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At Least Coach Bill Will Have More Time time to Prep for Next Year

The final play on Sunday killed the illusion of a playoff possibility and effectively of the competitive portion of the 2020 Patriots season.

A fitting play it was, in a single score game, Cam Newton chucked the ball (Cam never throws- always chucks) as far as he could down field and it was complete, but like the 2020 season in general, the New England Patriots are ab

out 10-yards short of the mark.

Through two drives on Sunday, the Patriots looked like they were out for a Sunday cruise. After snatching the ball back from Houston’s stagnant offense, the Patriots put together a drive that would make Woody Hayes and Bear Bryant swell with pride. Handoff after punishing handoff, the Patriots picked up 3-yards but alas the Reliant Stadium turf is devoid of dust.

Damien Harris, the current apple of New England’s eye, punctuated the drive with a jaunt to the end zone. At the moment, you couldn’t tell anybody in the 6-state region that this would be but the first of many trips to the Promised Land. All of them invariably run in by the finally full complement of backs at Josh McDaniels’ disposal. For the first time in recorded history, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, James White and Sony Michel were all healthy at the same time. After 20-years of Arial assaults, the Patriots are poised to pound teams into submission via a bludgeoning ground game.

What happened next is harder to define. The Patriots didn’t pound the rock on the ground. In fact Damien Harris went missing in Houston faster than Jose Altuve’s jersey.

After a first drive that featured zero passing, the second drive seemed hell bent to make up the difference.

Rex Burkhead got hurt and James White reminded him why he’s loved so much by Patriots fans but New England’s biggest nemesis on Sunday (besides DeShaun Watson who was scintillating) was those who carry yellow flags. Each time the Pats took a step forward, they were forced to take 30 back (3 steps in a yard, 10-yards for every holding call= 30 steps.)

Watson made plays when he needed to make plays and the Patriots, perpetually, in need of a turnover, never felt close to one all day. Romeo Crennel, the oldest head coach in the league, had a few tricks up his sleeves for his former colleague. Corners and safeties firing off the edges, gave the Patriots pass pro problems in ways that Baltimore’s #1 defense couldn’t do a week ago.

Crennel is one of the great defensive minds of his time and probably the most overlooked. His runs as head coach in Cleveland and Kansas City seem to have obscured his championship days in New York as a coordinator with Bill Parcells and halcion years as the defensive coordinator of 3 Super Bowl teams for Bill Belichick in New England.

RAC as he is known by many, is merely keeping the seat warm in Houston for their next head coach, dutifully filling in for the departed Bill O’Brien. Crennel has already been told that he is not a candidate for the head job in 2021.

Crennel’s situation is a lot like the one the Patriots find themselves in. They’re not going to the playoffs, which is a scenario that the Patriots haven’t found themselves in since 2000. (Fun fact, the number 1 song in America on this week in 2000 was With Arms Wide Open by Creed.)

(yes, we remember 2008 but that team went 11-5)

The Patriots are now playing out the string for the final 6 weeks of the season. The best the team can do is play the role of spoiler for the Cardinals, Rams, Bills and Dolphins.

But like most things, Bill Belichick will find value. He’ll find value in player evaluation and will finally have the ability to get an earlier start on the college scouting process. How many times have we heard Belichick say after a Super Bowl that they’re 3 weeks behind other teams in scouting?

Now that the Patriots can’t be first in the division, maybe they can be first in finding the players they need to ascend upwards again.

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