Takeaways from the 2021 Patriots? You couldn’t have asked for more.


No matter what happens in the playoffs, the 2021 Patriots season was a success if only because it suggested the stability of the franchise.

Bill Belichick returned the Patriots after just a year in the postseason. Michael Reeves/Getty Images

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Before we go any further, we should perhaps use this opportunity to assess our satisfaction.

If you were told back in August, that this Patriots team, led by a rookie quarterback, would not only make it to the 2021 NFL playoffs, but also spend a brief part of the season as the AFC’s top seed, you’d be thrilled.

Forget about this upcoming weekend for a moment. It will be a long time before the story ends on whether Bill Belichick will trust Mack Jones in Buffalo on Saturday night. You’ll have every opportunity to envision what kind of dementia bills mafia to playoff tailgate action in the parking lot of Highmark Stadium. You’ll have another week to fantasize about the Buccaneers-Patriots Super Bowl, which is unlikely to materialize.

Before the potential disappointment of seeing the New England Patriots’ 2021 season with a wild card showdown in western New York, this is a good opportunity to take a moment and acknowledge how promising this rebound season was at Foxboro.

A year after Cam Newton’s incompetence, empty stands, and its ex-boyfriend winning another Super Bowl, New England has earned a spot that was set by many as the team’s goal before the season began. . After spending $163 million in free agency, a decision-making process that many spoke of as keeping Belichick out of desperation, clearly, anything other than a playoff berth would have been frustrating, even Even with the general of the 23-year-old OP playing field.

It was a reset season not only in terms of the Patriots’ competitive nature, but also in the minds of fans, who had to re-learn to aspire over the annual expectation that had defined them over the past two decades. The script that Tom Brady helped write with Belichick is old and torn, an unreadable plan of action that lives only in memory. The blank slate of 2021 promised, but something else.

So, yes, you should be happy with this season, a 10-7 campaign that came with the assurance that the Patriots had made the right moves — both in free agency and in the draft — to become a legitimate contender rather than fall into the purge. . Instigates many other dynasties. Despite some midseason hysteria, which suggested that the Patriots were Super Bowl contenders, the reality is that they are probably closer to a team full of mistakes that went 1-3 to end the season, not that team’s heart. season to achieve seven consecutive victories.

Can you count on them to fix those mistakes while AFC East champion Bills waits? No, but does it matter how we classify and remember 2021?

Overall, the 2021 Patriots season was a success only because it suggested the stability of the franchise. A second-straight season in the cleanse may have given the serious questions needed to be addressed in the front office of One Patriot Place, while the nutritionists and their shady trainers keep rubbing your nose at it. But the New England resurgence did, above all, perhaps give us a lesson that most of us didn’t really need about the effectiveness of Belichick’s tenure as ship’s captain.

With pressure from the Brady aura, Belichick managed to land the role of head architect in a year when the team drafted the quarterback in discussion for NFL Rookie of the Year. This is in addition to backing Ramondre Stevenson and defensive darling Christian Barmore. He opened the Krafts wallet and spent more in free agency than any NFL general manager before him. The results were mixed; Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne and Matthew Judon wound up key contributors. Johnu Smith shone through the inconsistency (though there’s a sense here that Josh McDaniels has some postseason plans for the tight end starting Saturday). Nelson Agholor was well dressed. My guess

Belichick could wind up being NFL Coach of the Year. Not bad for a guy who suggested he was only watching the game three months ago.

No, the Patriots are unlikely to win the Super Bowl. They probably won’t cross the bills, and even if they manage to find a way to beat them a second time in Buffalo—albeit in a less-bright environment than last time—the Chiefs or Titans probably hold the stop sign. week later. They will be disappointed when they lose, but that doesn’t affect what the team manages to achieve.

The season was successful, no matter what happened on Saturday. There was a lot to like about the Patriots, with lots of growing pains mixed in. But also remember that where this team was a year ago, Brady is still lost in transition and unsure what the future holds. Coming back to the playoffs then was a major hurdle to make in just one season.

Maybe your expectations have changed since training camp, when berths were intended for season after season. But that doesn’t mean you should be praised. Whatever happens in Buffalo.

It’s a strange place to be pleased with a wild card berth, especially after years of derision at fan bases, who were all excited to see their teams sacrificed in the first round. The Patriots are a playoff underdog, a phrase not often heard in these parts during this millennium.

This is the new reality. Patriots as a long shot.

But it certainly beats the reality that was immediately before it.