It’s been two years since the Patriots made the blockbuster trade that sent defensive end Chandler Jones to the Broncos for the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft, a move that ended the Broncos’ two-decade championship drought and catapulted New England to Super Bowl XLVIII.
But the Patriots have yet to score a single point in those two seasons.
In fact, since the trade was announced on July 1, the Patriots are 0-for-3 in their last five games.
The only time they’ve lost in the span was a Week 2 loss to the New Orleans Saints, and that was in the final minute of regulation.
New England is currently 8-3 with three losses and seven total touchdowns this season.
What is going on?
It’s easy to make a comparison between the Patriots and other teams who have been through similar ups and downs this year.
Teams like the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs have all made significant improvements since the end of the 2013 season.
The biggest difference, however, may be the injuries to players like defensive end Cameron Wake and linebacker Jamie Collins, who were both ruled out for at least the rest of the season with injuries.
All of these teams had to rebuild from within and find a way to keep their core together.
But for the Patriots, that rebuild has been difficult because of their inconsistent play over the past two seasons, and their recent struggles to find a winning formula.
The Patriots have been among the league’s worst teams since the beginning of the 2016 season.
They’ve won only seven of their last 19 games, and they’ve been outscored by an average of 5.4 points per game.
New York’s recent struggles have resulted in the Patriots being ranked as one of the league worst teams in several recent rankings, including ESPN’s Power Rankings, NFL.com’s 2017 NFL Power Rankings and NFL Network’s 2017 season preview.
But that’s not all that’s wrong with the Patriots this year, according to some of the people familiar with the team’s thinking.
“The Patriots have gone from having one of those teams who were always competitive to one that has really struggled,” one of these people said.
“They’ve done this for the past year.
They’re now in a different place.
They lost a couple players, but they also lost their core and they have a lot of other issues to address.”
The Patriots lost five starters for the 2016-17 season, including Wake, Collins, cornerback Devin McCourty and linebacker Danny Trevathan.
They also lost cornerback Logan Ryan for the rest.
The most glaring injuries were cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was released and cornerback Logan Brown, who tore his ACL and MCL in the preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Gilmore, a six-year veteran, has been a healthy scratch since and has never played again.
Brown, a former second-round pick, tore his left ACL in Week 2 and hasn’t played since.
Injuries to other players on the defense are also contributing to New England’s struggles.
They’ll lose defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt, linebacker Jabaal Sheard and cornerback T.J. McDonald, among others, and lose cornerback Brandon Browner for the season.
“There’s a lot more issues than the obvious ones,” one person said.
And while the Patriots’ injuries are frustrating, they are not necessarily the reason the team is losing games.
It’s possible that the team can still win a few games without having any of the other injuries, and it’s possible the Patriots can still find a formula that works for the team.
But those factors could change dramatically before the Patriots get to the playoffs and start making strides again.