First things first: It would have been hard for the New England Patriots to get a whole lot better after winning the Super Bowl in February while their 41-year-old quarterback takes another trip around the sun.
But it’s still pretty jarring to say the defending champions “got worse,” yet that’s exactly what SI.com contends in a recent story about the NFL teams who will at least start the season in worse shape than they ended the 2018 campaign.
And it’s not like the Patriots didn’t do things this spring to address any lingering needs, but the biggest issue the Patriots have faced in this offseason is the retirement of surefire Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“So New England lost the greatest tight end in NFL history and is replacing him with Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who is not the second- or even the third-greatest tight end in NFL history,” SI.com’s Gary Gramling wrote. ” … No matter how you slice it, one of the roster’s biggest strengths is now a relative weakness for the Patriots.”
But, as Gramling also notes, “Those melvins will probably barely even win the Super Bowl this year.”
It’s hard to argue with the logic, though, which is kind of obvious, isn’t it? The Patriots won’t have an all-time great this season, therefore they won’t be as good. Fairly simple. New England by most accounts had a very good draft, and the Patriots made a couple of intriguing moves like trading for former Pro Bowl rusher Michael Bennett and drafting potentially explosive receiver N’Keal Harry out of Arizona State in the first round. But questions remain at the tight end position, especially given the suspension of recently signed Benjamin Watson, and the wide receiver depth is an injury or two from evaporating.
Regardless, the Patriots should once again contend for a Super Bowl this season, meaning any talk of them being “worse” should be probably be viewed as strictly relative.