New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick with quarterbacks Mac Jones (10) and Bailey Zappe (4) during Sunday night’s 24-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Mass. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Statistics suggest there’s little to no hope of the New England Patriots recovering from the 0-2 hole they find themselves in to start the season.

Yes, it’s early, it’s only September as Patriots tight end Mike Gesicki pointed out, but starting 0-2 is typically the kiss of death for most NFL teams, especially those who are middle-of-the-packers and lack elite talent.

Making the playoffs is the longest of long shots with that kind of start for teams in that category.

And in most instances, I’d agree with a doomsday scenario for the Patriots.

But I’m not ready to pile dirt over Bill Belichick’s team just yet, even if they no longer have Tom Brady to rescue them. It’s not time to bury this team, even if there’s only been 31 teams out of 270 who began the season 0-2 since 1990, who went on to qualify for the postseason.

The Cincinnati Bengals were one of those teams, and the most recent. They came back from their love-two start in 2022, and not only made the playoffs, but advanced to the AFC Championship game.


The Patriots don’t compare to the Bengals when it comes to roster talent. But there’s still hope for Mac Jones & Co.


Because with the exception of the Dolphins, who improved to 2-0 with Sunday’s 24-17 primetime win over the Patriots, no one else in the division has exactly lit the world on fire.

And while the Fins have a talented team, they’re no lock for the division. Neither are the Bills (1-1), or the Aaron Rodgers-less Jets (1-1), who watched Zach Wilson throw three picks in the 30-10 loss to the Cowboys Sunday.

The Patriots head to the Meadowlands next week, and should be able to make Wilson turn into a puddle like they’ve done his first two seasons. They should be able to notch their first win to keep them in the hunt for the division, not to mention wild-card possibilities.

If they can somehow upset the high-flying Cowboys in Dallas in Week 4, which is going to be a tall order, they’re back to 2-2, which isn’t bad considering the strength of the teams the opening four weeks.


So mediocre works if they get it together the next two weeks.

It’s not like there’s a bunch of AFC teams that look like world beaters right out of the gate.

Did anyone notice both the Bengals and Chargers, who figured to be in the playoff mix, are 0-2?

At this point, the AFC looks wide open. The Dolphins and Ravens are the only 2-0 teams from the conference. The Browns (1-0) could join them after playing the Steelers on Monday night.

So right now, even at 0-2, despite what the statistics say, the Patriots are still very much alive despite all of their issues with protecting the football, not to mention the quarterback.

One of their biggest problems is they have little margin for error. They’re not good enough to overcome mistakes, injuries, etc.


And because of that, much like last season, the Patriots haven’t been able to beat the good teams. Between injuries to key players, having a sieve for an offensive line, turning the ball over too many times, not being able to play a clean game, and not having enough “juice” at the start of games, which is how linebacker Matthew Judon put it, the Pats weren’t able to take down the Eagles and Dolphins.

If they’re able to clean up most of the warts, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for them to get over the hump, and have that breakthrough once their offensive line is back to full health, or closer to it. The inability to put up more than 20 points has been a killer, especially against teams with top quarterbacks and elite weapons.

But given how well the defense has played, how well it’s been able to – for the most part – contain the two high-powered offenses in Philadelphia and Miami, it could just be a matter of time before the offense finally turns the corner.

“We have more life in us, and we don’t know what can happen from here, but something’s got to happen,” Judon vowed following the game during an impromptu opening to his press conference. “Something’s got to give. We’re not just going to be a pedestrian team that lets people score on us and we don’t score. We’re going to bow up. We’re going to have a backbone.”

The Patriots believe they’re better than they’ve shown. They believe if they fix a few things here and there, they’ll start winning games, and get back in the hunt.

But as center David Andrews cautioned, belief is one thing, execution is another.


“Belief only takes you so far. You’ve got to do it at some point, right? It’s more about execution than belief,” he said. “I think the belief and the faith in each other, in the team, I don’t think that’s a problem. When you look at that, we could’ve laid down and quit when we down there by two scores. We didn’t. We kept moving, kept battling, put ourselves in a chance to win right there at the end. But I think it’s more of execution than it is belief.”

While it was pretty somber in the locker room, the players said all the right things. They didn’t particularly care about the statistics or odds for 0-2 teams. They were just concerned about the next game, and were ready to tackle it head-on.

“We’re no strangers to adversity. We’re not going to run from it,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “We know we gotta do a better job across the board, and we’re going to do a better job.”

For the record, the last time the Patriots opened a season 0-2 was in 2001, which happened to be the season they won their first of six Super Bowls. It only took 22 seasons to start 0-2 again.

Forget the Super Bowl, the only question is whether recovery is still in the cards. It usually isn’t in these cases, but given how things have played out, they really aren’t dead yet. They might be soon enough, but it’s still too early to throw in the towel, and call the fight.

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