Going into the season, my expectations for the 2022 Patriots were, at best, cautiously optimistic. I didn't think this team was going to make the playoffs again. It was possible, but the AFC felt too loaded. Plus, they lost some key pieces on both sides of the ball and their offensive coordinator.
As ugly as the Dolphins game was, I didn't think the Pats were as bad as that score indicated. One of the Dolphins touchdowns was from a free rusher destroying Mac on the goal line. Outside of a busted coverage before half, the defense played well. After seven weeks of seeing what the Miami offense is capable of, I still think that. The Baltimore game was gross. Mac was awful and made reckless mistakes, but the defense couldn't get off the field.
The last two games before MNF were incredible. The Pats looked fantastic in their throwbacks against the Lions, shutting out the then-highest-scoring team in the league. Zappe was efficient in his first start. The pick he threw was Agholor's fault. Rhomandre was a bell cow. Dugger had a defensive TD. It felt like a turning point, even though the Lions are the Lions. Then the next week, we beat the Browns on the road as a slight dog and frankly beat the doors off them. Even though things sort of got close for like 20 seconds, that game was a classic Patriot win. It felt like things were moving in the right direction. Looking back now, I/we should've realized beating the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns was fool's gold.
At 3-3 (which should've been 4-2....Bill was way too conservative in the Packers game...gave it away), with the lowly Chicago Bears on MNF, this was the time for the Patriots to turn the corner. I legitimately thought the Bears had no chance. Not because the Patriots were so good, but because the Bears fucking suck. I follow a lot of Bears fans from Barstool and have eyes of my own. I've seen them play. They can't do anything offensively. I think they were 30th in the league going into MNF. This game had all the makings of a classic Patriots ass-kicking, regardless of who was at quarterback. I wanted to go to this game. Ticket prices were dirt cheap; I thought it was a guaranteed victory and said this to my buddy who needed Pats ML to close out a couple parlays.
In a night that saw two Boston teams play two Chicago teams, things got off to a great start.
But as New Found Glory said in 2004, it was all downhill from here.
Down 10-0, Zappe came in and instantly drove the team down the field for two quick touchdowns to take the lead. It really felt like we were seeing the end of Mac Jones's Patriot career in real-time. For about 20 minutes, the Pats found a way to take control of this game. That was ultimately not the case.
Credit to the Bears. They showed out in a must-win game (not that they're going anywhere this season). Justin Fields' numbers only tell part of the story. Whenever the Bears needed a third down, he picked it up. There were countless times it felt like the Pats had him dead to rites, only to escape and keep drives alive.
I'm having a difficult time writing this blog. I've gotten distracted by twitter and IG at least 20 times and have a bunch of shit going on in my head. I don't need to recap everything that happened. We all watched and saw the wheels fall off in real-time. It just fucking sucks. After fighting back to get to .500, you think the Patriots are going to be something this year, and this is the perfect spot to get above .500, but basically, everything that could go wrong did. I'm not overreacting when I say the season is over. It's a bummer cause there's something there with this team, but this is legitimately one of the most shocking losses of my entire fandom. We didn't lose too much ground in the AFC standings, but with four losses already, you need like, a 7-3 finish to make the playoffs...MAYBE.
What the fuck is going on at quarterback? Look, I've been on the Bailey bandwagon too. I tweeted #ZappeHour like 10 times, but the way the Pats handled Mac makes zero sense to me. Apparently, the plan was the play two QBs regardless of what happened. When has that ever worked? It doesn't. It's not like teams bringing in a Taysom Hill type of guy for running situations. Mac and Bailey are basically the same player. If Mac wasn't 100%, he sure was running like he was. In his defense, the play calling stunk while he was in, but his decision-making on the INT that ended up being his final play of the night was atrocious.
Apparently the pass hit one of ESPN's camera wires, but that pass was still a terrible decision on 2nd and 10.
I'm still gonna watch the games and care about this team, but I'm sorry we're dead. Dead as JFK. You can't get blown out at home, in prime time, against THIS Bears team. It's like getting shot in the head and neck during a parade. There's no coming back from that.
Now we've got a full-on quarterback controversy on our hands, and I feel a little bad for Mac. He was solid as a rookie and became a leader on this team. Obviously, guys around the league respect him, or else he wouldn't have been voted the 85th-best player in the league going into the season (although Blake Bortles was the 56th-ranked player by the players going into 2016).
I hate to play the there are much bigger things in the world card, but it's the truth. I'm worried about my health, loved ones, job situation, fascism, and if I'm ever gonna get laid again before the world ends. I want the Patriots to do well, but this isn't a Super Bowl-caliber roster. It's not like the Celtics where there are legitimate championship aspirations. I'm fucking bummed about this game, but maybe it was the reality check we as fans needed? This team has some interesting pieces, but it's still flawed. We were spoiled during the Brady days, and it may be sacrilegious but I think it is fair to wonder if the game is passing Belichick by. I think he's still a good coach, but he's 70 years old and it's not the 1986 NFL anymore. You need speed, and the Patriots defense has little to none of that. I cannot believe he really "planned" for both QBs to play.
This blog has gone full-on ramble but that's okay; when you've written thousands over seven calendar years, not everything is Pulitzer worthy. I just can't believe the Patriots lost that game. It's a bummer. I'm shook. Right when I'm starting to believe we get doo-whopped by one of the worst teams in the NFL. Our defense got shredded. Sure we bent but didn't break at times, holding the Bears to field goals, but on the money downs, we were bankrupt. Credit to the Bears. I like the people of Chicago and am happy for them, but the 2022 Patriots are DEAD.
....unless we beat the Jets next week.
Do not blame the silver pants. That putrid performance cannot and should not kill the silver pants.