The New England Patriots became one of the best NFL dynasties ever thanks to Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the so-called Patriot Way. Now past the quarter point of the 2023 NFL season, the Patriots locker room is reportedly starting to turn on the system.
Since Brady’s departure following the 2019 season, New England has appeared in the playoffs just once with its last postseason victory coming in Super Bowl LIII. The Patriots are on pace for their third losing season in the last four years with Belichick off to one of his worst starts ever.
- New England Patriots offense stats: 11 points per game (32nd in NFL), 287.4 total yards per game (26th in NFL), 4.4 yards per play (28th in NFL)
When Belichick hired Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator and signed wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, many expected this offense to take a step forward in 2023. Instead, it’s one of the worst offenses in the NFL with just one offensive touchdown in the last three games.
With pressure mounting on Belichick amid increasing rumors that he could be fired after the season, it now appears the Patriots’ locker room is on the brink of turning against the future Hall of Fame coach.
During an appearance on Arbella Early Edition with Trenne, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated shed light on the ‘tenuous’ situation in the Patriots’ locker room.
“I don’t know if there’s finger pointing, but I would say that a belief in what they’re doing right now is tenuous. I think this has to become like a proof of concept thing. Where, you’ve done things a certain way for so long and Bill’s been able to point at the trophy cases to say ‘This is why you’re doing it.’ Now what they’re doing is not working and I think there’s a sort of ‘Show Me’ feel to everything right now. I think they’re going to have to get results to prevent from happening here what happens with bad teams.”Albert Breer on the New England Patriots locker room entering Week 6
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As Breer went on to explain, a tenuous locker room turning entirely could be even more devastating for New England. On perennial losing teams or clubs that fall out of the playoff race quickly, players change their behaviors.
Impending free agents and impact players seeking contract extensions are far less likely to play through minor injuries. Effort level also changes as well, especially among defenders after months of playing well only to have the offense be responsible for a majority of losses.
It’s unfamiliar territory for the Patriots, but it also seems to be exactly where things are headed. If New England loses to Josh McDaniels and Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 6, the tenuous locker room atmosphere will worsen.
While Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft is highly unlikely to make an in-season change, each loss makes it far more likely Belichick is fired in January.