FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Linebacker Matthew Judon was not selected as one of the New England Patriots’ captains for 2023. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t carry a big stick in the locker room.

Following Sunday night’s loss to the Miami Dolphins, which dropped the Patriots to 0-2, Judon stood at the podium and before taking questions, delivered a message to the media types in front of him.

His impromptu address was impassioned and purposeful. It was one part pep talk to his teammates, one part sermon to the listening audience.

At the same time, it might have also been one part diversion to take some heat off his teammates.

“I know we lost. I know it looks bad,” Judon said at one point. “You’re (0-2). You start (0-2). But this is not a bad team.”

Bill Parcells, the Hall of Famer who once roamed the sidelines as New England’s head coach, was fond of saying “you are what your record says you are” while he was digging the Patriots out of the gutter 30 years ago.


By that standard the Patriots’ record after two weeks conveys a picture that doesn’t support Judon’s claim. But it’s still early, and it’s a small sample size. Snap judgments need not apply. That being said, the Patriots have work to do to prove Judon right. They need to provide evidence, starting Sunday at the New York Jets, that they’re not a bad team.

Losing to the Jets won’t help Judon’s case, especially with Aaron Rodgers sidelined for the season with a ruptured Achilles. The Jets traded for the former Packers great to try and get them over the hump.

But he’s done for the season. As it is, the Patriots go in having won 14 straight games against Gang Green, seven straight in the Meadowlands.

They’ve also had their way with Zach Wilson, who has a 50.6 passer rating in the four games he’s been under center against the Patriots.

So if the Pats don’t come away with a victory and drop to 0-3, the descriptions that follow will make “bad” seem like a compliment.

Just don’t mention that to Judon. He refuses to allow or acknowledge any negativity from the outside as his team tries to dig itself out of a hole.


He essentially put his cards on the table Sunday night, vowing the team would regain its footing and turn it around with the Jets and Dallas Cowboys ahead.

“We have more games. We have more life in us and we don’t know what can happen from here, but something’s got to happen. Something’s got to give,” said Judon. “We’re not just going to be a pedestrian team that lets people score on us and we don’t score. We’re going to bow up. We’re going to have a backbone.”

Backbone is one thing. Wins are another.

Still, his teammates appreciated his words, and particularly his message.

The way longtime captain Matthew Slater sees it, he’s glad Judon spoke up, delivering the type of rallying cry that was needed.

“For someone like Matthew (Judon), who is not only one of the best players on this team but one of the best players in this league, obviously what he says is going to be impactful on this football team,” Slater said Wednesday. “Whenever he speaks, people listen. I certainly appreciate him promoting that type of message because I think what he articulated is what we feel and believe in the locker room.


“We don’t believe we’re a bad football team. We had two games that could have gone either way … and when you hear one of your best players saying that, it provides even more belief. I hope the guys take heed to that message.”

As veteran center David Andrews also pointed out Sunday, the Patriots believe in what they’re trying to accomplish. The problem is they haven’t executed the mission. Until they do, all the belief rings hollow.

The Patriots are simply going to have to put up or shut up. They’re going to have to prove Judon was more of a truth teller, as opposed to a master spin doctor.

Slater didn’t argue.

“In this league, there’s a lot of talk from (the media), from the players, from the coaches,” he said. “But ultimately what matters is the outcome of football games and how you perform on game days. We all understand that. This is a production business for players, for coaches, for everybody. So we know at some point, us saying we competed hard, we almost got them that time, that’s just not going to be enough.”

Not for Judon, or for anyone else.

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