The R-word is a popular one in New England these days: rebuild. With Tom Brady gone and the Patriots’ current roster having numerous holes across the board, now might be a good time for the organization to further build for the future.
That process, actually, might already have started in 2020. The Patriots saw high-profile free agency departures, had limited salary cap space and experienced more Coronavirus opt-outs than any other club last year, and ultimately finished out of the playoffs after going just 7-9 during the regular season.
Despite the circumstances, however, David Andrews would not classify last season as a traditional rebuild year. Appearing on the Patriots Talk podcast, the team captain shared his thoughts on rebuilding and New England’s 2020 season.
“Why would you just lay it out there,” said Andrews. “This game’s too hard. Hell, our coaches work harder than we do. Obviously, they’re not playing the game, but I mean those dudes are up there at midnight, getting in at 4am, sometimes sleeping at the facility. They make a lot of sacrifices, so I don’t think for them or us we would ever look at it as a rebuild year. ...
“Unfortunately, it seems like every year is a rebuild. Every year guys are leaving. I came in in ‘15, they just come off the Super Bowl and next thing you know the starting interior linemen are me, Shaq Mason, Josh Kline and Tre’ Jackson. One undrafted guy; Shaq Mason has never pass-blocked in his life; Tre’ was a pretty good player; Josh was another undrafted guy. Was that a rebuild year? I don’t know.”
For Andrews, the reason for the Patriots’ struggles last season had nothing to do with the team approaching the season any differently. Instead, he blamed execution and inconsistency on New England finishing below .500 for the first time since the year 2000.
“We didn’t execute, we didn’t do some things right,” he said. “There were games when we did put it together and we looked like a competent football team and did a lot of things right. And then there were games we hurt ourselves and we didn’t do things right. Our record was not good, obviously. I’ve been here a few years and that’s the worst record we’ve had. But, I think, as I look at it as a player, we lost to some good teams but then we hurt ourselves at times too. That’s frustrating but it just is what it is.”
With the Patriots in need of upgrades at some core positions — most prominently at quarterback — rebuilding the roster from the ground up to compete again at one point seems like an attractive plan. While this might result in plenty of losing in the short term, it might also allow the team to restock and transform itself into a contender again further down the line.
Purposefully accepting losing games, however, is not a perspective Andrews and the rest of the Patriots will appreciate.
“As a player or coach I think we’re all very prideful,” the 29-year-old said. “I don’t think you can just look at it like, Yeah let’s just go slap it out here and see where it goes.”
As for Andrews, he could be part of a rebuild this offseason as well. After spending the first six seasons of his career in New England, he is scheduled to enter free agency for the first time later this month.