Through the first six games of 2021 season, the New England Patriots are a disappointing 2-4 as they look to right the ship.  The fanbase has reasons for optimism in rookie quarterback Mac Jones. This was needed after the abysmal 2020 season and the failed Cam Newton experiment. The results have been uneven at best through the first part of the season. I think it’s fair to begin asking if there is a deeper, more systemic reason for the struggles of the team. Has the brain drain finally begun to exact its toll on the quality of the New England Patriots?

I know it’s an oft-used and easy finger to point to. And Bill Belichick has been enduring a steady drain and wholesale defections his entire career. From 2005 when the band broke following a historic run of three Super Bowl wins in four seasons to the slow drain of talented coordinators and assistants heading for greater opportunities. This has been a steady concern of the Patriots and the constants have been Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Well, Tom Brady is gone and Bill Belichick has to prepare the team for the future.

Here are some of the major departures since 2019:

I think we can point to 3 main issues where the loss of coaching staff and front office personnel has affected the Patriots. It may be that the organization always had that ecosystem where talented individuals leave for better jobs and the next man slides right in. And it may mean that until Mac Jones is ready to fully shoulder the load that they need him to. 

Getting the Players Ready

This seems to be the area that the 2021 Patriots have been hardest hit by. Whether it’s acclimating and preparing the new acquisitions quickly or developing the existing players for new roles. Even some of the simple game-day operations of reducing penalties and having the correct personnel groupings on the field has eluded them. The offensive line has suffered turnover in both the players and the coaches. With legendary Dante Scarnecchia retiring and Cole Popovich no longer with the team due to vaccine requirements. Integrating and developing the players has been an immense challenge. As well as preparing for vastly different quarterbacks to protect in going from Cam Newton to Mac Jones.

Developing the Prospects

This may be a Bill Belichick problem, or it may be a scouting staff problem. The misses in the last half-decade have far outnumbered the hits. Part of the reason for the Patriots spending free this past offseason was due to the lack of second contracts because there have been very few worthy candidates. You can’t keep a veteran team afloat without the veterans. That’s why bringing back Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins for a 2nd and 3rd stint is a viable option because the replacements have been non-existent or not able. 

If Belichick intends to restock the team and create a championship roster it has to start there. Is the overriding reports in favor of his own ideas and wants? Is he going on character and leadership rather than athletic potential? 

Around FPC

NFL: Chicago Bears Again Lose to Rodgers, Packers

NFL:  Tom Brady Continues MVP Pace In Win Over Dolphins

MLB: M The NLCS Showdown: Dodgers Look To Return To World Series

NHL: Montreal Canadiens Carey Price Entering NHL/NHL Player Assistance Program

Wrestling: WWE Must Retire The WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships

PODCAST: Full Press NFL Podcast Ep 14: Russell Wilson Injury, Chiefs/Bills, Week 5 Preview

The Conservative Approach to Games

Much has been made about Belichick’s 4th down decisions and approach to riskier decisions. It may be true. He cannot treat this team like the 2007 team. They hit the ground running and never looked back. He also has a coaching staff that is full of guys that he has either groomed from the beginnings of their career, former players or even family members. This could be creating an atmosphere that is very streamlined and prone to groupthink. Even the recent retirement of researcher Ernie Adams may be allowing the coach to go with more of his own ideas and thoughts rather than hearing more viewpoints and perspectives. 

He may open it up as the team gets more comfortable and cohesive and allow the players to make plays in the future.

The Patriots are only another loss or two from being an extreme long shot to make the playoffs. Then this season will go from hopeful to developing and preparing for next year. And that may be what’s ultimately for the best and can set them up for success down the road. We may be looking at all this hand wringing and worry as nothing more than a momentary blip on a Hall of Fame career. We could also be looking at a coach that maybe the game has passed him by. Stay tuned.


This article first appeared on Full Press Coverage and was syndicated with permission.

More must-reads:

Customize Your Newsletter

+

Get the latest news and rumors, customized to your favorite sports and teams. Emailed daily. Always free!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.