June 22, 2024


The distant historical past of an earlier period Patriots catastrophe gives followers the newest instance of a very down season, and what would possibly come afterward.

1992 Patriots
The headline atop the Globe sports activities web page the day after the Patriots concluded the 1992 season with a 2-14 document. Globe Archives

Possessing a roster missing in offensive expertise, a group of inconsistent quarterbacks, and training selections that more and more got here beneath criticism, it was no shock that the Patriots crossed the ignominious threshold of double-digit defeats in a season.

No, that’s not an outline of the 2023 Patriots, although it might sound much like the present debacle.

It’s really a abstract — albeit an admittedly simplistic one — of the 1992 Patriots. That 12 months, New England slumped to 2-14. Till this fall, it was the final Patriots staff to amass a very horrible document.

Granted, the jury continues to be a minimum of partly out on the present iteration. New England has a couple of video games remaining to attempt to keep away from ending up with the league’s worst document.

But for followers who really feel unmoored by the unrecognizable expertise of a real down season, it’s value revisiting the 1992 slog to 14 losses, if solely to offer a reminder of what would possibly come subsequent.

“We’re going to be superb.”

The Patriots have been within the second 12 months of the Dick MacPherson period in 1992. An lively 61-year-old Maine native, his head teaching background included profitable stops at UMass and Syracuse (together with guiding the Orange to an undefeated 11-0-1 season in 1987).

Employed by the Patriots following the abysmal 1-15 marketing campaign in 1990, MacPherson managed to revive a stage of respectability to the staff in his first season.

“Coach Mac’s enthusiasm was a burst of daylight in ’91, and New England responded by stealing a couple of video games and profitable some others on pure depth,” wrote Sports activities Illustrated‘s Paul Zimmerman in an AFC East preview piece previous to the ’92 season.

The Patriots completed 6-10 in 1991, a measurable enchancment, although as Zimmerman famous, “expertise is skinny.”

One vibrant spot was purported to be working again Leonard Russell, who the staff had picked 14th general in 1991. As a rookie, Russell rushed for 959 yards and was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Yr. In a preseason ballot of normal managers taken by “Road & Smith” within the buildup to the 1992 season, Russell was positioned in a class of gamers who have been potential “superstars.”

Analyzing his uneven roster, MacPherson concluded that New England would possible find yourself in the midst of the pack.

“We gained’t be one of many lower-echelon groups and we gained’t be one of many top-echelon groups,” he instructed reporters throughout coaching camp, “however we’re going to be superb.”

Specialists disagreed, itemizing the Patriots at +10000 to win the Tremendous Bowl, with an over/beneath of 5 wins. In equity, it was removed from the worst Tremendous Bowl odds within the NFL: The Colts have been listed at +30000.

“A staff that invents new methods to lose every week.”

The season was initially scheduled to start on Sept. 6 in Miami towards the Dolphins, however Hurricane Andrew — a lethal Class 5 storm that made landfall in South Florida in late August (together with the Bahamas and Louisiana) — compelled the sport to be postponed.

Earlier than even enjoying a down of standard season soccer, the Patriots had already been shifted from the staff’s unique plan. As an alternative of getting a midseason bye week (like each different staff), New England now needed to play 16 consecutive weeks.

When the video games lastly did get underway, the preseason considerations concerning the offensive line have been shortly confirmed. Dealing with the Rams, the Patriots surrendered seven sacks and proved completely unable to maneuver the ball. Quarterback Hugh Millen, a journeyman who began a career-high 13 video games for the Patriots in 1991, tossed 4 interceptions in a 14-0 loss.

The second recreation proved a worrying continuation of the primary, with the Patriots’ offensive line yielding six sacks in a 10-6 loss to the Seahawks. The bitter tone was set.

Outcomes didn’t enhance within the ensuing weeks. If something, the staff’s efficiency deteriorated. The Payments — within the midst of 4 consecutive Tremendous Bowl appearances — flattened the Patriots 41-7 in Week 3. The next week, dealing with a seemingly even opponent (the 0-4 Jets), the Patriots nonetheless engineered a 17-0 halftime deficit en path to a 30-21 loss. Having allowed seven sacks for the second time within the younger season, the narrative was already calcifying.

Describing why there was “no hurry” by reporters to hunt out participant interviews after the Jets recreation, Boston Globe columnist Michael Madden quipped, “There’s nothing to ask the lifeless, is there?”

Even by the primary week of October, the season was seen as over. But a month later, the Patriots have been nonetheless searching for a primary win. Dialogue of the staff transitioned away from any short-term relevance to its place in historical past.

A marked distinction between the 1992 staff and 2023 was the historic baggage the sooner Patriots needed to carry. The place their fashionable counterparts face a really totally different problem — residing as much as the inconceivable requirements of Tom Brady — the 1992 Patriots have been merely an extension of a franchise that had struggled for big stretches of its existence.

1992 Patriots fan Globe sports

“This 12 months’s staff is unhealthy. It’s a staff that invents new methods to lose every week. However it’s not the worst of all of them,” wrote Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe after a Week 10 loss to the Saints. “That’s a lofty burden for any Patriot staff.

“When the Patriots are the yardstick,” Shaughnessy added, “it’s by no means straightforward to measure as much as the substandards of yesteryear.”

Nonetheless, at 0-9 following the 31-19 defeat to New Orleans, it was formally the worst begin in franchise historical past.

A Globe graphic recognized one of the best signal noticed within the crowd that day. It learn: “John 3:16, Pats 0:16.”

Brutal stats bubbled to the floor. Beginning on the finish of the 1991 season, MacPherson’s staff went 41 quarters with out scoring a speeding landing, damaged up solely within the eventual loss to the Saints.

Linebacker Vincent Brown was one of many staff leaders in touchdowns (with two), ending the 12 months tied with Russell, the participant NFL GMs had pegged in preseason as a possible celebrity.

“I don’t know what it’s about this group, nevertheless it’s in disarray proper now.”

MacPherson’s season was interrupted on his 62nd birthday when he abruptly developed an intestinal dysfunction (acute diverticulitis) and was hospitalized. Assistant coach Dante Scarnecchia — already in his tenth season and second stint with the Patriots — took over MacPheron’s duties whereas he was gone.

Scarnecchia and one other recognizable title, Scott Zolak, performed necessary roles in what proved to be one of many solely enjoyable days for Patriots followers that 12 months. In a Week 10 shootout with the Colts, Zolak (a rookie making his first profession begin) helped the Patriots lastly get a win: 37-34 in time beyond regulation.

However after a second win the next week towards the Jets, the temporary reprieve ended. New England was shut out in back-to-back video games — together with a 6-0 loss to the Colts wherein Indianapolis gained a measure of revenge, notching eight sacks — and completed the season on a five-game shedding streak.

“There have been lots of people saying that when the Sullivans left, issues have been going to get higher,” vast receiver Irving Fryar mentioned the day after the final recreation, referencing unique Patriots proprietor Billy Sullivan and his household. “But it surely has gotten worse. I don’t know what it’s about this group, nevertheless it’s in disarray proper now. And that’s why modifications are going to be made.”

Fryar’s prediction proved to be correct, although he wouldn’t be in New England to expertise the outcome as he was traded that offseason to Miami.

Out went MacPherson, who had returned to the sidelines in late December. At some point later, Patriots CEO Sam Jankovich resigned.

“We are able to solely surprise what’s subsequent for the cursed Home of Patriots,” wrote Shaughnessy.

Bill Parcells Patriots 1993

Although it was inconceivable to have predicted on the time, what got here subsequent was primarily the inspiration of the staff’s fashionable success story. Lower than two weeks after Jankovich unceremoniously left his submit, Invoice Parcells arrived amid an uncommon quantity of fanfare to guide the group again from the depths.

Handed the No. 1 general choose (from which Drew Bledsoe would finally be chosen after a traditional Parcells-level of thriller), and entry to the NFL’s inaugural unrestricted free agent class, Parcells would reshape the Patriots right into a Tremendous Bowl-caliber staff over the course of 4 seasons. And inside a 12 months, Robert Kraft took over as proprietor.

Having watched their staff get shut out 3 times in 1992, chalking up a plethora of ignominious stats amid a disastrous season, Patriots followers in some way emerged from it with a renewed sense of hope. The sheer scale of the debacle, although painful within the second, had compelled sweeping modifications.

“Inside hours, followers rushed to Foxborough to purchase 260 season tickets for the 1993 season,” wrote Madden in his column the day after Parcells’ first press convention. “And for the primary time in years, they could get their cash’s value.”