Deatrich Wise Jr. is many things. He’s a seven-year NFL veteran, a one-time Super Bowl champion, and in his second year as a New England Patriots team captain.
The 29-year-old also is something else: an eternal optimist. Even the fact that the Patriots enter their bye week at 2-8 and as one of the worst teams in football cannot change that. Wise Jr. still sees plenty of good in his team.
“This is a tough season,” he told reporters at his locker on Tuesday. “We have a bad record, but we don’t have a bad team.”
The Patriots’ season so far seems to tell a different story. Their -97 point differential is second-worst in all of football, they have benched their starting quarterback on three separate occasions, and they are currently on track to get the third overall pick in next year’s draft.
Despite all of that being true, Wise Jr. still believes there are reasons for optimism heading into the second half of the season. For him, it all starts with the team’s mindset.
“It has been tough but at the same time we always tell everybody to stay positive because there’s a lot more games left and you can still do things to turn the season around,” he said. “It’s one of those things that everybody likes to hang on what we haven’t done or what we’re currently doing now, which is not winning. But sometimes, when we talk to our guys, it’s not so much what we’re not doing as what we can do.
“We’re losing games by, like, one touchdown or one point and there’s so many things that we can do to change this all around. We’re all trying to stay positive; we’re all staying focused on what we can do in the future.”
The Patriots have indeed been competitive in many of their eight losses this year. Five of those defeats were of the one-score variety, with a 14-point loss in Miami and back-to-back blowouts against the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints the only exceptions.
In all those games, however, the issue has been the same: a maddening lack of consistency, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Even when the Patriots were in position to compete for wins — such as last Sunday’s 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Germany — they made too many mistakes to finish the job.
Nonetheless, Wise Jr. believes that the Patriots have “done a lot of great things” over the first half of their season.
“On defense, we continue to have great success,” he said. “There’s been a lot of teams who score a high number of points that we’re consistently stopping from their yearly average, or whatever the case is. A lot of great teams come our way and besides maybe two games they leave with their season’s low.
“We’re doing a lot of good things on offense. The O-line is moving guys out the way, there are holes being created. Rhamondre is doing a fantastic job. I there’s a lot of connections — there’s little glimpses and glimmers of positive plays that you see throughout the game on both sides of the ball, even on special teams. So, there’s a lot of things that we’re doing well. We just need to continue to do those well. And things that we’re not doing well, that we’re hurting ourselves on, just correct that.”
The Patriots’ ability to make those corrections will be critical if they want to, as Wise Jr. said, turn their season around. What such a turnaround would look like given the club’s first 10 games is anybody’s guess, but it is obvious that the team doesn’t want to just accept its fate.
Instead, it wants to find a way to build on the positives and prove that it indeed is not as bad as its current record suggests.