It’s November 3rd, and with this week’s Coping With Loss article. I have officially matched the most of these I’ve ever written in a single season since I started writing for Pats Pulpit back in 2011. While it kind of sucks to have already hit my season quota by Halloween, it’s pretty incredible that this team hasn’t lost more than five games since 2009, and that losing four straight is an absolutely bizarre exception and not the norm. So I’m hoping that these Coping With Loss articles aren’t as necessary as perhaps they used to be, as we’re all learning to live with this rebuilding year.
Expected loss. Back when the schedule first came out, I had this Patriots team finishing anywhere between 11-5 and 9-7. And while I’m technically still alive in that prediction, it’s looking a little bleak right now. But among the five surefire losses I had was at Buffalo, with the Pats and Bills splitting the season (I also had Chiefs, Seahawks, Rams, and Ravens as the other losses. I did NOT have them losing to Denver). The Bills are a good team whose arrow has been trending up for a few seasons now, and they were due. It always sucks to lose a game you could have won on a fumble, but when you came in expecting an L anyway, it’s not as bad.
Damien Harris and Jakobi Meyers. I absolutely love what I’ve seen out of Damien Harris this season. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, but few RBs do; rather, he’s a one cut, hole-crashing runner who rarely falls any direction but forward and knows how to get low at the point of contact. Meyers also seems to be making the leap and becoming a key component of a fairly weak receiving corp. If Harris and Meyers can continue to develop, and just one of the two rookie tight ends works out, the Patriots offense will only be a few pieces away from being contenders again.
This isn’t a bad team. It really isn’t. They easily could have won at Buffalo. They were one yard away from winning at Seattle. They very likely beat KC if Cam Newton hadn’t had Coronavirus and had Brian Hoyer managed to actually score points in the red zone instead of taking sacks and fumbling the ball away. One of the big differences between the 2020 Patriots and previous years’ teams is that the 2020 Patriots beat themselves, whereas they used to find ways to make other teams beat themselves. if they can clean up their discipline and start getting a few bounces, thy
Time to focus on each game. Each game is now it’s own thing, with it’s own set of questions that have nothing to do with the big picture. How does the receiving corps look? Is the offensive line gelling? How are the young guys coming along? When the season is more or less over, it’s time to make our worlds smaller and look for incremental developments that will bode well for 2021 and beyond. Of course, now that I’ve said the season is over, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention...
The last time the Patriots were counted out this early...they ended up finishing 11-5, hosting a playoff game, upsetting the Raiders and Steelers, and defeated the Greatest Show on Turf to kick off the most remarkable run in the history of professional sports. Crazier things have happened.