November 12, 2020 | 1:52 PM
At 3-5, the Patriots face the unfamiliar challenge of an uphill climb to not only reach .500, but rejoin the playoff race.
The team that has won 11 straight AFC East titles would be happy for a mere wild card berth at this point, though one former New England linebacker views it as a long shot.
Speaking with WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria,” ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi — who helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls during his 13-year NFL career — expressed doubts about the trajectory of the 2020 team’s chances.
When asked if the Patriots could at least reach an 8-8 record, Bruschi explained his thinking as New England prepares to face the 6-2 Ravens on Sunday night.
“They are 3-5 right now, I think winning [five games] is going to be very tough to do,” said Bruschi. “Out of nowhere you could still have a COVID distraction, you still have guys that are hurt. The linebacker position is what it is. You’ve got to think that this Ravens game is going to be very difficult for them to win.
“I know you’ve got the Jets on the schedule coming up, the Dolphins are coming up — I don’t specifically know what games they have coming — but to get to 8-8 I think is going to be difficult for this team,” Bruschi concluded.
Looking at what the Patriots need to happen for a turnaround to take place, he pointed specifically at quarterback Cam Newton.
“If this team fought back to get to that level, it would not only be a great coaching job — which I have no doubt that they can do — but is Cam Newton going to turn into a quarterback that can take care of the football on a consistent basis?” Bruschi asked. “Because that really hasn’t been what we’ve seen from Cam.”
Having been a part of similarly constructed Patriots teams in the past, Bruschi recognizes a Belichick concept: complementary football.
In his view, New England needs plays from all phases of the game, up and down the roster.
“To play winning football with this type of team, the way that they are constructed, with the defensive players, the offensive players, is that each unit has to play very well together,” said Bruschi. “To get that type of consistency from all three units, that complementary football that they really want, that means all units have to play together over the course of an entire game.”
Assessing the state of the team, Bruschi casted doubt on the possibility “to get those five victories to get to .500 again.”
The Patriots face the Ravens on Sunday night at 8:20 p.m.
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