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Three Reasons Why Patriots Fans Shouldn't Lose Hope

Foxborough, MA - All of Patriots Nation, myself included, is reeling from that loss against Dallas. In what has been a topsy-turvy three years in the post-Brady era, this loss, barring the playoff debacle against Buffalo, was the most resounding yet. However, here's why, despite the 1-3 start and some brutal injuries, the Patriots still have hope.


For Mac, This Game Was An Aberration

I'm sure the initial reaction to this is: "huh?". The eye test hasn't been kind to Mac over the last two seasons, but lost in the poor start to 2022 and this game is what has happened in between. Take a stretch of time from halftime on 10/30/2022's Jets game to the beginning of this game - a stretch of 12.5 games - and Mac has a surprising clip of 17 TDs and 6 interceptions.


Beyond just the stats, Mac has shown poise, resilience, ability to manage games, and the willingness to show some aggression. Last Sunday's performance was inexcusable. 14 points were scored by Dallas off him alone. He looked shaky, wasn't making the usual smart decisions he is used to, and wasn't stepping into his throws.


A lot of this is on pass protection. He's gotten rushed and sacked enough that he doesn't have the confidence to step in anymore. We've seen enough positives, lately, that we can give Mac a chance to shed the demons of this game. Can he shake it off? That question could determine Mac's future and the Patriots' season. However, this may have been the wake-up slap in the face that Mac Jones needed. It's time for Patriots nation to, at least temporarily, throw their support on him.


Frankly, the Patriots aren't going to tank, no matter how things go. Realistically, guys like Michael Penix, Drake Maye, Caleb Williams, etc... won't really be in play. It's Mac's time to prove that he deserves his fifth-year option with his back to the wall.


Even With These Injuries, The Defense Is Strong

Losing Judon and Gonzalez is brutal - even if it ends up being temporary. There's no sugarcoating that, both players had started the season phenomenally and become leaders of the defense. However, we are looking at one of the few defenses in the league that can survive this - for two reasons, depth and modularity (versatility).


At edge rusher, Deatrich Wise and extremely promising and explosive Keion White pose a formidable pass-rushing threat, and the soon-to-return Trey Flowers will add some important depth there. Judon is irreplaceable, but there's still a threat there, especially with other good pass-rushing options at linebacker, headlined by Josh Uche.


At cornerback, Jonathan Jones and Jack Jones are due to return soon, possibly this week against the Saints in Jon's case, and Marcus Jones will come back eventually. With the safety depth that they have, the Patriots can afford to have Jalen Mills at corner for as long as they need to, and he'll have the slot covered. While Myles Bryant had some struggles on Sunday, he's been better than 2022 and is a good depth piece.


Their linebacker, safety, and interior DL positions continue to be solid (although I'd like to see more from Godchaux and Barmore than just solid), and Kyle Dugger is becoming an absolute X-factor. With the defense playing like this, they'll still be in games.



The Patriots Have Been Here Before

If we're just looking from a results perspective, this was expected. The Dolphins, Eagles, and Cowboys are all top-tier teams, and winning any of those games would have been an upset. Of course, the nature of the Cowboys loss is more worrisome than the result itself, but the Patriots have been 1-3 each of the last three seasons, and in the last two, they've at least slightly improved from then (significantly, in the case of 2021).


The next two games, against New Orleans and Las Vegas, have the ability to be confidence builders, and there are enough winnable games that this season can be salvaged. Of course, the level needs to increase, but it's far too early to lose hope on the season.

 

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