Maybe you didn't notice, but the Patriots started cornerback Shaun Wade opposite Jonathan Jones in their 20-17 loss to the Washington Commanders. Wade had not played a defensive snap since losing in Las Vegas three weeks ago and has received extensive action in only one game all season.
It was noticeable, however, that neither former All-Pro J.C. Jackson nor Jack Jones (who has started the past three games) received the starting nod or saw the field during that first possession. Jackson replaced Wade after the second series, while Jones didn't see the field until the second quarter.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported that Jackson and Jones were benched "due to recent performance issues." However, Patriots coach Bill Belichick downplayed the benching of Jackson and Jones after the game, mentioning that they each played.
Jackson and Jones didn't seem too pleased with sitting out the start, and both left the locker room without talking to reporters, although Jones gave us an idea of how things are going at 1 Patriot Place with a simple "like" of a tweet.
You may recall Jones was arrested at Logan Airport in June on gun charges and was facing a possible 30 years in prison before having the charges dropped in early September. How bad do things have to be for you to think 30 years in prison is better than playing for the Patriots?
Aside from Jackson and Jones being benched was the curious case of Kayshon Boutte, who seemed to be in a position to see the field for the first time since the season opener. With Kendrick Bourne (ACL) and DeVante Parker (concussion) both out, the Patriots are thin at receiver, so Boutte figured to play a role in Sunday's game.
During the week, Belichick mentioned that Boutte had had his best week of practice, and Boutte himself said, "It's been seven weeks, and now my name's being called."
Instead, Boutte was inactive yet again as the Patriots only dressed four receivers: Demario Douglas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, and Jalen Reagor.
Smith-Schuster was pretty much benched last week until Parker and Bourne went down; Thornton was limited in practice this week and didn't see the field in the second half while Reagor was on the practice squad.
It seemed that Boutte thought he would be a part of the game plan with a depleted receiver group, so why was he inactive? Could it have been a case of Belichick benching Boutte for speaking to the media?
These puzzling decisions and the reactions to them make it seem that Belichick has lost the locker room. at 2-7, he may lose his job next.