Because the Patriots have had a rough start to the 2023 season, losing back-to-back games by utter domination, it's expected that there will be some tension within the team as frustration grows. Much of that would presumably come from the offense since they're the more trouble side of the team.
However, with the defense doing their job for the most part this year, hearing that a player like Jalen Mills is unhappy isn't too surprising either.
As one of the more notable signings of the 2021 free agency spending spree by Bill Belichick, Mills has had a roller coaster of a ride since arriving in New England. Once he got into the groove last season, he became an integral part of the secondary, which led to the Patriots releasing and re-signing him as a safety before this year to help bridge the gap left by Devin McCourty.
Since then, he's been a consistent part of the defense and one of the more reliable guys on the field, which makes his limited snap count in recent weeks a bit confusing.
ESPN's Patriots reporter Mike Reiss shared the defensive and special teams snap counts from last week's Saints game, and Mills was noticeably limited with just ten snaps, equal to rookie special teamer Ameer Speed.
Mills quoted the tweet earlier this week and shared his unhappiness about his usage.
It became a topic asked by reporters this week leading up to the Raiders game.
Lawrence Guy was asked about Mills' frustration with the unexplained decline in his usage defensively, to which the veteran lineman discussed his own experience with limited snap counts during his career.
"I've been there. 2019 ... Miami game, I had 14 snaps, I think. The next game, I had like nine snaps. Next game, I had ten snaps. I've been in that frustration part. ... He works hard. He works hard every single day. He understands. You ask questions in a meeting; he knows that meeting. He knows the answer. He's like, 'boom' -- he can spit it out. It's just how the dice are rolled right now.
But it doesn't stop his preparation, doesn't stop his work ethic on the field. And that's kudos to him. Like, I understand certain situations are what they are. But I can tell you this: the grind that man has on this field, and the passion that he has, is amazing. The messages he gives as a leader on the team is amazing. And like I said, if you ask him any question about the opponent, he knows everything about it. It just didn't roll that way this week."
Given where the Patriots find themselves heading into Week 6, it's vital that they stick together and support one another, which makes it even nicer to hear what Guy had to say about his teammate.
It's uncertain if Mills' significantly decreased time on the field has anything to do with his performance or if it's just due to game planning, but he should have a good opportunity this week to be more involved with another must-win game on the schedule.