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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Cameron Garrity

The Morning After: Undisciplined Patriots need change

The New England Patriots lost to the Las Vegas Raiders in a heartbreaking, unexpected way.

As time expired, Rhamondre Stevenson lateralled the ball to Patriots wideout Jakobi Meyers, who attempted a backwards pass to Mac Jones. The underthrow by Meyers was picked off by Chandler Jones and left Mac Jones as the only Patriot close enough to potentially save the game.

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Chandler Jones, being much bigger and faster, was able to stiff arm Mac and take it to the house, defeating the Patriots 30-24 and keeping the game from going into overtime.

The Patriots looked as undisciplined as we have ever seen them in the Bill Belichick era, and things don’t look to be getting any better with the team sitting at 7-7 with a final three-game stretch against all playoff contenders.

Games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills could leave this underperforming team in a hole they cannot climb out of this year.

The Patriots should spend the rest of this year repairing the locker room, which is clearly in disarray, and start to set the 2023 season in their sights.

There is no tanking in New England, but the Patriots need to start developing their young draft picks, while resting veterans they view as part of the plan for 2023. This season, honestly, feels as hopeless as 2020 at this point.

It isn’t too hard to see why, either. Let’s get into the leftover notes from last night’s gut punch of a loss.

Mac Jones needs to be allowed to fail, and the Patriots aren't letting him

Mac Jones was nowhere near good in this game, but he is still far from the issue here. The thing is, the Patriots need to see what he can offer as a playmaker, instead of protecting him and protecting the game.

Winning in this league has shifted from elite defenses and game managers to skill players making plays on both sides of the ball.

Jones has shown regression in Year 2, but the Patriots need to allow him to make mistakes and build the offense around him, while being okay with losing games in the process.

Bill Belichick fighting for the Don Shula record is nice, but Jones needs a real offense built around him, with hard coaching and discipline. Game managing is not the way to build this team. Let the kid air it out and see if he has it or not, as it’s the quickest way to know if he’s deserving of the franchise quarterback honors, or if the Patriots need to look elsewhere.

Where was the heart and discipline in the game?

Coaching or lack thereof can be felt across the board. In this game, it was especially apparent as the team just felt flat against a poorly performing defense and an offense the Patriots defense should have known inside and out with former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels at the helm.

The Patriots just feel demoralized in all facets, and it’s getting to the point where people may just be sick of the Belichick way.

Maybe there needs to be new voices in New England, new ways of doing things for a new age of players and personalities.

Change is brewing, and needs to happen now

Change is clearly coming soon for the Patriots.

If I’m Robert Kraft, I’m going to Bill Belichick immediately and firing Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, while also promoting Nick Caley on an interim basis to run the offense. The Patriots can fill in the blanks in the spring, but those moves are necessary in the present.

Teams have moved on from coaches for less, especially in one season. It isn’t like we are calling for Belichick to be fired, but maybe there needs to be less autonomy and control on his part.

We saw the draft process drastically change from 2020 with Matt Groh’s sudden rise to power, and it resulted in three strong draft classes in a row. Now, maybe there is some decision and input from others for how the offense and defense should be run.

Bill still knows what he knows and is invaluable to the organization, but there is a need for a change that will fix the culture, performance, and future attraction of new players. Right now, the Patriots feel like a hot mess that not many want to be a part of, and if we can see it, so can the Kraft family.

Outside of a potentially far-fetched Tom Brady and Julian Edelman reunion in New England next season, the Patriots need to do whatever they can to figure out this team’s future and get on par with the modern NFL—or risk falling behind.

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