Patriots Struggle Against Buccaneers, But Little Reason For Concern

There is much work to be done before week 1, but little reason for concern.

On a night where many New England sports fans were thrown for a loop with a developing Red Sox mega-blockbuster, the Patriots took a backseat. New details of the Sox swap emerged all evening, but the football game went on.

Things weren’t pretty for the Patriots last night, that was evident and admitted by all including coach Bill Belichick who said the team is “nowhere close to where we need to be.”  Belichick went on to say the the 30-28 defeat was “tough to watch,” and he was right. The typically electrifying Patriots offense was way out of sync seeing quaterback Tom Brady taking some nasty hits behind some poor pass protection. The defense on the other hand held its own after giving up a touchdown on the Buccaneers opening drive.

It is very easy to overreact to last night’s beating. Admittedly, the team was not good or prepared. However, rewind to week 3 of the 2011 preseason, a 31-10 loss to the Detroit Lions. There was harsh reaction and criticism following the game, but that same team who lost meaningless preseason game was in minutes of winning the Super Bowl. What is even more eye-opening is when you compare Tom Brady’s numbers from each game:

Last night: 13/20 127 yards 1 TD 1 INT
Week 3 2011 Preaseason: 12/22 145 yards 1 TD 1 INT

Tom Brady proceeded to throw for 5,235 passing yards and 39 touchdowns in the 2011 regular season.

Yes, there are areas that the team needs to improve upon before their first game at Tennessee, but they have time. It is far better to be exposed in the preseason for multiple reasons. The games do not count, so it is the perfect forum to try new things and see what works and, more importantly, what does not work. This leads to great coach-able points where the team’s staff can remind the team that they are not as good as they think they are and there is room for improvement.

As a matter of fact, I am happy to see the team struggle. It’s a reminder that nothing is given. Despite being a Super Bowl caliber team last season, it’s going to take hard work to get back there. A loss now to remind this team of that is far better than one in September.

Don’t listen to the hype, nothing to worry about here. Coach Bill Belichick will milk as much as he can out of last night’s performance, and as frustrated as he and the team may be, it is probably for the better.

The Patriots will play their final preseason game Wednesday against the Giants in what will be their final tune-up of the preseason. Perhaps last night’s performance will change the mind of Belichick as to how he will use their personnel in what is typically a roster-bubble filled game. Regardless, this team knows where they need to improve, and they will.

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