New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 19: Jake Bailey #7 of the New England Patriots looks on before the preseason game between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium on August 19, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Jake Bailey had a stunning fall from grace with the Patriots that would be much more controversial if he played a position other than punter.

In 2020, Bailey was named a first team All-Pro. It felt like the Patriots had landed a franchise guy at his position, and wouldn’t have to worry about their punting game for a long time. Two years later, he’s a Miami Dolphin, and his exit from the Pats was messy enough to warrant a team-issued suspension and subsequent grievance.

Bailey told reporters in Miami that the aforementioned grievance has been resolved. But regardless, it’s clear who Bailey blames for his injury problems in 2022, and it ain’t himself.

  • Quick refresher: Bailey was on & off the injury report and in & out of practice with a back injury, and it clearly affected his performance on the field. His average net punting distance plummeted from 42 yards to 35.1. He tried his best to play through it, but ultimately landed on injured reserve.

    Where things got spicy, though, is when the Patriots suspended Bailey on the grounds of what ESPN’s Mike Reiss described as “differing viewpoints on if Bailey was ready to return to game action.” His agent later released a statement on the matter. Quite a bit of drama for a punter.

    Bailey did his best to put the whole thing behind him when he spoke to Miami media on Wednesday, but he couldn’t help but get into details on what happened to his back. Without explicitly calling them out, Bailey basically blamed the Patriots’ strength & conditioning staff. Specifically, SQUATS.

    “A lot of it had to do with squatting a ton,” Bailey said, via Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post. “I did not grow up squatting, loading my back with back squats. I didn’t do it at all in college. I tried to be more a part of the program. And it just really backfired the whole season I was doing it. It really made my accuracy struggle. And it just was kind of a sad, sad thing to have happen. I haven’t squatted since really week 15 or 16 and feel pretty good.”

  • ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 06: Jake Bailey #7 of the New England Patriots reacts after a bad punt during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on December 06, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

    ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 06: Jake Bailey #7 of the New England Patriots reacts after a bad punt during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on December 06, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

  • It’s fitting that Bailey used the word “program.” He wasn’t getting with the program to Bill Belichick’s liking, and so he gets put in timeout.

    Bailey certainly knows his own body better than any other individual person. But at the end of the day, who do you think is going to know more about general strength & conditioning? A punter, or actual strength & conditioning professionals, who spend every working moment on strength & conditioning?

    That being said … the Pats’ strength coaches didn’t receive particularly high marks in a recent NFLPA survey. They got a B+ from Patriots players, which seems good on paper, but actually ranked the Patriots 28th in the league. However, the Pats’ training staff got an A, and were tied for ninth-best.

  • INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 18: Matthew Adams #49 of the Indianapolis Colts blocks the punt of Jake Bailey #7 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

    INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – DECEMBER 18: Matthew Adams #49 of the Indianapolis Colts blocks the punt of Jake Bailey #7 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

  • It’s worth noting that the NFLPA gave this comment on the Patriots’ view of their strength coaches: “The players believe that the strength coaches moderately add to their success. Most teams had positive reviews of their strength coaches which is why though they are listed as tied for 28th they still have a good overall grade.”

    So, perhaps Bailey hit strength & conditioning coach Moses Cabrera with a big fat F, which dragged the overall grade down to something worse than what the players’ real opinions would indicate.

    Either way, it’s interesting to hear a former Patriot speak less-than-glowingly of a staff that has otherwise earned its share of praise over the years. Meanwhile, the Patriots need a new punter. Preferably, one that has experience with squats.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster 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 and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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