Fresh start for new Pats' journey

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Jul. 30—FOXBOROUGH — Losing stinks. Pure and simple.

Unless it enables your franchise to add a dude like LeBron James, Mario Lemieux or Peyton Manning.

Or in the New England Patriots case, it allows you to aptly fill gaping holes at tight end, wide receiver, defensive line and safety, among others.

Those awful-looking Cam Newton passes, some 10 feet short of receivers, that you had to endure were basically collateral damage.

Which leads me to a conclusion: I believe the 2021 New England Patriots are going to be good.

There is something brewing, something new. I hate to say this, but the Tom Brady Patriots were stale. I'm sure Brady would blame his boss.

The 12-4 season in 2019 was a façade. Brady was unhappy and showed it. After an 8-0 start the Patriots won four of nine games and Brady's career ended here with a pick-6 in January, a mortal sin.

It feels different in Foxborough as August, 2021 beckons. A good different.

Newbie Hunter Henry encapsulated my point, via a throwaway line, during his seven-minute stint with the media on Wednesday.

He was talking about himself, but he might has well have been talking about several million Patriots fans throughout New England.

"It's fun. It's fun to have a new group, to start a journey with a new group," said Henry. "It's a fresh start for me."

On paper, the Patriots appear to be very good in several areas on every side of the ball. The offensive line could be elite, if healthy, and defensively there is not a weakness with the newbies.

There is one, potential hurdle to this good/very good season and that is at quarterback.

Newton has looked like Newton the first two days of camp, which means happy-go-lucky, sharp, not-so-sharp, and sharp again. And Mac Jones has a little pizzazz to his game, a little fearlessness, but history tells us he probably isn't ready to lead a team, at this point, to a 11 or 12-win season.

But quarterback play, as long as it isn't killing the team, can be hidden a bit with a high-end, ball-control running attack and an interesting group of tight ends and receivers.

The Patriots defense, with Belichick and Matt Patricia chipping in, could be a focal point. The Patriots have the opportunity to confuse a lot of offenses with all three layers.

The Patriots offense, in terms of its apparent ability for balance, could be as unpredictable as it's been in Belchick's two-plus decades.

But this is more than personnel, which of course needs time to gel. This is more about energy and anticipation.

Nobody knows exactly what to expect. Not even Belichick.

We must be mindful that the AFC East will be no picnic. The Bills are arguably better. The Dolphins are arguably the Patriots equal. And the Jets have a little swagger, which could mean two wins won't be easy.

Ironically, every year Belichick and Brady were asked about the team's identity, etc., and both had a stock answer, as in come back after Thanksgiving.

This, as Hunter Henry noted, is a journey. Thanksgiving would be nice, but does it matter?

But the best part is because of 2020, the next six months will be more exciting and could be better than we all expected.

I've said this before and I'll say it again, the 1993 Patriots were as much fun to cover as any. They ended up winning their last four games, five for the entire season, and set the tone for the next 25 years.

Now that's a journey.

You can email Bill Burt at