New England Patriots: Setbacks or Comebacks?
By Julie Voigt and Russell S. Baxter (VIBE)
Special to Pro Football Guru
After consecutive losses to Dolphins at Miami (34-33) and the Steelers at Pittsburgh (17-10), the New England Patriots appear to be a sinking ship at this crucial times of the season. Even though they still sit atop the AFC East, they currently own a somewhat-disappointing 9-5 record on the season and finished 3-5 on the road this season. And for the second time this year, Bill Belichick’s club is looking to rebound from consecutive setbacks.
Stop if you have heard this one before. Are we starting to see the end of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick Era?
The final two regular season games will be against the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets, both at Gillette Stadium. It just so happens that these two teams might have been set to play the Pats at the right time, at least for them. And although both the Bills and Jets have been mathematically eliminated from the postseason, could either play spoiler when it comes to the Patriots winning a 10th consecutive AFC East title?
Tom Brady has had his moments this season but he has also had his struggled. Tight end Rob Gronkowski doesn’t look like his usual dominating self and wide receiver Julian Edelman hasn’t been sharp. The defense has been mediocre. And now there’s the news of wide receiver Josh Gordon opting to leave the team for personal reasons. The latest news come from ESPN’s Adam Schefter in regards to the talented performer:
"Effective today, Josh Gordon has been returned to the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list indefinitely for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement under the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse."
But there is still one very overwhelming factor to keep in mind. These are the New England Patriots and while they don’t look like a team poised to hoist a Lombardi Trophy as the moment, think again. When you’re talking comebacks, they’ve written the book. And as Buffalo Bills’ linebacker Lorenzo Alexander reminds us (via Patriots.com), this has been quite the organization for a long time:
"They’ve been the standard of our division for the last 15 years. For us to go up there and beat them would be huge obviously for the city, for our team and organization, because they are a team that has really had our number since I have been here. I know they are not happy about the way they have played. I know they are going to come out and make a statement of ‘don’t forget about us now’ as they try to get into the playoffs.”
It's not necessarily a stat that you hear a lot. But it's pretty astounding, to say the least. The last time a team won the Super Bowl one season after losing the “Big Game” was way back in 1972, when the perfect Miami Dolphins went 17-0 one year after losing to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.
Are the Patriots no longer contenders to win at all? That seems like quite the stretch. Be it during a season or in the Super Bowl itself, the franchise has had a penchant for comebacks. The departure of Gordon is certainly a big blow. And the team is not playing its best football these days. But as has been the case throughout the NFL in 2018, it's been a campaign of ups and downs. And fortunes and misfortunes can be reversed in the blink of an eye.
So when it comes to Belichick, Brady and the New England Patriots, it would be wise to heed these words:
Julie Voigt (@JulieNoted_NFL) and Russell S. Baxter (@BaxFootballGuru) are the co-founders of @NFL_VIBE. Julie is also the Colts’ reporter for OurTurf Football while Russell writes for FanSided and NFL Spin Zone.