Dan Mackie: These Patriots might not have won the revolution

Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)

Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)


For the Valley News

Published: 11-24-2023 1:21 PM

I have long counted on the New England Patriots to carry me through winter slumps, but it looks like this is not going to be our year. In a word, they stink.

The blockers offer no resistance, only a pat on the back to linemen rushing by. “See you next play,” they say. “Give the quarterback my regards.”

The receivers run downfield, then madly scatter like ants under the hot lens of a magnifying glass. No one knows where they are going. And something is wrong with their hands. When a swiftly flung ball arrives they yell “owie” and drop it. I’ve never seen the likes of it.

The rushers rush, but not hurriedly. They hesitate as if they need a hug. They get them from 300-pounders and it is too much.

The defense has its moments, but the offense is so weak defenders are in a constant holding action. The team can win if the defense is perfect. It is not.

And then there is the quarterback, Michael McCorkle “Mac” Jones. He grew up in Florida, where he worked at times as a child model. I do not hold that against him, but the number of former child models in the NFL is not vast. His brother played college soccer, a sister, college tennis. It’s fair to say that he did not work his way up from the bottom of the pile.

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After playing football in high school for a coach named Corky — someone should do a study of coach nicknames in the South — Mac matriculated at the University of Alabama, where he received a Doctorate in Football Studies, along with all of his teammates. This sort of mass academic achievement happens at certain colleges and universities.

I suspect the Alabama head coach has faculty status, and so do his assistants, along with the athletic trainer and the president of the booster club. They might say they are hard graders, but I don’t know about that.

Mac seems smart enough to me, but one of his jobs is reading defenses. They may be too dense for him, like Russian novels. I suppose it is tough to be analytical when rushers come in giant waves like those on the North Shore of Hawaii. Someday he might be hit by an actual surfboard.

Anyway, he sometimes reacts to the speed and danger of the game like an errant squirrel on a NASCAR track. When he’s about to be tackled by one, two or three very large men, he screams “aaaaahhh!” and heaves the football away, underhanded, as if tossing a pumpkin. It is catchable by any and all, both teams, mascots, cheerleaders, security guards, even fans in sideline seats.

Watching over all this is Coach and General Manager Bill Belichick, who is 71 and has spoken fewer than that number of words to the press this year. When reporters ask him to explain what is going wrong, he grunts out something along the lines of “We gotta be better.”

Belichick leads the league in scowling. By the end of the season he will likely be mute, communicating with reporters via shrugs and threatening gestures.

I do believe Belichick is a good coach, but he has made omissions in assembling personnel this year. As in NOT GETTING GOOD PLAYERS. To be fair, a few were very good, but they got injured and we all feel the pain.

But back to Mac Jones. He’s in the most miserable position a professional athlete can find himself in — failing quarterback. It seems he has developed short-term memory loss. In the last game the Patriots flew all the way to Germany only to lose at the end when Jones suddenly forgot which color uniform he was supposed to throw to.

The pass that could have won the game lacked all conviction. It was a flawed paper airplane, a wounded duck, a draft resignation letter erroneously sent to “all’’ instead of one trusted colleague.

The Patriots have won 2 games and lost 8. At this point it would be better if they lost the rest so they can draft a top player next season. No one believes Bill Belichick, Old Surly, will try to do that, so Mac Jones is our secret weapon. If he can’t do what needs to be done, our backup quarterbacks might even be worse. In that there is a glimmer of hope.

You might say Patriots fans are spoiled after two decades of excellence matched only by the space program at its best, and maybe the iPhone. Well, yes and so what? It wasn’t our idea to start losing.

Science could not clone Tom Brady, and we are going to have to live with that. But we don’t have to like it.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.