The Patriots 2023 season is unlike any other most have seen in a very long time, if ever. Unfortunately, the chaos continues with the latest drama coming out of New England as they prepare for their Week 10 matchup with the Colts in Germany.
Coming off another devastating, with some classifying it as embarrassing, loss to the Commanders last week, the game was being picked apart with no player or coach being spared of the scrutiny. The list of poor performers continues to grow as the season goes on, and more responsibility is being put on the shoulders of Bill Belichick.
The head coach's decision-making is coming into question again, as both J.C. Jackson and Jack Jones were seemingly benched at the start of last week's game. Although they eventually did take the field, their usage was dramatically decreased, particularly Jackson, and when questioned about the reasoning, Belichick didn't have much to say.
Things progressively seemed to worsen when reporters revealed Jackson refused to speak to the media after the game, while Jones immediately left the stadium once the team headed to the locker rooms.
It all felt like an indication that Belichick may be losing the locker room, a talking point some members of the media have mentioned over the last two weeks.
That point seemed to be hammered home when NFL insiders Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport broke the news that Jackson would not be traveling with the team to Germany for their game on Sunday, suggesting the decision was made "as part of a mental reset" for the recently acquired cornerback.
But how did we get to this point?
It wasn't long ago that Belichick was being applauded for making the trade to bring Jackson back to where his career started and where he saw his most success. Given the circumstances with Christian Gonzalez suffering a season-ending injury and Jones rehabbing an injury that kept him sidelined, acquiring another trusted cornerback was essential, but it has somehow become a problematic situation for all in a short period of time.
Because Belichick wasn't providing any more details about Jackson's benching, which has now escalated into not allowing him to travel with them overseas, insiders and reporters made it their mission to get to the bottom of the story.
Jeff Howe of The Athletic had already reported that Jackson had been benched for poor performances in three consecutive games. The breakdown of his game was apparent over the last two weeks as he allowed six catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. That allegedly led to his benching to start the game in Week 9.
Now it's being said by Albert Breer that Jackson was late to the team hotel before the game against the Commanders since the Patriots stay at hotels the night before a home game, which also played a part in his limited availability last week. Couple that with "reliability issues," Belichick has decided to keep the cornerback home for their matchup with Indianapolis.
"Patriots CB J.C. Jackson was late to the team hotel on Saturday, per sources. Which was a part of why he started Sunday’s game vs. the Commanders on the bench. Now, as (Ian Rapoport) said, Jackson won’t be making the trip to Germany. Reliability issues have long plagued Jackson."
It's another situation that feels like deja vu, bringing Patriots fans back to the mysterious benching of Malcolm Butler for Super Bowl 52. Although the importance of the games is drastically different (obviously), the unexplained reasoning for their punishments doesn't sit well with fans and, almost certainly, the players, which will inevitably create some tension in the locker room.
At this point, you have to hope there's truth to the rumors surrounding this situation and that it's not another power play or ego trip by Belichick putting a player in the doghouse for what looks like little to no reason.
Considering the current state of the team, keeping a potentially productive player out of a game doesn't seem like an intelligent idea if there's no real basis to it, but we will probably never know the truth behind it.