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Lessons from the 2022 season, Mac Jones and breakout stars – Boston Herald

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What else is there to say about Sunday?

The case of the Patriots’ failed 2022 season was solved well before their loss at Buffalo filed it away for good. The culprits? Offensive coaching and special teams.

The Bills returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in a 35-23 win, putting the Patriots on the wrong end of half of the kick return touchdowns scored in the NFL this season. The Pats finished with the league’s worst special teams, per Football Outsiders’ opponent-and-situation-adjusted metric DVOA, and their worst of the Bill Belichick era. After the game, Belichick claimed the finale came down to four plays: those returns and Josh Allen’s rocket-launched touchdown passes in the second half.

Except only someone who hasn’t watched the Bills and Patriots play seven times since Tom Brady left, a stretch when Buffalo went 6-1, would believe that. The Bills boast the better quarterback, the deeper roster and more reliable coaching staff, all of which carried them to victory Sunday. At least over the weekend, the Pats’ offensive staff finally weaponized play-action and diversified its red-zone play-calling. The wrinkles were real, and they were spectacular.

But the pain of the Patriots’ 2022 season cuts deep. Not because the team’s final record was surprising, but because of the culprits. The Patriots’ edge under Belichick is supposed to be coaching and creating unseen advantages, like on special teams. Yet this season, those areas were their obvious undoing.

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