Patriots Fans Are Unhappy after First Missed Playoff Since 2008


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A disappointed Cam Newton after a week 7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Chris Carr, Contributing Writer

After an unprecedented year of professional sports teams and players had to overcome obstacles to play safely, the New England Patriots have officially missed the playoffs. In a strange year with many oddities and unexpected outcomes, 2020 marks the first year since 2008 where New England missed the NFL playoffs. After this disappointing result, the boiling question in New England remains: Is the dynasty over?

NFL Media and fans proposed the dynasty question this offseason after long-time Patriots quarterback Tom Brady left to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following the Patriots’ disappointing playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans. After Brady announced he was signing with Tampa Bay, he wrote a goodbye letter to the Patriots where he said, “In turn, I’m ready to embrace fully a team that is confident in what I do — and what I bring — and is willing to go on this ride with me”. While this may seem subtle, Brady expressed that Bill Bellicheck and the Patriots were not confident in him last season. Brady was also visibly upset with coaches and players on the sidelines during games last year, another reason for his departure. Overall, Tom Brady represented the Patriots dynasty bringing six Super Bowl titles back to New England Patriots fans during his triumphant career. When Brady left, the entire culture and relationships within the Patriots organization fell apart as Bill Bellicheck needed to replace Brady and assemble a new environment in New England.

As a result of Brady’s absence, former NFL MVP Cam Newton filled the Quarterback spot. Newton had a successful career with the Carolina Panthers before he arrived in New England. Cam won the MVP award in 2015 and made an appearance in the Super Bowl after a 15-1 record in the regular season during that same year. However, Newton was a late free-agent signing by the Patriots since no other teams wanted him. Newton signed just a 1-year contract worth 1.75 million dollars. While that may seem like a lot, that is a low salary and contract length for a starting NFL quarterback. Newton’s lack of interest from other teams was due to his foot injury, which kept him out for 15 out of 17 games last season. However, the Patriots allowed him to prove himself this year on a small contract. Newton did not meet the Patriots Organization’s and fans’ high expectations since the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. While Newton did show flashes of his old self, this Patriots season failed. After an unsuccessful stint with New England, Cam will likely enter Free Agency this offseason and find himself a new team or possibly out of the league.

While the Patriots still have a large amount of talent left on their roster, this dynasty could be all but over in New England. A functioning Quarterback is needed to win games in the NFL, and the Patriots have a few options for next year. Hingham Middle School 7th grade student, Will Carr had an interesting proposal: “The Patriots should start Jarred Stidham for the last two games. The Patriots can see if he can be their quarterback of the future because Cam Newton definitely is not”. Will’s proposal is interesting as with the Patriots out of the playoffs, the two regular-season games remaining are meaningless. In his 3rd year in the NFL, 24-year old Jarred Stidham remains the only Patriots Quarterback under contract for next year. While Stidham has seen some time on the field behind both Brady and Newton, it is not enough for the Patriots to know if he can be their future. Stidham could make an interesting option to start the last two games for Bill Bellicheck and the Patriots.

Overall, the Patriots have lots of work to do this offseason to get this time back to their Super Bowl glory days. With high draft picks in a Quarterback-filled upcoming draft class, the Patriots have an opportunity to find their next Tom Brady. Some potential options include Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Kyle Trask, and Mac Jones. With Lawrence and Fields likely going much earlier than the Patriots selection, Mac Jones and Kyle Trask are two great options for the Quarterback position. Trey Lance and Zach Wilson look like long time projects that will take time to develop. However, both Jones and Trask are part of two top-10 teams in the NCAA while playing in arguably the toughest conference in college football, the SEC. Also, the Patriots have lots of expiring contracts this year, allowing them to spend big money in Free Agency while possibly making some trades along the way. Hopefully, for Patriots fans everywhere, Bill Bellicheck can get this team right in the offseason and recreate a winning culture here in New England. The dynasty question still lingers around in New England. However, with lots of options and flexibility this offseason and given their successful and experienced leadership all around the organization, the Patriots can easily revive their former success.