The 2018 fall season officially began September 23, in more ways than one. Sunday night’s debacle in Detroit tumbled the Patriots down the power rankings ladder, falling six spots on average and hitting a close-to-the-bottom rung of 24th, (Nate Davis of USA Today). Ouch! Might need some ice on that.
The negatives are legion and descriptors such as ‘lost, bad, crazy, insane, doomed, dud, porous, whippings, ‘lack of elite talent’, ‘slow and shorthanded’, etc... are sprinkled throughout as expected. But all hope is not lost — of the 20 comments collected below, most aren’t willing to declare the team all dead just yet. To paraphrase Miracle Max from A Princess Bride,
“[the Pats] are only mostly dead. If [they were] all dead, there’s only one thing you can do. ... Go through [their] pockets and look for loose change.”
The threshold for ‘all dead’ apparently is losing three in a row. Let’s hope we don’t have to worry about crossing that one. The successful addition of Josh Gordon and return of Julian Edelman are only small pieces of what needs to happen for these Patriots to right the ship. Injuries to Rex Burkhead (neck) and Ja’Whaun Bentley (undisclosed) severe enough to put them on IR certainly don’t help. My new approach starting with Sunday vs. Miami will be to take just one game at a time and try to watch each one a little more dispassionately. Will I be able to do it, especially as game time approaches, is the real question. As Miracle Max would say, “It’ll take a miracle.” Or an early lead. Patriots win by 6.
Around the AFC East:
New England (1-2) vs. Miami (3-0)
Buffalo (1-2) at Green Bay (1-1-1)
NY Jets (1-2) at Jacksonville (2-1)
Kansas City (3-0) at Denver (2-1)
Tennessee (2-1) vs. Philadelphia (2-1)
Cincinnati (2-1) at Atlanta (1-2)
Baltimore (2-1) at Pittsburgh (1-1-1)
Cleveland (1-1-1) at Oakland (0-3)
LA Chargers (1-2) vs. San Francisco (1-2)
Indianapolis (1-2) vs. Houston (0-3)
6th - Experts (ESPN): The Patriots rank 31st in receiving yards from WR (230). New England has just one catch this season that went for 30 yards, a 30-yard reception by TE Rob Gronkowski in Week 1. Is this bad start different from others?.
6th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): A quick note on the order this week: It’s insane to try and logically order this madness right now. I know we say “The NFL is crazy this season!” every year, but it really feels wild after the first three weeks. If you’re ranking teams you can’t make a reasonable argument to me the Dolphins, for example, are one of the five or six best teams in the NFL. The same can go for the Ravens, Bears or plenty of other 2-1 teams. I’m just going to assume the craziness of the first three weeks settles down and some normalcy returns. That’s why the Patriots are still here.
6th - Christopher Price (BostonSportsJournal): Since 2012, the Patriots are 18-9 in the first four games of a season, which is tied for the second-best record in the NFL. In the next four games, they’re 21-3, three games better than any other team in that span. This week: vs. Dolphins.
7th - Expert Consensus (Bleacher Report): This ranking will no doubt rub some folks the wrong way. Despite losing back-to-back games in decisive fashion, the Patriots remain in the top 10—ahead of teams like the Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, who each have two wins, and ahead of the undefeated Dolphins. ... However, if New England loses a third straight in Week 4, it will justifiably be time to panic. It’s true, the Patriots haven’t looked much like the big bad bullies of the AFC in losing to first the Jaguars and then the Lions. The defense has been porous. The offense has been hit-or-miss. Here’s the thing, though. It’s the Patriots. They are like Freddie Kreuger. The first nine times you think they’re dead, it turns out not so much.
9th - Tyler Lauletta, Scott Davis (Business Insider): One thing to know: The Patriots’ lack of elite skill players has shown during the first three weeks. The team looks slow and short-handed at times. Asking Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon to fix these problems on offense is asking a lot.
9th - Lindsay Jones (The Athletic): September slip-ups are nothing new for the Patriots, and it would be crazy to write off a New England team this early. And yet, it’s fair to wonder if the things that doomed the Patriots in convincing road losses at Jacksonville and Detroit — lack of playmakers at receiver, a porous run defense and a non-existent pass rush — can be fixed this time around.
10th - Staff (AP Pro32).
11th - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): What was that? The Patriots seem to be in a holding pattern until they can get Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman in their offense together. Neither can help a struggling overall defense, however.
11th - MMQB Staff (SI): And the Patriots have fallen “all the way”—by their standards at least—down to 11.
11th - Mark Maske (Washington Post): The Patriots were 1-3 in 2001 and won the Super Bowl. They were 2-2 in 2003 and won the Super Bowl. They were 2-2 in 2014 and won the Super Bowl. They were 2-2 last season and reached the Super Bowl. Maybe the rest of the league should just give up now.
12th - Rebecca Toback (SB Nation): What’s going on in New England? Bill Belichick watched his former defensive coordinator beat the Patriots, 26-10, as Lions head coach Matt Patricia got his first win. The Patriots are now 1-2 and will need more than Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman entering the lineup to get back to winning.
13th - Elliot Harrison (NFL.com): Watching the Patriots on Sunday night, you got the feeling that Lions coach (and former New England defensive coordinator) Matt Patricia provided his team with a Power Point tutorial and a BMI assessment on every last player on New England’s roster. Meanwhile, the Patriots could not make life uncomfortable for Matthew Stafford. Anytime they dedicated more personnel to the back end to play coverage, the Lions ran the rock -- effectively, too. With recently acquired receiver Josh Gordon in the mix, defensive end Trey Flowers presumably coming back and receiver Julian Edelman set to return from suspension in two weeks, this is not time to panic. (Well, not too much, anyway).
14th - Adam London (NESN): There’s not much to be excited about with the Patriots at the moment. If they turn in another dud against the Dolphins this Sunday, it might be time to start worrying in New England.
14th - Joe Giglio (NJ.com): The Patriots have lost back-to-back games by double digits for the first time since 2002. That year’s team went 9-7 and missed the playoffs.
14th - John McClain (Houston Chronicle): The Patriots have lost consecutive road games by double digits. They’re two games out of first place for the first time since 2002.
14th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): “On to Cincinnati” apparently doesn’t apply in Michigan.
16th - Bryan Fischer (Athlon Sports): It’s not time to panic yet given the team’s penchant for slow starts but that effort against Detroit show there’s a long ways to go with both sides of the ball. Everybody keeps wondering about Tom Brady’s age but he’s clearly not the most glaring issue with this group right now.
16th - Dave Birkett (Detroit Free Press): The buzz: I don’t think the dynasty is crumbling yet, but they need Julian Edelman back.
18th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): It’s way too early to bury this team. Haven’t we learned that lesson already?.
24th - Nate Davis (USA Today): After two whippings, on pace to miss playoffs ... for what would be first time since 2002 in terms of a season when Tom Brady wasn’t injured.
AVERAGE RANK: 11.5 (-6.1)