With this past week’s loss to the Buffalo Bills, the New England Patriots have officially dropped to 2–5 on the season. It is safe to say that it is pretty much time to put a stamp on the season. Ever since week three ended and the COVID-19 breakout began in the Patriots facility, the Pats have been plummeting down to earth, having won no games since then, and now, it seems it is time to scratch the 2020 season.
Even coach Bill Belichick seems to have really packed it in for the rest of the season. Here is what he had to say last week on WEEI: "That's what we did the last five years. We sold out and won three Super Bowls, played in a fourth and played in an AFC championship game. This year we had less to work with. It's not an excuse, it's just a fact."
Essentially, what Belichick is saying here is that he knows that there isn’t enough talent on this team to make a good playoff push. Hearing that from a coach like Belichick, who has won six Super Bowls, must feel demoralizing for a player. Then again, nothing Belichick said was false either: the Patriots had some key holdouts this season due to COVID-19, and they also have a depleted wide receiving core, and, oh yes, they lost the greatest quarterback of all time in the offseason.
So this season, Belichick has made it clear that they want to clear cap space to maximize their opportunity to succeed next season once the pandemic situation is fixed and players begin to return. Although it sounded like the Patriots were going to be sellers at the deadline, they actually ended up standing pat for the most part aside from some minor deals like acquiring a wide receiver, Isaiah Ford, from the Miami Dolphins and picking up free agent wide receiver, Donte Moncrief. It seemed like a done deal that they would trade all-pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore at the deadline after he put his house up for sale, but apparently no real offers were made, so he will remain a Patriot at least until the offseason.
For now, it seems like the idea of tanking for a higher draft pick is out of the question, as the Patriots haven’t been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. However, as a Patriots fan, losing a good amount of games this season should not upset you too greatly, as the Patriots need some top tier talent coming from the draft this season. I wouldn’t doubt if Belichick explored more trades in the offseason to try and get more first round picks. The only thing Pats fans should ask for is that Belichick doesn’t trade out of the first round and just takes the best player available, which is something we rarely see out of Belichick. The main reason the Patriots are struggling this year is due to the fact that Belichick has missed a lot on his early round draft picks in the last few years.
If the Patriots can hit on one or two picks this season, preferably on the offensive side of the ball, the Pats could be in good shape to contend in the AFC East next year. For this year, however, the season is all but over. Winning at this point seems like it will only hurt their draft position because I don’t see how the Patriots can come back and make the playoffs this season.