The New England Patriots added multiple new faces over the course of the offseason, and a majority of them has carved out essential roles on the 2021 roster. Whether it is quarterback Mac Jones or linebacker Matthew Judon, the first-year Patriots have played a big part in helping the team bounce back from a disappointing 2020 season.
Obviously, though, that would not have been possible without the new faces adapting to the so-called Patriot Way and forming a close bond with their new teammates. This, in turn, has helped the club to overcome its rocky 2-4 start and enter the Week 14 bye on a seven-game winning streak.
For team captain Matthew Slater this process has been the key to the bond that has been formed within New England’s locker room.
“Adversity, whenever you face it, if you handle it the correct way, especially with others, is going to bring you closer together,” Slater said on Wednesday. “Our group is really close this year. We enjoy being around one another. I really am having a lot of fun being a part of this group, and I think if you ask anyone in that locker room they would tell you the same.”
Now in his 14th season in the NFL, Slater has seen all kinds of locker rooms throughout his career — both good and bad.
He was on the team during the difficult 2009 season, for example, that failed to produce proper results on and off the field. He also helped New England maneuver through the challenges that presented themselves during the 2013 and 2020 offseasons. Likewise, he served as a leading voice on all-time teams such as the 2014 or 2016 Patriots — teams that fought through adversity to eventually win championships.
Obviously, though, 2021 is still different. For one, New England has never seen a similar influx of outside talent in a single offseason. Furthermore, the undisputed leader of those other teams mentioned above — Tom Brady — is no longer in the locker room; instead, rookie Mac Jones is serving as the starting quarterback now.
And yet, the team found a way to grow together.
“Is it because of the way the season started and how we’ve endured through that? Potentially, is it a mix of the personalities and the character of the men in that locker room?” asked Slater. “I think there are a number of things you could attribute it to. It’s been fantastic to see this group come together, and to see where we are now. I hope that we can continue to grow. We’ll see what lies ahead.”