Without Bill Belichick These Patriots are Just Another Team

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It's only one loss.  No matter how ugly it was, it's only one loss.  Yes, Denver was missing its top defensive player and top three offensive players.  Yes, now the Pats find themselves behind both the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins in the AFC East.  It was still only one loss.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports

I've been repeating that mantra to myself these past couple of days to remind myself that all is not lost with this team.  Sunday's loss to the Denver Broncos might have been one of the more lifeless performances in recent memory for this franchise. 

It was to the point where early in the fourth quarter, it felt like the Pats were ready to just turn the page on this one.  They were trailing by 15, and facing a fourth and one from their own 17 yard line and opted to punt.  With a guy like Cam Newton, you should honestly go for it every time on fourth and one; even more so when you're trailing by multiple scores in the fourth quarter. 

Instead, they punted away.  I turned to my family and said "I think Belichick is just saying screw it at this point, he's done with this game."  Now, they made it interesting at the end due to Denver's ineptitude, but ultimately fell short and got the result they deserved.

Outside of a constant feeling of wanting to vomit, there were a lot other negatives about this game.  The offensive line looked every bit of the banged up unit that they are.  Cam Newton was bad.  As a group, the wide receives had just six catches.  Three turnovers.  No forced punts until the fourth quarter.  The list goes on and on. 

For me, my main takeaway from this game was that it highlighted New England's talent deficiency, particularly on the offensive end.  Their lack of talent, particularly at wide receiver and tight end, was one of the biggest issues last year with Tom Brady.  This year, that unit is arguably worse. 

Last year, you were asking the greatest QB of all time to elevate these guys, and that didn't go too well.  Now, you're asking a guy in Newton - who hadn't played in a year - to do the same thing, all while he's still trying to learn the offense.

People are pointing to the lack of practice time over the past couple of weeks, and that is valid.  If anything, that further proves the point that the Patriots lack talent.  They can't just take the field and rely on pure talent alone to beat teams, they need to game plan and scheme their way to wins.  They need Belichick to coach them up, and put them in a position to win every week.

We've seen how it looks with a normal week of practice.  They easily handled the Dolphins and Raiders, took the Seahawks down to the wire and stood tall against the Chiefs with Brian Hoyer under center.  I don't think it's outlandish to say that with a normal week of practice and preparation, this team would have beat Denver.

This is why at the start of the year I thought 10-6 was realistic.  On paper, with pretty much any other coach, this team is a 4-5 win team.  However, Belichick changes that.  The problem is that this could happen all over again during the year.

The team could have another positive test or two, have to shut the facility down and take the field with minimal time to prepare.  With their remaining schedule, that could be a nightmare.  We saw what no preparation looks like against a crappy Broncos team, what would this look like if this happens again in a few weeks leading up to the Baltimore game?

Newton didn't help on Sunday.  He was bad.  He held the ball too long at times and took some bad sacks.  He missed open guys.  Both in the sense that he saw they were open and just made a poor throw (i.e. N'Keal Harry on the failed fourth down that sealed the game), but also he flat out just didn't see some open guys.  I expect him to be better. 

The defense wasn't exactly amazing either, but at the end of the day, they played well enough to give the Pats a chance to win.

Sunday was one of those games that the Pats needed.  Ten wins should get you into the playoffs this year.  Maybe nine with the field now expanded, but you should feel confident with ten.  So, that means now the Patriots would have to win eight of their final 11 games.  Without looking at every other team's remaining schedule, I would say that New England has one of the most difficult. 

Looking at New England's schedule right now, out of those final 11 games, I see two or three games where going into that game I would feel confident they're going to win.  The other eight or nine, I just don't know. 


Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34

Check out Fire the Muskets, the Syndicate’s podcast dedicated solely to the New England Patriots and the rest of the NFL.  Follow our Fire the Muskets on Twitter @FireTheMuskets.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Without Bill Belichick These Patriots are Just Another Team
Without Bill Belichick These Patriots are Just Another Team
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