The Las Vegas Lateral Damage or Sin City Catastrophe or however history will mark the poor last-play side from Jakobi Meyers that resulted in former Patriot Chandler Jones scoring the game-winning touchdown was the epitome of the Patriots’ downfall in an area where they have historically excelled — situational soccer. Could the Patriots be any worse there?
The buck stops with Bill. There are too many errors, mistakes and mental errors.
On Monday, Belichick remained vague about how he can fix it. Belichick either won’t answer for it, or he just doesn’t have the answers.
“Yeah, that’s the first thing I said after the game is we’ve got to play better situational football, play and coach better situational football,” he said Monday morning.
Belichick: “Work on it. It’s not going to happen by itself.”
At least this time he mentioned coaching because on Sunday he left it out of the football mistakes, saying: “We’re talking about situational football. We talk about it every week, but we obviously have to do a better job player situational football and not making critical mistakes in the game.”
He was the one who made the unorthodox decision to install failed head coaches/sycophants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge as leaders of a flawed offense. As Belichick said before the season, he’s ultimately responsible for everything with the team, so if things don’t go well, blame him. Except now that it’s time to shoulder that blame, Belichick seems unwilling.
He is evasive, referring to answers given in his contractual interview on WEEI when confronted by reporters about the obvious frustration of players who feel the offensive line coach is holding the team back.
Belichick used his stellar reputation as cover for curious decisions on the coaching staff. Now the six Super Bowl title cover has been blown. Offensively, the 7-7 Patriots are tied for 29th in first downs per game (17.1), 29th in third-down conversion rate (34.1 percent), and last in red zone touchdown percentage (37.8).
The Patriots don’t wear the hallmarks of a hoodie club team. If this was someone else’s football kit, you’d say they’re showing signs of poor coaching.
We used to mock teams that blew two timeouts in a goal-to-go situation early in the second quarter, including negating a touchdown with one of them; drew a penalty on a quarterback sneak to negate another TD; and had a punt blocked with an unblocked rusher because the man assigned to block him was looking into the backfield when the ball was snapped.
All of these happened to the Patriots before they led 24-17 with 2:11 left to leave Las Vegas as so many do – lucky and total losers.
Over the past two seasons, no team has had more shots blocked than the Patriots with four, twice as many as any other team. They had three blocked in 2021.
Yes, the Raiders got outrageous fortune on the game-tying 30-yard touchdown. It certainly seemed more likely than not (where have I heard that phrase before?) that Keelan Cole landed out of bounds.
However, it’s hard to say the Patriots deserved to win a game in which they went 2-for-13 on third down, failed in the red zone, had a punt blocked, saw Mac Jones (13 of 31 for a paltry 112 yards) compile a career- low 41.9 completion percentage, and called a stat-padding draw play to Rhamondre Stevenson on third-and-10 with three seconds left instead of just taking a knee to go to overtime.
That play triggered the side disaster in the last game.
The biggest charge against the Patriots is that the Raiders played their typical historical brand of undisciplined, self-sabotaging football, committing 13 penalties, tied for the most in an NFL game this season.
The Silver and Black tried desperately to lose their fifth game of the season in which they led by 13 or more points.
Still, it was hard to tell which team was the more disjointed, dysfunctional outfit. That’s alarming for the Patriots. I wish I could say it’s shocking.
In all fairness, there have been some fantastic coaching efforts this year from Belichick and Co. – The Green Bay game and the 29-0 shutout of Detroit comes to mind.
But overall, the Patriots don’t resemble a Belichick team — both in terms of execution and players openly questioning the coaching.
During the NCAA tournament, bracketologists put the resumes of bubble teams side by side without names for clarity. Let’s do it.
Two teams are tied for 10th in the NFL in penalties with 86. Team A has 41 offensive penalties for 288 yards. Team B has 46 for 331 yards. Team A has 11 special team penalties. Team B has 13. Team A has 15 offensive pre-snap penalties. Team B has 22.
Team A is the Cleveland Browns under Kevin Stefanski. Team B is your New England Patriots.
Surprised? We shouldn’t be at this point. The Fightin’ Belichicks are fourth in the league in offensive penalties. They are in sixth place in offensive penalties before knepp (22), after four until Sunday.
Sunday’s loss was just the culmination of problems that have plagued the Patriots all season, and it has their playoff chances in jeopardy.
Belichick is still a good coach. But he always says that every year everyone starts over, past performances or reputations are checked at the door of Gillette Stadium. That applies to him too.
This year, his team is not performing like a well-coached one. It’s on him.