By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
It was easy to see for anyone who endured the Patriots' ugly beatdown at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday. Poor execution is one thing, but a loss like that causes onlookers to question the level of competitiveness and effort on the field.
The Patriots' most prominent leaders, one in each phase of the game, are openly wondering.
It started with special teams captain Matthew Slater, who called out the team's eroding effort as the 33-6 laugher went along when he spoke to Phil Perry and Ted Johnson on NBC Sports Boston.
"I think there were times [against the 49ers] where we let the attitude and effort part slip away from us," Slater said. "That's never acceptable. So we're going to have to make sure that we're on that each and every day and never taking anything for granted."
Offensive captain David Andrews followed suit when he joined 98.5 The Sports Hub's Zolak & Bertrand on Wednesday, agreeing that the attitude and effort wasn't where it needed to be.
"Those are two things you can control, and you go out there and kind of lay an egg, you've got to take a look in the mirror and look at it internally," Andrews said. "There's obviously a lot of things we can do better, but that's something we'd definitely start with."
One of those things that can also be better is simple execution on the field. As defensive captain Devin McCourty noted, high effort means little when you're not making plays.
"There's no doubt about it, for us to win and have that sense of urgency, we need high effort, but ... I don't want to leave out the point, we need to execute," McCourty said Wednesday. "We need to get whatever our task, our assignment is. We need to get that done to go out there and try to beat Buffalo. Like if we just bring effort, Buffalo is going to have effort, they're going to match that without a doubt. We've got to out-execute them as well."
Despite the need to execute better on Sunday, it starts with having the right attitude and approach. The rhetoric of the Patriots' leaders in the wake of Sunday's shockingly sloppy, lifeless defeat suggests that the effort level hasn't been where it needs to be.
Sports Hub Sidelines Podcast
Ty Anderson and I discussed the state of the Patriots in depth on the newest episode of the Sports Hub Sidelines podcast. Have a listen below.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at [email protected].