Pats don’t see themselves as 2-4 team
FOXBORO — The Patriots are caught between the team they are and the team they want to be.
They know they’re 2-4, but players continue to insist their record doesn’t reflect how good they are.
“I think we’re a good team with a bad record right now,” special teams ace Justin Bethel said after Sunday’s loss to Dallas.
On Wednesday, tight end Jonnu Smith and wide receiver Kendrick Bourne reiterated Bethel’s sentiment during separate press conferences.
“We’re 2-4. We know that we’re not a 2-4 team,” Smith told reporters. “I think we just have to continue to come in here with the work mindset, which we have.”
Added Bourne: “That’s definitely how I feel. We don’t get the results we’ve wanted lately, but we know we’re right there. We know we’re peaking.”
The longtime, prevailing wisdom in the NFL about a team’s quality is best summarized by a famous declaration from Pats coach Bill Parcells: “You are what your record says you are.”
Through six weeks, there’s scant evidence to back the players’ claims. The Patriots rank 19th in the NFL, per Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric, DVOA, and 20th by Pro Football Focus grades and point differential. Their minus-two point differential reflects a team closer to 3-3, but nothing better.
Last season, with his team mired at 4-6, Bill Belichick echoed Parcells, a former mentor, when asked about whether the Patriots were better than their record indicated.
“Our record is our record,” he said on WEEI last November.
On Wednesday, after Smith asserted the Pats aren’t a typical 2-4 team, Belichick was asked if he agreed. He deflected by offering an answer that seemed more directed at his players than the media.
“Well, we’re getting ready for the Jets here,” Belichick said. “So (let’s) just try to focus on what we can do, and be ready to go this week and try to go out there and play a good football game.”
Stidham, Cowart practice on PUP
Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham and defensive tackle Byron Cowart participated in their first regular-season practice Wednesday, indicating one or both could be added to the active roster sometime within the next three weeks.
Cowart opened training camp on the PUP list with an undisclosed injury and has remained there ever since. The Pats placed Stidham on PUP after he underwent back surgery in early August. The team must either activate Cowart and/ or Stidham to the 53-man roster or leave them on the PUP list, where they would be sidelined for the rest of the season.
Cowart’s return may prove to be timely, with starting nose tackle Davon Godchaux missing practice Wednesday. Stidham’s future role with the team is cloudier unless he can prove he’s an appreciably better than veteran Brian Hoyer, who’s presently Mac Jones’ top backup and mentor. Over 48 career pass attempts, Stidham has completed 50% his throws for 256 yards, two touchdowns and three picks.
Journeyman quarterback Garrett Gilbert is also on their practice squad.
Edelman: Pats aren’t the Pats
Julian Edelman doesn’t like what he’s seen from his old team.
Speaking as an analyst for “Inside The NFL” on Paramount+, Edelman said players need to be held accountable this week for their poor play. The Patriots rank sixthworst in turnover differential this season, the clearest reflection of their sloppy play. While their penalties are down, the losing has continued, with a 2-4 record marking one of the slowest starts of the Belichick era.
“The Patriots just aren’t the Patriots right now, and it hurts me to say this. They are not the Patriots,” Edelman said. “We are so used to seeing the last 20 years — and I know there’s different players, and this, that — but there’s still a group of guys in there that know how they should play. They need to start playing mistakefree football.”
16 players hit practice report
The Patriots are banged up. Sixteen players were listed on the team’s initial practice report Wednesday, including four who missed practice and another, defensive lineman Deatrich Wise, who sat out team drills. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower is dealing with new elbow and ankle injuries and headlined the group of four absentees that includes Godchaux and cornerbacks Jonathan Jones and Shaun Wade.
Wise is fighting through a hurt knee. For the Jets, linebacker C.J. Mosley was a nonparticipant in their practice Wednesday. He’s expected to be a game-time decision.
Pats work out veteran CB
The Patriots worked out former Jets cornerback Brian Poole on Wednesday.
Poole, 28, played the last two seasons with the Jets and signed with the Saints this summer but quickly landed on injured reserve and was released last week. In New York, he grabbed three interceptions and allowed an opposing passer rating of 80.8. Poole primarily played in the slot and on special teams.
The 5-foot-9, 210-pound corner entered the league with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2016. He started nine of 16 games his rookie season and played two more seasons in Atlanta. With the Falcons, Poole recorded four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and 196 tackles.
His addition would give the Patriots needed corner depth, after the team signed second-year defensive back Myles Bryant from its practice squad to the active roster Tuesday. Otherwise, their cornerback depth chart consists of J.C. Jackson, Jalen Mills, core special-teamer Justin Bethel, Joejuan Williams, a healthy scratch versus the Cowboys, Wade and Bryant.