By a score of 10-6, the Patriots lost to the Colts this week in the final NFL Europe game. The Patriots amassed a total of 340 yards to the Colts 264 but lost two important battles, the Colts got 5 sacks to the Patriots 0 and 2 turnovers to 1 as well. After this loss the Pats will fall to 2-8 with matchups against the Giants, Chargers and Steelers next.
For the third time this season, the Patriots would end up benching Mac Jones in favor of Bailey Zappe. Zappe would come into the game for one last drive with less than 2 minutes in the 4th quarter to go. This substitution would come after Mac Jones threw a disgraceful goal line interception right as it seemed the Patriots would take the lead at the end of the game. To make matters worse, Bailey Zappe would too throw a game-sealing INT very late too.
The Stars of this game for the Patriots were Rhamondre Stevenson, Ezekiel Elliot and Myles Bryant on the defensive side of the ball. Stevenson and Elliot would combine for 33 carries for 142 yards and 5 receptions for 48 yards. Myles Bryant would spend his day terrorizing Colts receivers with 2 pass deflections and the sole interception on the day.
The Colts lone touchdown on the day came in their first drive with a major assist from Jonathan Taylor, Taylor had 9 carries for 31 yards and a touchdown in the first drive and would go on to 14 more carries for 38 yards on the day. The Colts would go on to get a field goal with 9 minutes left in the 4th quarter which would lead to the unfortunate events in the upcoming 2 minute drive for the Pats.
What Happens Next?
The Patriots are 2-8 for the first time since 2000 and are currently sitting at the #3 draft pick in the upcoming draft. With several winnable games coming up including a road matchup against the New York Giants, there is still some hope the Patriots can end the season with a much more respectable record... but is that in the team's best interest? It's no secret the Mac Jones era in New England may be coming to an end very soon and with this year's QB class looking as strong as any in recent memory, it is probably in the team's best interest to start planning for their next signal caller.
Adding credence to this is the impending departure of Bill Belichick at the end of the season. With numerous reports calling for Belichick's firing midseason, multiple reports have stated that will not happen, but all signs seem to point to a mutual departure at the season's end. Belichick's 23-year tenure with them will go down as the greatest in NFL history, grabbing 6 Super Bowls, 9 AFC Championships and 17 AFC East Championships in his time.
It may be hard to stomach but after this season the Patriots dynasty looks to be once and for all, over.
Patriots fans obviously have a lot to be upset about with this season so let's look at some positives to cling to. If the Patriots were to end the season with a Top-5 draft pick, one of college football's brightest stars will eb theirs by next year, including USC Quarterback Caleb Williams, UNC Quarterback Drake Maye, Washington Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. or Oregon Quarterback Bo Nix. Even if the Patriots were to sting together some wins and earn a draft pick closer to the number 10 selection, there will be plenty of options such as Texas Quarterback Quinn Ewers.
Some coaching candidates linked to the Patriots for next year are current Tennessee HC and former Patriots Super Bowl winner Mike Vrabel, current Patriots LB coach Jerod Mayo and let's not forget about the recently fired Josh McDaniels who is unlikely to earn another HC job after his second failure at the position but has spent over 15 years as a coach for the Patriots since their dynasty started.
The Patriots will head into their much-needed Bye Week after a tough 3-game skid. There is obviously a lot of problems to work on but the offense will take center stage this week. The offense has only scored more than 20 points once this season and currently ranks 26th in the league in yards per game and 31st in points per game. Another all-too familiar QB controversy will also be highlighted after Jones 3rd benching of the year. His 10-10 TD to INT ratio is by far the worst in the league amongst starters with Zappe yet to find the end zone in his limited appearances.
In Week 12 the Patriots will travel to MetLife stadium to faceoff with the Giants who themselves are also in contention for the worst team in the league. The Giants have had a terrible season all year long but have looked especially lost since their starting QB Daniel Jones went out for the season with a torn ACL in week 6. Losers of 7 of their last 8 games and 3 in a row, the Giants haven't scored more than 17 points since Jones left and have little hope of turning it around.
This is a must win for any competitive Patriots fans and a game that will most likely sentence the loser to a Top-3 pick come April. With the Patriots defense still being a Top-10 unit, it is a game that could easily turn into the team's first shutout since the 2020-21 season.
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Make sure to stay tuned as we continue coverage of the New England Patriots and the 2023-24 season all year.