Bill Belichick Offers Few Specifics about how to fix the Patriots amid their Worst Start since 2000
There is a tradition that takes place in the aftermath of New England Patriots home games.
After the field has emptied, select ticket holders are invited down to the Gillette Stadium turf.
Once there, some enjoy games of catch between family members and friends. Others use the opportunity to stand at the 50-yard line and get their picture taken while an image of them is displayed on the stadium’s 22,000-square-foot video board.
For most of the past two decades, the tradition has been a festival of smiles after Patriots victories. On Sunday, it had the feel of a wake following the Patriots’ 34-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints — the worst home shutout in team history.
New England is 1-4 for the first time since Bill Belichick's first season as coach in 2000. A team that began the year with hopes of returning to the playoffs has played so poorly that its fans are questioning everything — including whether Belichick should keep his job.
With an atmosphere of hopelessness surrounding his team, Belichick said he plans to “start over” this week. Specifics on how and where that begins remained scarce on Monday.
“We need to make some improvements on where we are, so we will see what all that entails,” Belichick said. “Haven’t gone into it yet, but we will.”
In a region that has come to expect championship runs by each of its four major professional teams, it's becoming clearer with each passing week that — three years after Tom Brady's departure — the Patriots are no longer getting a pass for their 20-year run of success.
New England is 26-29 in the regular season since Brady left for Tampa Bay and was blown out in its lone playoff appearance during that stretch.
Belichick brought back former assistant Bill O'Brien as offensive coordinator during the offseason, but the move hasn't paid off. New England's offense ranks 26th in the league and hasn't scored a touchdown in 10 quarters.
Meanwhile, a make-or-break third season for quarterback Mac Jones has hit new lows.
Asked whether he is mulling a change at the position, Belichick was vague.
“I have confidence in every player that is on the team. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be on the team,” Belichick said. “So, every player that is on the team, I have confidence in them.”
The Patriots were whistled for just five penalties against the Saints, tied for their fewest this season.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Something must change on offense if this team is going to turn things around. New England managed a season-worst eight first downs and has been outscored 72-3 over its past two games. The Patriots turned the ball over three times against the Saints and have 10 giveaways this season.
The Patriots’ defense yielded three touchdowns but got a decent performance from its cornerbacks in the first game since rookie Christian Gonzalez went on injured reserve. Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson, Shaun Wade and Myles Bryant were targeted a combined nine times and allowed four completions. They had a pass breakup and a sack.
The Saints' passing touchdowns came with safety Kyle Dugger and linebacker Anfernee Jennings as the primary defenders.
Offensive line. Injuries were a crutch for the group in the first two weeks and remain an issue. But the Patriots produced a season-low 45 rushing yards against New Orleans, while allowing two sacks and four quarterback hits.
Rookie receiver Demario Douglas left the game with a head injury after taking a hit from Marshon Lattimore. Right guard Mike Onwenu was sidelined with an ankle injury. Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster departed with a head injury. Safety Jabrill Peppers exited in the second half with an illness, and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder issue.
30.5 — Jones’ passer rating on Sunday. It was the second worst of his career, behind only the 16.7 he posted last season when he was replaced in the second quarter of New England’s Week 7 loss to Chicago.
Belichick switched the team’s day off from Tuesday to Monday, allowing his players an extra day to recoup. The Patriots visit Las Vegas on Sunday, where they will try to avoid a second straight loss to former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. The Raiders beat New England 30-24 last season.