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Does Bill Belichick want to stay here in New England? Here’s what he said, plus other final thoughts.

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Patriots

Belichick ended up cutting his postgame press conference short.

Bill Belichick talked with Bailey Zappe during the second half. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

COMMENTARY

FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots were shut out at home by the Chargers, who came into Sunday’s game giving up an NFL-worst 390.6 yards per game to opponents.

Was coach Bill Belichick surprised by the lack of offensive production?

“I don’t know,” the coach said. 

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Were there any identifiable missteps that the offense made, in Belichick’s view?

“I’m not going to get into a full season review. If that’s what you’re asking, then no,” Belichick said. 

Did Belichick consider playing Mac Jones at all? 

“We did what we thought was best in the game,” Belichick said. 

Eventually, I asked Belichick if he wanted to stay here in New England and continue coaching the Patriots. The team is 2-10, he’s turning 72 in April, and questions about his job status are commonplace these days since the team’s performance has been consistently poor. 

Given the context, it seemed fair to ask for on-the-record comments about whether or not he wants to keep doing this. 

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to this week, and getting ready for the Steelers,” Belichick said. 

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Belichick ended up cutting his press conference short after a Patriots PR staffer said time for one last question. Belichick asked if there was “anything else” and walked away before the question could be asked. 

Here are a few more final thoughts from the loss. 

Teammates say no turnovers is a ‘plus’ for Zappe

Bailey Zappe’s first start of the season was less than stellar. He went 13-for-25 for 141 yards and no touchdowns. Ultimately, he was unable to lead a scoring drive. 

But, he took care of the football. Mac Jones threw at least one interception in nine of his 11 starts and had two in the first half against the Giants last week. He has 10 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions this season. 

Zappe didn’t turn the ball over at all on Sunday, and some of his teammates said that was a positive.

“That’s a plus, for one, because that has kind of hurt us,” defensive back Jalen Mills said. “I talked to Zappe a little bit right after the game and said ‘you played a hell of a game bro’. You can build from this, and we plan to.”

Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster also mentioned the lack of turnovers as a “plus,” but said the Patriots didn’t move the ball well enough in the end. 

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“We have to take more of that away on our side and then we just have to execute more on offense. I feel like we weren’t doing that enough,” said Smith-Schuster. 

Belichick said he played Zappe because he felt Zappe deserved to start. He did not say whether Zappe will remain the starter going forward.

Where was Malik Cunningham

Malik Cunningham didn’t play a single snap after being elevated to the 53-man roster this week. 

That wasn’t surprising, said running back Ezekiel Elliott. Cunningham hasn’t thrown a pass for the Patriots all season. New England has primarily been working Cunningham out as a receiver, offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien said recently. 

Belichick wouldn’t say whether he considered using Cunningham in the game. He said that there were moments where the team “got things going” on offense and that he wanted to stick with what they were already doing.

When asked if he had a specific game plan for the rookie quarterback, Belichick said: “The plan for Malik was if we put him in there, do the things that he does and be ready to go.”

What more can the defense do?

The Patriots have held each of their last three opponents to 10 points or less and still found a way to lose each time. 

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“It’s super frustrating,” Elliott said. “The defense holds them to six points and for us to not be able to put anything on the board is tough. I feel bad for those guys on the defensive side of the ball. They’ve been playing such good defense week after week. We have to figure out how to make more plays on offense.” 

“What more could the defense do?” a reporter asked Mills.

“Score,” Mills said. “Score on defense and hopefully we’ll get more opportunities this game coming up on Thursday. It is what it is.” 

Peppers, Henry talk motivation

The Patriots have five games left in the regular-season. What’s keeping players motivated during a lost season?

“Motivation? It’s this game, man. I love this game,” tight-end Hunter Henry said. “When we sign up for 17 of these things that are guaranteed every year – I’m going to tell you one thing, is I’m going to go out there and compete the same and give the same amount of effort that I would no matter – if we were in first place. I know all those guys in that locker room will do the same.”

Safety Jabrill Peppers said he believes the team will continue to stick together. 

“We are going to stay together,” Peppers said. “We have high character guys, we are no stranger to adversity. Everyone here has faced tough times in their life. This is not nothing, but we are all competitive and we are powerful men. What we are putting forth right now just is not it.”

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Source: Boston Globe

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