The New England Patriots have now suffered back-to-back defeats in lopsided fashion. After getting beaten 38-3 by the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4, they were shut out at home in Week 5: the visiting New Orleans Saints left Gillette Stadium with a 34-0 victory in their bag.
Measured by point differential, the two losses are the worst of the Bill Belichick era. They dropped the Patriots to 1-4 on the year, and also created some serious questions about both the short-term and the long-term future of this team.
So, how do you move forward from that? For the head coach, it’s hitting the reset button.
“Start over again,” he said.
What exactly he meant by that, Belichick would not specifiy.
“We’ve got to find a way to play and coach better than that,” he said. “So, that’s what we are going to do, start all over and get back on a better track than we’re on right now.”
Given the recent results, going back to the drawing board appears to be in the team’s best interest. Would this go as far as making drastic personnel changes both on the field and within the coaching staff? It does not seem entirely unlikely now, because whatever it is the Patriots have been doing the last two weeks is not working.
Belichick is not the only one expressing this reset mentality after the loss to the Saints. The team’s captains also sang a similar tune.
“I think the biggest thing is, let’s just start over,” said center David Andrews. “Come back to work. Like I said, I don’t know anything else to do but come back to work, work hard, push, pry and do everything I can to try to put our best performance out there Sunday. That’s what I’m going to try to do this week, and I think we’ve got a lot of people in the locker room that are going to try to do that.”
Tight end Hunter Henry echoed those remarks.
“Just go back to work,” he said. “That’s really what it’s all about. It’s just not good enough at any level. It’s not how we want to play football, it’s not how we want to do things. So we’ve just got to be better. I don’t know if I have all the answers for you right now, to be honest with you, but we have to find those answers very, very fast.”
With the team now having lost four of its five games to start the season, and finding itself on the track for a top-5 draft pick rather than a spot in the playoff picture, the process of starting anew goes beyond execution or play calling. The Patriots also need to find a way to rebuild their confidence.
Sunday’s loss made that one clear.
Coming off a shellacking at the hands of the Cowboys, the hope was that the Patriots would come out swinging. Their defense performed reasonably well on its first drive, but the offense went three-and-out immediately and quickly seemed to lose faith in its ability to compete — something that spiraled out of control as the game went on.
“We have to have the ability to remain unfazed and unbothered by what goes on around us, what goes on outside this locker room,” said defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. after the game. “In order to keep moving forward, we have to remain unfazed, keep our head down, keep working, and keep moving forward and correcting our small mistakes, and go out there and just give it our all. And that’s it.”
Wise Jr. paused a brief second before adding:
“...and belief in ourselves and our teammates.”
Five weeks into the season, that belief and indeed the entire operation, appears to be in shambles. The need for a reset is obvious, even though it remains to be seen what that will look like — and whether it will salvage this season.