The Patriots have been a very frustrating team to watch in 2023, to say the least, and the players have been incredibly professional in not giving much indication of that feeling consuming them behind closed doors.
Although the defense, in particular, has scoffed at the idea of tension building up due to the offense performing so poorly, we finally got to hear the truth of it all after their latest loss to the Chargers on Sunday.
While speaking to the Boston Herald post-game, nose tackle Davon Godchaux candidly expressed his true feelings about how the season has gone on the heels of one of the worst losses of the year. His honest responses provide the much-needed look behind the façade that everything is fine in New England despite the losing.
But if the fans are as frustrated as they are, then the defense has to be feeling the same way but amplified, right? As you can imagine, Godchaux lays it out that way.
"It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating. I’m not gonna sit up here and say, ‘You know, I still believe.’ It’s f—ing frustrating. Anybody can tell you that. You know, I thought Zappe made some good throws today. I thought there was a couple balls we could’ve caught as receivers, and those guys would tell you the same thing, too. They can take accountability, and we’ve all got (expletive) (expletive) we all messed up on. But the margin of error in this league is so small."
Some may feel his honesty is a bit brutal, but one of the most longstanding criticisms the Patriots have gotten over the years is their lack of transparency to the media. They are often referred to as answering in the "Patriot Way" and sticking to the script of how they like coaches and players to answer questions.
It worked well for them during their 20 years of pure domination over the league, as they didn't have to answer many tough or probing questions. But now that that's not the case, most want to hear how they're really feeling, especially during a season that is frustrating for everyone in the building and watching from home.
So, in that regard, Godchaux deserves praise for laying it all on the line, even if he is just speaking for himself and not his teammates.
He continued to reiterate his disappointment with being in the situation the team is in with a now 2-10 record while also sharing his sadness of not winning games for a fanbase who grew accustomed to just that.
"I’m sad we didn’t get it done, man. I don’t even remember if we’ve won a home game. Against Buffalo, that’s probably the only one. It’s sad that we can’t give the fans what they want, to win. Because I think we’re a playoff team, but our record doesn’t show that. We’re a 2-10 team, and it’s just frustrating. But no one’s going to feel sorry for us."
"But no one's going to feel sorry for us." Ain't that the truth?
That's almost certainly true about those outside of New England, but when it comes to watching the defense play lights out this season, especially in the last three games, Patriots fans are feeling bad for them. How can you not?
And then you think about the fact that they're down Christian Gonzalez, who was looking well on his way to winning Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Matthew Judon, who was poised to have an even better season than last year. If the defense is playing this well without two of their best players, could they have been a top-10 or top-5 defense with them back on the field? It sure seems like it.
But Godchaux said that's just how the defense chooses to operate this season, regardless of the record or being eliminated from the playoffs. He says they set their standard high, and it's frustrating to see that it's still not good enough.
"Like I said, nobody’s going to feel sorry for us because everybody loves beating the Patriots because of the dynasty they had over two decades. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for the Patriots. So we’ve gotta fix it. Even though we’ve got five games left and are not going to the playoffs, you don’t wanna put (expletive) on film and look bad.
And that’s why our defense, man, our standard is so high. Our coaches hold us to such a high standard, and we’re gonna come out and try to hold people to zero points next week. So, we’ll see."
It's almost inconceivable that the defense thinks that holding teams to an average of 9 points over the last three games is not good enough simply because the offense couldn't score more to win the game. So now they need to ensure their opponents don't score at all.
Given the circumstances, it's an understandable mindset to have, but it's clearly not a sustainable threshold to maintain. And they shouldn't have to. No defense should ever be put into that scenario because the offense can't do their part of the job.
But as it's been said, that's where the Patriots are right now, and we can only hope that things will dramatically improve this offseason. They need to get back on track while keeping the great players they have signed and hopefully entice others to sign there. Otherwise, this may become a familiar interview that others will echo for years to come.