Recently the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy dubbed the Patriots’ 2010 campaign a failure, citing the prime opportunity they squandered last Sunday versus the New York Jets.
There is no positive angle to argue for this season being anything but a massive letdown or a missed opportunity.
We all know the heartbreaking details of New England’s demise.
They were 14-2, with the most prolific offense in the league, and were the top-seeded AFC playoff contender with a bye and home field guaranteed throughout the postseason.
They lost to their arch rival, whom they had beat by 42 points in their previous matchup, after suffering through a week of trash talk and derogatory comments from their opponents.
However, the '10 season cannot be thrown in the same bin that the Jets were getting their ammo from.
This season brought about far too many positive developments to simply label it a failure.
Whether it was the emergence of one of the most talented and promising rookie classes of the Belichick era or the return of the much beloved Dynasty era offensive attack, the Patriots improved across the board.
In the words of owner Robert Kraft, they have set themselves up with "a tremendous base to build on this year," a base which had been painfully absent for far too long.
Many positive developments were introduced this season, developments which will have an enormous impact on the direction of this franchise for years to come.
The regular-season success of the 2010 Patriots may have set postseason expectations a little too high considering how tempered preseason expectations were, though.
The following is a look at the stark contrast between what was expected prior to the season and what we learned throughout it.