Now that we’ve gone through the denial and anger phases, New England can enter the “acceptance” portion of the grief process after the Bills’ complete destruction of the Patriots in the wild card round.
It’s during the acceptance phase that you can start to look at the positives. … Right? Is that OK? Are we allowed half-full glasses in this economy? Well, I’m going to do it and see how it goes. *Protestors gather outside my home*
Yes, it’s OK to take some positives away from the 2021 Patriots season. It’s not the right time and place to do that in the first hours and days after the Bills’ 47-17 beatdown of the Patriots in Orchard Park. You have to read the room a little bit. But now that we’ve all gotten the raw, unfiltered anger out of our systems, can we now acknowledge that, in Foxboro, 2021 was a step forward?
It doesn’t feel that way after the way they lost to the Bills, but it was an improvement over 2020 that they had a playoff game in the first place. Though ultimately it feels like only a marginal overall improvement to go from 7-9 to 10-8, going from below average to slightly above average is still progress.
Beyond the aggregate numbers, the 2021 Patriots also landed an impactful draft class, identified some younger long-term pieces to build around, and got strong production from key pieces of their free-agent haul. The season’s humiliating ending will have a way of masking the fact that the Patriots have something to build on heading into 2022.
Clearly, the Pats have problems to address in the offseason, and need to play and coach a lot better in order to be competitive on a playoff stage. But it’s not all bad in Foxboro. Here’s the good to take away.