and came up empty for the second time this season at Gillette Stadium.

One key issue was the fact the offense fell victim for most of the game to tough field position. Chargers punter JK Scott had a terrific performance, punting eight times while pinning New England inside the 20 on 7 of those punts.  That set up drives that forced Zappe and the offense to have to start things off from their own 13, 6, 9, 9, 18, 2, 20, and 13-yard lines.

Having lost Rhamondre Stevenson early in the contest also stung.  Stevenson got off to a terrific start, piling up 39 yards on nine carries after just two possessions before he suffered the leg injury that sidelined him.

That put them in a difficult spot. With the rain never letting up and just Ezekiel Elliott to turn to with Stevenson out of action, Zappe had a tough time doing much in the passing game and they ultimately came up on the wrong end of a 6-0 loss.

After the game Davon Godchaux expressed his frustration to reporters that they lost a game where the defense allowed its lowest point total of the season.

“It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating. I’m not gonna sit up here and say, ‘You know, I still believe.’ It’s f—ing frustrating. Anybody can tell you that,” said Godchaux via Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald. “You know, I thought Zappe made some good throws today. I thought there was a couple balls we could’ve caught as receivers, and those guys would tell you the same thing, too. They can take accountability, and we’ve all got (expletive) (expletive) we all messed up on. But the margin of error in this league is so small.”

It didn’t help that there were several drops, with the most frustrating one being what looked like a potential touchdown throw to Tyquan Thornton. On the play, Zappe lofted up a great ball up the left sideline after Thornton had his guy beat and was streaking toward the end zone.

Unfortunately, the ball went just off his hands and fell incomplete.

That was a play Godchaux pointed out, along with the play late in the game where Zappe hit DeVante Parker on another deep ball, but he landed on the defender and his foot hit out of bounds.

Still, Godchaux believes guys need to find a way to make those catches.

“Like, Tyquan (Thornton) had the guy beat by like three steps. And we’ve gotta make those catches,” said Godchaux.  “The margin of error is so small. I still think Tyquan’s got a bright future, he’s a really, really talented guy. But the margin for error in this league is so small, man. One opportunity that you let slip, like — we didn’t really get another opportunity to throw another deep ball. DP (Devante Parker) had one, but he ended up being out of bounds.”

Clearly, after 12 games, frustration is beginning to set in. The hope now is that after not turning it over and doing a handful of things where there were some positives to build from, Zappe and the offense will need to hope for better results Thursday night.

This should be an interesting match-up, as it pits Zappe against Mitchell Trubisky when the two teams face off in Pittsburgh.

(PHOTO: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

Belichick Explains QB Situation

One note from Sunday’s postgame press conference from Bill Belichick that was interesting was a question NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry asked him.

Perry asked him about what he had seen from Zappe to deserve the starting opportunity Sunday, along with why Belichick hadn’t decided to make a move earlier in the season.

Belichick admitted that they were trying to let Mac Jones work out his issues, but that things clearly didn’t work out.

“Because we gave Mac [Jones] the opportunity to work through his progression with the offense,” Belichick told Perry.  “Obviously, we hadn’t had a lot of production. I thought Bailey deserved a chance to play, so he played today.”

That’s somewhat interesting, primarily because it at least provides some context coming off the loss in Germany.  At the time, it appeared that after being benched with two minutes to go and down just four points, that might have been it for Jones.

Instead, Jones started the following week against New York but lasted until just halftime after he was picked off twice in the first half.

Barring a meltdown by Zappe, it’s likely the last time we’ll see Jones as the Patriots play out these final five games.  Although, if the offense looks like it did Sunday in less adverse conditions, that might be a different story.

Zappe Takes Responsibility

After failing to get on the scoreboard, Zappe was clearly frustrated and put this one on his shoulders as he stood at the podium and spoke to reporters.

“Some good things and some bad things,” said Zappe.  “We had a chance there at the end. Defense played great. Offense, it starts with me. I’ve got to make plays towards the end. I’ve got to throw better balls. I’ve got to make the balls catchable, especially in conditions like today – wet ball, wet hands. I’ve got to throw the ball better. It starts with me on the offensive side in getting things going.”

Despite the fact they had to try and execute in a downpour that lasted for most of the afternoon, Zappe acknowledged that both sides had to deal with it and that it was just a lack of execution.

“I mean look, both teams have got to play through it,” said Zappe.  “I mean, yeah, it’s not ideal, but you’ve got to deal with it. Like I just told Mike, it starts with me. It’s a wet ball, whatever. It’s hard to catch, I’ve got to throw better balls. There’s no excuses, like you said. You’ve just got to play better.”

Awkward Moment at the Half

One other moment that was interesting was something Phil Perry pointed out during Tom Curran’s Patriots Talk Podcast, and that was how the first half ended.

With 0:44 left to go while starting at their own 13-yard line, the Patriots ran Ezekiel Elliott and got out to their own 19, and then immediately looked to potentially run another play.

However, as Perry pointed out, they were left hanging as both players and coaches were already filing off the field.

“It was an awkward end of the half too.  I don’t know if you [Tom Curran] caught this on the broadcast,” said Perry. “Bailey Zappe and the offense just standing there looking at the sideline awaiting instructions as their teammates and coaches start to file off and walk to the locker room.”

“And they were standing there with a good 30, you know, whatever it was on the play clock that was left.  Just standing there, just hanging around, and they finally, eventually, were booed once it was clear that they were in fact, going in at halftime.  So, just a tough one to watch.”

Odds and Ends

In case you missed this fun historical fact, the Patriots became the first team on Sunday since 1938 to give up 10 or fewer points in three straight games and lose all three. … New England sits currently with just 148 offensive points through 12 games, which is last in the NFL.  However, surprisingly enough, they don’t actually have the worst NFL point differential. They’re actually fourth in that category at -106, ahead of the Panthers (-122), Giants (-133) and Commanders (-134). … Following Arizona’s win on Sunday, the Patriots now find themselves with the #2 overall pick behind Carolina in the NFL Standings with five games still left to play. … Belichick was asked about the decision to elevate Malik Cunningham after the game and if there was a specific play for him.  Said Belichick, “[The] plan for Malik if we put him in there, do the things that he does and be ready to go.” … He was also asked about his thoughts on offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien’s performance to this point.  “I think we all need to find a way to be more productive,” said Belichick.  “And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

READ NEXT:
MORSE: Twelve Observation From Patriots’ Loss to the Chargers

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for PatsFans.com, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.


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