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Patriots’ 0-2 start portends more 2000 than a Super Bowl title


This 0-2 start has the potential to escalate into something much worse.

Bill Belichick in 2000, his first year as head coach of the Patriots, when the team was 5-11. Jim Davis/The Boston Globe

If you’re looking for a feel-good touch, then yes, the last time the New England Patriots opened a season 0-2 was in 2001, a rating that comes with a big “but” in order to fueling the kind of false hope that at best markets an inferior product. After all – wink-nudge-wink — we all know what happened after that…

If we really want to use history to paint a picture of the present, let’s use this footnote instead: The last time the New England Patriots lost their first two games, House The games to start a season date back to 2000, Bill Belichick’s first campaign as New England head coach.

These Patriots finished 5-11.

Now, which team do you think is the best lineup for the Patriots that we’ve looked at so far this month?

Despite the tease that they were perhaps a foot away from beating the defending NFC champions in Week 1, what most Patriot fans realized by the end of Week 2 was that their pre-season fears had come home.

This team stinks.

On the bright side, he’s in good company. The Cincinnati Bengals, a team some consider the most talented in the NFL, are also 0-2. It’s a slow start, but remember, the Bengals were also winless after two weeks last season. They only reached the AFC Championship Game from there, becoming the only team to accomplish this feat since the NFL went to seven teams in the playoffs in 2020.

Also 0-2 heading into Monday night’s doubleheader (and potential for the Steelers and Panthers to join the losing crowd): Chargers still disappointing, lipstick on a pig circus in Denver, Vikings’ shortcomings under Kirk Cousins ​​(a QB some consider Mac Jones’ ideal comparative ceiling), a franchise that once employed Jack Easterby, the Arizona Cardinals (a team so bad it just put Daniel Jones in rarefied company), and the Chicago Bears , which, enough said.

Don’t use the Bengals and 2001. These are their compositions.

Better yet, you have to go deep into Patriots history to remember the last time the team started a season 0-2 with both losses at home. This last happened in 1975, a year when the Patriots were 3-11 under rookie quarterback Steve Grogan. This also happened two seasons prior, when the team finished 5-9. Neither rating is a good sign for Mac Jones and Co.

This is also not the case: According to the AP, since 1990, only 31 of 270 clubs (11.5%) that started a season 0-2 have qualified for the playoffs. The Sporting News goes back to the NFL merger in 1970 to note that only 39 of 405 NFL teams (9.6%) that lost their first two games advanced to the playoffs.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell writes: “If a team loses again and falls to 0-3, despair becomes desperate. Since 2002, 99 teams have started 0-3. Only one of those teams (the 2018 Texans) reached the playoffs.

In other words, if you’re a Patriots fan holding out hope for the playoffs, either you haven’t been watching or the realism of the situation hasn’t quite set in yet; This 0-2 start has the potential to escalate into something much worse.

Even without Aaron Rodgers, the Jets – next on the schedule, Sunday at Meadowlands – are no pushover, not when you consider the lackluster array of charcuterie talents surrounding Jones on offense against one of the best defenses in the league in New York. Week 4 promises what looks like a defense for the ages when the Patriots travel to Dallas. In reality, they may not be able to win first place until October 8th against the New Orleans Saints. This is where we are; the Patriots, six-time Lombardi Trophy winners, will be dumpster diving for victories.

Because 0-2 starts tend to fester, even on good to decent teams. The next thing you know, snow starts to fall, players can’t get to their Jetsonmobiles, and a mutiny is on the horizon. Rookie Demario Douglas, one of Sunday night’s early offensive highlights, because one of the best defenders in the entire game (Bradley Chubb) made a good play to release a ball, might not send the message that Bill thinks that is the case. Or, at the very least, it doesn’t send the same message in a 2023 NFL that it might have sent in an era that once also employed fullbacks.

To be honest, despite the pessimism above, an 0-2 start isn’t what it once was, even just three years ago. With the advent of the seven-team playoff format in 2020, more teams than ever have the opportunity to bounce back and make something out of their season. This is why for the Bengals, perhaps the Vikings, not winning either of the first two games does not sound the death knell. And if the Texans can do it, well…

For the Patriots, the 0-2 start is a harbinger of a season of harsh reality. Like one that includes conversations about Caleb Williams and Bo Nix dragging your team into the same QB vortex you’ve mocked your rivals for finding themselves in.

So forget 2001. This team looks more like it did a year earlier. And if you look ahead, here’s this: The last time the Patriots started a season 0-4 was the same 2000 season, Belichick’s first in New England.

It could happen again – 23 years later – in what could increasingly look like Belichick’s last lap of football.


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