Patriots’ 0-2 begin hints extra of 2000 than rebounding with a Tremendous Bowl title


This 0-2 begin has the potential to devolve into one thing a lot worse. 

Bill Belichick in 2000
Invoice Belichick in 2000, his first 12 months as Patriots head coach, when the workforce went 5-11. Jim Davis/The Boston Globe

If it’s a feel-good twist you’re after, then sure, the final time the New England Patriots opened a season 0-2 was 2001, a notation that comes with a giant ol’ “however” with the intention to gas the type of false hope that greatest markets an inferior product. In any case — wink-nudge-wink — we  all know what occurred after that…

If we actually wish to use historical past to assist paint an image for current days, then let’s as an alternative use this footnote: The final time the New England Patriots misplaced their first two residence video games to begin a season was 2000, Invoice Belichick’s first marketing campaign as New England head coach. 

These Patriots wound up 5-11.

Now, which workforce do you assume is the higher comp for the Patriots we’ve watched to date this month? 

Regardless of the tease that they could have been one inbounds foot away from beating the defending NFC champs in Week 1, what most Patriot followers got here to comprehend by the top of Week 2 was that their preseason fears had come residence to roost. 

This workforce stinks. 

On the intense aspect, it’s in good firm. The Cincinnati Bengals, a workforce that some regard as essentially the most gifted within the NFL, are additionally 0-2. It’s a sluggish begin however keep in mind, the Bengals had been additionally winless after two weeks final season. They solely made it to the AFC Championship sport from there, changing into the one workforce to perform that feat because the NFL went to seven playoff groups in 2020. 

Additionally 0-2 heading into Monday night time’s doubleheader (and potential for the Steelers and Panthers to hitch the loser crowd): the always-underwhelming Chargers, the lipstick on a pig circus in Denver, the shortcomings of the Vikings below Kirk Cousins (a QB some contemplate Mac Jones’s perfect comparative ceiling), a franchise that after employed Jack Easterby, the Arizona Cardinals (a workforce so dangerous that it simply put Daniel Jones in rarefied firm), and the Chicago Bears, which, sufficient stated. 

Don’t use the Bengals and 2001. These are their comps. 

Higher but, you need to go to the depths of Patriot historical past to recall the final time the workforce started a season 0-2 with each losses coming at residence. It final occurred in 1975,  a 12 months the Patriots went 3-11 below rookie quarterback Steve Grogan. It additionally occurred two seasons prior, when the workforce wound up 5-9. Neither notation is an efficient signal for Mac Jones and Co. 

Neither is this: in keeping with the AP, since 1990, solely 31 of the 270 golf equipment (11.5 %) that started a season 0-2 superior to the playoffs. The Sporting Information goes again to the NFL merger in 1970 to notice that solely 39 of 405 NFL groups (9.6 %) which misplaced their first two video games proceeded to make the playoffs. 

ESPN’s Invoice Barnwell writes, “If a workforce loses once more and drops to 0-3, although, determined turns into hopeless. Since 2002, 99 groups have began 0-3. Simply a type of groups (the 2018 Texans) has made it to the playoffs.” 

In different phrases, should you’re a Patriot fan holding out hope for the playoffs, both you haven’t been watching or the realism of the state of affairs hasn’t fairly settled in; This 0-2 begin has the potential to devolve into one thing a lot worse. 

Even with out Aaron Rodgers, the Jets — up subsequent on the schedule, Sunday within the Meadowlands — are not any pushover, not when you think about the lackluster charcuterie board of expertise surrounding Jones on offense going up in opposition to one of many league’s high defenses in New York. Week 4 guarantees what appears like a protection for the ages when the Patriots journey to Dallas. They could realistically not be capable to declare win No. 1 till Oct. 8 in opposition to the New Orleans Saints. That is the place we’re at; the six-time Lombardi Trophy-winning Patriots are going to be dumpster diving for wins. 

As a result of 0-2 begins have methods of festering, even on good-to-decent groups. Subsequent factor you recognize, snow begins falling, gamers can’t make it to their Jetsonmobiles, and there’s a mutiny on the horizon. Benching rookie Demario Douglas, one in all Sunday night time’s offensive highlights within the early going, as a result of among the finest defenders in all the sport (Bradley Chubb) made a pleasant play to jar a ball unfastened, may not ship the message Invoice thinks it does. Or, at very least, it doesn’t ship the identical message in a 2023 NFL that it might need in a day and age that after additionally employed fullbacks. 

To be truthful, regardless of the doom-and-gloom that populates above, an 0-2 begin isn’t what it as soon as was, even solely three years in the past. With the appearance of the seven-team playoff format in 2020, extra groups than ever have the chance to rebound and make one thing out of their season. That’s why for the likes of the Bengals, perhaps the Vikings, not successful both of the primary two video games isn’t a loss of life knell. And if the Texans can do it then, nicely…

For the Patriots, the 0-2 begin is a precursor to a season of arduous actuality. Like one that features conversations about Caleb Williams and Bo Nix, throttling your workforce into the identical QB vortex you’ve laughed at your rivals for locating themselves in.

So, neglect about 2001. This workforce is extra just like the one from a 12 months earlier. And should you’re trying forward, there’s this: the final time the Patriots began a season 0-4 was that very same 2000 season, Belichick’s first in New England. 

It may occur once more — 23 years later — in what may begin trying an increasing number of like Belichick’s remaining soccer go-round.