Nick Folk’s kick sails through the uprights and the Patriots go from at deaths doorstep to keeping their slimmer than a rail playoff chances alive. It was hardly pretty. In fact it was rather atrocious football, I have yet to understand how we avoided the loss. The simplest answers are the Patriots defense performed a spectacular defensive stand to end the first half, Gilmore had DeAndre Hopkins in the torture chamber, and the special teams gave the stagnant Patriots offense the jolts necessary to score some points.
For now, the beat still goes on heading to Los Angeles to take on the 3-7 Chargers. Don’t let their record fool you. The only problem this team has is their late-game execution, having loss two contests by one play. I have no idea what’ll happen. Will Cam crack 300 passing yards or will he pick up right where he left off his abominable vs Arizona? No, clue. Frankly, neither scenario guarantees a win or loss with this Patriots team. Everything is so off kilter I’m still more miffed the NFL screwed the patriots back in October when they had their outbreak of the Coronavirus.
Just about all that could have gone wrong has gone wrong for New England this season. An awful lot of it out of their control. Starting with the drop outs relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. Stars Patrick Chung and Dont’a Hightower opting to not put their health and their families at risk playing in this horrendous NFL season. This left the Patriots defense missing an extra punch it’s grown accustomed to having.
When the season began, the Patriots raced out to a 2-1 start and Sony Michel had his best career game vs Las Vegas. Then he went to a strip club and tore his quad. He recently re-entered action vs Arizona but did not receive a handoff despite the team missing Rex Burkhead due to an ACL tear. A seemingly rejuvenated Newton caught the virus and his games were loss due to his body strength not being what it was prior to his diagnosis. Costly loses to Seattle, Denver, Buffalo which came down to one or two plays defined the season for New England. If Cam gets one more yard vs Seattle, if the NFL did not give the Broncos an extra week of down time so Drew Lock could heal from his injuries, and if Cam didn’t fumble during the what would could have been the game-winning drive, they aren’t 5-6 teetering between the seventh seed and elimination.
The offense was built for Tom Brady, or Jarrett Stidham, as Newton was an addition very late in the off-season. Despite Belichick’s efforts to tailor make the offense solely around Newton’s strengths, the patented short throws Brady made a living off of are something Newton is unable to continue. James White comes out the biggest loser from this experiment.
No matter what the Patriots do well, the limited abilities of Newton handicap what should be an advantage. Damian Harris is a revaluation and if Tommy was still here, would have opened up the offense so much. But since Cam fails to make those throws to first, accuracy isn’t his calling and he is unable to make the proper adjustments at the line opposing defenses can just throw blitz attack after blitz attack.
Outside of N’Keal Harry, the wide receiving core is pretty decent. Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers have become good at creating separation and their hands are sure enough. Meyers has stepped up big since Julian Edelman went down early in the season.
From a top-10 offense in 2019, the Patriots have fallen to a bottom tier squad because the throws Brady used to make in his sleep, Cam can’t seemingly on his best day.
What lies ahead is uncertain. Do the Patriots give Cam another chance and try to make the offense more friendly to the long game? Do they let Newton hit the open market and give the reigns to Stiddy or look for another quarterback who’ll surely be another find in the bargain bin?
Nobody knows. The future is uncertain. We are teased with this year with the possibility of making the playoffs providing a needed distraction from all the unanswered questions.