• Connor Watson

The Patriots Don't Deserve the First Round Bye

The New England Patriots don't deserve a first-round bye. Even if they qualified, the 2019 Patriots have turned out some poor quality games and have drifted into the playoffs thanks to a lack of real competition in the AFC.

Take their most recent loss to the Dolphins, with all due respect to Miami fans, that is a game New England should have won in their sleep. A week 2 43-0 blowout in Miami should have been repeated in the Patriots home town, instead, they couldn’t hold on against a team 27th in the league for total yards.

This season for the Patriots has been full of mistakes that just aren’t in line with such titans of football. After this season, playing on the road at Foxborough just won’t carry the same blood-chilling effect it has done in previous years.

That isn’t just a knee-jerk reaction to the loss against Miami, it’s a culmination of a season worth of doubts.

Most of these doubts I brushed aside, I thought I was caught up in the usual Patriot bandwagon hate.

Here we are though, heading into the playoffs, where it’s all starting to look a lot clearer, those doubts turned out to be true, New England have problems and they need some serious fixes.

Clearly, defense isn’t their issue, Belichick is without question one of the best coaches the league has seen and when it comes to defense and work ethic, he is unrivalled. That brings us quickly around to New Englands biggest problem, the offense, offensively New England aren’t where they should be.

15th in the league in passing yards and 16th in passing touchdowns, New England are lacking for a team about to make a Super Bowl run. Despite trying to correct their course with offensive mid-season signings like Mohammed Sanu, the Patriots haven’t quite filled the hole Gronk left; nor have they gotten over the missed opportunity that was, Antonio Brown.

The issue can be boiled down to confidence, what confidence does Tom Brady have in his offensive weapons. Julian Edelman makes up the majority of the teams receiving yards (1117) and some games it truly looks like Brady will only throw to Edelman.

As the season continues the nine-time Super Bowl veteran looks more and more frustrated; which makes sense, rumours are plenty that Brady will be retiring soon. If those are to be believed, then why would he invest time in younger, less experienced options? It seems like Brady wants to win, he doesn’t have the motivation to work at something that will pay off down the road, he wants the talent he’s been accustomed to for several years now.

This leaves the offense with several limited options, Edelman and running back Sony Michel, as the league moves to a model that requires a more mobile quarterback the Patriots are being left behind. Edelman, Michel and Sanu are all high-class offensive players but with limited offensive playcalling, teams have wised up the ways of the Patriots as the season progresses.

They seem to be relying more and more on scripted plays with no room for an on-the-fly and flexible offense. The season has been carried by a defense that can still live up to the standards expected of the Patriots and has luckily been held together by a future hall of fame coach.

The Patriots don’t deserve the bye, not because they are bad, but because they could be so much better. Their wild card game this coming Sunday against the Titans should be smooth sailing but if they win, they’re off to face the Chiefs, a match-up I just don’t believe they’ll get through in their current state.