German soccer fans witnessed the same reckless soccer tactics we’ve seen on our Atlantic side. The Patriots couldn’t have that moment. Now, they enter the bye week at the bottom of 2-8, with the quarterback controversy reignited. We are beyond the worst-case scenario.
In desperation, coach Bill Belichick lashed out at Mac Jones, who crushed Bailey Zappe on Germany’s final drive after Jones threw a killer interception in the red zone. The Colts clinched the victory when Zappe threw a pick called a fake spike play. It was the perfect end to New England’s offensive incompetence internationally. They weren’t fooling anyone. At this point they are only fooling themselves.
“Obviously it was a disappointing game,” Belichick said. “We had a similar theme in other games this year, too many missed chances in all three phases of the game. We played better situational football and did a better job with the chances we got. I have to. I just didn’t do a good enough job today.”
It was good that the good people of Germany got to experience the majesty of Patrick Mahomes at last Sunday’s NFL Frankfurt game. This was much different than the one with valuable points and one offensive touchdown.
Indianapolis entered the game as the only team to score 20 or more points in every game. The Patriots ended that winning streak. Small consolation considering their offense is 0-4 in the red zone and has gone 17 consecutive possessions without a touchdown.
“It’s tough for a lot of us. We’re expected to go down and score points on those drives,” JuJu Smith-Schuster said. “Field goals are good, but not good enough.”
With seven games remaining, the team has more players playing string instruments than a symphony orchestra. They face lingering questions about their quarterback and head coaching positions.
Neither Belichick nor Mac Jones seem to have any aspirations for Fort Foxboro. For one to keep his job until next season, the other must sink into the eyes of ownership, like a German U-boat. That’s the kind of thing that happens in dysfunctional franchises, not 21st century model franchises.
Jones’ answer to whether he thought starting pitcher Belichick still believed in him spoke volumes, as did Mack’s red eyes and anxious demeanor.
“Well, at the end of the day, I have to play better. I have to be better for people to believe. I don’t know. I don’t know.”
This performance was a huge disappointment for Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who loves promoting and proselytizing the Patriots brand.
The background of this game is an import by Kraft. He told the fans gathered here at the Patriots House on Saturday that he told his team, “It’s important to win.” RKK then appeared on NFL Network on Sunday and declared this season “really disappointing.”
“I was hoping things would be better, but…I didn’t expect something like this to happen this year,” Kraft said.
If Kraft was trying to inspire Belichick and his players, it didn’t work. Motivation is not a team issue. The level of talent and ability to execute. There are no directives that can fix this.
Case in point: once again without left tackle Trent Brown, the stadium’s plastic beer steins proved to be more durable than the Patriots’ offense. Jones was sacked five times, all in the first half.
The Patriots looked miserable. On the fourth possession, Jones and Ezekiel Elliott collided awkwardly on a disorganized handoff, a play emblematic of the state of the team.
Hoping to catch the Colts with certain punt protection, they couldn’t get their punt returner back on the punt, sacrificing nearly 20 yards in field position, and with Demario Douglas wandering around in no-man’s land, they were forced to punt. I ran a scheme that wasn’t far enough to rush. Punter, there’s not enough distance to handle the punt.
In the halcyon days of Foudy, when the Patriots outsmarted and outmaneuvered their opponents, they would say it was something they practiced during the week. Note that when they are hit by a catastrophe, their voices are no longer heard.
There are a lot of things the Patriots used to do that haven’t been done since Tom Brady.
Not to rub sauerkraut into the wound, but when Brady traveled to Germany for Game 1 of the NFL’s regular season last year, he threw two touchdown passes while snatching the victory.
Still, the Patriots wasted another winnable game.
On a chilly day, New England stepped up its running game in the second half, rushing 22 times for 112 of 167 yards (36 carries). They beat the Indy 20 on their first three drives of the second half, but only got three points, a 24-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-6 with 12:44 left in the fourth quarter.
Those were Pyrrhic scores, considering the 15-play, 89-yard drive finished in 8 minutes, 04 seconds. The Colts then responded with a 51-yard field goal set up by Isiah McKenzie’s 42-yard return on the ensuing kickoff.
It was a fait accompli for Jones, who had Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien barking on the sideline early on in Foxboro, going into second-and-12 with 4:16 left in the Indy 15. Jones threw an unspeakable interception into the arms of Julian Blackmon.
Jones slumped his shoulders and headed toward the Patriots’ sideline, taking off his helmet. His teammates consoled him. He never went back inside. Belichick handed over the reins to Bailey Zappe for the Patriots’ last gasp drive, and it ended up being Jones’ final drive.
“I thought it was time for a change,” Belichick said.
The Patriots changed countries and quarterbacks. But in the end, everything looks irrevocably the same.
Christopher L. Gasper is a Globe columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org him @cgasper Also check out our Instagram @cgaspersports.