I usually avoid most of the hot take media, especially in days after losses. No one knows how to overreact quite like Patriots fans and pundits, but after a couple days to sit on the game and review it, I feel like this loss was a nice hit of the reset button that should re-focus the 2017 team on 2017. You can even check the NFL odds by BetOnline to see that yes, the Patriots are still favored in New Orleans against the Saints.
The Patriots aren’t going anywhere. I know it. Vegas knows it. And most of you probably know it too. But for those of you still running around screaming that the Patriot sky is falling, here are some things to keep in mind.
Let’s break down what’s actually worrisome and what we can just chalk up to September being an extension of the preseason.
- Big Plays Against — Take away three big plays, all coming on first down, and this game would’ve likely come down to the last possession. Instead it was a blowout, when the Patriots led both at halftime and headed into the fourth quarter. Losses like this simply don’t happen and for that reason it feels less about any critical personnel weaknesses but more about the team being unprepared on a number of levels. There are too many good veterans to let this continue. Better play on first down equals better situations on third down which leads to red zone stops. The Bend-Don’t-Break shall return in all its maddening glory.
- 28-3! No one knows how much 28-3 and the Super Bowl 51 victory percolated all season better than I do. It was on full display on Thursday night before the game, making it easy to understand how this fifth Super Bowl win was uniquely distracting all offseason. That win needed to be firmly placed in the past and that’s what this loss did. No one is talking about comebacks now. It’s all about the Saints.
- Jordan Richards — I was as shocked as anyone to see his preseason stint at OLB continue into the regular season. I do hope it doesn’t continue. A couple solutions would be to move Van Noy to WLB and use Harris or Roberts more. But if there’s one spot on the roster I would like an addition it’s at standup linebacker, in almost any capacity. Roster building doesn’t end at the 53-man cutdown. Expect at least a couple more additions who will contribute on defense this season.
- No Edelman — Of course it’s going to take Brady and the offense time to recalibrate after losing Edelman and possibly Amendola for a bit too, but there’s still much talent to work with even if Brady wasn’t seeing it against the Chiefs. I’d especially focus on the running backs, who were often open underneath. The gameplan just need to cater to Hogan and Cooks and not try to force them to replicate what Edelman does.
- No Hightower — There’s no question the Patriots need Dont’a Hightower but i wouldn’t rule out the team keeping him out this week to preserve him for the long-term war. If there is a weakness on this defense it’s at the second level, both in the run game and against the pass. Hightower had a quiet night against the Chiefs after sitting out most of preseason on the PUP list.