For two decades, the New England Patriots enjoyed one of the most dominant stretches in sports. Led by quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots racked up six Super Bowl wins. All of this ended last March when Brady signed a new deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Patriots responded by signing star quarterback Cam Newton to a one-year deal. Many analysts insist this move won’t be enough to maintain relevancy. Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky even predicted that the Patriots will miss the playoffs entirely. Let’s look at this assessment.
Dan Orlovsky’s NFL career
The Detroit Lions drafted Orlovsky in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL draft. The former UConn star saw limited action in his first season, hitting the field in just two games. He played in 10 games the next year, started seven, and showed some promise. That season, he threw 143 completions and eight touchdowns for 1,616 total yards, with a completion rate of 56.1%.
Orlovsky chose to test the free-agent market the next spring and ended up signing a three-year deal with the Texans. He didn’t see any game action that season as Houston’s third-string QB and played in just seven games the following year. After that Orlovsky bounced around the NFL, receiving only limited minutes as a backup quarterback.
He had tenures with the Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, and Los Angeles Rams, before finally announcing his retirement in 2017. Orlovsky put up career numbers of 3,132 passing yards, with a 58.2 completion rate and fifteen touchdowns. Since retiring, he has been acting as an analyst for ESPN.
Orlovsky’s prediction about the Patriots
For many years, betting against the Patriots was one of the most unwise things a sports fan could do. In. fact, the Patriots have the NFL’s longest-ever playoff streak, at 11 consecutive seasons and counting. Yet the writing is clearly on the wall for the storied franchise, who may find themselves facing a rebuild even sooner than expected.
That was basically the message of Orlovsky, who didn’t mince words during a recent appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, where he stated conclusively that the Patriots are “not a playoff team” this season. To support his argument, Orlovsky pointed out that last year the Patriots went 0-4 against the four best teams in the AFC.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills surged at the end of last season, besting the Patriots in terms of record, offense, and defense. During the off-season, the Bills have only gotten better, while the Patriots have gotten significantly worse. Orlovsky emphasized his belief that Newton is not as talented a player as Brady — even at this late stage in Brady’s career.
Patriots lost one of their best offensive linemen in Marcus Cannon, who opted out of the 2020 season over coronavirus concerns. According to Orlovsky, the Patriots also lost a lot of skilled role players, including six of last season’s defensive starters. With all of those factors combined, Orlovsky feels strongly that the Patriots’ postseason run will finally be coming to an end.
Other opinions on the Patriots’ chances
Other pundits around the league aren’t quite as convinced as Orlovsky. In fact, the prevailing wisdom seems to be one of wait-and-see. Numerous analysts point out that the Patriots could be one of the season’s biggest wild cards. A lot of the uncertainty around the team has to do with their new quarterback.
Will Newton be able to make a comeback from his recent injuries and find his MVP-caliber form again? Many people think so, with Newton considered a competitive candidate to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year, details Fox Business. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Patriots a 44.2% chance of capturing the AFC East title and a 63% chance of making the playoffs, according to Boston.com.