Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick

USA Today

Week 3

What the hell is with the Patriots?

September 24, 2018 - 10:01 am

You knew this was going to be a weird week in the NFL when the Cleveland Browns started things off with a win on Thursday night. You snap that streak, and do it the way that they did, with a rookie leading a comeback win, you knew it was about to get weird. And it did. 

Tennessee beat Jacksonville 9-6. Now that’s not the weirdest thing ever, when you consider that the Titans beat the Jags twice last season, but you know Jacksonville wanted to change that and they still couldn’t.  Last thing I expected was to see Jacksonville come out that flat after hammering the Patriots last weekend. Then again, after last night, we now know that a win over the Patriots isn’t worth what it used to be, because the Pats sure as hell aren’t what they used to be. 

How about the Bears being in first place in the NFC North and being a legit force through three weeks? That’s weird. The Dolphins being 3-0 and holding a two-game lead in the AFC, that’s even weirder. Especially when you consider they lost their best offensive weapon, Jarvis Landry, and Ndamukong Suh in the offseason. 

At least we can still count on the Cowboys struggling and the Raiders blowing a second-half lead. Again. That’s three weeks in a row the Raiders choked away a second half lead. Isn’t that way you bring in John Gruden, and pay him ten mill a year for ten years? To make sure that sort of thing doesn’t happen, as opposed to happening every single week?  And as crazy as the Titans, Bears, and Dolphins are, they’re still compared to the Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo freaking Bills, 17 point dogs, on the road, starting a rookie q.b. without any offensive line in front of him, no weapons to speak of around him and going up against one of the best defenses in the league. Never mind winning, you just hope to hell your franchise Q.B. doesn’t’ leave in a body bag. Do that and it’s a good day. But no one, in or outside of Buffalo actually went in there expecting to win. But they not only won, they curb stomped the Vikes. And smashed just about every survivor league in the process. Taking the Vikings yesterday in your survivor league was like taking candy from a baby. Except that baby just broke your face. And it wasn’t just the Bills, but it was the Bills with Josh Allen. And the Bills were talking junk afterwards, reportedly shouting “you like that!” As they walked off the field. I don’t think Kirk Cousins liked that. And I know Mike Zimmer didn’t. Because if he held himself to the same standard as he did the kicker he broke off last week, he’d be looking for a new gig right now. 

But even the Bills, pulling off the biggest Las Vegas upset in more than two decades is still not as shocking as what I saw last night in Detroit. Lions 26, Patriots 10. Let me repeat that: Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions 26, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 10. 

And I’ve only got one question: what the hell is with the Patriots? They just lost to a team that got booed out of its own stadium less than 14 days ago. And they didn’t lose, they got hammered. Man-handled. Rag dolled. Dominated. Just like they were last week against Jacksonville. Right now, their only win of the season is over winless Houston. 

How bad was it? They started the game with three straight three-and-outs for the first time since 2000. And maybe longer, the NFL network’s data only goes back to 2000. Let me ask you again, how bad was it? The Patriots just lost back-to-back games by double digits for the first time since 2002. There are teens getting driver’s licenses who’ve never seen the Patriots lose back-to-back games by double digits, until last night. 

And that wasn’t about the Patriots being distracted by the reports of the Gronk to Detroit trade that nearly happened in the offseason. That was just one team beating up on another team. And this time, it was the Patriots eating punches. The Lions, the Detroit Lions, had three drives of 9 plays or more. The same Lions who were booed in an embarrassing loss to the Jets and came into last night 0-2. And they were just doing whatever the hell they wanted to the Patriots. I always like to quote the late Pat Tillman in matters such as these.  That was as Pat liked to say, “A nice, swift ass-kicking.” 

I never thought Matt Patricia was an actual rocket scientist until I saw the Patriots’ defense without him. Because Detroit, a team that came into the game ranked 30th in the league in running the ball, ran it right down New England’s throat. And just as troubling for the Pats was that when they tried to run the ball themselves, they couldn’t. Let’s just say it wasn’t supa! And when they tried to pass, they couldn’t do that either. The goat, Tom Brady was 14 for 26 for 133 yards and a touchdown. The Gronk had 4 receptions for 51 yards – that was better than Jacksonville, but not by much. Their offense is not exactly firing on all cylinders right now. In fact, it’s pretty non-existent. They have a hall of fame quarterback, a hall of fame tight end, and somehow still have a brutal offense.

Don’t get it twisted. This isn’t about Brady being old, it’s about the talent just not being there on offense. And what talent they do have, isn’t doing anything at all. 

Some of that might change when Julian Edelman comes back from suspension and when Josh Gordon is available. He can stretch the field, loosen up the coverage on Gronk, and maybe get the Pats offense back on track. But unless Gordon can also put a hand down and rush the passer, that’s not solving all of New England’s problems. 

At least you could count on Bill Belchick being pretty mellow afterwards, especially when asked about the 12-men on the field penalty. 

"It was a mistake. Did you think it was planned?" 

Well, hood man, if it had been planned, it would’ve been your only plan that did work last night. 

People have rushed to throw dirt on the Patriots’ dynasty in the past and have been wrong every time. I’m not doing that just yet. Even with the Pats at 1-2 and already in a hole in the AFC East, it’s not time to panic. But you can see that time coming. And believe this, I know exactly where the shovel is, because I have never been so convinced or so closed to say there’s going to be a Patriots funeral right around the corner. I already have their plot picked out. I mean, better safe than sorry, right. And right now, they look sorry as hell.