FOXBORO, Mass. — We don’t often get a chance to talk about how dreadful the New England Patriots have been on special teams in recent years, but this feels like a solid game to drive that point home.

In fact, it’s the perfect game to do that.

The Los Angeles Chargers put a whooping on the Patriots in Week 13, and it makes total sense that the majority of reaction will focus on New England’s situation at QB. It’s been among the worst in the NFL all season, but the Patriots’ problems on special teams stem back years.

It would be too difficult to point out all their special teams blunders in that stretch, so we’ll just focus on Sunday, when the Patriots were thoroughly outplayed by the Chargers in the third phase of the game — which some could argue made all the difference. Los Angeles pinned New England inside the 20-yard line seven times and hit two field goals in their 6-0 win. The Patriots had just three, while Bill Belichick didn’t feel comfortable enough to have Chad Ryland attempt any field goals in the soggy conditions.

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“The kicking conditions weren’t great out there today, especially on those long field goals,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said postgame. “They were tough in pregame, so, no, we thought we had a better chance — I think it would have been a tough kick.”

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Chargers head coach Brandon Staley wasn’t so worried, using his postgame press conference as a chance to heap praise onto his coaching staff and specialists.

“When we got here, (our special teams unit) was among the worst in the NFL and now we’re among the best in the NFL,” Staley said. “… Ryan (Ficken) and Chris (Gould) have been awesome, and we’ve invested a lot in specialists, in our core special teams guys. I think you’ve seen our young guys that we drafted three years ago, they’re all a big part of our core teams and it was big for us today and we needed it, and Deruis (Davis) also gave us a huge lift in the return game, and he’s been doing a great job with ball security and flipping the field for us, too.”

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The Patriots also do plenty of investing in their special teams operation. They just don’t do a good job at it.

In the four seasons since Cam Achord took the full-time coordinator role, the Patriots have gone through constant struggles. They had Nick Folk, but bookended his tenure with Justin Rohrwasser and an already struggling Chad Ryland. Jake Bailey and Gunner Olszewski were All-Pro selections before being released. Chris Board, Cody Davis, Matthew Slater and Brenden Schooler only play special teams, and only one of them provides a noticeable impact.

It’s been an issue for years, and part of the Patriots’ rebuild should include a repackaged special teams staff and approach to evaluating talent.

If not, like with quarterback, New England is bound to have the same results they’ve been having.

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Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images