The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Is There Any Hope for the Patriots?

Posted on | September 17, 2023 | Comments Off on Is There Any Hope for the Patriots?

New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson

Football is a team sport, but I became a New England Patriots fan in 2021 because of one player. When the Patriots drafted Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, they also acquired me as a fan: Roll Tide.

Jones had led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated season and the National Championship after spending three years on the bench behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, stepping in after Tua suffered a season-ending injury late in 2019. That Jones would go in the first round of the 2021 draft, and would be picked by New England — a potential successor to the great Tom Brady — caught my interest. I hadn’t paid much attention to the NFL in many years, but how could I resist the drama of an Alabama player trying to fill the enormous Hall of Fame shoes of Brady? When Mac beat out Cam Newton for the starting QB job in preseason, I was psyched. Mac led the Patriots to the playoffs as a rookie, finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, and seemed destined for future greatness.

The 2022 season . . . Well, it was a nightmare that every Patriots fan would like to forget. Now we’re moving forward after the season-opening defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles, and New England will be playing host to the Miami Dolphins in the prime time feature game. Almost all the experts are predicting a Miami victory, after Tua put up 466 yards last week in a 36-34 victory over the Chargers. About the only commentator who thinks the Patriots can win this game is Greg Bedard, who believes (a) Bill Belichick’s defense can stop Tagovailoa and the Miami offense, and (b) New England will be able to run the ball effectively.

The offensive line is the big question mark for the Patriots. The final game day injury report isn’t available yet, but two New England linemen — veteran left tackle Trent Brown and guard/tackle Sidy Sow — were reported to be in concussion protocols earlier this week. Starting right guard Michael Onwenu has been working his way back from an injury, second-year left guard Cole Strange missed last week’s game with an ankle injury, and then it was reported that veteran center David Andrews was “limited” in practice with some sort of hamstring injury. As Evan Lazar says, if it turns out that Onwenu, Strange and Andrews are all good to go tonight, maybe there’s hope that the New England tag team of running backs, Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott, will have a big game, “pounding the rock” downfield, so that Mac doesn’t have to win the game solely by his passing prowess. And because a victory for the Patriots would be an upset, against an AFC East division rival, this could change the entire conversation around the team’s prospects in the 2023 season.

Most of my readers don’t care about the NFL, but following the Patriots is therapeutic for me, a needed distraction from the general misery of politics in the Biden era. It’s about my mental health, really.

Meanwhile, as you are reading this, I’m actually on the road, driving my youngest daughter to the airport, as she will be departing today to spend the next year in a distant foreign country. Hopefully, I’ll be back in time for kickoff tonight, and in the meantime, I urge readers to remember the Five Most Important Words in the English Language:




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