Bills, not chills are foe to fear for Pats tailgaters
FOXBORO – What are the keys to surviving a chilly Thursday night as
New England’s favorite football team takes on AFC East leader Buffalo?
A primo tailgate spread would be a nice place to start – providing the propane tank arrives in time to fire up the grill before kickoff.
“Kielbasa, chicken wings, rib eyes … all the good stuff,” said Braintree’s Sean Starlazzi when asked about the menu with roughly two hours to go before kickoff.
As Starlazzi spoke, several folks who eagerly awaited the opportunity to sink their teeth into some delicious eats huddled around a portable heater.
“If we can trust the wind, which doesn’t often happen at Gillette Stadium, we’ll be a lot warmer inside,” said Starlazzi, speaking as fellow tailgate cook Jim Scanlon handed him a cigar. “When you’re inside, you hope there’s some wind and it gives the Patriots an advantage. Out here, it’s about dressing warm, using the heater, being around good friends, and having a good time.”
Shifting gears to Patriot-related matters, the diehard tailgaters were asked if they were still on the Mac Jones bandwagon. Save for Thanksgiving night against Minnesota, the second-year quarterback has not measured up to last year’s rookie version when Jones gave off the impression that he was a worthy heir to Tom Brady.
“Without a doubt, I still believe in Mac,” said Starlazzi before diving into a reason shared by many New England fans concerned about Jones and his play this season.
“It’s the lack of a proven offensive coordinator,” said Starlazzi. “The strides that he took [in 2021] … we won some Super Bowls with Josh McDaniels [as the offensive coordinator] but I was never a fan. He saw something that worked and never went back to it when it would work a thousand times.
“With [McDaniels] leaving and Jones making the progression he did as a rookie … if the Patriots had a true coordinator, I think you would have seen a difference this year,” Starlazzi added.
The Pats of recent seasons have struggled against quarterbacks who can beat teams with their arms and legs. Until the defense can find a way to solve quarterbacks like Buffalo’s Josh Allen, it will remain a unit that’s hard to take seriously – regardless of how many sacks racked up by Matthew Judon.
“Every loss has been to a mobile quarterback. We’ll see [Thursday night], but you can’t consider the defense elite,” said Scanlon, a Quincy native.
Thursday marked the second time this season that New England opted to don the Pat Patriot throwbacks. For the younger generation, it’s a cool logo and a reason to head to the pro shop. For the previous generation who watched the Patriots go down to defeat more often than not while wearing the attire that Jones and his teammates wore Thursday, it can bring back painful flashbacks.
“My 29-year-old son loves them. I’m like, ‘This is awful,’” said Scanlon. “It was the bad old days … the Patsies.”