2013 was just 10 years ago but feels like a hundred in football years. Partly for fun, and partly because the 2023 New England Patriots are not fun, I looked back at the power rankings for the 2013 Patriots heading into Week 11. The Patriots were 7-2 coming off a bye week, readying to play the 6-3 red hot Carolina Panthers. Their average rank was 4.7.
New England had beaten Pittsburgh 55-31 in Week 9. The score was tied at 24 until Tom Brady just went off in the fourth quarter. It was a world where Danny Amendola scored his first touchdown as a Patriot, WR Aaron Dobson and RB Steven Ridley scored two touchdowns each and LeGarrette Blount and Rob Gronkowski both put points on the board as well. Good times.
Yes, the Pats are in a down period right now and who knows how long it will take to climb back into contender status. Probably, and not coincidentally, it will coincide with finding the right franchise quarterback to build the team around. They usually go hand-in-hand. And while I don’t know when that will be or what it will look like, I do know that it’s not likely Pats fans will see another 20-year run like we had before. That was magic.
Bringing this back to 2023, a 30th ranking is about the lowest of the low. It’s such a foreign place to be that it’s hard to believe —almost as if this is a completely different team than the one I’ve followed for so long that the situation doesn’t hit as hard as it should. Frustrating for sure, but it doesn’t make me angry like some fans are. My mindset has been taking it one game at a time and hoping for signs of improvement. The bye will be a welcome respite, but there are still plenty of interesting games on deck this week — while the Patriots will probably be stuck watching film of themselves. Oof...
Around the AFC East:
New England Patriots (2-8) - Bye Week
Indianapolis Colts (5-5) - Bye Week
30th - Eric Edholm (NFL.com): The cracks in the Patriots’ armor had been showing for a few seasons now, and some ugly and awkward incidents late last season appeared to portend the confluence of issues this year. The team released promising young CB Jack Jones amid strange circumstances. Mac Jones was benched late in the Germany loss, replaced by Bailey Zappe, who made a peculiar decision on the game-ending fake snap. Two active wide receivers, Ty Montgomery and Jalen Reagor, played a combined one offensive snap against the Colts. They crawled into the bye, jet-lagged and star-crossed, and it’s hard to imagine a fairytale ending here. What will the Patriots look like down the stretch? Will it be any different? [-1]
30th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): This thing is over. The question now is whether Bill Belichick will be around for the rebuild — or whether he should be. [-3]
30th - Conor Orr (SI): I have done all I can to write and advocate for a peaceful deescalation in the Bill Belichick saga. I wish Boston would love him now, as they inevitably will in 15 years when it is time for statues and banners. I wish he and Robert Kraft would hug publicly. I wish he would sign a 10-year extension. Alas, all good things must come to an end. I have resigned myself to the fact that this will likely happen at season’s end. [-1]
30th - Karen Guregian (MassLive): Team owner Robert Kraft was hoping for a ‘reset’ with a win in Germany. What he got instead was more of the same. [-2]
30th - Danny Heifetz (The Ringer): There is nothing powerful about these Patriots. Mac Jones is one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL even when accounting for New England’s awful pass protection. Week 10 should have been an easy game-winning touchdown. Instead it was one of the worst throws of his career. The offense is starved for talent, but it isn’t even a well-coached team anymore. The best thing this team has going for it is a bizarro revenge Super Bowl matchup with the Giants in two weeks where the loser will likely lock themselves into a top-two draft pick. [-2]
30th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): A wild stat went viral on Monday. The Patriots rushed for 167 yards, allowed 10 points and still lost to the Colts. According to @bostonsportsinf, that broke a streak of 266 straight wins for NFL teams that rushed for at least 150 yards and gave up 10 or fewer points. If you wanted any more proof of how awful that loss in Germany was for the Patriots. [-1]
30th - Dalton Miller (Pro Football Network): It’s sad to see the once mighty Bill Belichick coach a football team this bad. It’s even worse to think about how it’s very much his fault that the roster disintegrated into what it is now. [-1]
30th - Consensus (Bleacher Report): In a season that has seemingly been nothing but lows, the New England Patriots hit a new one Sunday—and in doing so they may have hit a breaking point with their starting quarterback. For the third time this season, Mac Jones was replaced by Bailey Zappe late in Sunday’s loss to the Colts in Germany. Jones threw for 170 yards and tossed his league-leading 10th interception, and after the game he admitted to reporters that he isn’t playing well at all right now.
When asked about pulling Jones and who might start against the New York Giants in two weeks, head coach Bill Belichick was his usual forthright and open self. Frankly, given that Zappe threw an interception of his own that sealed the game, switching quarterbacks in New England is a bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. ... [-1]
30th - Josh Schrock (NBC Sports Chicago): The Mac Jones redemption era as a 49ers backup will be a good story, but McCorkle’s time in New England is over. The former first-round pick is a broken, defeated signal-caller, and Bill Belichick should wear most of the blame. [-1]
30th - Nate Davis (USA Today): They haven’t beaten a non-divisional team in 11 months, that last victory coming in the game when Murray tore his ACL in December. [-1]
30th - Matt Johnson (SportsNaut): There are endless issues with the New England Patriots. Among them; there isn’t a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster, the injury-plagued offensive line can’t hold up in pass protection and New England’s depleted pass rush can’t create any form of pressure. All of this falls on the shoulders of Bill Belichick. New England shouldn’t necessarily fire him during the bye week, but it’s clear Robert Kraft made a mistake not stripping Belichick of GM duties years ago. The Patriots will have a new head coach and general manager in 2024, but this roster is going to take years to rebuild. [-1]
30th - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots tried to win a game by hiding Mac Jones and their quarterbacks in general. They almost pulled it off with the running game dominating and short-handed defense making a lot of plays, but they didn’t see the results in Germany ahead of a tough bye for Bill Belichick. [-2]
31st - NFL Nation (ESPN): Biggest remaining game: Week 18 vs. Jets. That’s when the team’s nightmare season will be closest to over, allowing them to officially turn the page to next season with a more decisive answer to the question: What does Bill Belichick’s future with the franchise look like? And also, what draft slot in the first round (currently No. 4)? — Mike Reiss. [-3]
31st - Jarrett Bailey (TouchdownWire): Mac Jones threw the worst interception you’ll ever see, and then Bailey Zappe said “Hold my beer.” Switching from Jones to Zappe is like switching from Mountain Dew to Mello Yello- they are the same person, and the Patriots are doomed. [-2]
31st - Staff (The Score): It feels like we’re nearing the end of the Bill Belichick era in New England. This team needs to tear it down and start over. [-2]
32nd - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): This is as bad as it’s ever been for the Patriots. [-1]
AVG RANK: 30.3 (-1.6)