Columns, Opinion

Burke’s Bully Pulpit: The Patriots stink

On Sunday night, the New England Patriots stunk. I don’t remember the last time I saw Tom Brady play so poorly. Josh McDaniels managed the offense like he just woke up from a nap and had no idea where he was. The only person on the defense who showed any sign of life was Deatrich Wise Jr.

Bill Belichick, for the second week in a row, took off his headset well before the game ended, detaching himself from the coaching staff in the booth and showing that he was too mad to care anymore. We’ve been in a slow-start situation before, but this season it feels a little bit different.

Tom Brady is the best quarterback in NFL history, but he looked like a deer in the headlights Sunday night. His decision making was subpar, and that led to a meager 53.8 completion percentage, 133 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Brady only plays like this in rough, mid-January playoff games against a formidable foe. The Detroit Lions are not a formidable foe, so there is a reason to be concerned.

Losing to Matt Patricia doesn’t matter. It was an early season game, one that we may come to forget in a few months. What matters is the fact that we were thoroughly outcoached in all aspects of the game. We looked severely unprepared for a team that had previously lost to the Jets and 49ers (who both stink, as well). Above all, it looked like no one wanted to be on the field. It didn’t seem like there was a desire to come back and actually beat the Lions in the fourth quarter. The Patriots just rolled over, accepting defeat in a way that I have never seen before.

Since I have been alive, I have experienced one Patriots team that did not have a winning record, in 2000. I may end up eating a healthy helping of humble pie later in the season, but I think this team may suffer the same fate. Getting Julian Edelman back after week four, and eventually activating Josh Gordon, doesn’t completely address all of the holes that this team has. We struggle on offense, turn around and struggle even more on defense.

The diehard fan in me wants to say that we’re going to be alright, sitting on top of the AFC come the third week of January. But, I don’t know if I can say that this year, given what we have seen so far. We have no other options on offense or defense. Maybe the “riff” between Brady/Gronk and Belichick is real. It would explain the lack of determination that these guys show when they’re out there playing for him.

The Miami Dolphins are currently 3-0 and going into Foxborough next week looking to build on their winning streak. I would not be surprised at all if we get exposed yet again. If the Patriots drop to 1-3, I don’t think we’ll have a winning season. It might be overzealous, but this could mean the end of the Tom Brady era.

However, if we win on Sunday, I have no doubt that we’re going to the Super Bowl again. This is the biggest game of the season because it will show everyone what kind of team we have this year. Belichick needs to step it up on defense and McDaniels needs to do the exact opposite of what he’s doing now with the offense. It’s boom or bust this week, and I hope that everyone in the locker room realizes it.

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