Just when you think the lows couldn't get any lower, The New England Patriots surprised us once again in the worst way possible in Week 15's loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
As a New England Patriots fan, watching my team struggle like they have this season is extremely frustrating. With a record of 7-7 and three games left in the regular season, it's looking increasingly unlikely that they will make it to the playoffs. And their latest loss, a 30-24 defeat at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders, was especially painful thanks to a fumble on a last-second lateral play by Jakobi Meyers that resulted in a walk-off victory for the Raiders. Some are even calling this the worst play in NFL history, adding to the list of embarrassing moments involving the Patriots that include the Jets' Butt Fumble game in 2012 and the Indianapolis Colts' fake punt disaster in 2015.
It's clear that the Patriots are a team in turmoil right now, and a lot of the blame falls on the shoulders of Matt Patricia. Despite being named "senior football advisor" prior to the beginning of this season, Patricia is still in charge of the offense and it's clear that he is struggling in this role. The Patriots' offense ranks 25th in the league this season after ranking 10th in 2021, and it's hard to watch them struggle week after week. Patricia has never previously been in charge of an offensive unit, and it shows. His lack of experience and understanding of the offense is obvious, and it's frustrating to see him continue to make poor decisions and call questionable plays.
Quarterback Mac Jones has also been a major disappointment this season. While he had an impressive rookie campaign in 2021, throwing 19 touchdowns at this point in the season, he has only thrown seven touchdowns in 2022. It's clear that Jones has also been at odds with Patricia and head coach Bill Belichick, as evident in the Patriots' losses to the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals when Jones was seen on camera showing frustration with Patricia's play-calling. And while some fans are calling for Jones to be benched in favor of backup quarterback Bailey Zappe, it's not just Jones who is to blame for the offense's struggles. The team lacks playmakers, with Jakobi Meyers being their best receiver but not providing much in terms of yards after the catch. Tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, who were major offensive additions in the 2021 NFL offseason, have underperformed for the money they are being paid. And wide receiver DeVante Parker, acquired from the Miami Dolphins in the offseason, has also been a disappointment with his inability to stretch the field or make contested catches.
It's hard to find any positives on this Patriots team right now. Sure, second-year running back Rhamondre Stevenson continued his great season with a great game against the Raiders, running the football 19 times for 172 yards and a touchdown. And defensive end Matt Judon ranks second in the league in sacks with 14.5, while linebacker Josh Uche has 10.5. But individual stats don't win football games. The Patriots need a complete overhaul on offense if they want to have any chance of returning to their winning ways.
As a Patriots fan, it's frustrating to see my team struggle like this. We've won six Super Bowls since 2001 and are not used to seeing our team struggle like they have since Tom Brady left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following the 2019 season, a season that also had its fair share of struggles. Some have speculated that owner Robert Kraft may consider making changes to the coaching staff in the offseason if the team continues to struggle.
Still, many believe that Kraft will not make any changes due to his loyalty to head coach Bill Belichick. It's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Patriots right now, but I hope that some significant changes will be made in the offseason to get us back on track. It's time for the Patriots to shake things up and make the necessary changes to return to their winning ways. It's time to move on from the Matt Patricia experiment and bring in someone with a proven track record of success on offense, like bringing in someone who actually knows how to run an offense. The hot name right now is former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who was Mac Jones offensive coordinator while Jones was the Quarterback for the 2020 CFB Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. It's time to give Mac Jones the support and playmakers he needs to succeed or consider moving on from him if it's not working out. It's time to address the issues at wide receiver and bring in some true playmakers who can stretch the field and make contested catches.
As a Patriots fan, it's frustrating to see that Bill Belichick's stubbornness is still ruining this team. We all knew he was stubborn, but we let it slide while the Patriots were the most dominant force in the history of the NFL.
But now that Tom Brady is gone and the team is barely above .500 since he left, it's clear that Belichick's stubbornness is no longer cute - it's a major problem. The team has been a laughing stock since Brady left and it's time for Belichick to change his ways or step down. It's clear that he is no longer the solution for all the flaws on this team, and it's time for a new approach. It's time for the Patriots to shake things up and make the necessary changes to return to their winning ways. It's time for a fresh start and a new direction for this team. Here's hoping that the New England Patriots can turn things around and once again become a force to be reckoned with in the NFL.