Unfortunately for the Patriots, ‘effort’ isn’t enough in the NFL


If Yoda weren’t the driving force behind The Force for the Jedi Order in Star Wars, he might have made a great NFL head coach.

Because one of Yoda’s most famed musings aligns with the harsh reality of life in professional football: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

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And, apparently, that’s a problem these days for Bill Belichick’s assistant coaches and players in New England. Because to a man, there is no perceived problem with effort for the 6-6 Patriots who are in the midst of a two-game losing streak, settling into last place in the AFC East in many ways thanks to the same problems that have damned the team from Day 1 this season.

No matter which area you question for New England when assessing its struggles, effort doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Coaching staff not doing their jobs?

“The coaches have given us everything they’ve got,” quarterback Mac Jones said after the latest disappointing loss to the Bills, another game failing to measure up to the division leaders.

“We coach everybody the best we can every week, that’s not going to change,” Belichick said a day later on the “Greg Hill Show” on WEEI in response to Jones’ assertions that he’d like to be coached harder.

Focusing on the players’ struggles?

“I thought the team overall competed hard,” Belichick assessed of the 24-10 loss to Buffalo that wasn’t really as close as that score might indicate.

“I think a lot of other guys played with a lot of good effort. We played with effort. I played with effort,” Jones declared in the immediacy of the loss that included his emotional, expletive-laden sideline outburst that went viral.

“We’re all working together and working really hard. That’s all you can ask for,” Jones said on his weekly appearance on the “Merloni, Fauria & Mego” show on WEEI. “We’re all super competitive. It shows that we care. We all care. That’s the No. 1 thing, right?”

Wrong, actually.

The No. 1 thing in the NFL is winning. Winning that is most often founded in execution and talent.

And New England is seemingly lacking mightily in those areas in recent weeks. For most of the season, really.

Effort is great in T-ball. Probably will even earn you a trophy in this day and age.

Working hard, caring and competing is even probably good enough at some levels of football. Trying hard in high school? Giving it all you’ve got, captain? That will likely lead to relative success.

But this is the NFL. The ultimate meritocracy. A rough, tough, merciless, bottom-line business.

It’s great that New England’s Hall of Fame head coach, Pro Bowl franchise QB and overall leadership believe in the “effort” that’s being put forth by themselves and those around them these days in Foxborough.

But that’s not the No. 1 thing and it’s not nearly enough.

To compete at a high level, succeed and win with regularity in the NFL you have to actually be good. Be talented. Be competent.
Be capable.

It’s great that Matt Patricia, Joe Judge and the rest of the offensive coaches are giving “everything they’ve got.” But that simply means what they’ve got apparently isn’t good enough. At least not for the roles they are in for this Patriots team at this time.

It’s admirable, at the very least, that Jones and Co. are playing with effort. But that’s also not good enough.

Nice try, though.

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