The New England Patriots have lost four straight games and have never had a five-game losing streak under head coach Bill Belichick.
Rebuilding? Refurbishing? Restructuring? Tanking? It doesn’t seem possible that the New England Patriots, sporting a 2-5 record and losers of four consecutive games, would be in the position that they are these days. A club that has captured an NFL-record 11 straight division titles dating back to 2009 and a franchise that has been to the Super Bowl nine times since 2001 is a dramatically different football team at the moment.
During the team’s current four-game skid (the team’s longest since 2002), New England has scored a total of 49 points and the club’s offensive unit has reached the end zone just four times. During the team’s 2-1 start, Bill Belichick’s squad rolled up 87 points and the Pats came up with exactly three offensive touchdowns in each of those contests. It’s also worth noting that the club committed a total of three turnovers – one in each game – during that stretch.
But then came COVID-19 and starting quarterback Cam Newton was sidelined. There was a forgettable 26-10 loss at Kansas City in which reserves Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham combined for four turnovers. Newton would eventually return in Week 6 at home vs. the Denver Broncos. The Pats did not give up a touchdown but the offense struggled in an 18-10 setback. That was followed by losses to the 49ers and the Bills, the latter a heartbreaker as the team was in position late in the game to take the lead or kick a tying field goal. But Newton lost a fumble that proved costly in a 24-21 defeat.
During the four-game losing streak, the Patriots have committed 12 turnovers – a combined 11 by the three quarterbacks. And in seven games this season, Belichick’s squad has given up the football 15 times, equaling 2019’s regular-season total. To make matters worse, a usually-staunch New England defense – exposed in the middle of ’19 when it came to stopping the run, entered Week 9 as the league’s 27th-ranked unit in terms of rushing yards per game allowed.
All told, it sounds rather bleak for a team that has posted 19 straight winning seasons dating back to ’01 and has won at least 10 games every year since 2003. And with the 7-2 Buffalo Bills and 5-3 Miami Dolphins ahead of them in the division standings, repeating in the AFC East will be a chore. But there are seven teams headed to the playoffs in each conference this season and that keeps the Patriots (who take on the 0-8 New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Monday night) still in the postseason conversation…at least for now.