FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Professional Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells once coined the phrase: “You are what your record says you are.”
The 2021 New England Patriots are a 2-4 football team after Sunday’s crushing 35-29 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium. That’s not very good.
However, several players have a different opinion, highlighting a notable disconnect for coach Bill Belichick’s team.
Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux tweeted after the game: “Tough! I have a good team but the record doesn’t show it! Keep going and keep improving!”
Cornerback / main special team Justin Bethel added: “I think we’re a good team with a bad record right now.”
While there have been flashes of hope, good teams still find a way to win the games the Patriots are losing. And good teams don’t open the season 0-4 at home.
So while there may be some promising signs, such as stamina from quarterback Mac Jones and a stingy short-run defense, the bottom line is the Patriots, who will host the New York Jets on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS ), they have to start shutting down teams when they get the chance. The opportunities were plentiful against the Cowboys.
Most discouraging was the end of the fourth quarter after Jones connected with Kendrick Bourne on a 75-yard touchdown pass, then found Jakobi Meyers for a 2-point conversion and a 29-26 lead with 2:11 remaining. .
The Patriots defense had the Cowboys at a quarter and 4 from their own 35. A play would have ended it.
And even if you give quarterback Dak Prescott and catcher Cedrick Wilson the credit for making that play (a 13-yard catch on the sideline), what unfolded four plays later, at third and 25, was more. a break from the Patriots than Something else.
Good teams don’t allow a 24-yard reception in that situation (wide receiver CeeDee Lamb caught it in the cut off cornerback Jalen Mills).
“A little bit better on that play is a game changer,” safety Devin McCourty said.
McCourty regretted that the Patriots didn’t have more defensive backs in the game. They previously had to play a stretch of the action without cornerbacks Jonathan Jones and Bethel, and safety Adrian Phillips, due to injuries. They also looked tired, as the Cowboys held a time-of-possession advantage of 39:17 to 26:51 late in the game.
This is where training and list management merits some scrutiny. The Patriots voluntarily entered the game with few people in the defensive backfield, essentially dressing an additional linebacker over cornerback Joejuan Williams (healthy scratch) or potential practice team elevation Myles Bryant, another cornerback.
And on the play, they rushed four and dropped seven, seeming to play men’s coverage on their dime pack (six defensive backs). Belichick said Monday that the dime package was what they planned to play in that situation.
“Good pitch and good catch. The coverage was pretty good,” Belichick said, in an analysis that is fair to challenge.
In hindsight, the combination of roster management and play seemed to hurt the Patriots.
Meanwhile, when the offense had a chance to dictate things early in overtime, the march began with a brutal knockdown from wide receiver Nelson Agholor, who was wide open on a tilt down the middle.
And while it was disappointing for the Patriots that officials missed a face mask penalty on Agholor on an incomplete pass on the third down, Jones spoke with more common sense after the game when he said, “Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. You can’t blame the referees for everything. We have to find ways to not be in that position. “
That is precisely what good teams do.
“When you look at the big picture, you never want to say you’re close; it’s hard to do that,” Jones said. “But the games we’ve lost have been two or three plays away. I guess that’s how the NFL works, and I’m learning it the hard way.”
Center David Andrews added: “A few plays here or there, but that’s the way it goes in this league. There’s not a huge margin for error.”
If the Patriots really want to be considered a good team, it’s time they started making those plays.