Attempting to replace Tom Brady effectively was always going to be the next to impossible task, and that played a big part in the disaster that was last season.
However, in 2021 the New England Patriots have shown more steel and are a decent shot to go long into the postseason this time around.
In 2020 Bill Belichick’s side suffered their first losing season since 2000; what happened the next year after that? Tom Brady led the Patriots to a Super Bowl win over the Rams, and there followed a period of dominance that saw them make it to the Super Bowl on nine occasions, winning on six occasions.
Last term, Cam Newton was given the thankless task of replacing Brady, and before the new campaign got underway, he was sent packing. Mac Jones has had a steady time of it this season, and three wins on the spin have given the Gillette Stadium side hope of progress, and the Super Bowl odds for 2022 show that the sportsbooks see shoots of recovery with New England available at (+4000) to pick up another title.
The Patriots sit just behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East, and the fight shown by his team, following a 2-4 start, will have pleased Belichick. That fight was perhaps never more in evidence than the recent incident that saw Mac Jones grab Carolina Panthers’ Brian Burns’ ankle, which surprisingly didn’t result in any penalty.
The offense looked deliberate but somehow went unpunished as the Patriots ran out 24-6 winners over the Panthers. Jones had been sacked, and he fumbled and seemingly chose to drag down Burns before rolling his ankle over in a fairly violent fashion.
Life without Brady was always going to be challenging, the departure of any key player who has led a team for 20 seasons would deal most sides a hefty blow, so perhaps last season’s struggles were unavoidable.
In many ways, the man who suffered most due to Brady’s move to Tampa Bay was indeed Cam Newton, who was fighting a losing battle. Fortunately, he’s now found himself a new home, signing a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers worth $10m.
Newton spent nine seasons leading the line with the Panthers, and his return could well work in the interest of all parties, and it’s one that’s put the smile back on the 2015 NFL MVP’s face:
“Honestly, I’m still floating,” Newton commented on his return to the Bank of America Stadium.
“Were there disconnects in the past? It’s irrelevant,” Newton added. “The fact that we’re able to make what may seem a lot of wrongs or some wrongs right, that’s the most exciting thing about it.
“To hell with feelings. It would be the biggest right and wrong by just winning football games.”
“This ain’t for no ploy. This ain’t for no ticket sales. This ain’t for no Cinderella story,” Newton said. “It’s to win football games. That’s pretty much what’s on my heart, and that’s how I’m going about it.” Newton concluded.
Now Bill Belichick will be hoping Mac Jones can deliver something of a Cinderella story of his own as the Patriots look to recapture the glory days.
Those recent wins over the New York Jets, the Los Angeles Chargers, and the Carolina Panthers have certainly helped to give Pats fans hopes of doing so.
Featured Image: Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press