Bill Belichick oddly optimistic after another poor Patriots performance

Bill Belichick has never been a relentless optimist.

Sure, there are moments he’s tried to live on the sunny side of the street. Or even entire seasons.

Like 2020, the first year AB (after Brady). The roster was weak, the Patriots had cap issues and COVID demanded a level of chipperness from leaders in every industry.

Generally, though, Belichick snorts at excuses and prefers pessimism. He didn’t earn the nickname “Doom” 40 years ago because of his cheery disposition of him.

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So his, “Gee, we almost had ’em!” outlook after the Patriots’ 20-7 loss in Miami hit the ear funny. As did his halftime comment di lui – relayed by CBS during the telecast – that it was really only two bad plays that had the Patriots trailing 17-0.

Disappointed, sure. Still going to Dairy Queen ??? YOU BET !!

“It Wasn’t That Bad” Bill showed up after the Patriots’ final preseason game. After a sloppy outing against the Raiders, Belichick joked that his team must have left its good work “on the practice field” in two days leading up to the game. Ignoring that on one of those days, the team performed atrociously.

He’s spent an inordinate amount of time this summer preaching patience and being less “Do Your Job” and more “Blame me if the fellas don’t look so good …”

The reality is, the Patriots weren’t just two plays away from being even with Miami. The slip-ups weren’t random, out-of-nowhere gaffes.

The two plays in question – a strip-six touchdown and a 42-yard fourth-down slant – were culmination plays.

The mental vacation on the offensive line that led to the strip sack almost immediately followed an uncontested sack that came because of another mental vacation from the same side of the offense of line.

The same offensive line plagued with communication issues and breakdowns throughout training camp and the preseason. The same offensive line that’s had four different coaches since 2020. The same offensive line bookended by two tackles who aren’t the most consistent performers with a rookie guard plunked on the left. The same offensive line currently co-coached by Matt Patricia, who is also spread way too thin for a guy who is also a first-year play-caller.

Honestly, who could have seen an offensive line breakdown coming in the opener ???

The other big-play touchdown was a 42-yard slant thrown to Jaylen Waddle on a fourth-down just before halftime. It capped a 92-yard drive authored by the still-not-that-impressive Tua Tagovailoa which included conversions after a third-and-7, a first-and-15, and a third-and-19.

It’s not like Miami pulled that play from their posterior. They were – at that juncture – moving it pretty well.

The upshot of all this is that the Patriots aren’t just a whisker away as David Andrews said after the game.

“We beat ourselves up. I thought we ran the ball well. Obviously, they did some things to counteract that, some of the pressures, but I thought we ran the ball well, but we beat ourselves. Three, four turnovers, a strip sack for a touchdown. More of ‘can’t win till you keep from losing’ kind of day than anything else. I think there was a lot of positives. Parts of me are encouraged. Parts of me are – you know, let one slip away. “

The Patriots didn’t give the game away. Miami took it by exploiting things they knew New England might struggle with, making big plays in the end zone on the Patriots’ first drive and just before halftime and by waiting for the Patriots to mess up which they did with two fourth-down pre- snap penalties.

Want an example of a game where you could say, “It was just one bad play‚Ķ?” Last year’s opener against Miami when Damien Harris fumbled at the Miami 9 with 3:18 left and New England down 17-16.

That was a game that was even except for that play. This one wasn’t. There were plenty of missteps. And for a team whose margin for error is going to be very low early in the season, fourth-down encroachment, too-many-men-on-the-field and blatantly missed blocking assignments won’t result in narrow losses but kinda sizable ones.

Especially if Belichick is going to add to his team’s degree of difficulty by basically benching its most dynamic offensive player.

Either everyone doesn’t know what they’re looking at and Bourne really stinks or Belichick doesn’t know what he’s looking at and doesn’t realize Bourne is good.

Kendrick Bourne last year was a godsend. He had 55 catches for 800 yards but now he can’t wedge his way onto the field? The Patriots are that loaded offensively?

If a guy gets sideways with the coaching staff, I guess there’s an explanation. But Belichick says it’s not disciplinary so let’s take him at his word of him.

So that means the only guy capable of delivering an explosive play last year and the only guy who delivered one on opening day was only worthy of two snaps. Really?

Either everyone doesn’t know what they’re looking at and Bourne really stinks or Belichick doesn’t know what he’s looking at and doesn’t realize Bourne is good.

We know it’s neither. So there has to be some other reason to sit Bourne that is “in the best interest of the football team.” Same way – on a bigger stage – it was best if Malcolm Butler just watched that Super Bowl against the Eagles.

That’s another part of why everyone still gets Dairy Queen after the game. Belichick knows he’s making life hard on his team with unconventional decisions like changing the offense, flipping his tackles, having no real replacement for Josh McDaniels, etc., etc.

So he’s asking for patience as the team negotiates these wacky decisions.

And he’ll probably need to ask for even more now that Mac Jones – who threw a fleet of floaters into Dolphin team meetings and had a pedestrian performance – wound up getting clobbered into a back issue.

Mac’s the chief optimist. Now, if he’s hurt or unavailable the Patriots run the real risk of staggering from the gate 0-2 with a game next week in Pittsburgh.

Which would stink. And imperil the Dairy Queen trip.

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