After entering the season as preseason favorites to once again win the Super Bowl and go 16-0 during the regular season, the New England Patriots are currently 3-2 and are in third place in the AFC East. Is it time to hit the panic button?
No, but they clearly haven’t lived up to the expectations so far. A combination of losing key offensive weapons, offensive-line breakdowns, and poor defensive play has Patriots’ fans scratching their heads.
Tom Brady lost his favorite receiver and is having to adjust to an offense without Julian Edelman. His go-to receiver torn his right ACL on Aug. 25 which took away Brady’s key receiver in key situations. By not having his security blanket, this allows more opposing pass rushers the opportunity to get to Brady before he can get rid of the ball due to not needed more help in the secondary.
The offensive line protection for Brady is off to a rough start in 2017. Through the first five games, Brady has now taken 32 hits and been sacked 16 times. This is already for sacks allowed than all of last season, when he was brought down 15 times in only 12 regular-season games. Though his receivers aren’t always getting open quick enough, Brady still needs time in the pocket in order to let the play develop and he isn’t getting that time.
A team shouldn’t be upset if they allow a 300-yard plus game against Drew Brees or Alex Smith, but allowing rookie Deshaun Watson to throw his first 300-yard game in his career is worth questioning. Watson threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots. So far, the opposing quarter backs against the Patriots have an average passer rating of 112.9, which is ranked third-worst in the NFL. When New England signed Stephon Gilmore and put him with pro bowlers Malcolm Butler and Devin McCourty, this was not the outcome they expected, especially after giving Gilmore $70 million dollars.
This all being said, this is the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick, the greatest coach in NFL history, is still at the helm, along with arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play, Tom Brady. They always seem to make the best out of every situation and are always playing in January. As long as the Patriots make the playoffs, they are always a guaranteed Super Bowl contender.