The New England Patriots will almost certainly not make the postseason this year. They are 2-5 and just lost their fourth straight game – a streak the franchise has not endured in two decades. It is a stunning fall from grace for an organization that has made the playoffs in each of the past 11 years and 16 of the last 17.
This week, head coach Bill Belichick appeared on WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni & Fauria and explained why his group was struggling so much in 2020.
“Look, we paid Cam Newton $1 million,” he said.
“I mean it’s obvious we didn’t have any money. It’s nobody’s fault. That’s what we did the last five years. We sold out and won three Super Bowls, played in a fourth and played in a AFC championship game. This year we had less to work with. It’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact.”
Lack of resources has been a theme that Belichick has mentioned repeatedly in recent days. During a conversation with Charlie Weis on Sirius XM NFL radio, he said something similar.
“We’re playing more young players than we’ve played in the past,” he said. “A combination of reasons. We were pretty heavily invested in our team in the past few years. From a salary cap standpoint, we didn’t have much flexibility at all.
“I think that was obvious on the Cam Newton contract. Then we had some opt-outs, so we lost some players there that would normally have been going us significant amount of play time. And then like every year, a couple of guys are banged up and we’ve missed some guys here and there in certain games,” he continued.
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“I think when you combine it all together there is opportunity there and some of that opportunity has gone to younger players. Again, because of our cap situation — in this particular year, this is kind of the year that we’ve taken. I would say, adjust our cap from the spending that we’ve had in accumulation of prior years.
“We just haven’t been able to have the kind of depth on our roster that we’ve had in some other years. That’s provided more opportunity for younger players. So, it’s a combination of all the reasons.”
While it is hard to argue with Belichick’s matter-of-factly excuses that budgetary issues limited his team’s resources, it’s a bit crazy to hear him be the one to use them. Every year NFL squads struggle for very real, extremely legitimate reasons. That’s just the nature of the beast. It has just been a long time since the Patriots were one of them.
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Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that New England is giving up on the season. All parties involved can say whatever they want publicly, but between the team’s body language on the field and Belichick’s sudden excuses off it, clearly the Patriots know nothing is happening this year.
What will be interesting to see going forward is how the Patriots rebound from here. Tom Brady is not walking back through that door. The franchise still has some very real issues that need to be addressed and limited means for addressing them.
How will Belichick ultimately respond? Time will tell.