The New England Patriots may not win the Super Bowl this year, but they’re showing signs they can do so in the very near future.
The Patriots dismantled the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 25-0 on Thursday night to move to 7-4 on the season. New England’s victory — the Patriots’ fifth consecutive win — puts them in perfect position to not only clinch a playoff berth, but possibly in contention to win the AFC East.
It was more of the same old formula from the Bill Belichick-led squad — very few penalties, minimizing turnovers and the elimination of silly mistakes.
As if the score wasn’t indicative enough of the Patriots’ dominance — New England has now outscored their opponents by a score of 46-0 in their past six quarters of play — here is the perfect example of how the Patriots execute better than any other team in the NFL.
Over the course of 52 defensive snaps versus the Falcons last night, New England missed just one tackle.
Let’s not forget to mention Mac Jones’ continued excellence as he continues to cement his case for the Rookie of the Year award. The 23-year-old quarterback had a flawless game yet again as he became the first rookie QB to complete at least 80 percent of his passes in back-to-back games.
And finally, the defense’s relentless pressure on Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense. Not only did the Patriots negate any sort of impact Kyle Pitts could have on the game — he was limited to just three receptions for 29 yards — they made Ryan look like a rookie quarterback himself.
The veteran mustered just 153 passing yards on 28 attempts (5.5 yards per attempt) for zero touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating of 51.7 and yards per attempt were his second-worst marks of the season.
Furthermore, he was sacked a total of four times and was under pressure on 59.2 percent of his pass attempts versus the Patriots on Thursday night.
The Patriots are basically a shoe-in for the postseason. Belichick has finally found his franchise quarterback in Jones after allowing Tom Brady to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brady is obviously winning the battle against his former coach since the breakup. He won a Super Bowl in his first season in Tampa Bay and defeated Belichick in Week 4 when the two matched up for the first — and likely only time — in their careers.
But Belichick is quickly finding validation in the post-Brady era after a mediocre 7-9 debut season without his former franchise quarterback.
The Patriots are surprisingly one of the most balanced teams in the NFL. Despite a receiving core that doesn’t impress anyone and a quarterback who began the season with dink-and-dunk passes, New England ranks in the top six in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
New England spent boatloads of money in the offseason to wash away the memory of last season — their first non-winning season since 2000, the year before Brady became the starting quarterback.
After spending a guaranteed amount of $163 million to free agents in the offseason — smashing the previous NFL record of $147.2 million spent — the Patriots made their mission clear: they’re not in a rebuild.
When you look at the Patriots’ roster, the talent doesn’t look overly impressive. The team’s No. 1 receiver, Jakobi Meyers, caught the first touchdown pass of his career last week in his 38th game.
The Patriots’ top defensive player entering the season, Stephon Gilmore, was traded before ever playing a game this year.
And while there are a few standouts on defense — including the defensive backfield featuring J.C. Jackson, Kyle Duggar and Adrian Phillips, who have a combined 13 interceptions — such as Matthew Judon (10.5 sacks this season), there aren’t many players from the Patriots who will garner All-Pro accolades this year.
It’s safe to assume the Patriots won’t have any Pro Bowl players among their offensive skill position players. Outside of their defensive backfield, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Patriots didn’t have a single Pro Bowler on the defensive side of the ball.
And that’s what makes Belichick’s job so impressive — the Patriots are winning games because of his coaching.
The 2021 season may not result in a championship the way that the 2001 team did, when a young sixth-round draft choice took the nation by storm and unexpectedly led the Patriots to their first title.
But the 2021 Patriots squad eerily resembles the 2001 team in the way that they win despite their lack of dominant talent.
Belichick may not be winning in the battle against Brady at the current moment, but he sure is finally validating himself in the post-Brady era.
More importantly, he’s setting the Patriots up for another potential championship run in the post-Brady era.