How New England Patriots fans should cope with a potential losing season

New England Patriots fans have been on autopilot for the majority of the last two decades.

Sure, the six championships were impressive, but the best attribute about the Patriots recent success has been consistency.

New England has qualified for the playoffs 18 times since 2001 and have a record of 25–25 in the seasons that the team didn’t make the playoffs. To put this in simple terms, even when the team struggles, it has never been truly that bad.

2022 may prove to be the season in which this trend is broken. The team is off to a 1–2 start, quarterback Mac Jones just sustained a significant injury and many in the football world are doubting the talent level that the roster possesses.

So, if the team stumbles to a mediocre record and has a so-called “lost season”, how will Patriots fans react? It’s a common narrative that Patriots fans have been pampered and privileged, and that is a pretty accurate statement. Sure, the team struggled for the majority of its existence until the recent regime, but a solid portion of the fanbase has limited memories of that and the ones that do have no desire to go back.

Losing is painful on fans, and the Patriots haven’t done that in a long time. If they do, how will someone enjoy watching the team. Well, here are some options.

Root for  New England Patriots Individual players

Football, like basically every team sport, is a team game. That cliched statement is something New Englanders have gloated about for awhile, but that doesn’t mean individuals can’t shine. Matt Judon is one of the most exciting defensive players the Patriots have had in a long time. His iconic red undershirt is clearly visible on every television screen and from any seat at Gillette Stadium.

Cole Strange is a former FCS player who became a first-round pick at the 2022 draft, much to the laughter of others around the league. His response can be summarized in the tweet below.

Cornerback Jonathan Jones has seen an uptick in playing time and opportunity, and has seized that to emerge as an elite defensive back.

Even Brian Hoyer, the quarterback who will likely replace Jones for the foreseeable future, is a franchise favorite who is well respected by the fanbase and is fun to cheer for.

The Patriots have guys who are likable and talented, which is something that makes watching a game worth it.

Cherish NFL Football

The tradition of turning on the Patriots game on a Sunday (or Thursday and Monday) is something that makes a hard week worth it. It serves as a moment to decompress and spend time with family, friends or even by oneself.

While many outside the New England Patriots fanbase may not realize it, every game has always been pretty stressful. Every mistake had a chance to have playoff implications and also open the team up to criticism. Every year, the narrative of “are the Patriots done?” would resurface and the team that dominated for years had a chip on its shoulder.

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It gets old and can be exhausting, even just for the fans of the team. This year, try to take a step back and enjoy the spectacle. Every win will feel amazing still, and maybe the losses won’t ruin the upcoming week. It could be a different feeling.

Don’t lose hope

Just because things look bleak, it doesn’t mean that they are. 1–2 is certainly not the biggest hole any team has to climb out of this season. (Raiders anyone?) The Packers are a tough task next week, but the following four matchups are against opponents who didn’t reach the playoffs in 2021. Also, Jones’ injury is widely believed to not be season ending, so he could still build on what he has shown in his young career.

The main point of this column is to not panic. 14 games separate the Patriots from the end of the regular season. That means that fans have 14 more chances to watch their favorite team play this season, and that alone should be good enough for the majority.