FOXBORO — Five days earlier than kickoff, the Commanders punted on their season.
They traded two of the NFL’s most menacing pass-rushers, Chase Young and Montez Sweat, for draft picks. Those offers signaled to gamers, coaches and followers alike that Washington higher-ups had no regard for the remainder of the season.
On to the long run. The tank is on.
But Sunday, the Commanders beat the Patriots anyway.
Allow that to hit you once more, with all of the power of an actual tank.
The Patriots misplaced to a staff whose possession would have most well-liked defeat. The one-time gold customary of the NFL fell to a franchise outlined by top-down dysfunction and toxicity for 20 years. Facing a defanged protection, the Pats had been out-gained by 104 yards and held the ball for 15 fewer minutes.
So, what does that make them?
For now, the reply is simply 2-7. The Patriots are a nasty staff struggling by a misplaced season. They aren’t particular on this regard, merely following within the footsteps of NFL losers previous. In the identical vein, their bleeding is just not assured to cease.
If we now have discovered something concerning the Pats’ ongoing fall from glory, it’s their previous can not save them. The franchise’s decline is steeper than anybody imagined. Even oddsmakers.
Would you consider the Patriots had been favored to win Sunday? Or projected to win seven to eight video games earlier than the season?
Now, a 5-12 end feels doubtless. A 4-13 destiny may await them. Dare we are saying 3-14?
Because Sunday was not some Scooby Doo-style reveal. The Pats unmasked themselves way back as a talent-starved, mistake-prone staff with no margin for error weeks in the past. Sunday’s loss strengthened what they confirmed us at Dallas, Las Vegas and Miami across the worst dwelling shutout in franchise historical past towards New Orleans.
Bill Belichick addresses why Patriots rookie Kayshon Boutte was a wholesome scratch
Inept offense. Middling protection. Putrid particular groups.
This time, the face of defeat was veteran receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Mac Jones’ last move bounced off his fingers and into the clutches of the Commanders protection with 30 seconds left for a game-sealing interception. Smith-Schuster then knelt on the sphere, one hand on every thigh, his head bowed; a participant who has come to embody Bill Belichick’s roster mismanagement now personified the disbelief and disappointment of a fan base.
At least Smith-Schuster addressed these followers post-game. In a stark distinction to DeVante Parker shrugging after his final-drive drop at Las Vegas, Smith-Schuster took duty for his failure. He accepted his starring function in defeat.
Belichick might quickly lose extra. What concerning the locker room?
Belichick denied younger cornerbacks and coaches complications J.C. Jackson and Jack Jones had been benched to begin Sunday’s recreation, one thing as clear as day to anybody following this staff carefully. Jackson and Jones each bailed on reporters post-game; declining to talk, in Jackson’s case, and zipping away from the stadium to submit on Instagram, as Jones did. Their disappearances and Belichick’s non-answer left veteran leaders like Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jabrill Peppers, Myles Bryant and Adrian Phillips to clarify what occurred.
“I can’t get into that, but if you want to know what that is, you’re going to have to talk to them,” Phillips advised the Herald. “But they ended up playing, so it is what it is.”
Patriots don’t have any reply for J.C. Jackson, Jack Jones taking part in time choice
Imagine being Phillips in that second. A 31-year-old skilled in each sense, stomaching a diminished ability set and function, whereas two identified knuckleheads get cowl from their head coach. When Jones did see the sphere, he acquired roasted within the second quarter, a rotisserie nook spinning on the will of each Commanders receiver throughout from him.
Jack Jones hardly performed the second half, if in any respect. Where was his accountability? How did the Patriot Way apply to him? And what concerning the offense?
Jones and Co. scored solely by the grace of Commander breakdowns; first, a fumble recovered inside Washington territory after which a blown task by one of many NFL’s stingiest run defenses that allowed Rhamondre Stevenson to dash principally untouched for a 64-yard landing run.
Out broad, former second-round decide Tyquan Thornton insisted that being a wholesome scratch at Miami would gasoline him. What that as a substitute fueled was a car-wreck first half. Thornton acquired benched after halftime, forcing Smith-Schuster, who performed the fewest snaps of any receiver within the first two quarters, into motion.
Why did he sit? His burst is gone, sapped by a knee harm that everybody however the Patriots appeared to learn about earlier than they signed him to a 3-year, $25.5 million deal final March. Smith-Schuster was the prize jewel of their free company class, which now makes him a human Ring Pop.
Elsewhere, the Patriots fielded eight particular teams-only gamers, who comprised 17% of their accessible roster towards Washington. Imagine that for an offense saddled with the worst receiving corps within the league. Or a protection counting on corners like Jackson and Jones.
It’s plain roster mismanagement, identical to Malik Cunningham’s one-game stint as Jones’ high backup in Las Vegas or benching Demario Douglas throughout an in depth loss towards Miami.
No surprise the Patriots stink. They bear all of the hallmarks of a nasty staff: poor roster building, questionable teaching and horrible defeats. We know all of this, and the season is barely half over.
Next week, the Pats will journey to Germany to face Indianapolis, a one-time rival and Belichick punching bag. The Colts misplaced first-round rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson to harm after simply 5 weeks, as robust an incentive as there may very well be to tank. Instead, they’re 4-5, forging forward with all of the fervor and traits of a well-run franchise.
Meanwhile the Patriots, wounded and worn, listless and misplaced, play for satisfaction; questioning how for much longer it could be till they punt on their season, too.