New England Patriots

Report details Patriots' eye-opening dysfunction amid lost season

And you thought the 2022 Patriots were a mess...

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As the New England Patriots wrap up their worst season in three decades, it's fair to wonder: What the heck happened?

How did a Patriots team that was supposed to improve from an 8-9 campaign thanks to the offseason additions of Bill O'Brien, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ezekiel Elliott and others go in the exact opposite direction, limping into their 2023 season finale at 4-12 and putting the future of head coach Bill Belichick in doubt?

As it turns out, quite a lot went down behind the scenes.

In a lengthy article published Thursday, the Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan and Doug Kyed cited Patriots sources detailing multiple examples of "dysfunction" that hamstrung the offense and resulted in a "broken quarterback" in Mac Jones and "finger-pointing between the coaching staff and front office."

The full article is worth a read, but here are some of the more notable quotes and details:

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-- The issues started at the very beginning: Per Callahan and Kyed's sources, Belichick "preferred to keep" Matt Patricia and "grow together" with his 2022 offensive play-caller but ultimately "relented" and allowed the team to hire O'Brien as offensive coordinator.

Belichick then "denied" O'Brien the opportunity to build out his own offensive coaching staff, allowing just one outside hire in tight ends coach Will Lawing.

"The staff dynamic is completely f—ed,” one source told Callahan and Kyed.

-- New offensive line coach Adrian Klemm "confronted director of player personnel Matt Groh early in the season (about the team's lack of quality players) in a loud exchange that reverberated through the organization," Callahan and Kyed wrote.

Klemm "didn't feel heard," according to Callahan and Kyed, while other staffers "privately pointed fingers back at decision-makers" about the team's construction, highlighted by a patchwork offensive line that included two offseason additions (Riley Reiff and Calvin Anderson) who appeared in just six games combined this season.

Klemm isn't expected to return to the team in 2024, Callahan and Kyed reported.

-- The locker room's confidence in quarterback Mac Jones "waned significantly" after the Patriots' 34-0 loss to the Saints in Week 5, per Callahan and Kyed. But players didn't lay all the fault on Jones, with one source highlighting the miscommunication in the QB room by noting that backup Will Grier "was never a serious consideration" despite being told he could compete for playing time.

“There definitely isn’t healthy communication in there about trying to win football games,” a source told Callahan and Kyed.

-- Patriots cornerback Jack Jones "blew up" on position coach Mike Pellegrino at halftime of the team's Week 10 game matchup with the Indianapolis Colts in Germany after not starting in the game, per Callahan and Kyed. The Patriots released Jones the following day.

-- In the visitors' locker room after the Patriots' upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14, offensive tackle Trent Brown "openly discussed plans to play for an NFC team" next season.

There's plenty more reporting in Callahan and Kyed's article that paints a picture of an organization rife with dysfunction for the second straight season. And while Belichick may have an argument to return as Patriots coach based on how the team has played in the past month, it's hard to ignore the internal strife that has led to unprecedented external failure in New England this season.

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