Why Getting Healthy Is A Top Priority For The Patriots This Season
After dropping their past two games in close and extremely disappointing fashion, the New England Patriots are on a losing streak for the first time since 2012.
But for the first time in New England, that's okay.
The Patriots are known for their successes and being a dominant team behind the leadership of Tom Brady. But the Patriots that have been playing lately are not the Patriots.
Gronkowski is out. Edelman is out. Dobson, Hightower, Lewis: The list is probably as large as Bill Belichick's collection of cut-off sweatshirts.
The offense is limping along, and Brady is dealing now with receivers who are young and inexperienced.
But just like Aaron Rodgers told Green Bay fans last season, R-E-L-A-X.
Right now, the Patriots still have a 10-2 record. With four games left in the regular season and a favorable schedule, the Pats are still in a prime position to clinch their division.
Even if the Patriots continue their slide, they still have a great opportunity to own a Wild Card spot. With their previous successes in the playoffs, even coming in as underdogs will fare them well.
The back-ups can manage this schedule, but they won't make a statement until their starters become healthy again.
The starters are the ones who will make the Patriots a repeat contender for the Super Bowl 50.
One of the other positive notes is the Patriots have been known to bounce back with a vengeance the past few seasons.
Case in point: Of the four losses the Patriots had last year, each following game turned out to be a victory in favor of New England, by a combined total of 62 points.
This Patriots squad knows how to fight back, but these next four games don't mean much in a runaway division race.
Sure, they were dominated on Sunday by the struggling 5-7 Philadelphia Eagles. But if you look at the lineup, the Patriots' players were practically all second stringers.
These past two games may be ticks in the loss column for New England. But if you're looking at the scores, they weren't blow-outs like Patriots Nation has dramatized them to be.
The Patriots are good. There is no doubt about that.
At the beginning of the season, they exercised dominance and used their experience to overcome young and talented opponents.
Heck, they took the playoffs by a storm last season, and ended their campaign with a Lombardi Trophy.
It is precisely because they are good that there shouldn't be any fear in New England. Right now, it's about getting back their injured players to make them even better.
There's no doubt in my mind that even with a depleted offense, the Patriots can still find a way to get the job done and cruise into the playoffs.
But with the return of Gronkowski, Amendola and even Hightower, the Patriots would be unstoppable.
The upcoming schedule favors the Pats and their style of play, with opponents like the Titans and the Dolphins.
So maybe the Patriots are on a losing streak. Maybe they aren't playing at the highest level.
Rodgers said it best: Relax.
Focus on getting the starters back.
Then (and only then) can they focus again on making their run toward the Super Bowl 50.