Editor’s note: Jeff Solari of the Sports Chowdah column is taking a hiatus from writing for the BDN while he runs for public office, which is the BDN’s policy. Until the results of Tuesday’s election are final, the other members of the Sports Chowdah team will write the guest columns.
You ever trudge through the snow in February? You feel the uncertainty as to how deep your foot is going to sink down and you hope the crust is going to hold you up or maybe your foot will only push down five or six inches.
The worst-case scenario is that your foot is going to break through and your right leg is buried in snow up to your thigh and your left knee is touching your ear. It takes an Olympic squat record to push yourself back up and out of this hole but generally due to the stress on the snow’s surface, your left leg plunges into the snow as deep as the right leg is and now you’re submerged, the snow is suddenly up to your waist, it’s seeping over the top of your boots, soaking your socks and you’re frozen. In place and temperature, you’re frozen.
Speaking of futile trudging into a deep hole, the Patriots offense woke up after dressing up as Rip Van Winkle for the last two weeks. A buddy of mine, who is a Bills fan (a new development in 2020, I had never known one before) said Newton looked tentative.
I had to respond by saying that this was as decisive as Newton has looked since early September. I remarked in the fourth quarter when Newton took a snap and immediately fired a bullet to no one over the middle of the field that I actually didn’t hate the play, because at least Cam made a quick decision. Even if it wasn’t a positive play, I just wanted to see the quarterback make a decision even if it was the wrong one.
The positive strides Newton made down the stretch in this game shouldn’t be ignored because of the game-ending fumble, though it certainly overshadows the effort.
It’s an understatement to say that this was a big game. Not because it’s the Patriots first loss in Buffalo since Stevan Ridley was a rookie, but because this was the tipping point between the Patriots having a chance in the AFC East and potentially being sellers during Tuesday’s trade deadline.
A win over Buffalo would’ve kept the team competitive, justifiably or not, but they lost and now everything is on the table. The Patriots as sellers (haven’t been there since Clinton was the president) could be more active than they ever have been as buyers.
I would trade Stephon Gilmore. The cap is going to decrease next year and the Patriots likely won’t resign him this offseason, not with the emergence of J.C. Jackson as a legitimate top corner.
If I was New England, I would be talking to Dallas about Newton as well. The Cowboys, as bad as they are, can still win that putrid division, but they can’t do it with Ben DiNucci. Dallas will trade for Ryan Fitzpatrick or Newton. If I’m New England I try to get a draft pick or two for Newton and see what Jarrett Stidham has. I’m not a believer in Stidham but while you have the lab time already booked, you might as well carry out the experiments.
If Stidham isn’t the answer, you explore other options in the draft, or make a move for a quarterback named Matthew (Stafford or Ryan, I could be convinced of either one, but weirdly enough I think I’d be more excited for Stafford if only to give him the chance to finally play for a winner).
Tuesday is a huge day, a day that could change the course of history. For the country sure, but for the region of New England, the course has been altered since March. We’re simply exploring a new world, a new normal (I hate myself for typing that).
But for the love of God, whatever happens this week, just don’t lose to the Jets. I’d rather be buried up to my waist in snow until mud season than lose to the Jets next Monday.
Sterling Pingree is the senior staff writer for Jeff Solari’s Maine Sports Chowdah newsletter and a co-host of the 3 Point Stance Podcast with NFL veteran Mike DeVito and Aaron Jackson. An avid golfer, Pingree has been a member for more than a decade at Bangor Muni. He is a native of Kingfield and was a 4-year letterman in basketball and baseball at Mount Abram High School.