These are not the usual New England Patriots that we have become familiar with over the last decade and a half.
With that being said, this doesn’t mean they can’t make it back to the Super Bowl. I just really don’t like their odds.
This isn’t just a one game overreaction like in years past. Over the last three weeks the New England offense has been abysmal in my opinion. Brady has one, I repeat, one touchdown pass in that three game span.
I’m not jumping on the “Brady looks old” train just yet but we have certainly seen a drop in his play. However, I think things like not having Gronk or a real running game are the reason to blame instead of Brady’s 41 years of age.
Unlike Patriots teams of the past, I think this year’s team needs a strong running game for the offense to work efficiently. Sony Michel has been out for that bad three game span (I include yesterday as that wasn’t the real Sony) that I mentioned earlier so this offense has basically been one-dimensional and let’s face it, Brady isn’t exactly throwing to Jerry Rice and Randy Moss out there (all due respect to Jules and Josh Gordon).
Brady and company have needed to rely on “trick plays” to jumpstart the offense at times and I’m sorry but that’s a sign of desperation. You usually see them roll those plays out in the playoffs (the Edelman pass against Baltimore in 2014, pass to Brady in the Super Bowl last year, etc) not against Green Bay or Tennessee in the middle of the season.
Yesterday should’ve been a game that the Pats trample over a mediocre Titans team and go into the bye at 8-2. Did they not have their focus? Was it a “trap” game? Your guess is as good as mine but their play was unacceptable.
I’m actually not too worried on the defensive side of the ball. They’ve been improving over the last few games and while Stephon Gilmore had a bad day I think he’ll bounce back like he has many times in a Patriot uniform over the last year and a half. We all need to just accept that this defense isn’t going to be great, maybe not even good, but they can get the job done well enough.
For the third time this season the Pats looked non-competitive on the road and for the third time they got their asses handed to them.
Those other two losses came in September and that has been a trend over the years for the Pats to start out a little slow. Getting smoked on the road in November is very un-Patriot-like and has created some cause for concern in Pats Nation.
It’s been 18 years since the Patriots lost by that large of a deficit (24 points) this late in the season. Another one that comes to mind is that Pats-Saints matchup from 2009 where New England was steamrolled 38-17, New Orleans took it easy late in that game too.
That was the famous game where Belichick said to Brady, “I just can’t get these guys to play the way I want.”
I don’t think this team is like that disgusting 2009 team. This team cares and they want to win but for some reason they’ve laid some real duds on the road and given up in those games. Are they simply pacing themselves for January? They know they’ll win the AFC East with ease but sometimes too much coasting at the finish can cost you like in 2015 when Belichick essentially handed Denver homefield advantage.
There’s still plenty of ball to be played but as things stand right the Pats would be the three seed, playing on Wild Card Weekend for the first time since that aforementioned 2009 season. It’s safe to say the Patriots will likely be headed on the road at some point this postseason and with a road record of 2-3 this year and the last Pats playoff road victory coming in 2006 that alone is a bit of a worry.
The bye week is coming at an optimal time for the Patriots. They need to tighten up a lot of bolts on this team and get some guys healthy before the stretch run. Belichick and Brady have always said that football season really begins after Thanksgiving and that’s when the Pats will play their next game. Hopefully the team gets the memo.