The promise of this Patriots season was by no means a playoff win.
It wasn’t even a postseason berth.
It wasn’t pleasure or profitable or extra computerized, biannual beatdowns of the Jets.
It was readability.
Finally studying Mac Jones’ true potential. Finding out whether or not Bill Belichick is positioned to steer the Patriots long-term or will drop himself onto an already rumored sizzling seat. Discovering whether or not the Patriot Way is a dust-gathering relic of the previous or a blueprint the franchise has efficiently rolled out once more.
Yet right here we’re, nonetheless ready.
Of course, that promise was by no means going to be saved in Week 1. NFL season-openers are each probably the most anticipated and least telling video games of the 12 months. What the Patriots’ loss to the Eagles taught us is basically what we already knew.
Against top-tier opponents, Jones can each lead the Patriots near victory and depend himself among the many causes they in the end misplaced. Belichick can nonetheless devise as sharp a defensive recreation plan as you would think about, but depart himself open to criticism together with his in-game administration. And general, the Pats can dangle with nearly any contender within the NFL.
Thus, the crystal ball on the Patriots’ younger, prove-it season stays cloudy.
Here’s the factor: that ball may — key phrase: may — start to clear Sunday night time.
A win over the favored Dolphins would characterize a tough pivot for the post-Brady Patriots: a close-but-no-cigar membership nonetheless with no signature win or memorable upset. In two plus seasons, Jones has one fourth-quarter comeback on his resume. He’s 2-12 as an underdog.
Both of these victories got here in 2021, when Adrian Phillips scored a go-ahead pick-six within the fourth quarter in opposition to the marginally favored Chargers whereas Jones went 18-of-35 for 217 yards and no touchdowns. In the second upset, Jones tried three passes throughout a 14-10 win and windstorm at Buffalo, the place the Patriots entered as 3-point underdogs.
Toppling a wholesome Miami group with Super Bowl aspirations, a greater quarterback and extra proficient roster would represent what followers have been eager for since Brady left: a win over a very good group with no asterisks. Basically, proof of idea.
Perhaps extra importantly, it will validate the interior perception that the Patriots are higher than their 25-27 file of the final three-plus years. Sources describe them as assured as they’ve ever been within the post-Brady period. To hell with Vegas oddsmakers, the doubters, the division of dying that gave the impression to be the AFC East.
The Patriots look within the mirror and see a playoff-caliber group, one they imagine will ultimately bear previous hallmarks of their dynasty. They’ve hinted at it since coaching camp.
Patriots WR JuJu Smith-Schuster addresses knee well being, Week 1 enjoying time
“I think (fans) can expect to see traditional Patriot football,” left deal with Trent Brown mentioned in late July when requested concerning the upcoming season. “Bill (O’Brien) has been here before, and I think that attitude he’s bringing that back, guys are just excited to play for him and each other.”
Asked what he realized concerning the Patriots after the season opener, star cross rusher Matt Judon mentioned nothing. Judon insisted he already is aware of what his group is able to.
“I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. That’s for y’all,” Judon mentioned. “Y’all learn what we have in this locker room. Y’all learn what it’s going to look like on Sundays or whenever we play. That’s what y’all learn. We didn’t learn anything new tonight.”
Beating Miami will demand the Patriots to play out of character, beginning with Jones. Delivering in vital conditions is Jones’ subsequent and most vital step, a step Tom Brady repeatedly took earlier than he ascended to changing into a perennial Pro Bowler after which a legend. Jones had two alternatives to steer game-winning drives versus Philadelphia within the opener, and his offense failed.
But if Jones converts a second likelihood in opposition to Miami, he’ll break new floor, and the Patriots can chart the course they search. If not, no loss will depend as an ethical victory. Last Sunday, a recreation by which many imagine the Pats risked embarrassment versus the reigning NFC champions, was something however an ethical victory, in response to group management.
Patriots Christian Gonzalez now takes on much more necessary position vs. Dolphins
“Look, there’s no moral victories. There’s really no moral victories in life or anything like that,” Patriots middle and captain David Andrews mentioned. “Really, you’ve got to execute at your best against a good football team when it counts the most, and that’s what it comes down to. That’s how you win close football games against good teams. It means you’ve got to do that, and we’ve just got to do better at that.”
The Patriots typically describe a recreation as “declaring” inside its first few drives, quarter or quarter-plus. They be taught the lay of the land, the association of the chess items, attainable checkmates for them and their opponent.
How they’re being attacked and the way they need to assault themselves.
Win or lose Sunday, the early a part of the Patriots’ season will declare versus Miami. Defeating the Dolphins will imply an opportunity to compete as quickly as attainable for the whole lot they imagine is forward of them at 1-1. To show they’re the group they are saying they’re.
Losing will imply enjoying catch-up but once more: to expectations, their competitors and ever-growing shadows of the previous.
Which will or not it’s?
Brady, Belichick reconnect
Minutes after concluding his post-game press convention final Sunday, Bill Belichick ducked into an adjoining hallway that separates the group’s auditorium from its locker room. He noticed a well-recognized face: Tom Brady.
According to sources, Belichick and Brady spoke alone for greater than 20 minutes after the Patriots’ 25-20 loss to the Eagles. Standing within the corridor, Belichick and Brady blocked a path gamers and staffers typically take out of the ability after video games. Several members of the group noticed them, however anybody who got here near encroaching was redirected to take a scenic route out of the constructing.
After assembly with Belichick, Brady related with Patriots captain Matthew Slater. Brady didn’t enter the locker room, per sources, however lingered for almost an hour, even after Mac Jones completed his press convention. Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne was among the many gamers to greet Brady on his manner out of the ability.
Bourne’s unique plan was to shortly interrupt Brady’s chat with Slater, introduce himself and depart. But Brady stopped him and introduced Bourne into his huddle.
“He was just telling me I had a good game and to keep it up,” Bourne advised the Herald. “I didn’t want to hold him too long. He told me to keep going, keep making plays and it felt good to hear that from someone I’d never met before and looked up to for a while. … I was starstruck for sure.”
Brady additionally mingled with members of Bourne’s household who had traveled for the sport. Bourne described his uncle as equally awestruck.
“It was cool to hear from a legend,” Bourne mentioned. “He knows who I am.”
Bentley subsequent up ‘on the wall’
The Patriots are massive on footage.
The hallways of their facility are lined with images of nice gamers and moments that outline their historical past as a franchise. Even just lately retired gamers, like security Devin McCourty or linebacker Dont’a Hightower, have their place at 1 Patriot Place.
In a number of years, Matt Judon expects one other one in all his teammates to hitch them: linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley.
“I think with the departure of (McCourty) and Hightower and a couple of other guys, that (Bentley)’s seen and he’s waited his turn. He learned from some great leaders,” Judon mentioned. “And I believe he’s changing into a kind of guys that’s gonna be on a wall round right here some day very quickly.”
Bentley is getting into his sixth season with the Patriots and third as captain. He’s coming off a profession 12 months, with 125 tackles, three sacks and an interception. Despite that manufacturing, Bentley, 27, will not be acknowledged as one of many higher linebackers within the league; a stance his teammates and coaches have typically shared the previous few years.
According to Judon, that lack of recognition fuels Bentley, who’s now an undisputed cornerstone of the Patriots’ locker room and protection.
“We talk about him and we praise him, but I think outside of these walls, he’s not given the respect he should be given,” Judon mentioned. “And so, I believe (Bentley) simply wears that chip on his shoulder. Every recreation, down in, down out, he goes on the market and busts his butt. Whether that’s on particular groups, whether or not that’s on protection, any part of the sport that he’s wanted.
“And then when he does talk, we listen. We focus in, we zone in. We’re not taking our tape off. We’re not thinking like, ‘Oh, it’s hot out here.’ We’re actually listening to the words he’s saying. Because he inspires, he encourages us.”
Quote of the Week
“I’m still going to dominate that no matter what.” — Dolphins broad receiver Tyreek Hill to Miami reporters on probably dealing with double-teams from the Patriots.