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Patriots Finish Disappointing Season

The Patriots have concluded their dismal 2023 NFL season with a record of four wins and 13 losses, their worst 17-game stretch since December 1993. Consequently, the Patriots’ ownership has decided to part ways with Bill Belichick, their legendary long-time coach who served a tenure of twenty-four years, winning six Super Bowls along the way. 

The Patriots lost their first two games of the season, albeit in close matchups against two of the better teams in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins. A week-three victory against the Jets raised the hopes of fans, but setbacks quickly followed. Major injuries to star players Matthew Judon and Christian Gonzalez led to embarrassing losses in the following weeks, including a blowout to the Cowboys and a shutout to the Saints. Despite a surprising victory over the formidable Buffalo Bills, concerns over the legitimacy of starting quarterback Mac Jones grew by week ten, leading to his benching in favor of backup Bailey Zappe.

Zappe’s first start resulted in a shutout loss to the Chargers, marking a historical low for the team. In this three-game losing streak against the Colts, Giants, and Chargers, their defense allowed ten points or less each game, and the offense could not string together enough points to win. This imbalance of a stagnant offense and terrific defense had not happened in the NFL since 1938. Despite intermittent victories over the Steelers and Broncos, these positive movements failed to salvage the Patriots’ season, ultimately ending in disappointment. 

Even after a season full of woes, fans should still feel a sense of optimism for the upcoming 2024 season. The Patriots’ 4-13 record landed them a spot with the third pick in the NFL draft, allowing them to select a new rookie to be the face of the franchise. Without star players like Christian Gonzalez and Matthew Judon, the defense continued to be consistently dominant, ranking top ten among all defenses in the NFL. Their leader, de facto defensive coordinator Jerod Mayo, has now been promoted to head coach and will try to lead the entire team out of adversity. 

Mayo was selected by the Patriots in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. He served as a dominant linebacker and team captain for many years before retiring in 2015, as a lifelong Patriot. There are many benefits to hiring a former player as a coach, as seen in the turnaround of the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans. Recent hires of Dan Campbell and DeMeco Ryans led both the Lions and Texans teams from losing records to leading divisions within a few years, indicating that Mayo could achieve the same kind of transformation in Foxborough.

Long-time season ticket holder and Belmont Hill student Jackson Hurd ’26 expressed his optimism about the team: “Mayo will have a player-friendly locker room, bringing in a similar feel to the team from the second Brady dynasty, which won them three Super Bowls.” Hopefully, with new faces in the coaching staff and enthusiastic fans, the Patriots will reclaim their status as an elite team in the near future. If all goes according to the Kraft’s plan, the Patriots will be contending for a Super Bowl very soon under Coach Jerod Mayo.

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