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Is It The Return of the Dark Days for the Patriots?

Let’s have a conversation about something some people aren’t ready for. The Patriots are not supposed to be good this year and that’s okay! They aren’t bad like the Atlanta Falcons. But, there are numerous reasons as to why they’re underperforming to our standards in New England. 

Opt-Outs

First things first, people keep forgetting about the number of opt-outs the Patriots had. They led the league with 8 players choosing to not risk COVID-19, three of which were significant losses and holes to fill. The defense is without Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung; while the offense is down Marcus Cannon and Danny Vitale. Being down key playmakers is huge. Yes, they have the cap space to fill these holes but what happens next year when hopefully things are returning to some form of normalcy? After seeing how the league handled their COVID response, I’m even more glad for them that they opted out.

Tom Brady

I mean this with all of my chest: stop comparing Cam Newton to Tom Brady. I feel like Regina George saying this, but stop trying to make fetch happen, it’s not going to happen. Tom Brady was a generational talent, one of the greatest of all time, of course Cam Newton isn’t going to be the same player as Brady. He shouldn’t try to be Brady, he should try and do the best he can with the offense that he has beside him. 

While we’re on the subject of Brady, stop wishing the Patriots kept Brady! It was his choice to go. The Patriots did all they could and he went to Robert Kraft’s house and told him his time in New England was up. That’s okay!

Also, enough with the quarterback comparisons. Stop wishing they didn’t trade Jimmy Garoppolo. The Patriots went to two Super Bowls after the trade, including winning one. Stop it, enough is enough. Jimmy G also missed an entire season from a knee injury and has ankle injuries every season. It was a fair trade that worked out for both teams. You can’t say a team lost a trade 3 years post-trade. 

Josh McDaniels

I’ve been off the McDaniels bandwagon for a hot second. I think he calls a stale game until 6 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. That is no way to win a football game. This might upset some but think about it rationally for a minute. They said that Tom Brady had a noodle arm, couldn’t throw it more than 5 yards. Where is Brady now? Throwing multiple 20+ yard darts per game. Brady had capable receivers in nearly every season leading up to his departure but was held to check-downs. What changed? A different offensive coordinator.

McDaniels tries to force run plays that go up the middle when running it up the middle hasn’t worked much this season, if at all. Especially when there are health issues with the starting offensive line and the running backs aren’t effective without a fullback leading the way. He also calls a predictable game, I’ve been saying this around my house for years. It’s always run-run-pass, run-run-pass, the issue is the passes come on 3rd and 6 and he has the receivers run 4-yard routes. I’m no mathematician, but those numbers don’t equal a first down.

Cam Newton

He’s 2 weeks cleared from testing positive from COVID-19, it’s impressive he’s even playing football in and of himself. Sure, it’s been reported that he was asymptomatic which is great to hear, however, his body was still fighting an infection whether he was showing symptoms or not. Medical professionals have seen lasting effects, mainly exhaustion, linger for weeks afterward. I also stumbled across a tweet suggesting that there’s a possibility that Newton is injured. All of which makes sense when you look at his passing chart for the previous two weeks, he’s had virtually no passes to his right side.

I agree that his awareness and terrible decision making have been major concerns, however, it’s not solely on Newton, he has McDaniels calling the plays. Edelman still has the dropsies lingering from last season and it’s okay to admit that he isn’t what he used to be. After returning from COVID, he had a completely depleted offensive line and had no time. This week he had the time and was missing plays.

Final Thoughts

Don’t say it’s time to tank, we have no idea what next year will hold. This year has been full of so much uncertainty in all aspects of life, sports is no exception. There is no reason to go into full panic mode and demand a rebuild when the team was down key players before the season even started. There’s plenty of room to grow within the roster available. As much as some don’t want to acknowledge it, the receivers are getting open more than they were last year. There is room to upgrade the offense, yes, but I don’t think it’s time to fully write them off, yet. It isn’t a normal season and we need to become better at dealing with that and not run to the nearest cliff after every little mistake.

A final, final note: no, Jeff Garcia, Cam Newton does not need to change his wardrobe until he “plays better.” He needs to wear clothes to games. I don’t think his outfits are causing him much thought considering he, more than likely, has a stylist.

-Jess Donahue (@jldx392)

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