I’d like to think that people read my Fan Notes on the Monday or Tuesday after Patriots games for a little bit of analysis, a little bit of humor, and a breakdown of the game from the perspective of an ordinary guy in the stands as opposed to some hotshot expert.
I’m sorry to inform you that I’m not sure how much of any of that you’re going to be getting today, because I have absolutely no idea what I watched last night. Nobody knows anything. I don’t know why anybody bothers even trying to understand a single thing about this season. I was hoping I’d have some more perspective after a night to sleep on it, but I still got nuthin’.
- I’m going to wait until the end of these Fan Notes to talk about the quarterbacks, because I’m already sick of that and it hasn’t even been 12 hours yet. And plus, there are other things to talk about — primarily how awful the defense played last night. And I mean Hocus Pocus 2 levels of awful. With the exception of Matthew Judon, if there was a single thing any Patriots defender did of note, I can’t remember it. Even the Myles Bryant pick came off a Judon tip. Just a completely forgettable performance at every level.
- And what’s most infuriating about it is that it’s not like the Bears went off or anything like that. Justin Fields only passed for 179 yards. But four Bears receivers each had a 20-yard play, New England gave up almost 250 yards on the ground, and I lost track of how many 3rd-and-45s Fields was able to convert about midway through the second quarter.
- Perhaps they made all kinds of adjustments and none of them worked; I don’t know enough about defensive formations to tell for sure. But I saw no spy role at any point. I saw three- and four-man rushes with no edge set. Maybe the goal was to dedicate Kyle Dugger to Fields and when he got hurt there was just no match for the athleticism; who knows. I just saw a lot of zone with no spy on Fields and open players all over the field.
- Last night reminded me very strongly of that night at my friend Brian’s house playing Madden ‘94 on Sega Genesis where he was always the Falcons and just ran the same Toss Strong play over and over and over and over and over and no matter what I did I couldn’t stop it. A thrown controller and a broken flower pot later, I was not-so-politely asked to head home.
- And let’s not let the special teams off the hook for basically setting the Bears up at midfield on every drive. Poor punting, poor coverage, poor discipline, and poor tackling following multiple three-and-outs that barely even gave the D a chance to rest leads to a night where the worst offense in the NFL only punted twice, and one of those times was when the game was already out of hand.
- I do want to shine a very bright spot on Matthew Judon, though; that man has been a monster since he got here and continues to dominate in ways that should be winning this team games.
- And let’s give much-deserved credit to Chicago here, who unlike New England came to play. They wanted it, and it showed. These bully games where you get slapped up and down the field in your own damn house are just so hard to swallow.
- It might just be that, with the inexplicable and beyond bizarre exception of Patrick Mahomes, who they always keep in check, the Patriots are just incapable of stopping mobile quarterbacks. Athletic, shifty passers who can extend the play and pick up first downs with their legs are going to run all over them and embarrass them and there’s not much they can do about it. Can’t wait to play Josh Allen twice this year!
- You know it’s not New England’s night when N’Keal Harry has more first quarter receiving yards than the entire Patriots team.
- You also know it’s not New England’s night when the leading rusher for most of the game was the hobbled QB coming off a high ankle sprain who isn’t known for his mobility.
- As I’ve said for years now, these New England Patriots are not capable of winning games once they’re down by two scores. It doesn’t matter what team it is, they just don’t have the tools to come back and take a lead. On the plus side, they made some real progress last night, as they scored 14 unanswered and held the lead for all of four seconds before the Bears scored 23 unanswered and put the game away.
- As for those 14 unanswered, they came on the most wild sequence of events that I can remember, and quite possibly the wildest sequence of events I have ever experienced as a Patriots fan. Mac Jones was clearly struggling with his reads and his decision-making. His ankle seemed fine, but he wasn’t up to game speed yet. The Zappe chants started following his pick, and then on comes the rookie and just LIGHTS IT UP for two drives before everything completely fell apart. As bad as the game was, it’s certainly something I’m never going to forget.
- I’m at the point where I need to address whatever the hell you want to call the quarterback situation, and I just don’t have the energy. I’m not sure what the strategy for only playing Mac Jones, who looked terrible in limited action, for a few snaps before putting Zappe in. Zappe also looked terrible after those first two drives. This strategy seems to have done way more harm than good and now the Patriots may have two QBs who are unsure about their future and a little shaken. Who knows. I don’t want to belabor the point, it’s only Tuesday and we have four more days of this to deal with. Moving on.
- The Bears had an amazingly effective offensive strategy last night: two bad plays to force a third-and-long, gain 28 yards on third down via some Justin Fields magic.
- If somebody in the NFL in charge of player safety can tell me why grazing a quarterback’s helmet is a flag and possibly a fine, but a flying clothesline that wrenches a return man’s head completely around is just part of the kicking game, that would be great.
- I hope Isaiah Wynn comes back soon. Playing left tackle while also shouldering Wynn’s penalty duties is a lot for Trent Brown to handle.
- So the Patriots shut out the Lions, held the best rushing team in the NFL to 70 total yards on the ground, and dropped a game to the Bears at home to the tune of 33-14.
- Down three scores, clock is ticking. If there’s a better time to run draw plays and throw checkdowns, I’d like to hear about it.
- I mean what the hell are you doing? You’re down three scores, air it out! It’s going to get picked off either way, so why not?
- The Patriots have always been a game plan-specific type of team. The 2022 Patriots have an opponent-specific problem on defense. If you have a team with an extremely athletic quarterback who is adept at manipulating lateral space with his pre-snap reads coupled with a strong running game, there’s just no answer. They can stop the run if the QB isn’t a threat to go off. They can limit the pass if the QB isn’t a threat to take off. But they’re completely out to dry with more than one of those factors.
- Since absolutely nothing about last night made any sense, I’m just going to believe that Bill Belichick has so much respect for the history of this game, and this league, that he didn’t want to take George Halas’ spot on the all-time win list from him against the team he built, instead wanting to get it against the Jets. That’s honestly the most logical explanation for what we saw last night.
Let’s all just take a mulligan on this week. I’m fine with a 17-game schedule, but every team gets to erase one game from the season. This was New England’s.