FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — This has been a season full of resets for the New England Patriots.
Training camp brought the first chance to put a dismal 2022 campaign behind them.
A win over the Jets in Week 3 was also supposed to serve as a restart following an 0-2 start.
Hopes of yet another mulligan came after a Week 7 win over Buffalo that stopped a 1-5 start.
But Sunday’s 10-6 loss to Indianapolis in Germany not only gave New England its second three-game losing streak of the season, it also is the clearest sign yet that this team’s issues may not be fixable at this point.
The back-footed, severely underthrown interception that Mac Jones tossed in the red zone late in the fourth quarter didn’t just rob his team of a chance to take the lead.
It also brought a season’s worth of futility by the third-year quarterback to an international audience, raising questions about who will have the starting job when the Patriots emerge from this week’s bye.
“We’ll look at everything,” coach Bill Belichick said Monday. “We’ll look at everything across the board.”
While Belichick made clear those assessments would include every position on the roster, the fact that Jones was benched after his pick in favor of backup Bailey Zappe was an indication that Jones’ status as the starter is tenuous at best.
“We’re not there yet, but I always use the bye week to evaluate myself and the team and everything I can do better, and there’s a lot of things clearly I need to do better,” Jones said. “I’m always going to work. I know that.”
The same scrutiny is squarely on Belichick, whose team is last in the AFC and 2-8 for the first time since finishing his first season in New England 5-11 in 2000.
If a complete overhaul of the quarterback position is what’s on tap this offseason, the Patriots continue to be in position to land a high draft pick. If the season ended today, the Patriots would select third.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
While Jones’ play and injuries haven’t helped, the offense has taken massive strides backward under the direction of Bill O’Brien.
Points per game (14.1), yards per game (308.4) and third down efficiency (34.9%) are all down from a season ago.
Slow starts also continue to plague the Patriots, who have yet to score a touchdown on an opening drive this season.
“There are things that we can build off of,” Belichick said. “We’re certainly doing a lot of things better than we did earlier in the year. But, it doesn’t take much to stop a drive or to have a bad play.”
Rookie punter Bryce Baringer continues to shine this season. He dropped his NFL-leading 23rd punt inside the 20 on Sunday.
Jones. He was 15 of 20 for 170 yards, but failed to see open receivers down the field and his incompletions were doomed by poor mechanics. His 10 interceptions are tied for the most in the NFL. When he was pulled in favor of Zappe prior to the Patriots’ final drive, it marked the third time he’d been benched this season.
“I’ve played well in my career before, but just not right now,” he said. “It’s peaks and valleys, but I’m kind of in a valley right now, and just got to bounce back.”
Running back Rhamondre Stevenson had treatment for a back injury in the fourth quarter but returned. Defensive tackle Christian Barmore left the field for treatment in the fourth quarter. Offensive tackle Conor McDermott, who was promoted from the practice squad Saturday, also left the field for treatment in the fourth quarter.
27-33 — The Patriots’ record since Tom Brady left following the 2019 season to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Patriots have a bye this week. They visit the New York Giants on Nov. 26.
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