Well, let’s get right to the point: all things considered, the next week or so could very well mark the low point in Bill Belichick’s storied career as coach of the New England Patriots.
And Tom Brady looks like the one poised to deliver the knockdown.
In the cyberworld, we here in the media deal in extremes, but think about it. The Patriots are 1-2 following Sunday’s calamitous loss to the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium. The whole operation looks like a mess. The Patriots floundered on offense, defense and special teams in a 28-13 defeat that felt (and should have been) much worse – the Saints missed two field goals – and stark realities are starting to dawn just a whisker south of Route 1, where the Patriots spent a lot of money last offseason in what felt, at the time, like a new beginning.
But three weeks in, it feels more like an end.
A few things to consider: do you realize the Patriots have yet to force a fumble this season, after forcing only a league-low five in 2020? They rank 25th in the league in rushing defense and 27th in the league in offensive passer rating, the latter despite the play of what appears to be a capable, young quarterback. (According to ESPN Stats and Information, by the way, Jones has taken 29 hits, tied for eighth most among QBs. Inside the pocket, he has been hit 22 times, tied for third most.) Their vaunted rushing attack ranks 24th. They have scored the second-fewest touchdowns in football – only the dreadful Jets have fewer – and they’ve had one punt blocked while knocking two kickoffs out of bounds.,
And, despite recording four interceptions in a win over the Jets, the Patriots for the season are even in turnover differential, tied for 18th in the league. Mediocrity never felt so good.
Is all of that likely to continue? Based on Belichick’s resume, no. But we all know that the old standards don’t apply anymore. Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming to Foxboro angry for various reasons – they were pasted by the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday – and the rosters of Tampa Bay and New England don’t match up in terms of talent.
And so, as Brady returns for a game that has been hyped since he left roughly 18 months ago, those of us here in New England must worry and wonder where this is all headed for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
After all, are things getting better … or are they getting worse?