New England Patriots Promising 2021 Season Collapsed but There Is Hope

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The New England Patriots promising 2021 season ended after they got throttled by the Buffalo Bills, 47-17, in the first round of the playoffs. The Bills became the first team in NFL history to have a perfect offensive game in a playoff win; they scored a touchdown on every possession. It was the worst playoff loss the Pats have suffered in the Bill Belichick era and the second worst in any game. In the past two games against the Bills, the Patriots have given up 82 points on 17 possessions, and the Bills never punted.

Considering the Patriots held the top seed in the AFC entering their Week 14 bye and then lost four of their last five games, it is fair to say their season collapsed. They finished one win shy of winning the division and two wins shy of the top seed in the AFC. Unfortunately, they fell to the sixth seed and then ran into a buzzsaw named Josh Allen, who finished with a near-perfect passer rating (157.6) in the Wild Card game.

Promising New England Patriots 2021 Season Ended Badly but There Is Hope

When the Patriots entered their late bye week as the top seed in the conference, expectations began to rise. Little did fans know, the team was starting to fall apart. When they returned to action, they looked like a different team, one that did not care. They dropped their next two pivotal games with both the division and the conference’s top seed on the line. The most concerning part was that they looked uninterested.

Mac Jones appeared on the injury report with a left thumb injury coming out of the bye week. It was his non-throwing hand, but it limited him at practice. It raises questions and concerns about how it happened. After all, he only threw the ball three times in the game before the bye week. After their loss to the Indianapolis Colts, he let on that the team was “feeling a little sorry for ourselves because we’re coming off the bye and stuff.” That comment raised more questions than answers. Why would they be feeling sorry for themselves after a week off, and what other “stuff” was going on?

After their first loss to the Bills, some fascinating comments surfaced from veteran Matthew Slater. He said: “At this point in time, what we have to do is make sure, first and foremost, that we stick together. You want to make sure there is no splinter in what you’re doing, no splinter in the locker room, no splinter between players and coaches. We have some choices here. I think one of the choices is to just let this spiral out of control, and the other choice is to put our feet on the ground and make a stand and fight.”

The team never did make a stand and fight, except when they beat up on the decimated Jacksonville Jaguars. Perhaps it did spiral out of control, and the Patriots promising 2021 season began to collapse weeks ago.

Better Days Are on the Horizon

But it is not all doom and gloom in New England as better days are on the horizon. True, based on the reactions from fans, it is hard for some to feel any positivity right now after how the season ended. But, if they look at the big picture, they will find plenty of positive takeaways from the season.

After a tough reset year in 2020, the Pats quickly rebuilt a playoff team in 2021. They contended for the AFC East division crown and the top seed in their conference and finished with a solid 10-7 record. The team also drafted a promising young quarterback that led them to the playoffs in his rookie season. That selection and Mac Jones’ play will keep them from having to enter the proverbial “quarterback carousel” for at least three more years.

By all measures, and perhaps most importantly for the Patriots, Jones had a solid rookie season.  He clearly stood above the other first-round quarterbacks in his class. Jones led all rookies in passing touchdowns (22), passing yards (3,801), completion percentage (67.6), and passer rating (92.5). He is one of the favorites to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Fans should be excited to see what Jones can do next season with some experience under his belt and additional time to build more chemistry with the rest of his teammates.

The team is still “retooling” and is not a finished product. The first attempt was successful, and the team is clearly heading in the right direction. Making the playoffs, especially with a rookie quarterback, has to be a measure of success for any team. There are building blocks all over the roster with players like Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, Matt Judon, and Christain Barmore, among others. If Jonnu Smith and Nelson Agholor can live up to their expectations, the sky is the limit for this team. There is plenty of reason to believe better days are ahead for the Patriots.