New England Patriots: Week 11 loss ended Pats 2020 season

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 09: Owner Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots (L) talks with head coach Bill Belichick during warmups before the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 09, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 09: Owner Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots (L) talks with head coach Bill Belichick during warmups before the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 09, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

With the New England Patriots falling to Houston, they sit three games behind Buffalo again in the AFC East and playoff hopes are dim.

The New England Patriots loss to a lackluster Houston Texans team has stuck a fork in the Patriots’ playoff hopes for 2020.

The lack of activity at the trade deadline is now proving to be bad decision-making as the team neither made moves to improve nor traded out to amass draft picks for next season. The result is a poor season, a relatively mediocre first-round draft pick, and a future that is not-so-bright for New England.

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This season is now effectively over with the Patriots three games back of Buffalo with six to go. Poor decision-making at the trade deadline has now effectively doomed a mediocre at best Patriots team this season.

Doing nothing was a bad move for New England, as they’re now faced with an offseason in which they have neither stockpiled draft picks for a rebuild nor built up the team for a playoff run this season, no matter how unlikely that would have been.

If there ever was a question as to whom the glory for New England’s two-decade run to glory should be centered, that discussion is now closed. Clearly, Tom Brady was the major reason.

The Patriots will now play out the string of a lost season as their fans are now faced with the losers’ lot of “waiting for next year”, a situation which this team has not experienced since 2020.

Reasons for the New England Patriots demise

The loss to Houston was a microcosm of the reasons for the team’s overall demise this season. This Patriots team was flawed dramatically from the outset and the flaws were evident today.

They had a poor retinue of wide receivers though to his credit Damiere Byrd stepped up today, they needed a lot more. In addition, their supposed great running game was nowhere to be found today as Damien Harris was checked by the Houston defense.

They also have no legitimate tight ends on the entire roster at all and have had a clear lack in an important defensive dimension, the pass rush. The almost comedic waiver wire influx and outflow of players that New England engages in each week is a microcosm of their entire personnel operation that lost this season in the offseason.

First, their shaking off of the best quarterback in history was less than an optimal decision, to say the least. Then they continued their poor raft of drafting, demonstrating once again that they just don’t have much of an idea of how to utilize the numerous picks they usually have at their disposal.

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In addition, they continue to eschew delving deeply into the free-agent market for legitimate NFL players who might actually contribute to a winning team.

The team’s only successful draft picks for the most part seem to be late-round fliers on whom they just luck out. They seem to have little real scouting acumen as high pick after high pick disappears into the mist as two higher former draft picks, third-rounder edge player Derek Rivers and a fourth-round pick, guard Hjalte Froholdt did last week.

Both were released after contributing basically nothing to the team’s success since they were drafted, and they are not alone by any means. The team is a poor drafting team as Albert Breer recently pointed out, and one of the poorest personnel management teams in the league.

One aspect of the supposedly top defense that must be mentioned here is the absolute lack of a pass rush. This group just can’t get to the quarterback.

And, if that quarterback happens to be of the mobile variety, forget getting even close.

A good running quarterback like today’s opponent, the brilliant Deshaun Watson will draw in the defense, get them to lose contain, and then easily scamper around the end for big yards. Next week they face the electric Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals and that does not presage well as Murray can really run. Another loss is on the way.

So the run is now essentially over, although not yet officially. But this team is going nowhere fast. The main questions to be asked are, how will this team be reconstructed to again contend for even an AFC East title in the future?

Patriots fans can forget about anything above that level, it’s not happening soon. Not at all. And, is the current management team capable of accomplishing this reconstruction? That’s debatable but not likely either.

The Patriots could sit on a barrel full of cap space should they cut ties with some veterans and others on the team. This team as currently constituted is not in a position to contend, basically for any title or the playoffs.

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It may be high time to trade or release many of the veteran players who can no longer deliver and the young players who never have. With a huge windfall of cap space, they could sign several impact free agents and coupled with a strong draft, they could be on their way to a new future.

But whether or not this management team is capable of getting that job done is another question for another day. But it will be asked soon. And often.