New England is a region in the northeastern United States, including the smaller states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The first settlers from Europe settled in this very territory of North America. And it was here, as a result of the Boston Tea Party, that the war for the colonists’ independence from Great Britain began. Actually, that’s why the name “Patriots” plus the team mascots in the image of soldiers from that very war.
In U.S. historiography, New England is for all good things. For independence, freedom for all, including black slaves, and so on. The heart of American liberalism, so to speak.
Boston is the main city of New England. Bostonians consider themselves a special caste among Americans for several reasons. First of all, almost everyone here is a descendant of the Irish and has a distinctive accent (verified by the phrase “Park the car in Harvard yard” because of the special accent of the letter “r”). Secondly, because Harvard University and civilization were here when every other place on the continent still had Indians alive. Third, because Boston’s sports teams are a big hit with the rest of the world. It’s not just the New England Patriots, but also the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins.
If you want to get into the atmosphere of Boston, I recommend watching Good Will Hunting, Goodbye, Baby, Goodbye, City of Thieves, and The Departed.
Millennium is a turning point in the history of the New England Patriots. In the 20th century, it was a provincial and, I won’t dare say it, a shabby franchise – forever on the sidelines, with a rotting stadium and no prospects. In 10 years in the AFL (sixties), one playoff appearance. In 25 years in the NFL, if you take out the 1985 season, you get five playoff appearances and no wins! Yes, the Patriots took a shot in 1985 and made it to the Super Bowl, but it was just a one-time, unexpected success.
That all changed because of three historic figures-owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady. Kraft, after years of trying, bought the club in 1994 and modernized it on all fronts. Coach Bill Parcells (also worth mentioning) laid the foundation for future accomplishments – with him the team reached the Super Bowl for the second time in history, but also lost there. In 2000, Kraft was named Belichick’s head coach, and the team selected Brady in the sixth round of the draft.
Perhaps you know the rest. A dominance two decades long. A duo of the best coach and best player in history. “The Patriots are the default team in the world of American soccer and the most popular.
It all came crashing down in 2019 when the Patriots lost in the wild-card round (where they hadn’t made it since 2009), after which Brady left the club. And so two seasons in a row, the Patriots are mere mortals. That’s a thought we’re slowly getting used to.
10-7, second place in the division, loss in the wild-card round. After the selection of Mack Jones in the draft, it seemed like the Patriots were gaining strength again. Especially since several of the team’s defensive leaders missed the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, and here they are back. No, New England wasn’t a dominant force again, but it was a playoff caliber team. In addition, Belichick again showed his class by flicking the Buffalo Bills in the nose, beating them in a head-to-head game by a single carry. They got revenge in the playoffs, though, by doing something similar.
The starting quarterback
Mack Jones. Heir to Tom Brady stylistically. Far from an athlete when he played for Alabama, he had precision and intelligence. Conspiracy theorists hilariously calculated that even the number of letters in his first and last name matched Brady. Although Jones went in the first round of the draft rather than the sixth, he still went after four other quarterbacks. But of all of them, he was the one who claimed the award for best rookie on offense (Bengals receiver Jamar Chase won it).
Bill Belichick. On the one hand, a grim, stern grandfather, willing to eat one of his team’s running backs a lunch for the sake of iron discipline. On the other hand, in love with the game like a 13-year-old boy, sentimental when meeting former players. On the one hand, a man who kills a journalist with one look and answers tricky questions with one or two words. On the other, willing to answer a question along the lines of “why is it that a long snapper has a separate place on the team when you can give the same functions to a backup center?” for 20 minutes. To some, he’s now just an uncle who got lucky with Brady, and so he couldn’t give the great quarterback normal receivers. To others, he’s still the evil genius of the NFL.
Receiver Devante Parker. He was traded from the Miami Dolphins, which is actually unique for the Patriots under Belichick. Parker occasionally showed off his talent on his previous team, but he didn’t shine consistently. It’s a critical acquisition for the development of Mac Jones, though Parker still looks bleak against the alpha receivers of his competitors (Stephon Diggs for Buffalo, Tyreek Hill for Miami).
Cornerback JC Jackson. Classic story: an undrafted agent develops from year to year, has his best season under contract in his final year and expects big money. “The Patriots don’t give that money, and Jackson moves to Los Angeles to the Chargers for $82.5 million over five years.
Trump’s top pick
Bill Belichick. He still has tremendous credibility. Any controversial decisions by other teams in the draft we immediately scold. But if Belichick picks some no-name in the first round, we wonder, “Maybe the sly fox knows something.” After all, the Patriots’ dynasty was chock-full of role players and short receivers that other clubs would only allow on practice squads. That’s why any discussion of the Patriots’ personnel issues has been bogged down with Belichick. He’s gotten us wrong many, many times.
Management on offense. For a long time the Patriots had the following system: Belichick was in charge of everything and a little bit of defense. The offense was handled by Josh McDaniels. Now McDaniels has left for the Las Vegas Raiders, and all offseason the experts wondered who would take his place. As a result, both Matt Patricia (formerly with the Pats on defense) and Joe Judge (formerly with special teams), both of whom failed as head coaches of the Detroit and New York Giants, respectively, not long ago, are working with Mac Jones. Jones needs stability, not this stuff.
Who’s in contention
For twenty years, the AFC East has been the domain of the Patriots. Now the Buffalo Bills are in charge. “The Dolphins are also gaining strength, especially since divisional games in Miami aren’t working out for Belichick. Unless the Jets can still be considered a New England client. The Pats have a rough start (road trip to Miami, road trip to Pittsburgh, home with the Ravens and road trip to Green Bay), then a more or less easy midseason, and a challenging December-January (home with the Bills, road trip to Arizona, road trip to Las Vegas, home with the Bengals, home with the Dolphins, road trip to Buffalo).
Realistic expectations for the season
The personnel decisions in the offseason, as well as the team’s performance in the preseason (even discounting the fact that the preseason “means nothing”) are frankly scary. Mack Jones could very well be a victim of second season syndrome, especially if he has two downed flyers in his babysitters who haven’t worked hard with the offense. Three years ago, I would have just brushed these feelings aside and blamed it on old Billy’s multi-tasking. But it’s 2022, so the world isn’t going to change if the Patriots don’t make the playoffs. And in August, it seems that getting there is the ceiling for the current New England team.