JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — If you’re in a state of panic, throwing a hissy fit and wondering how the 2018 New England Patriots season ended before it even really started, then you must be new around here.
This is a thing the Patriots seem to do every year. It’s probably very frustrating as a fan to see the Patriots fall 31-20 in Week 2 to the Jacksonville Jaguars after showing so, so much promise in Week 1. But this isn’t exactly new for a Bill Belichick-coached team.
Remember the Patriots’ Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins in 2014? Remember that same season, their Week 4 shellacking to the Kansas City Chiefs when Belichick was “on to Cincinnati” later that week?
Remember last year’s Week 1 debacle against the Chiefs? And the communication miscues Week 4 against the Carolina Panthers?
How did those seasons end, perchance? In Super Bowls — one win, one loss.
Call it blindly believing in Belichick and Tom Brady to shrug at Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars, but it would be insanity to freak out and act like wholesale changes need to be made on the team. Losses happen against good teams, especially on the road.
The Patriots have been here before. And they’ve bounced back.
“I would say the main thing is just realizing that we got a long way to go,” Patriots safety Duron Harmon said. “Obviously, we had a good week last week, and this week is not the same as last week, so we just see we’re nowhere close to where we want to be at from an execution standpoint, how we want to play this defense and how we want to be on defense. We can use this as a learning tool for growth and to figure out where we want to make changes at and what we need to continue to get better at to be the defense that we need to be.”
Harmon was selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Running back James White also was on the Patriots’ 2014 and 2016 Super Bowl Champion teams, so they know what the Patriots need to do to improve. White almost makes it sound simple.
“Just learn from the film and figure out the mistakes, figure out what we can do better, see the things we’re doing well,” White said. “Just learn (Monday) then practice on Wednesday and just start the week off well and prepare for Detroit and try to start fast next week. I think we didn’t start fast on offense. … Just find ways to put points on the board when we get the opportunity.”
Because if the Patriots don’t fix those mistakes, then the Lions, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts and the rest of the teams on New England’s 2018 schedule will exploit them.
“We’re confident,” cornerback Stephon Gilmore said. “We still have to learn from our mistakes, watch the film because it’s a copycat league. Who we play next will probably try the same stuff, so we have to correct it, get better and that’s what football’s about.”
And White’s message to young players who might not know that the Patriots have gone through these types of losses before?
“Don’t sulk on this game,” White said. “It’s not going to be perfect. You gotta go out there and see how we respond from it.”
The Patriots chose not to make excuses when asked about the impact of Trey Flowers leaving the game early with a concussion. Their message was that someone else has to step up when a player goes down. That didn’t happen Sunday afternoon. But if history repeats itself, someone will in the future.