The partying Barbies in Toy Story 2 chant “How low can you go” in their game of Limbo. That scene popped into my head when I started checking in on the experts and thinking about how far down the rankings they were going to slot the Patriots this week. But that’s the only similarity. We’re certainly not partying.
As far as taking yet another shovel and piling on with more criticism, I don’t have the heart for it. The past few days have been a bit hard to stomach for Pats fans. Feel free to peruse the commentary with both eyes squinted shut. For the 31 other drooling fanbases, below you will find a delectable buffet to fuel your schadenfreude for months. Enjoy!
This Sunday the (2-2) New Orleans Saints come to Foxborough. I’m making an effort to take this season one game at a time, no expectations, and just see where it all goes. Hoping the Patriots are able to shake off Week 4 and put in a good days’ work at home.
Around the AFC East:
Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) - Bye Week
Cleveland Browns (2-2) - Bye Week
21st - Staff (The Ringer): Mediocre and boring: another chapter in the post–Tom Brady era in New England. [-5]
22nd - Jarrett Bailey (TouchdownWire): It truly is saying something when Bill Belichick gets dealt the most lopsided loss of his career. The Patriots are just the Jets with a legendary coach. [-6]
23rd - Nate Davis (USA Today): Wasn’t this offense supposed to be better under coordinator Bill O’Brien? At 13.8 points per game, New England is more than a full touchdown off last year’s unimpressive pace. And defensively, the Pats just lost LB Matthew Judon (biceps) and CB Christian Gonzalez (shoulder) indefinitely. Woof. [-6]
24th - Eric Edholm (NFL.com): Just when it looked like Mac Jones was trending in the right direction, he endured a nightmare at Dallas. Whether it was carrying the ball at his side or throwing multiple times against the grain, Jones was just way too casual with ball security. He looked rattled in the face of adversity. This was everything Jones was sold as not being coming out of Alabama, but it’s become his NFL hallmark. Right now, he’s trying to do more than his capacities allow for a Patriots offense riddled with shortcomings. No obvious playmakers. No bedrock offensive line. A run game with a defined ceiling. The offensive issues are snowballing before the weather turns cold in New England. [-6]
24th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): Mac Jones isn’t very good right now. Do they make a change? Should they? [nc]
24th - Matt Johnson (SportsNaut): It’s time to start thinking about the New England Patriots without Bill Belichick. Reporting in early September suggested Robert Kraft might part ways with Bill Belichick if the team didn’t take a step forward in 2024. As of now? New England has found another way to take a step backward. We still love the defense, but the Patriots’ offense is still below-average and injuries in the secondary have essentially put New England’s defense in a massive hole. [-7]
24th - Dalton Miller (ProFootballNetwork): Mac Jones was horrific against the Dallas Cowboys. Pairing that with a mass of injuries to the New England Patriots secondary, and things were never going to be pretty against the Cowboys. Jones made mistakes that we usually do not see from third-year veterans, particularly when they lack high-end physical tools. Rolling out and trying to throw across the field against that defense is asking for disaster, and the Cowboys obliged. [-3]
24th - Ryan Dunleavy (NY Post). [nc]
25th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): Mac Jones wasn’t technically benched for poor performance, but it’s not like it would have been unjustified. Jones had some terrible turnovers. His pick-6 at the end of the first half, throwing all the way across the field, was inexcusable. It feels like Bill Belichick would probably make a quarterback change right now, but he doesn’t have another reasonable option. [-8]
25th - Karen Guregian (MassLive): To borrow a phrase, they stink, stank, and stunk across the board against the Cowboys. Coaching staff included. [-3]
25th - Consensus (Bleacher Report): Bill Belichick has been an NFL head coach for more than two decades. He has more Super Bowl rings than any man who has ever held that position. Until Sunday, he had never lost a game by 35 points. Patriots quarterback Mac Jones was a turnover machine before he was benched in the second half, with two of his miscues coming back for touchdowns. Jones’ limitations as a quarterback are obvious, but he isn’t exactly getting a lot in the way of help. “Who’s going to clean up this mess in New England? Apparently, offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien doesn’t have a magic wand that turns Jones into the promising passer from the 2021 season.” More. [-6]
26th - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): Bill Belichick can’t be happy with either Mac Jones or the defense as the Patriots look headed for a surefire losing season should those two entities keep letting down. What is bad enough to make him think twice about the future? We will never know. [-3]
26th - Conor Orr (SI): The worst blowout in Bill Belichick history wasn’t just a blowout, it was a punking. The Cowboys were pulling out fake field goals on the NFL’s best game plan mastermind. Mac Jones made a series of ill-advised, egregious throws across the field, the second of which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. We are almost certainly coming to a point where we need to wonder if the Patriots are a prime candidate to move on a quarterback at the deadline. It seems to be the only sensible way for them to upgrade right now given that Belichick will never tear down a roster enough to let it grow with a rookie. [-4]
27th - NFL Nation (ESPN): Defensive efficiency: 61.9 (14th) - Biggest issue on defense: Cornerback health. Top 2023 draft pick Christian Gonzalez left Sunday’s game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury (torn labrum), and Jack Jones (hamstring) and Marcus Jones (torn biceps) are already on injured reserve, while Jonathan Jones (ankle) has missed the past three games. That put Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade into top roles on Sunday after Gonzalez’s injury, and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (261 passing yards, TD, no INT) attacked both of them with success. — Mike Reiss [-6]
27th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): At what point should they tank for Caleb Williams? [-4]
27th - Staff (The Score): Christian Gonzalez is already a cornerstone of the Patriots’ defense. The first-round rookie played just 18 defensive snaps in Week 4 due to a shoulder injury, but he allowed only a 68 passer rating and received PFF’s seventh-best grade among corners despite facing some of the NFL’s best receivers. [-7]
AVG RANK: 24.6 (-4.8)