On most days, it is difficult to get much out of Patriots coach Bill Belichick during a friendly media chat. On days like Sunday, coming out of a 38-3 loss to Dallas in a Week 4 game that sent the Patriots’ record to 1-3, it’s like pulling teeth.
Still, Belichick offered an unsatisfactory answer to what was a fair question he was given on Sunday after the Dallas loss. Belichick had removed quarterback Mac Jones from the game with 3:41 to play in the third quarter, a decision he made because the score was lopsided and, he said, according to the team’s postgame transcript, “I didn’t think there was any point in leaving him in the game.”
That’s reasonable enough. The Patriots were not going to rally for a win, and it made sense to ensure that Jones got out of the game with his health intact.
But why, then, was outside linebacker Matthew Judon still on the field for the Pats in what Belichick admitted was a pointless fourth quarter? It could be argued that Judon is more important to the Patriots’ success than Jones. Was there a point in leaving him in and not Jones?
“You’ve got to put somebody out there,” Belichick said. That is a true statement. But it’s also true that you haven’t got to put your best somebodies out there in those situations. Belichick kept trotting Judon out, though, and with 13:45 to play in the fourth quarter, he suffered a biceps tear and had to leave the game.
Matthew Judon Shouldn’t Have Been Playing
There will be further testing done on Judon’s injury, including an MRI on Monday. But if the injury is confirmed, Judon figures to be out months, and perhaps for the remainder of the 2023 season.
That is a devastating injury for a cornerstone linebacker who had played 143 snaps coming into Week 4. Judon had notched 4.0 sacks already through three weeks, after having had a career-high 15.5 sacks last season. And, again, if Belichick’s logic on Jones was that he could be benched because there was no point to him playing in a blowout, then the same logic should have applied to Judon, who is at least as important to the team as Jones.
Defensive lineman Deatrich Wise said that Judon gave no indication of how long he might be out.
“Devastating,” Wise said, also per the team transcript. “But he was in good spirits, and we’ll be with him mentally throughout the year. I know he will be with us too. There will some guys behind him that will be stepping up and filling his spot…I really don’t know (if he will miss time). I just always hate when guys get hurt.”
Christian Gonzalez Out for Battered D-Backs
It was not just Judon, though. The Patriots also lost Christian Gonzalez, the rookie first-round pick who has been among the best cornerbacks in the NFL this year—not just among rookies, but among all players. He was named the Defensive Rookie of the Month for September,
Gonzalez suffered a shoulder injury, also a tough blow considering the thin ranks in the defensive backfield.
Already, cornerbacks Jack Jones and Marcus Jones are on injured reserve, and Jonathan Jones is out with an ankle injury. Without Gonzalez, only Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade were on hand to man the position.
“It sucks when guys get injured,” Wise said. “I wish there was a button that you could cut all injuries like Madden. It’s the dark side of football when guys get injured.”