The New England Patriots did not play two of their best cornerbacks to begin Sunday's Week 9 loss to the Washington Commanders, and now we know why.
The Athletic's Jeff Howe reported Sunday evening that cornerbacks J.C. Jackson and Jack Jones began on the bench "due to recent performance issues."
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UPDATE (Nov. 8): Both Jackson and Jones missed curfew at the team hotel Saturday night prior to Sunday's game, ESPN's Mike Reiss reports.
Jackson struggled last week against the Miami Dolphins. He committed a pass interference penalty in the end zone and gave up two touchdowns. Jones wasn't amazing in the 31-17 loss to the Dolphins, either, but his performance wasn't so bad that he shouldn't have started Sunday's matchup.
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The Patriots started Shaun Wade and Jonathan Jones at cornerback in the first quarter against the Commanders. When asked if Jackson and/or Jones were benched to begin the game, head coach Bill Belichick didn't really answer the question.
“Everybody played," he said. "They all played.”
Neither Jackson nor Jones talked to reporters after Sunday's game.
This isn't the first time the Patriots have benched players or had any drama. What's different now, compared to most of the last two decades, is that New England is a really bad football team. And if the losses continue to pile up, the situation likely will get worse.
"When you're a bad football team, and I think the worst team in football, these things tend to happen for you," Michael Holley said on NBC Sports Boston's Postgame Live. "When you're winning games you have some drama, you can put a happy face on it and say, 'Hey, we're winning anyway.' You can turn it into a joke.
"But when you are the joke, when your team is 2-7 and you do the same things over and over and make the same mistakes, all the things that are happening behind closed doors become problematic. So I think there are a lot of little fires that are happening with this team. They're not going to be put out because they will continue to lose more than they win."
The Patriots will travel to Germany for a Week 10 game against the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday. After that matchup, the Patriots get a much-needed bye in Week 11, which will give them some extra time to try to sort out any internal issues that are negatively impacting the team.