An open letter to Patriots fans: Why it's ok to be in a rebuild

Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages

I understand if the word rebuild made you want to click off of this article. As Boston fans, we don’t like that word. We'd like to think that we just need to "Reload." Since 2001 every team has won at least one championship, and all four teams have had seamless transitions from one era of playoff contention to another.

The point is we have been spoiled, spoiled beyond what most sports fans see in their lifetimes. We are so numb to the success that every season that doesn’t end in a duck boat parade is viewed as a failure in the eyes of many. 

When it comes to the Patriots, this mentality is incredibly toxic. As a fanbase, we need to establish realistic expectations. Whether you want to accept it or not, they are in a rebuild of sorts.

Bill is still the coach and a damn good one, but the Pats aren’t going to be yearly super bowl contenders for some time.  

Tom Brady winning a super bowl in his first year in Tampa ruined any chance of this fanbase accepting a rebuild. Any conversation about that team ends with the stupid Bill VS Tom argument instead of acknowledging that the Buccaneers were only an outstanding QB from Super Bowl contention.

They had a solid defense, a coach known for turnarounds in Bruce Arians, and a top 10 WR of the decade in Mike Evans. Drop Tom in that system with Gronk at his side, and it was no surprise they won it all. 

Fans saw Tampa’s run and asked Bill to do the same by trading or signing a top 10 WR, no matter the cost. We even asked for the magical return of Brady for one last ride. I am no defender of Bill’s GM work, Especially his failures at finding WR talent, but not even an OBJ or Hopkins-type WR would turn the Pats into a contender immediately. 

But we aren’t ready for a move like that yet. Mac is in his 3rd year and only second with a real OC. We need to show signs of life on offense before going all in. 

The Pats will hang their hat on their elite defense, and they’ll need to.

The AFC is the home of Mahomes, Borrow, Allen, Lamar, Herbert, Tua, Wilson, and now future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. 

The schedule is grueling, and this season won’t be easy. But that doesn’t mean we as a fanbase should be calling for Bill’s head or lamenting for the glory days. 

As hard as it is to admit, this is what most NFL teams are like on a year-to-year basis. If you aren’t in a super bowl window, you try to win some games, develop a core, and do your best to stay in the playoff race, then put your chips down for a Lombardi. 

I won’t be giving a record prediction, but I expect the Patriots in 2023 to play elite defense, begin to fix the offense, and be competitive. If they make the playoffs, awesome; If not, it’s okay. 

If the offense is improved and Mac looks like a long-term option. The season would be a success. 

The Patriots have been in a soft rebuild since Tom Brady took his talents to Tampa. 

We don’t want to call it that. However, when you evaluate the team through this lens, the last three seasons match the normal ebbs and flows that NFL teams go through when not in a contending window. 

So keep this perspective in mind as we enter training camp and beyond.