The Pat-Down

The New England Patriots currently have a record of 10-2 and are one of the top teams in the NFL.
Despite this, many believe that the Patriots have lost their appeal for favorites to win the Super Bowl and that their run, that has spanned multiple decades, is over.

Cue Trent Dilfer’s infamous quote, “The New England Patriots, let’s face it, they aren’t good anymore!” from 2014.

Now, I’m not saying that the problems the Patriots have, which I’ll dive into in a minute, are no issue. They are huge issues and need to be addressed. But what the people who are doubting the Patriots are telling me is that these problems cannot be fixed, which is just absurd.

The big problem is the Patriots offense really, and within that problem, are smaller problems that can clearly explain why the team is faced with this really big problem.

Let’s start with the wide receivers, which have been poor at best.

The team’s current group of receivers are Julian Edelman, Mohammed Sanu, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorrsett, and Jakobi Meyers. Each individual on this list has had a moment of being a competent wide receiver throughout the season, but as a group, they haven’t been consistent all season. In their last game against the Texans, it was the worst game of the season for the group as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wasn’t on the same page with all of his receivers.

To their credit, the offense started the game strong on their first drive with a couple key catches from Edelman, which led to a field goal. The poor effort started with Brady’s first pick of the game. Harry ran a terrible route, which allowed the Texans defender to undercut the route and pick off the pass. The interception led to a momentum shift and the Texans first touchdown of the game.

For the record, I could run a better route than Harry did, and this is coming from a guy who is out of breath when I walk up the stairs to the top floor of the WLLC.

Edelman was the Patriots’ best receiver that night, but it was hard for him to make any plays as the Texans’ defense double-covered him for most of the night. That put a lot of pressure on the rest of the wide receivers on the team, as they have never been a consistent big part of their offense.

Don’t get me wrong; the receivers have talent. Myers could establish himself as he has been able to make some impressive plays. Harry was a first round pick in the 2019 draft, and started the season on injured reserve. Dorsett has always been a mixed bag, but has had some key catches during his time in New England. Sanu was traded to the team midway through the season and is still dealing with an injury. Edelman was the most recent Super Bowl MVP and second all-time in playoff receptions.

It really comes down to execution, and poor communication and attention to detail will lead to poor execution.

The running game has been average at best. You could put a lot of the blame on Sony Michel, who as a second-year running back hasn’t been able to carry over the same degree of success that he had his rookie year. I think the main issue comes down to their fullback, James Develin, who was ruled out of the remainder of the season early on. He was the reason why the team was able to rely heavily on the run late in the season last year, which opened up the passing game. Losing tight end Rob Gronkowski to retirement this year doesn’t help either, as he was a hell of a run blocker as well.

I think, for the Patriots to get to where they need to be, they need to rely more on their run game. It slows the game down, and it allows their defense, which is on track to being one of the greatest defenses of all time, to dominate the game. Running the ball also opens up the passing game. If the wide receivers can generate more communication with Brady, that should be enough to get their offense back on track.
Before I end this, let’s just remind ourselves that the Denver Broncos were able to win a Super Bowl in 2015 with an outstanding defense, and an offense in which Peyton Manning had a noodle for an arm.

The 1990s Giants won a Super Bowl with a great defense and a backup QB. If they could win a Super Bowl, we can win one as well.