Never thought I’d be writing one of these about the Lions, but here we are.
When the Patriots played as bad as they did on Sunday night, it can be tough to see any kind of silver lining to the performance or have a whole lot of optimism for the next three games, which see the Patriots playing the Dolphins, Colts, and Chiefs. But not to worry; all hope is not lost. Here are five positives to get us through the rest of the week so we can watch this team right the ship against Miami this Sunday.
Non-conference loss. If you’re going to lose a game, it’s always better to lose it to an NFC team. This game won’t factor into any of the main tiebreakers should it come down to that, and I doubt that playoff seeding will end up coming down to common opponents come December. You obviously always want to win, but since it’s the Lions, I don’t really care about the implications of this loss at all. Especially because...
It’s still early. I don’t know what it is about the Patriots and September, but these early season games are all very much a feeling out period. Tweaks are being made, strengths are still being discovered, and the coaching staff is still trying to figure out how to best build a winning team. There are usually some wrinkles to be ironed out, and that’s clearly the case here. Granted, in 2018 those wrinkles seem to be at a beer-soaked linen pants left under a college dorm bed for an entire semester level, but that doesn’t mean the pants are ruined. You just need a bigger iron.
Players returning. Patrick Chung Trey Flowers, Julian Edelman, and Josh Gordon are all names you don’t want to dismiss. Of course I have to acknowledge that there are a few unknowns in there, Edelman and Gordon specifically...but I’d like to hear someone try and make a case that the offense will somehow look worse with those two guys on the field. Flowers is New England’s best pass rusher, and Chung is one of the cornerstones of the defense. Once this team is at full strength, the ceiling will become significantly higher.
We’ve been here before. Who remembers getting blown out 31-0 by the Bills in 2003? Or the double digit loss to Miami to open up the 2014 season closely followed by that blowout at Kansas City? What happened in that 14 point loss to the Steelers in 2004? Or the Home opener beatdown last year? Every single one of those Patriots teams made it to the Super Bowl, with a despicable record of 3-1 in that span,. It may not seem like it, but the Patriots have been here before, and they’ll be fine.
A taste of what it’s like. Losses like this, and little funks like this, build character, especially if you’re not used to rooting for a team that looks terrible. The Patriots have been so good for so long that there may be people reading this article right now who weren’t even alive the last time the Patriots had a losing record. This November is the midterm elections, and some folks getting ready to vote for the first time in their lives may not have been born yet when New England sucked. It’s good to have the reminders of just how lucky we have been as Patriots fans for the past eighteen years, and it makes you appreciate the good times all that much more. I’d like to sit here and say that New England will have just as many fans with just as much passion in a few years when games like this are the rule as opposed to the exception, but I know that’s not the case; you can for sure go from bad to good and then back to bad, but you can’t go from unbelievably dominant to bad, so it won’t be long before the herd thins significantly. But for those of us who remember when games like this one were more or less a weekly occurrence, it serves as a nice reminder to milk every last second of the good times.