As I sit here at the end of the regular season, and a few days before the Patriots play the LA Chargers in the AFC divisional playoffs I find myself asking a question. Who are the New England Patriots this year?
I went into this season with my usual homer optimism and high expectations as all of us in New England have regarding this team. After the first few weeks I felt cautiously optimistic after a few ugly wins and some very ugly losses. So at this time of year and after some serious thought, I find myself asking, who is this team? This year has felt different since the first few weeks all the way to the end of the regular season. The Patriots didn't make any insane or splashy moves during free agency or during the trade deadline but thats nothing new. I honestly did not expect it from them. So going into the year I felt as if we had the same chance as we always do.
As the weeks wore on though, cracks in the Patriots armor began to show. Their run defense has been pedestrian all year. Sometimes making run of the mill running backs look like Hall of Fame candidates. Our offense has also been shaky to say the least. Now as I stated, I am an unapologetic homer and will defend this team until I'm red in the face. Having said that I also can recognize a good football team and a great football team.
This years team is good. Which in a weird way kind of hurts me to say.
The team this year looks good, not unstoppable. I thought that when Josh Gordon arrived things would start to look better for the offense and for the most part, I was right. Gordon was a nice addition to an iffy WR group and had flashes of his old self. We obviously know how that turned out with him leaving the team almost as fast as he arrived which will hurt me until the day I die.
So, who are the New England Patriots this year? They are a good team with a chance to show a lot of doubters what they're capable of. We, here in New England, realize that everyone hates us and we embrace the role of the bad guys. I'm sure the team realizes that as well. It will be interesting to see how far this team goes into the playoffs, but as long as we have Belichick and Brady, I think we're going to be just fine.