Over the course of the last week, the New England Patriots had to move three of their players — quarterback Cam Newton, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, practice squad defensive tackle Bill Murray — to the new Reserve/Covid-19 list and also see two of their games get postponed: the matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 and the upcoming contest against the Denver Broncos were both moved from Sundays to Mondays.
Needless to say that the organization finds itself in an unprecedented and challenging situation, that has forced its players and coaches to adapt on the fly despite the uncertainty surrounding the positive Coronavirus tests within the locker room. Add the fact that the team just lost by 16 points in Kansas City on Monday, and Patriots fans being down on the club’s long-term outlook would not be a surprise.
New England’s faithful, however, is still optimistic about the team’s prospects.
As the latest Reacts survey conducted by SB Nation illustrates, 86 percent of Patriots fans are still feeling good about where the team is headed. While the number represents a seven-point decrease compared to last week, it is not as drastic as the recent developments would justify: two of the team’s best players testing positive for Covid-19 and the team losing a major matchup against an AFC rival have not hurt how fans view the team.
Why is that? One reason might be that the Patriots played some competitive football against the Chiefs on Monday night. While they eventually came up short with a final score of 26-10, they were giving the current world champions all they could handle through three quarters and were two egregious mistakes by backup quarterback Brian Hoyer away form potentially heading into the final period with a lead.
That did obviously not happen, but the defense in particular showed that it is still able to slow down a bona fide opponent. Whether or not Stephon Gilmore’s diagnosis will change this remains to be seen: while the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year could return for Monday’s contest against the Broncos, it seems likely that he will sit this contest out. Given New England’s depth at cornerback, however, the team appears to be well equipped to handle this loss.
Speaking of the upcoming game, Broncos fans are rather down on their team at the moment. Despite Denver registering its first win of the season last Thursday — the team beat the New York Jets 37-28 on the road — only 56 percent of fans feel good about the team. That number presents an increase of 21 percent, yes, but still comes noticeably short of the 91 percent approval rating the Broncos had heading into the season.
If you are interested in participating in our NFL Reacts survey, please sign up here!