I am an eternal sports optimist. To me it’s more fun following sports and thinking the best outcome for my teams is the likely one. If my team has even a sniff of being a contender, I think they’re going to the championship series/game. I think almost every rookie/prospect is going to turn into a future all-star.
But even I have my limits.
The Turf has already weighed in on the questionable sanity of Patriots fans like me. I thought this team had a promising immediate future. Visions of this team being compared to the 2001 team, or dare I say even the 2003 team, to me were not unfounded. So far, I was wrong.
I also have always been a stout believer in Bill Belichick (quite a limb to go out on!). When it came to picking sides, I went with BB over Brady. Even after the Patriots missed the playoffs and Brady won his seventh ring, I still was Team Bill. I thought he had planned for this and a revamped 2021 team was going to prove he still had his fastball.
So far, it looks like I was wrong on that too.
A 2-4 start cannot be labeled as anything but a disappointment even with the promise Mac Jones has shown at quarterback. Losing the first four games at home in an environment that used to terrify opposing teams is an embarrassment.
But my sports optimism tells me that we’re all missing one silver lining here.
The New England Patriots can still beat anyone.
One of Belichick’s claims to fame in his illustrious career has been the ability to limit supremely talented offenses. He has been able to construct game plans that allowed his team the chance to prevail, even when facing a large talent discrepancy. The early 90’s Bills, the early 00’s Rams & Colts, and even the 2018 Chiefs all fell to Belichick coached teams that were not seen as likely victors.
And he’s still doing it. The end result is just not the same.
For now, let’s ignore some of the coaching decisions in the games vs. the Buccaneers and Cowboys and just focus on the simple facts:
- The Patriots were down 19-17 with one minute left and had the ball on the Buccaneer 37
- The Patriots were up 29-26 with under 1:30 left and Dallas had the ball on their own 31. The Patriots also had the ball first in overtime and got to their own 46 before punting
The Patriots could have (and to be honest, should have) won both games.
Belichick is still able to position the Patriots to have a chance to beat any opponent. We saw this several times last season when late-game miscues ultimately cost the team. The thinking was improvements on defense and at the quarterback position would help the 2021 season tell a different story.
At this point, the song sounds the same though. And while this could change in future games, it’s very difficult to expect it will. This team has looked like it’s lost the magic that almost guaranteed they would prevail late in close games.
Obviously, a huge piece of this now cashes his game checks in Florida. But Pats fans like myself still felt like some of that Patriots magic came from Belichick. That this season would be different, and the Patriots would look more like the Patriots.
Now we’re faced with the dilemma of choosing between optimism and realism for where this season is going. All is not lost, and while a 2-4 record stinks this team won’t be gunning for the #1 pick. The Patriots will likely have a chance to win all the games remaining on their schedule. My optimism would like to tell you they will be celebrating oft
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