Written by: NFL

Patriots aren’t ready to give up on 2020 season

Fans of the Patriots should be thrilled that their coach doesn’t want to tank a season, there have been plenty of examples of teams performing poorly, getting one of those top picks and never turning their team around.

The New England Patriots are 2-5, and many Patriots fans have started demanding that Bill Belichick figure out a way to have his team tank, and set themselves up for a draft pick. On the surface this looks like a good idea, the issue is, you’ll never be able to convince a locker room full of competitive athletes and coaches to lose games, and as ESPN’s Mike Reiss points out, Belichick doesn’t seem ready to give up on his team or the season. 

“On the surface, the Patriots’ acquisition of wide receiver Isaiah Ford for a conditional 2022 sixth-round pick (that likely will be a seventh-rounder) didn’t move the needle at Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline”, Reiss wrote. “First, the Patriots were buying at the deadline, an indication coach Bill Belichick isn’t giving up on the 2020 season and is playing to win. Dealing cornerback Stephon Gilmore or offensive lineman Joe Thuney, which they never seemed aggressive about, would have sent a different message to the locker room.”

Fans of the Patriots should be thrilled that their coach doesn’t want to tank a season, there have been plenty of examples of teams performing poorly, getting one of those top picks and never turning their team around. The Detroit Lions are a perfect case study, they consistently accumulate high draft picks, and yet they have only been to the playoffs three times since the turn of the millennium, their last appearance was a loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wildcard game in 2016. Belichick being a buyer, granted not an aggressive buyer, but a buyer at the trade deadline, rather than being a seller, sends a strong message to his locker room this season, and next season.

Players know when their coach has given up, and that would not build any confidence heading into the 2021 season, where the Patriots are in a good position to compete again. Belichick is also teaching his team to be competitive, even when things seem to be out of reach, the same way Belichick didn’t throw in the towel when the Patriots were trailing the Atlanta Falcons 28-3 in Super Bowl 51. 

The Patriots players also know that this season has been stories of bad luck, missed opportunities, and a pandemic. With a little bit of better fortune, the Patriots could have seen themselves right in the mix, and not trying to climb out of a deep hole. 

“In the situation that we’re in right now, we could very well be 5-2”, says Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. “But the reality of it is we’re 2-5. And we don’t expect our confidence to be shot because of that, because we know we are a better football team than what the record shows.”

If you don’t count the Kansas City Chiefs game when Cam Newton didn’t play because of his positive COVID-19 test, the Patriots have had the opportunity to win every game they’ve played outside of the embarrassing 33-6 loss against the San Francisco 49ers. Bill Belichick and the Patriots have every right to feel optimistic about the rest of the season, even if the odds of making the playoffs seems improbable. That’s not going to change the competitive mindset of the team. 

“Listen: I just want to win. That’s it. Nothing else matters,” Newton told reporters Friday when asked about his favorite Monday night memories. “October wasn’t good to me, and we have to make sure November doesn’t feel like October. Monday night is good, but we have. To. Win.”

Nobody should expect to hear the word tank come out of any player or coaches mouth, and acting like that is a bad thing is really a shortsighted way of looking at the 2020 season. As long as the Patriots are playing games, they are going to play the game to win. 

Everybody remember the famous words of Herm Edwards; “That’s what’s great about sports, this is what’s the greatest thing about sports is, you play to win the game. Hello, you play to win the game to win. You don’t play to just play it, that’s the great thing about sports, you play to win, and I don’t care if you don’t have any wins, you go play to win. When you start telling me it doesn’t matter, then retire, get out, because it matters.”

The Patriots can start the fight towards putting themselves back in the playoff picture by beating the 0-8 New York Jets on Monday night. New England hasn’t put themselves in an easy position, but it looks like Patriots fans can expect this team to not lose an ounce of fight, regardless of the position they find themselves in. Bill Belichick and Cam Newton don’t seem ready to give up on this season, and neither should the fans.

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