Here’s something to think about during the upcoming week …
The Patriots just got completely outplayed by the team (Lions) that, in Week 1, got blown out by 31 points by the team (Jets) that just gave the Browns their first win in almost two years. How the heck did that happen?
After a bad loss to the Jaguars last week, this week’s prime time game against a seemingly well below average Detroit team seemed like the perfect opportunity for a big time bounce back win. The Patriots sure could’ve used it. But from just about every aspect of the football game, they couldn’t do anything right. That’s why they started the game with three consecutive three-and-outs. That’s why Sony Michel couldn’t seem to figure out how to move the ball forward. That’s why the Pats could only manage a defensive stop once in about every six attempts, it seemed.
On Sunday night, plain and simple, the Detroit Lions were a much better team than the New England Patriots.
So … what exactly does that say about the Pats?
It’s kind of a weird place to be in. New England is 1-2 and in a three-way tie for second place in the AFC East with the Bills and the Jets. Meanwhile, the Dolphins are 3-0 with a firm grip, for the moment, on first place. Definitely didn’t see that coming, but I digress.
As we move from Week 3 to Week 4, you can bet all of the media outlets are going to running wild with headlines debating whether or not the Patriots are washed up and finished. It’s very rare that this team plays really poor games back-to-back. The media has to take advantage and eat it up.
Here are some of the questions that will be asked:
Is 41-year-old Tom Brady finally on his last legs? (That questions gets asked every September)
Is Bill Belichick over the hill?
Is the nearly two-decade New England dynasty FINALLY crumbling?
Overreactions will be off the charts over the next few days, and it makes sense. The Patriots look extremely vulnerable. They usually appear to be the most dangerous team in the AFC, and right now, they don’t even look like the most dangerous team in their division.
But the Pats aren’t getting written off just yet, no matter how badly people will want to do it. Every time the Patriots take a brutal loss in September — and it seems to happen just about every year — I always try to think back to the Monday Night Massacre game in Week 4 of the 2014 season. New England was absolutely throttled 41-14 by the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Brady was so bad that he had to be replaced by then-rookie Jimmy Garoppolo in the fourth quarter, who wound up throwing his first career touchdown pass in that game. In the Brady-Belichick era, at least, that was an all-time low point.
About four months later, the Patriots were raising the Lombardi Trophy in Glendale, Arizona.
The point is that they are always capable of coming back strong. This time, it’s going to be hard. Brady essentially has no legitimate offensive weapons to work with right now, other than Rob Gronkowski. He’ll get Julian Edelman back from suspension in Week 5, and hopefully Josh Gordon in the near future. Those additions should definitely help, but it will be tough to make up for this severely depleted receiving core. And this defense still has to make serious strides to get back on track.
There is still plenty of season left, and the Patriots are far from being finished. Next week’s game at home against the Dolphins will be huge; it’s essentially a must-win to avoid falling three games behind Miami in the division.
Brady and Belichick are more than capable of digging out of this hole. They’ve done it many times before. But I’d be lying if I said things looked good right now.
It’s going to be an interesting year.