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Replay: Patriots Radio Tue Jan 31 - 02:00 PM | Thu Feb 02 - 11:55 AM

Patriots Unfiltered Mailbag: How will the Patriots close out 2022?

Patriots fans are wondering what comes next after the team’s epic meltdown in the desert against the Raiders.

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How much of a factor has it been that over the past couple of years the Assistant Staff was basically dismantled by Flores and McDaniel? I don't think that gets talked about enough. @donald3324

Yes, it's certainly been a factor and you can also add in the retirements of Ernie Adams, Dante Scarnecchia and Ivan Fears, as well as the departure of Nick Caserio. Then fill out the rest with McDaniels (Carm Bricillo, Mick Lombardi) and Flores (Chad O'Shea, Jerry Shuplinski, Josh Boyer) among others. That's a huge brain drain from top to bottom of the organization, and it's not just run of the mill assistants, these are long-tenured NFL professionals with valuable input that comes from years of experience. That said, this is the NFL, no one is going to stay put for long. I'd love to see more moves like when they brought in Jedd Fisch and Elliot Wolf in 2020 to get some fresh perspectives. But it's a hard transition to bring in a bunch of outsiders and then assimilate them and their systems into New England's. I'd expect even more departures this year with Nick Caley and Jerod Mayo topping the list of candidates to leave. The staff and front office need to continue to be reinforced. -Mike Dussault

I have one question: "Why?" I'll take the answer off the air. @jpftw

Here is my question: What the hell are we doing? @S4msp_

Two simple questions that still get to the heart of it, it's been distressing how this Patriots team continues to make the same mistakes over and over and no unit can seem to take full control of a game and close it out. Certainly the defense has been closer and that game against the Raiders almost looked like the exact kind of effort we've been waiting for. But we've seen plenty of late game-winning drives over the years here. Doesn't matter how you play through the second half if you don't finish it out. With a serviceable offense I think this Patriots team still has the pieces to be more firmly in the playoff hunt, but the offense has just been below the line of acceptability this year. The issues are now growing out of control and the "FaiLateral" was a perfect symptom of the problems. Players taking things into their own hands, going rogue and trying to do too much. It's the antithesis of "Do Your Job" Patriots football and that's why it's been so jarring for all of us who, at the very least, expect a team that doesn't kill itself with repeated stupid mistakes that have not been fixed in five months. -Mike Dussault

If or when the Pats lose out the next three games which is a strong possibility do you see changes happen in the off season and if so what do you think that looks like? Thanks! @Fuadnehemen

I want to win and make the playoffs, but at the same time if we play well and make it to the playoffs I feel that the coaching staff will stay intact. I hate to say it but losing will be the best way to facilitate changes on the offensive side of the ball. @kfmapp

Two more questions that can be grouped together, it's hard for me to want to lose these games to prove a point. I think the offense is already too far gone at this point and the toughest games against the best teams have a way of revealing truth, not sudden weird outliers that might fool anyone into thinking this offense is anywhere close to promising enough to "run it back" in 2023 with the same set up.

Fans could accept 2021's meltdown somewhat because they felt like they had gotten the quarterback piece in place. Now, at the end of 2022, I'm not sure anyone feels completely certain of what the Patriots have on offense from those coordinating the attack to those trying to execute it.

I sincerely hope that major changes to the offense are already locked into the offseason plan no matter how these last three go. And I also hope we're not putting all our eggs solely into the Bill O'Brien basket. I'd love to get him back but he can't be the only change nor can he be expected to wave a wand and suddenly have this offense back in the top half of the league in production. -Mike Dussault

Raider WR Keelan Cole jumps for a 4th-quarter catch which was ruled a TD after a long review process.
Raider WR Keelan Cole jumps for a 4th-quarter catch which was ruled a TD after a long review process.

I would hope it is obvious the coaches don't teach the players to commit penalties. A coach can't teach focus. There have been so many mistakes culminated by the blocked punt last night. Hard to play a game when, seemingly, everyone is second guessing each other and themselves. @floes420

Yeah the trips to Vegas this summer, then Miami for the opener and finally this week's stay in Arizona didn't really work out. The Patriots played some of their sloppiest football out of all three of those extended trips. I had hoped that coming off the win over Arizona that the team might've come together better against Vegas but there we found ourselves watching the same sporadic nature of the offensive attack. I've been reminded of Bill Belichick's quote in 2009's A Football Life when he said, "I just can't get this team to play the way they need to." It feels the same this year, the team is not pulling together and certainly not playing their best football at the end of the season when it's supposed to start firing on all cylinders. -Mike Dussault

Is Mac going to get a pass this year because of Patricia? Or do you think Bill and the rest of the coaching staff are thinking beyond Mac. As it looks like he hasn't really been up to it, regardless of the "poor" offensive coaching. @neilshannon_

Speaking for myself I mostly give Mac a pass this season but I still think he has a long ways to go and needs way more help. Whatever its been over the last few weeks, when things have been at their toughest it hasn't been working nor is the team rallying. I think what has been reinforced is that he needs an elite weapon at his disposal and I don't think we'll ever truly know how good Mac is unless he gets at least one of those. But the clock is ticking. After 2023 the team will have to decide whether to pick up his fifth-year option. Can they make that decision without significantly remaking a receiver group that has only Parker, Bourne and Thornton under contract to return, and only one disposable year remaining on the contracts of Parker and Bourne. And what if Meyers walks? Mac seems to really love him but it's no slam dunk he returns. That's a tough call when it comes to making Mac happy this offseason. There's a lot of work and development to be done. -Mike Dussault

Why aren't camera angles uniform across all networks and games? @mullinsnova

It's a good question why there isn't an established protocol to ensure that all angles are fairly and uniformly covered in each and every game. As colleague, Paul Perillo pointed out, had this game been on NBC as originally intended the Cole touchdown likely would've been overturned due to their superior camera coverage. Cover everything and let everything be challenged. It seems like the only answer that makes sense if there's going to be a uniform replay standard. -Mike Dussault

Are coaching staff changes inevitable or is there a chance we could be running it back with the same staff? And is there anything in the last 3 weeks that could change this? @PatsFan0910

This is the great fear that everyone is chiming in with here in the mailbag -- that it will end badly and they'll just say that it will have to be better with another year under their belt. There just hasn't been any development to rally support for that position and the fans are clearly showing how they feel here, terrified that they'll be held hostage by a team that might be willing to accept a bottom-five offense. I just refuse to believe Bill Belichick doesn't see what a disaster it has been and I believe he'll make significant changes on his own. I don't think anyone, whether it's fans or coaches, wants to watch another season of this offense as currently constituted. -Mike Dussault

Patriots rookie Marcus Jones was outstanding against WR Devante Adams throughout the game.
Patriots rookie Marcus Jones was outstanding against WR Devante Adams throughout the game.

Are there any positives you know we can be thinking about for transitioning into next season? @rosasciteacher

Yes! Let's start with Marcus Jones. He looks like a special player who has an unknown ceiling. The final Raiders scoring drive was tough for him but for a rookie he showed well for himself on defense. He's so quick and sticky, exactly the kind of cornerback everyone needs. And we're not even mentioning what he can do on offense or returning. After him, I like what Uche's been doing but need more of it, especially in the clutch. Rhamondre Stevenson has had a breakout year and looks like a star who can do it all himself. Imagine if he had some consistency up front from the offensive line and wasn't getting hit in the backfield every other carry. Barmore's return is another thing to watch, he's got a chance to recapture some of his rookie promise over the last three games. He was jacked up against the Raiders in his return. -Mike Dussault

What's the best way to cope with the loss yesterday? @TheRealCeezar

Realize this is a new, young Patriots team that has to go through the trials and tribulations that will build football character. I don't know where they'll be in a few seasons or what the personnel and coaching staff will look like at that point, but the hope is that these hard lessons will help mold a new Patriots core that can make them a competitive playoff team again. Development of the draft picks is everything right now. This spring's draft will be another huge opportunity to get the train back on track. -Mike Dussault

What was Jakobi thinking Mike? Make it make sense… @Xav1918

I actually put more of it on Rhamondre for getting it started. Was Jakobi even thinking about a lateral until the ball got tossed back to him? Feel like within that moment he just took it and ran with it, figuratively. It showed what kind of man Jakobi is when he took the blame for it but I can only give him so much. The team can't go rogue and make a decision like that. And even if the coaches weren't telling them to do it, the message of smart, clean football was certainly lost in this instance and that's a symptom of the bigger problems that are holding them back. -Mike Dussault

Watching this team is frustrating, even maddening. They can't seem to get out of their own way. I would say they haven't beaten a good team since 2019. I want to have hope, but am frustrated that I'm even saying that. Belichick said that making major changes won't help anything at this point in the season. But why not? Why not get rid of Matt P and promote Caley and see what happens. It can't get any worse on offense. And they you can see what Caley can do. Are we at the point when the fans, owners, and dare I say players start to give up on this team and coaching staff? -Frustrated Fan

In my view, it really wouldn't make a difference. These game plans are put together by the offensive coaches and Belichick. Getting rid of Matty P still means the rest of the offensive coaches, including Caley, are putting together the gameplan. I see it more as a failure of this system than specifically Matt Patricia. Certainly, some of the specific play calls were head scratchers but those plays would've been in their plan no matter who was holding the play sheet and radioing them into Mac. But I see your point and you're not alone. The offensive product is well…offensive. No one has been enjoying it as it feels like a broken record. -Mike Dussault

The Patriots defense held Raiders RB Josh Jacobs at bay for most of the game.
The Patriots defense held Raiders RB Josh Jacobs at bay for most of the game.

Is that final play on Sunday overshadowing some otherwise impressive defensive stats, such as our injured secondary holding a truly generational WR to 4/28/0, with no qualifiers such as an injured QB, or keeping Jacobs to a full yard less than his season YPC average? @PiercetheTyler

Yeah, I think the defense has had a solid year overall, it's just too bad they've been paired with a dysfunctional offense that can't really hold up their part of the deal. And of course, it's hard to forget that final drive where the Raiders suddenly found their stride and went right down the field. Patriots fans need no reminder that the ability to close out games is worth almost as much as playing shutdown ball for most of the second half. It only takes one drive to undo an excellent performance, especially when your offense isn't going to get you to 20 points alone. I also wonder how much pressure the defense feels on them. They shut down two of the top weapons in the league, chipped in a pick-six and it still wasn't enough on the scoreboard because they also couldn't get the last stop for an offense than couldn't close it out on their own. Overall, it felt like a very Patriots-y defense game plan… take the biggest pieces away and force the opponent to beat you with their secondary options. With Cole and Hollins, that's what the Raiders did. -Mike Dussault

Tired of hearing idiot media types (PFW) calling for BB to be fired or offered up for compensation while we rebuild after Brady. We are a bad team and Bill knows that. Mac is likely not working out. We have a special teams coach as QB coach and our special teams are bad, we have a defensive coach as OC/O-line coach and our offense and O-line are terrible and not good. But we weren't a championship team that is not living up to expectations. We are a poor team that has overachieved because of a great head coach. Everything can't be fixed with a single move or angry tweet. We have won 2 of the last 6 Super Bowls, (3 of the last 8) and not having won a Super Bowl in 4 years is a reality almost 90% of the league shares. I think BB has earned our support and needs that more now with all the idiots spouting off out there. Let's give that to him. Critique with support is a small ask. -Chu Snow

Well, PFW, like the Patriots ability to win a meaningful game, hasn't existed since the 2018 season, so I guess you're living in the past in more ways than one. How can you lay out how terrible everything is yet totally give Belichick a free pass? Especially when he literally said, "If it doesn't work blame me." Not sure where you've heard us idiots on Patriots Unfiltered call for his firing but if you still think BB is above any and all criticism without constantly acknowledging he won Super Bowls last decade then don't complain about having a bad team with a quarterback who's not working out and bad coaches and terrible o-line, etc. as you laid out. Those Super Bowl titles just keep creeping further into the past and the team continues to tread water as a middling team through four seasons later… no playoff wins, can no longer beat the Dolphins or Bills or any other good team, ceaseless self-inflicted wounds. Let me know how long you're willing to put up with that while blaming everyone but the guy who makes all the decisions. -Mike Dussault

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