This really has just been a disaster of a season. The Patriots just got dunked on by the Buffalo Bills after going 29-3 against them between 2001-2019 with Tom Brady under center. It was a blowout, it was a changing of the guard, but to say it was embarrassing would imply that the end result was surprising. It was not. In the infamous words of Trent Dilfer, the Patriots aren’t good anymore. It’s the first time the Patriots have been swept in a season by a divisional opponent in 20 years, they are dead last in the NFL in passing TDs with 8 (one of which came from WR Jakobi Meyers), and the team is uncharacteristically undisciplined, which was only exacerbated by that head scratching challenge flag Belichick threw on what was clearly a catch directly in front of him and his son.
Someone clearly told Bill to throw the red flag though so Ernie must be going blind up in that fucking lighthouse.
December 29, 2020
There is a lot of grave dancing, which is to be expected after the run the Patriots just went on over the last 20 years. But for people to already be comparing the Patriots to the Jets is hyperbole of the highest order. Lets just let this marinate for a little more than 15 weeks before locking the Pats in the NFL basement with the likes of the Jets. I fully expect Bill is going to Execute Order 66 this offseason and just start taking people out left and right because you can tell this season has stung, which can only be worsened seeing Tom Brady’s march to the playoffs down in Tampa. The Pats will have some of, if not the most, cap room in the league this offseason and a Top 15 draft pick so there are some assets there to work with. Whether that means trading up to snag a top tier QB, trading down and rebuilding with even more picks, or hoping another QB shakes loose in free agency, there are plenty of routes back to respectability. I will settle for respectability and then we can discuss returning to championship contender status at a later date.
The best the Patriots can hope for right now is a 2012 Seahawks scenario where they overpay for a backup QB free agent and then hit on a QB with a pick later in the draft. Best case scenario is the Pats sign Marcus Mariota, then draft a QB in the 3rd Round, and Mariota never takes a snap for the team. Similar to how the Seahawks and Pete Carroll gave career backup Matt Flynn a monster 3-year deal before realizing a few weeks later that they had hit the jackpot with Russell Wilson. But stumbling onto another Hall of Fame QB with a late round draft pick isn’t exactlyy probable so I can’t say I am expecting that.
What about former Washington QB Dwayne Haskins? The fastest a 1st Round QB has been outright cut by a team in the last 20 years. Nope. Moving on.
The Patriots unfortunately do not have a lot of elite talent and just about all of their best players are on the wrong side of 30. All of their best offensive players under 30 are linemen and runningbacks, which is why the running game is the only thing thats looked impressive at times. Tight ends we’ll get to in a minute, but the receiving corps is nothing I would bet money on. N’Keal Harry is looking like a gigantic bust and Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers are nice 3rd or 4th receivers, but they are not true No. 1 guys. Things aren’t much better on the defensive side of the ball with their best players under 30 including guys like JC Jackson (who got robbed of a Pro Bowl this year), Chase Winovich, Deatrich Wise, and the book is still out but early signs have looked good on Josh Uche and Kyle Dugger. You can debate anyone I may have left out, but there’s not a lot of young elite talent on the roster except for Jackson (who sneaky got torched last night).
Cam Newton is a great dude, a seemingly beloved teammate, and he has been a model Patriot, but unfortunately he just looks cooked. I don’t know if it’s his shoulder or what, but he just cannot deliver the ball. It’s not all his fault though as the weapons around him have been more like Dollar Store Super Soakers. Even when he does deliver a good pass, he has bum receivers dropping balls like Byrd letting a would be TD bounce off his face mask.December 29, 2020
Or rookie (3rd Round pick) TE Devin Asiasi dropping a key first down and adding to his grand total of Zero receptions on the season. Fellow 3rd Round TE Dalton Keene has a measly Two receptions on the year too so Tight End, a historically important position for young/new/mobile QBs, has been BARREN in New England.
Who needs pocket presence or general awareness when you can run like an absolute wrecking ball?! #Patriots #GoPats #NFL #NFLTwitter #Bills #BillsMafia #BUFvsNE #MondayNightFootball pic.twitter.com/sYyojEeH47— The 300s (@The300sBoston) December 29, 2020
Newton can still takeoff for an electric TD run though, which he did Monday night for his 12th of the year. However even that came after what realistically should have been another sack as Newton’s pocket presence and awareness has seemed non-existent this season. But even with the 2nd Most Rushing TDs by a QB in a season (trailing only himself in 2011 with 14), passing for just 5 touchdowns over 14 games simply isn’t going to cut it. I wish it had worked out better, I was really excited to see Cam as a Patriot, but it just hasn’t materialized. It’s not for a lack of effort or attitude, which has been admirable, but even the ever positive Newton sounded dejected after last night’s effort (5/10 for 34 yards, 47.6 QBR).
On Monday he looked exhausted and sounded frustrated. He has been away from his children for months, and not even an admirable work ethic and a team-first attitude has produced much.
“It’s extremely frustrating knowing what you’re capable of but it’s just not showing when it counts the most,” Newton said. “… I’ve sacrificed so much this year and it hurts when you have the outing that you had tonight …
“I’m more or less venting,” he acknowledged.
Jarrett Stidham: Alright down 20+ points, time for me to get in there and start slinging it!— The 300s (@The300sBoston) December 29, 2020
Belichick: #Patriots #GoPats #NFL #NFLTwitter #Bills #BillsMafia #BUFvsNE #MondayNightFootball pic.twitter.com/IoqaLIMGMn
To be fair, Jarrett Stidham, who it looked like might not even see the field, was also terrible, completing 4 of 11 passes for 44 yards with a QBR of 3.7. Again, this team is devoid of elite talent at Wide Receiver (Julian Edelman is still out with a knee injury) and Tight End so it’s hard to evaluate anybody under center, but lets just say Stidham does not appear to be like a young Aaron Rodgers with his path to playing time merely blocked by a former MVP veteran QB.
To make matters even worse, the commentators were borderline depressing too. They will usually try to carry a game broadcast during a blowout, but they were talking about Newton and the Patriots like a “too old to be in the ring” heavyweight boxer that they were legitimately concerned for. And this was with 10 minutes left to go in the 4th quarter. Quite a lot of time to fill as the broadcasters pondered the precarious future of the Patriots.
So we’ll see what the Patriots do and whether they attack the offseason like they did after 2006 when they spent big in free agency and made splashy trades for studs like Randy Moss and Wes Welker, but even then that team had elite building blocks already in place.
All we know is this: Bill has the cap space, an unusually high draft pick, and all the motivation in the world to turn this thing around. Now let’s just hope this is a rebuild and not a tear down.