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What does the future have in store for Bill Belichick and the Patriots offense?


In an attempt to justify not hiring a legitimate offensive coordinator last spring, Bill Belichick told fans a good coach can coach any side of the ball, whether they have any experience there or not.

Belichick expected everyone to buy into the notion that two recently fired head coaches, one a former defensive coordinator, and the other a former special teams coach, were perfectly qualified to take Mac Jones to the next level.

The fact that Matt Patricia and Joe Judge didn’t know a lick about running an offense, calling plays, or handling a quarterback was of no consequence, Belichick claimed.

Even now, with Patricia’s play-calling under fire and his offense a mess, Belichick isn’t backing down.

Judging by what he said during the week, he’s happy with the status quo. He doesn’t see the need to change play-callers. Or flip to the “wishbone offense” or “run the veer,” which he reached for when answering the question about moving away from Patricia.

“Again, the system that we have in place, I feel good about. Which includes the offensive staff,” Belichick said. “It includes me, it includes whatever the whole process is, on defense, on offense, on special teams.”

Of course, with a 6-6 record, and a team that’s still in the mix for the playoffs, Belichick isn’t going to throw stones in the direction of any of his coaches or make any drastic moves. He’s not going to admit to making a mistake and open the door for more grenade tosses while he’s trying to win games.

All of that is fine. But as the saying goes, Belichick made this bed, now he has to lie in it the rest of the way.

He wanted all the blame to be put on him if the Patriots failed. And 13 weeks into the season, Belichick is getting his fair share from the media, not to mention the fan base. The question now is how team owner Robert Kraft views having a mediocre team, after voicing his displeasure earlier in the year over not winning a playoff game in three years.

Kraft can’t be happy after watching another non-competitive performance against the Bills. But there’s still five games left for Belichick and the team to rise above the current train wreck.

What happens in the offseason is anyone’s guess, whether Kraft parts ways with his six-time Super Bowl-winning coach, which would be a surprise, or if there’s an overhaul with the coaching staff. With a sliver of hope left for the team to still gain a playoff berth, it’ll be interesting to see what transpires from here on out.

Belichick says there’s no “magic wand” to wave to fix all that ails the Patriots, but he’s going to have to come up with something.

And it has to start with the offense, one that’s stuck in neutral thanks to Patricia not having a feel for calling plays on offense amongst other things.

The Patriots are 24th in total offense (318.9 yards per game), tied for last in the red zone (37.5% touchdown rate) and 25th on third down (36.18% conversion rate).  Being so late in the season, it would have been hard to make a switch from Patricia.

Aside from Belichick taking over the play-calling, the only other in-house possibility would be giving tight ends coach Nick Caley a shot. Caley has been in the system the longest among offensive assistants. He’d provide a different voice, a different rhythm and approach to his play-calling and it’s possible that might provide a boost.

No matter, it doesn’t seem like Belichick is going in that direction.

At the same time, on Wednesday, Belichick couldn’t identify one thing the offense was good at. He basically dodged the question.

It’s fairly obvious that Patricia’s conservative ways, and being late to adjust to what defenses are doing, doesn’t sit well with Jones, not to mention others in the offense.

Following the Buffalo loss, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne didn’t hide the fact he wasn’t a fan of their scheme or play calling on third down, saying the team could have been more aggressive against Buffalo.

Even Arizona defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who will be scheming to shut down the Patriots offense on Monday night, poked fun at Patricia and the Patriots, saying it looks “like a defensive guy’s calling offense.”

Whatever the case, the end result will be on Belichick no matter how it plays out. It’s certainly possible for the Patriots to catch fire and get into the postseason. Based on the schedule, it’s more likely they won’t. And maybe Kraft will ultimately clean house.

For the players, though, the goal now should be trying to make the most of a bad situation, seeing where it takes them, and let the chips fall where they may.

The only way for this to not turn into more of a nightmare the rest of the way, is if the players make more of a concerted effort to deliver what the coaches put in front of them.

The one certainty is that nothing is changing this year. So if the players want to have something to play for the rest of the way, it behooves them to buy in a little more than they have.

Jones claimed that was the case, and everyone was on the same page during his availability Wednesday.

“I feel like we have a good energy, that’s important,” he said. “Everybody is all in and that’s all you can ask for, and we got to go out there and produce. We’re going to prepare that way and do the best we can, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Jones also felt like it was a new season from here on out, so maybe that’s how the coaches have portrayed it. Like they’re operating with a clean slate at 6-6.

“It starts with this one against the Cardinals, and that’s what we’re going to focus on. We’re in a good spot,” said Jones. “We just gotta go out there and compete and win … whatever we gotta do to figure out how to win, practice that way, prepare that way, and obviously play that way.”

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson agreed.

“We’re 6-6, we’ve got five more big ball games ahead of us,” said Stevenson, “so it’s just about playing our best football these last five games, and seeing where it takes us.”

Winning cures a lot. But if the slide continues, and the Patriots finish outside of the playoffs, changes will no doubt follow. Where they start remains to be seen.

The new Ted Karras

Wanted to get Dante Scarnecchia’s reaction to watching Ted Karras take on the Tennessee fans a few weeks back.

After the Bengals knocked off the Titans on the road, the former Patriots lineman got into it with the fans as he was leaving the field.

“Right up yours Tennessee!” Karras yelled at the crowd. “(Expletive) you! (Expletive) you!”

To no surprise, the video went viral.

Bengals center Ted Karras leaves the field following a win over the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
Bengals center Ted Karras leaves the field following a win over the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Scarnecchia said the behavior was somewhat out of character for Karras, who signed with the Bengals in the offseason as a free agent. But given the fire that burns within Karras, Scar wasn’t necessarily surprised.

“The Ted Karras we brought into the program years ago would have probably never done that, but now he’s been in the league awhile — he’s a fiery guy,” said Scarnecchia. “Hey, look, the greatest tribute you could ever have as a player is to be named a captain. And he’s been named a captain in two out of the last three teams he’s been with.

“He’s a hard worker. He’s one of those guys who’s charismatic in a lot of ways. He plays hard. He’s doing a great job. I watched every play (from the game against Kansas City), and he does a great job inside. He’s feisty, he’s tough, and all those kids up front are all playing pretty good for Cincinnati and their team is playing pretty darn good.”

Good guy Lawrence Guy

Lawrence Guy is this year’s Patriots nominee for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.

Lawrence and his wife, Andrea, established the Lawrence Guy Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides resources and opportunities for financially disadvantaged families.

Speaking with the media Tuesday, Guy told a wonderful story about how his father, who was a firefighter for 25 years, inspired him to give back and help people in need.

Patriots defensive end Lawrence Guy, left, and quarterback Mac Jones enter the practice field Aug. 17 in Foxboro. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
Patriots defensive end Lawrence Guy, left, and quarterback Mac Jones enter the practice field Aug. 17 in Foxboro. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

As the story goes, his father went out on a call on Christmas Eve, and soon learned that a family lost everything, presumably after a fire gutted the house.

“So he went to the store, bought some food, bought all the toys he could buy, and dropped them off at the local hotel they were staying at,” Guy said, relaying how his father tried to help.

Guy learned from that story. His father’s kindness and willingness to help others was a worthy act to carry on.

“We might not know what somebody’s going through next to us,” he said. “It could be the person working at the mall, or the man working next to you in the locker room, you don’t know what they’re going through, so being able to help somebody out to uplift them pretty much does it all for me. That’s why we continue to do this in the community.”

Raiders are toast

The Raiders season has been one colossal blunder after another.

They’ve blown three three-score leads. They were shut out by the Saints, currently the worst team in the NFC South, and beaten by Jeff Saturday, an interim coach with no NFL coaching experience his first week manning the Colts.

Thursday night’s loss to the Rams just may have put the cherry on top of that mess, as the Raiders surrendered a 16-3 fourth-quarter lead to the Rams, who had lost six straight heading into the game. It was a Rams team without starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donals and All-Pro wide receiver Cooper Kupp.

And they were beaten by Baker Mayfield, who was dumped by the Panthers, put on waivers, claimed by the Rams, showed up Tuesday, and pulled off a comeback for the ages two days later.

The Raiders had seemed to right the ship riding a three-game winning streak, but the loss effectively ended any hope of the postseason.

“These are hard lessons to learn,” head coach Josh McDaniels said after the latest debacle. “We’ve got to be able to extend the lead when we have one. Keep competing, not let our foot off the gas … and try to play the same way we were when the game starts.

“Obviously,” he added, “I haven’t done a good enough job of being able to get us to do that.”

The Raiders committed seven penalties for 94 yards, including two costly defensive fouls on the Rams’ first scoring drive in the fourth quarter and two more on their game-winning drive.

Punter for hire

It will be interesting to see if Matt Araiza, aka “The Punt God,” can get a job.

On Wednesday, the San Diego District Attorney announced the former Bills punter would not be facing criminal charges for rape.

Araiza wants to resume playing pro football, saying in a statement: “I am grateful that the District Attorney and the San Diego Police Department have discovered all the facts and found no criminal wrongdoing. I am excited to continue my NFL career.”

The Bills had cut Araiza in August, after media reports surfaced about the alleged gang rape of a 17-year-old girl which also involved two other San Diego State teammates.

While Araiza was cleared from criminal charges, a civil case is still pending. It’s hard to say if that will impact him going forward and if teams will still shy away from signing him.

Araiza had been taken in the sixth-round of the 2022 draft by the Bills. He set the NCAA season record for average punt yardage (51.19) as a junior.


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