Pete Prisco’s mind jumped straight to 2021 when he saw the New England Patriots’ schedule.
The CBS NFL analyst argued Thursday night the Patriots’ 2020 schedule is perfectly suited for them to tank the season in order to boost their chances of landing Trevor Lawerence in the 2021 NFL Draft. Lawrence, Clemson’s star quarterback, is expected to be among the top draft picks next year, and Prisco can envision a weakened Patriots team struggling against AFC East foes, whom he believes will be stronger than they were last season.
“Oh it’s brutal,” Prisco said. “This is a perfect ‘Tanking for Trevor’ schedule for the New England Patriots. … If (presumed starting QB) Jarrett Stridham isn’t good, they’re not going to be good football team, and it’s going to be a real challenge for Bill Belichick.
“You mention those road trips. What about the division making improvements? I think Buffalo’s going to be better, I think the Jets will be a little improved, I think Miami is going to be improved, the division is getting better, and that schedule is tough.
“If Belichick can work miracles and get this team to the playoffs, then kudos to him. He’s arguably the greatest coach of all time as is, but if he can get this team to the playoffs, that just might cement it — no matter any argument: Don Shula; Paul Brown; Vince Lombardi, any of them.”
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) May 8, 2020
Prisco isn’t the first analyst to predict storm clouds for the Patriots in Year 1 of the post-Tom Brady era, nor is he the first to address the idea of New England tanking for Lawrence. However, his assessment of the task Belichick faces in returning New England to the postseason sets Prisco apart from other naysayers, who have been beating up on the Patriots throughout the offseason.