Arbella Early Edition

Curran: Pats' ‘rock bottom' can get worse before end of season

"We're entering the next chapter of rock bottomness."

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Just when you think the New England Patriots' 2023 season can't get any worse, they find a new low.

They've hit rock bottom on multiple occasions this season. First, it was their back-to-back blowout losses to the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints in which they were outscored a combined 72-3. They followed those abysmal performances with a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.

New England snapped its three-game skid with a big win over the Buffalo Bills, but any optimism inspired by that victory disappeared with its loss at home to the Washington Commanders the following week. It's been all downhill since.

The Patriots' trip to Germany to take on the Indianapolis Colts was a disaster. Third-year quarterback Mac Jones was benched in favor of Bailey Zappe after throwing a brutal fourth-quarter interception, and Zappe threw a pick on a fake spike play to seal the Colts' 10-6 win. Cornerback Jack Jones was cut by the team after the trip overseas because his behavior reportedly "wasn't to the level the team had hoped after his previous incident (late for team meeting/1st quarter benching vs Washington)."

Again, that seemed to be rock bottom for Bill Belichick's group, but they found another new low after their bye week with their 10-7 loss to the New York Giants. Jones was benched for the fourth time this season after two interceptions and rookie fourth-round kicker Chad Ryland missed a 35-yard field goal that would have tied the game with six seconds remaining.

At 2-9 on the season with both their QB and head coach on the hot seat, it couldn't possibly get any worse for New England at this point... right?

Wrong, says our Patriots insider Tom E. Curran.

"New Orleans was the rock bottom. Las Vegas last year was rock bottom. You can't have multiple rock bottoms," Curran said on Monday's Arbella Early Edition. "At some point, you have to pocket your rock bottoms and say, 'I'll let you know at the end in hindsight what the rock bottom was.'

"Because as Christian Fauria said to me last week, and he said it to me today by text, he has played on bad teams. This is the loser's playbook. There is friction on the sidelines as we saw between JuJu (Smith-Schuster) and Troy Brown yesterday. There is friction among players getting benched and released as Jack Jones was. There is friction between offensive players as we saw between Mac and (Mike) Gesicki. And there are no answers, there's no young kids to play and develop because they're already out there. Any number of things can happen over the next 41 days between ownership, head coach, on-field product, that can make things look a lot worse than they do at this moment where we're worried about how many snaps which guy got. It can get a lot worse."

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Jones has struggled mightily as the Patriots' starting QB and Zappe hasn't fared much better in relief. While the situation behind center certainly hasn't helped matters, Curran believes the issues in the organization run deeper and likely won't end any time soon.

"You could sign (Tom) Brady and I don't think you're gonna win games," he added. "They went 2-4 with a better team in 2019 coming down the stretch with him. They're not a tick or two away and a competent quarterback away. We're seeing that they're dysfunctional. ... We're entering the next chapter of rock bottomness."

At this point, the only saving grace for this year's Patriots team is it could end up with a top-three draft pick in 2024. They enter Week 13 with the No. 3 overall selection.

Losing might benefit the Patriots in the long run. They'll just hope to avoid doing so in embarrassing fashion from this point on, starting next Sunday when they take on the Los Angeles Chargers.

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