The Patriots are in a tough spot.
Bill Belichick’s team has lost two straight, fallen to 6-6 on the season and is entrenched in last place in the AFC East.
There is plenty of frustration making the rounds in New England these days.
But with five games to play and the Patriots just one spot out of the final AFC playoff spot, all is not lost in the recent losses.
During his weekly Monday interview on the “Mut at Night” show on WEEI, Patriots captain Matthew Slater acknowledged that there is heightened urgency in New England these days but also that the upcoming road trip to take on the Cardinals and Raiders could be an opportunity for the team to jumpstart its chase for a playoff spot.
“It’s no mystery to anyone what’s at stake, where we sit in terms of our record, what we’re looking and trying to do, which is to make it to the postseason,” Slater said. “Obviously big picture we all have the same goal there. But we just have to have urgency one day at a time. That urgency doesn’t just happen on game day, it happens throughout the course of the week. And hopefully we can approach the week with a great sense of urgency. I think you make a great point, it will be great to have some bonding time on the road, really come together, get a chance to spend time together off the football field. I think that’s always been a big piece of what we do here. Hopefully we can use that as a springboard for building some momentum the rest of the season.”
As a longtime captain and leader in New England, part of Slater’s job is to keep the Patriots together in tough times. He’s aware of that this week after yet another tough loss to the division-leading Bills, but doesn’t think the squad is on the precipice of any kind of implosion.
“I wouldn’t say that I’ve noticed any sort fracture or anybody giving up or throwing in the towel or anything like that,” Slater said. “I think, look, this team has a great deal of resolve. We’re still highly motivated, highly focused. But any time you face adversity, there is a challenge for the leadership to keep the group motivated, to keep the group believing, to keep the group moving forward. That’s just a part of sports, that’s a part of life. So like I’ve said and keep saying, no one is excited about the way things have gone here the last couple of weeks and we want to get that bad taste out of our mouths. We just have to find a way to do it and do it with more consistency.”
That starts with what is a borderline must-win game next Monday night in Arizona followed by a week of work out West before taking on Josh McDaniels’ Raiders in Las Vegas.
“It’s a big challenge for our football team,” Slater admitted. “We’re at the point in time in our season now where what matters most is winning. And to go on a road trip like this, playing against two very competitive teams, one that we don’t know well one that we have some familiarity with. It’s going to be a huge challenge for us. I think we just need to stay in the moment, control the things that we can control, take this one day at a time and see where we end up once the dust settles. Let’s stay positive. Let’s keep moving forward and see what happens.”