The sky is falling in New England. The Patriots have lost three straight games for the first time since 2002. There are reports of a Patriots fire sale, including trade rumors for Stephon Gilmore, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Clearly the team must be in shambles and the season washed away, right? If these rumors are true, then that must mean that they are going to be competing with the New York Jets for the #1 pick in the 2021 draft. I, for one, would love to see Trevor Lawrence under Bill Belichick, but it might be expecting too much (or too little).
If the Patriots win on Sunday, they’ll only be 1.5 games out of first place. Let’s not all act like the Patriots haven’t gotten off to a poor start and turned things around before. They are chasing the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins. If history has taught us anything, the Bills and the Dolphins sure know how to shoot themselves in the foot.
Granted, Tom Brady isn’t walking through the doors of Gillette Stadium anytime soon. Granted, Cam Newton is playing like he has COVID brain and Julian Edelman is going to be sidelined for a few weeks ago. But all hope is not lost. I am not saying it is going to be easy by any means, but I am not ready to pull the plug on the season just yet.
Reasons for Optimism
For starters, it is Week 8. The Patriots still have 10 games to go, so the season is far from over. Second, they are facing off against the Bills this week, the division leader. A win this week and the Patriots are right back in the hunt for the division, with another matchup scheduled against Buffalo in Week 16. If the Patriots lose this weekend, I’ll be the first one pushing the panic button start looking towards the future. But please, not yet.
It should also be noted that this season is unlike any other. The playoff field has been expanded to 14 teams, allowing an extra wild card team in each conference. This increases the odds of the Patriots making the playoffs, seeing that the Dolphins currently own that last wild card spot. It just does not make sense to have full-on Patriots fire sale right now. If the Patriots get back to full health within a couple of weeks and they play like they did in Seattle and Kansas City, there is no reason that this team cannot make a run at a Super Bowl.
I understand why they are taking calls on all of their players. I get it. They need to do their due diligence on every player. If the price was right, I wouldn’t expect the Patriots to hold on to any player. But in my opinion, it doesn’t make sense to just give up on the season and give players away.
Getting Back to Form
What do the Patriots have to do to get back to form? They need to get back to who they are as a team. The team that dominates the ground game with Newton and Damien Harris then using that run game to open the play-action game and get Newton going in the air game. While the defense has been solid throughout the season, they had an abysmal showing against the 49ers in Week 7. They need to get back to the way they played against the Chiefs, but the offense hasn’t been doing them any favors in terms of field position.
It is easy to sit here and call for major changes when you are two games under .500 on the season, especially after the dominance the team has displayed over the past 20 years. But to go full Patriots fire sale just six games into your season when your quarterback missed two games with a virus that is plaguing the whole world? That seems like a tad bit of an overreaction. In the words of Aaron Rodgers: “R-E-L-A-X” (unless they lose, then it is okay to panic).
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