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Patriots Fans Want to Move On from Mac Jones After Losing to Bills, Missing Playoffs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2023

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 08: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The door to the 2023 NFL playoffs slammed shut for the New England Patriots after they fell 35-23 to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Heading into Week 18, New England occupied the final wild-card spot in the AFC and needed only a win over the Bills or losses by the Miami Dolphins or Pittsburgh Steelers to qualify for the postseason.

A road defeat for the Patriots wasn't totally surprising because the Bills are simply a better team. If anything, the nature of the outcome drove home how flawed the team is. Mac Jones went 26-of-40 for 243 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, and the Patriots defense allowed Buffalo to average 5.6 yards per play.

Fans are already calling for something to be done, including at the quarterback position, in the weeks to come.

nick wright @getnickwright

The Patriots are a quarterback & offensive coordinate away from being a scary team.

The Volume @TheVolumeSports

Mac Jones: "We'll get em next year coach"<br><br>Bill Belichick: <a href="https://t.co/uGer5RPHNb">pic.twitter.com/uGer5RPHNb</a>

Aaron Schatz 🏈 @FO_ASchatz

Being a Patriots fan was certainly a ride this year. In the end, they were just mediocre. Not awful. Not good. Just mediocre. I know people have a problem with that in this world where everything has to suck or be awesome, but some teams are just average.

Jordan Moore @iJordanMoore

Mac Jones in a win or go home game:<br><br>26/40<br>243 YDS<br>3 TD<br>3 INT<br>75.3 QB RTG<br><br>Not good enough. <a href="https://t.co/FmtLr139L9">pic.twitter.com/FmtLr139L9</a>

Jeff Howe @jeffphowe

Robert Kraft, unprompted, in March: "It bothers me that we haven't been able to win a playoff game in the last three years."<br><br>It's now going to be four years. Really, really significant offseason coming up for the Patriots.

Patrick Daugherty @RotoPat

Mac Jones went with "Million INT March" to end the game instead <a href="https://t.co/X2UvzCw7zH">https://t.co/X2UvzCw7zH</a>

David J Bagley @DavidBagleyWX

Looking forward to seeing <a href="https://twitter.com/TomBrady?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TomBrady</a> back 'home' where he belongs next year! Oh yeh, and that guy sitting next next to him.. <a href="https://twitter.com/Edelman11?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Edelman11</a> While we're at it, throw in <a href="https://twitter.com/RobGronkowski?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RobGronkowski</a> too! ;) <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Patriots?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Patriots</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/dreaming?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#dreaming</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FamilyReunion?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FamilyReunion</a> <a href="https://t.co/E14p0KCX6q">pic.twitter.com/E14p0KCX6q</a>

Jones wasn't solely to blame on Sunday, and he wasn't even the biggest reason the team lost. New England's special teams unit had a day to forget.

Nyheim Hines returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to put Buffalo ahead 7-0 right out of the gate. After a Nick Folk field goal gave the Patriots a 17-14 edge in the third quarter, Hines responded with another touchdown off the ensuing kickoff.

Buffalo Bills @BuffaloBills

CHILLS.<br><br>πŸ“Ί: <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/9uXnx91reb">pic.twitter.com/9uXnx91reb</a>

Buffalo Bills @BuffaloBills

ARE YOU KIDDING, <a href="https://twitter.com/TheNyNy7?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheNyNy7</a>?!<br><br>πŸ“Ί: <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZgH7YChSD8">pic.twitter.com/ZgH7YChSD8</a>

His big day symbolized what was a persistent issue for New England all year.

Bill Barnwell @billbarnwell

The Patriots did not allow a single kick return for a touchdown over a decade between 2011 and 2021.<br><br>They've now allowed two kickoff returns for touchdowns *today*.

Michael Hurley @michaelFhurley

There have been 6 kickoffs returned for touchdowns in the entire NFL this season.<br><br>The Patriots have given up half of them.

Brett Kollmann @BrettKollmann

Also the Patriots might have the worst special teams I've seen in the last decade and that's saying a lot because I've seen many, many Packers games.

Jason McIntyre @jasonrmcintyre

Patriots special teams cost them against the Bengals<br><br>Patriots special teams cost them against the Bills<br><br>They got lucky with the punt return vs the Jets

Robert Mays @robertmays

During Belichick's tenure, they're no. 1 in special teams EPA by a wide margin. Over the past decade, only the Ravens have been better.

Doug Kyed @DougKyed

the Patriots today <a href="https://t.co/bgShzzBLbe">pic.twitter.com/bgShzzBLbe</a>

Pats Pulpit @patspulpit

Can Amanda Belichick coach special teams?

There was always going to be a level of uncertainty in a post-Tom Brady future for the Patriots. Unlike the San Francisco 49ers when they moved on from Joe Montana, New England didn't have a Steve Young-type replacement waiting in the wings.

As long as Bill Belichick remained in charge, though, you didn't expect the franchise to totally fall off the map. But Belichick is no longer immune from criticism.

A divorce still seems unlikely because the 70-year-old is such an institution. Clearly some level of change is required, though, lest the Patriots stand pat find themselves in the exact same position next season.