New England Patriots

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots fell to 2-10 on the 2023 season with a 6-0 home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Here are 10 players we graded “UP” or “DOWN” based on their performance in Sunday’s game…

DOWN: QB Bailey Zappe

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 03: Bailey Zappe #4 of the New England Patriots huddles with the team in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 03: Bailey Zappe #4 of the New England Patriots huddles with the team in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Zappe had a chance to really seize a big opportunity as the Patriots’ new starting quarterback. He couldn’t take the offense to another level.

In fact, one could argue the offense went backward. Zero points on the board. Only 257 total yards, down from 283 last week. The only plus for Zappe was that he didn’t fumble or throw an interception, but he did take five sacks, and was handed two turnovers on downs in the fourth quarter.

Zappe may well remain in the starting role for the Patriots, if only because of his better ball security and pocket poise. But he simply can’t make enough plays in order to be a marked improvement over Jones, especially when he’s working with the same bad offense around him.

  • UP: RB Ezekiel Elliott

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 03: Ezekiel Elliott #15 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball while being tackled by Eric Kendricks #6 of the Los Angeles Chargers in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 03: Ezekiel Elliott #15 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball while being tackled by Eric Kendricks #6 of the Los Angeles Chargers in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    It was no easy task for Elliott to step in for an injured Rhamondre Stevenson and take over the full-time running back role, in the pouring rain. He ended up rushing for only 52 yards on 17 carries, but did catch four passes for 40 yards. An admirable effort for him.

  • DOWN: WR DeVante Parker

    Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker (1) ruled no catch out of bounds against Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Deane Leonard (33) in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker (1) ruled no catch out of bounds against Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Deane Leonard (33) in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Parker came alive a little bit in the second half and ended up with four catches for 64 yards, but he came up short in the key moments. Parker committed a false start penalty to stall out a second-quarter drive, and couldn’t stay in bounds on a late deep ball from Zappe that could have put the Pats deep in the red zone. Parker needs to make big plays at big times in order to make a real impact.

  • UP: S Jalen Mills

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 03: Jalen Mills #2 of the New England Patriots celebrates in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 03: Jalen Mills #2 of the New England Patriots celebrates in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    The Patriots defense has certainly held up its end of the bargain recently, and did it again on Sunday by allowing six points and no touchdowns. Mills had one of their best plays when he broke up a potential touchdown intended for Gerald Everett. Solid day for him.

  • DOWN: CB Myles Bryant

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 03: Alex Erickson #82 of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts after making a catch past Myles Bryant #27 of the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 03: Alex Erickson #82 of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts after making a catch past Myles Bryant #27 of the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

    Bryant was particularly shaky as a punt returner, and gave up a couple of key catches on defense in the second half. It’s tough to give anyone on the defense a thumbs down in this one, but Bryant is down mainly for his special teams.

  • UP: LB Josh Uche

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 03: Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs with the ball while being tackled by Josh Uche #55 of the New England Patriots in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 03: Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs with the ball while being tackled by Josh Uche #55 of the New England Patriots in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

    Uche made one of the Patriots’ best play with a third-down tackle for loss late in the second quarter. It’s too bad the offense can’t complement such dynamic play on the other side of the ball. But a positive nod to Uche for that play alone.

  • DOWN: P Bryce Baringer

    Sep 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (37) is congratulated by punter Bryce Baringer (17) after kicking a field goal against the Miami Dolphins in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (37) is congratulated by punter Bryce Baringer (17) after kicking a field goal against the Miami Dolphins in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Baringer had been playing well of late, but it seems the rainy weather on Sunday threw him off. It’s no excuse. The elements are going to be part of the punter’s job at times, and it’s the punter’s job to overcome it. Baringer punted seven times but only three times within the 20, and shanked one late.

  • UP: WR Tyquan Thornton

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 03: Tyquan Thornton #11 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 03: Tyquan Thornton #11 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Gillette Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Thornton made the biggest offensive play of the game for the Patriots, so he gets the nod just for that. It was a reverse, so technically a run rather than a catch, but Thornton’s top-end speed was on display on his 39-yard scamper, which had a chance to turn the game in the Patriots’ favor.

  • DOWN: LT Conor McDermott

    Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack (52) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Khalil Mack (52) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Perhaps it’s not fair to blame Conor McDermott for getting beat consistently by Khalil Mack (two sacks, five tackles). But he struggled to contain the Chargers edge rusher whenever he was out there.

  • UP: LB Jahlani Tavai

    Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Jahlani Tavai (48) tackles Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Jahlani Tavai (48) tackles Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    A team-high eight tackles for Tavai, including one for a loss. He’s been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise horrid season.


    Next Patriots Ups & Downs comes on Thursday night, after the Pats take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on “Thursday Night Football.”

    Get complete New England Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    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. Check out all of Matt’s content.

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