fb-pixelThe odds are against the Patriots making the playoffs, but hope is not completely lost - The Boston Globe Skip to main content
Patriots notebook

The odds are against the Patriots making the playoffs, but hope is not completely lost

In 2018, Bill O’Brien’s Texans made the playoffs after an 0-3 start.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — The list of NFL teams to start 0-2 but rebound to make the postseason is short. Since 1990, only 31 of the 270 teams (11.5 percent) that began a season 0-2 advanced to the playoffs.

You can make a case that the landscape has changed since the NFL went to a 17-game season and added a seventh playoff team in each conference, but even then, it’s difficult. In 2020, the first year of the 17-game schedule, none of the 11 teams that started 0-2 made the postseason. In 2021, none of the seven teams that opened 0-2 made the playoffs. And last year, only the Bengals made the playoffs after dropping their first two games.


Before practice Wednesday, tight end Hunter Henry acknowledged the long road ahead for a team that has one of the more unforgiving schedules in the league, but expressed optimism that the Patriots are up to the challenge.

“We have 15 more games to play. We have a game this weekend,” Henry said. “So it’s another opportunity — a divisional opponent. A good opponent, on the road. It’ll be us against everybody going in there. So I think it’ll be a big challenge.”

Hunter Henry understands the Patriots have a tough road to the playoffs remaining, but isn't looking too far ahead.Greg M. Cooper/Associated Press

If the Patriots need any inspiration, they can look to their offensive coordinator. In 2018, Bill O’Brien’s Texans made the playoffs after an 0-3 start. (That team is one of only six to make the playoffs after an 0-3 start since expansion in 1979.)

Of course, hope isn’t completely lost. Three teams overcame 0-2 starts to win the Super Bowl: the 1993 Cowboys, 2001 Patriots, and 2007 Giants. At the same time, two of those teams had remarkable personnel turnarounds that propelled them to success. Dallas was able to reach a deal to bring back running back Emmitt Smith, who was holding out. And New England turned the reins over to Tom Brady after an early-season injury to Drew Bledsoe.


It seems unlikely that a similar change is looming for the 2023 Patriots, so that means it’s on the shoulders of the current 53-man roster to get it done, starting with Sunday against the Jets.

“Every week, there’s a sense of urgency in this league,” O’Brien said. “There are certain things that we have to do better and certain things we have to keep doing that we’re doing well. We all know where we’re at.”

Disruptive forces

One of Bill Belichick’s favorite ways to express admiration for a defensive player is to call him “disruptive.” The Patriots coach used the phrase four times in the first two minutes of his media availability Wednesday when talking about the Jets’ defensive front.

“They have a real good front. A disruptive front,” Belichick said. “[Jermaine] Johnson’s playing well. They drafted [Will] McDonald, obviously [Quinnen] Williams, [John] Franklin-Myers, those guys are tough. They play about nine guys up there and they all play, and they’re all disruptive.”

The heart of that group remains Williams, an All-Pro who was a college teammate of Mac Jones at Alabama. The 6-foot-3-inch, 303-pound Williams not only has the ability to get after the passer (12 sacks last season) but is stout against the run.

Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams has emerged as a dominant interior presence against both the pass and run game.Matt Patterson/Associated Press

“I’ve known Quinnen for quite some time. He was a great player in college, obviously, and that’s translated really well to the NFL,” Jones said. “He’s got a great motor, very strong, savvy. He uses his hands really well, wiping blocks off or swim moves. Obviously, his power is there as well, and they have other great guys around him, too. It’s hard when you have one good guy, but you really have four good guys.”


While that group took its lumps in last Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, following the loss of Aaron Rodgers in the opener it’s evident the Jets’ defensive front will set the tone the rest of the 2023 season.

“They play hard. They’re fresh. They’re athletic, disruptive,” Belichick said. “Franklin-Myers, Williams, Johnson, just go right down the line, they’re all disruptive. [Bryce] Huff, they’re all a problem.”

Back and forth

The strange saga of Matt Corral continues.

The quarterback, who was claimed off waivers from Carolina on Aug. 31, reportedly left the Patriots a few days later and was placed on the exempt/left squad list. After Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, he was waived.

A day later, he cleared waivers, and it was reported that he was headed back to New England’s practice squad. On Wednesday morning, numerous media reports indicated he was not going to re-sign with the Patriots, but the league transaction wire noted Wednesday afternoon that he had a visit with the Patriots.

Corral was not at practice Wednesday, and his locker — which is adjacent to backup Bailey Zappe — was cleaned out by the time media was allowed in to the locker room.

Encouraging words

Henry said he was able to talk with wide receiver Demario Douglas on Monday after the rookie’s fumble in Sunday’s loss. Henry recalled his first career start with the Chargers, when he lost the handle on the ball and cost his team the game. The next game, he ended up scoring his first touchdown. “Pop’s a great player, and we’re going to need him,” Henry said . . . Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster channeled his inner Ted Lasso when asked about Douglas. “You’ve got to move on. One of the things I learned as a rookie growing up was you’ve got to be a goldfish,” he said. “It happens, you learn from it, and you move on.” . . . Cornerback Marcus Jones and defensive lineman Davon Godchaux were not spotted at the start of Wednesday’s practice. Jones suffered a shoulder injury Sunday, while Godchaux was excused because his fiancée gave birth earlier in the week. Both were listed as DNPs. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Christian Barmore (knee), offensive lineman Trent Brown (concussion), cornerback Jonathan Jones (ankle), offensive lineman Mike Onwenu (ankle), wide receiver DeVante Parker (knee), offensive lineman Sidy Sow (concussion), and offensive lineman Cole Strange (knee) were limited . . . Some major names were on the Jets’ injury report, with offensive tackle Duane Brown (shoulder, hip), Franklin-Myers (hip), and kicker Greg Zuerlein (groin) DNPs, and offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (knee) and running back Breece Hall (knee) limited . . . Belichick was asked about Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens, who died Tuesday following injuries he sustained in a March bicycle accident. He was 66. “Great guy,” Belichick said. “It’s an unfortunate accident. It’s just been tough for him. Sympathy goes out to him, his family, Dartmouth. He’s done a good job with that program, and he’s a guy that’s well respected within the coaching community. It’s an unfortunate loss for us all.”


Christopher Price can be reached at christopher.price@globe.com. Follow him @cpriceglobe.