Patriots

Devin McCourty explained why next year’s Patriots ‘won’t be the same’ as this year’s group

He said "things change" when teams don't make the playoffs.

Devin McCourty had made the playoffs every year of his career prior to this season. Ashley Landis/AP Photo

Devin McCourty believes the Patriots’ inability to convert on crucial plays the last two games has been a microcosm of their entire season.

After a 22-12 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, New England will officially miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008 – and the first time in the defensive back McCourty’s 11-year career.

“Obviously it stinks to lose, but I think the way that we’ve played has been the most disappointing, not really giving ourselves a chance to win these last two games when we had a chance for postseason play,” McCourty said. “It just hasn’t developed for us.”

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Wins over the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Chargers provided a glimmer of hope, but a dud against the Los Angeles Rams and a stuck-in-the-mud performance against the Dolphins officially precipitated the seemingly inevitable.

“It’s felt like we’ve chased it the whole year, whether it’s offense, defense, one play, a missed opportunity on defense, a turnover on offense, it just seems like no matter what, it’s just right out of our reach,” McCourty said. “That’s how you end up in the position we’re in.”

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McCourty said the 2021 Patriots “won’t be the same” as the 2020 Patriots – noting that “things change” when teams don’t make the playoffs. He said that could result in him not being out there, or other players, but that’s not his prevailing thought right now.

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At the moment, his focus is on finishing the last two weeks strong for the sake of pride. The chance to earn a late December win over the Buffalo Bills next Monday doesn’t carry quite the same luster big-picture as it might in other seasons, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

Sunday’s game was another setback – as the Patriots allowed the Dolphins to rush for 250 yards – but McCourty was more focused on looking to the future than dwelling on the past. He said that if he had an answer for why the Patriots couldn’t stop the run against Miami, he would gladly share it and they probably would have played better.

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He said their struggles haven’t stemmed from a lack of buy-in or effort. It’s simply been about the lack of execution when the game is on the line. The Patriots clicked in spurts once again Sunday, and they stayed in the game, but the end result negated any sort of positive momentum they had built up along the way.

McCourty called it “not normal around here” to miss the playoffs, adding that the situation and the year as a whole have helped him put everything into perspective.

“It sucks, but it is what it is. It’s the reality of the situation,” McCourty said. “You get used to being there and playing and having the opportunity to do what every guy dreams of. To fall short is disappointing.”

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