FOXBORO, Mass. – The Patriots returned to Gillette Stadium for practice on Monday following their week ten bye, and despite not actually playing a game, I’ve come to a significant conclusion: They were major winners over the bye week.
While that might sound a little nuts to you, considering they didn’t actually play football – let me explain:
Could Josh McDaniels Return?
Okay so I’m starting with a bit of stretch here – but the Raiders losing to the Jeff Saturday-led Colts on Sunday is a net positive for New England.
Las Vegas fell to 2-6 this weekend and have struggled mightily under former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels since he was hired there as head coach at the end of January.
I don’t know how short of a leash owner Mark Davis has on either him or general manager Dave Ziegler, but if things continue to get worse and worse in Vegas, it might not be long for McDaniels in Sin City.
If they do move on from him, the Patriots should pounce on him immediately. Quarterback Mac Jones has regressed significantly this year after a solid rookie campaign – and the offensive coordinator who got him there is the one who can put him back on track. Kicking Patricia and Judge out of the room and handing the reigns back to McDaniels is the only way to salvage your “franchise” quarterback.
The Patriots also benefited from a week of rest. They’re banged up (both physically and mentally) on offense, defense, and special teams – and will be much closer to full strength following a week without having to play a bone-shaking football game. Here’s a look at a few of New England’s major contributors who are banged up and were participants at practice on Monday.
Mac Jones – (ankle)
David Andrews – (concussion)
Damien Harris – (illness)
DeVante Parker – (knee)
Christian Barmore – (knee)
Kyle Dugger – (ankle)
Jake Bailey – (yips)
David Andrews’ likely return will have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the offensive line, Christian Barmore and Kyle Dugger will patch up the run defense and tight end coverage respectively, and hopefully a week without having to kick a football can reset the struggles Jake Bailey has had punting over the last several games.
This is where the Patriots truly won the bye. They came into the weekend on the outside looking into the AFC playoff race, but a Los Angeles Chargers loss to the 49ers on Sunday night moved them into the picture for the first time in 2022. Here’s a look at where it currently stands:
1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. Miami Dolphins
3. Tennessee Titans
4. Baltimore Ravens
5. New York Jets
6. Buffalo Bills
7. New England Patriots
New England plays the Jets, the Dolphins, the Bills twice, the 8-1 Vikings, and the scrappy Bengals still this season – so while they technically hold a playoff spot as of now, it won’t be easy to remain there. The Chargers’ loss over the bye week put it in their own hands – but now it’s up to them to play high-quality football over the second half of the season.
The Patriots welcome the Jets to Gillette Stadium on Sunday for a 1pm kickoff for the first test of their daunting upcoming stretch. Keep it here on CLNSMedia.com for coverage including my game preview and on-site coverage of Sunday’s game.
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