December 22, 2020

Is This the End of the New England Patriots Dynasty?: The New England Patriots have ended an 11-year streak of winning the AFC East, a 17-year streak of at least 10 wins and an 11-year streak of making the playoffs. They're looking up at the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins with their talented young quarterbacks and it doesn't look like a fluke. "They’re an average team stuck in quarterback hell, with one of the league’s least-explosive offenses and worst collection of wideouts," writes Terez Paylor of Yahoo Sports. "The King is dead. And this time, he's really dead," writes Boston Globe columnist Tara Sullivan.

posted by rcade to football at 10:14 AM - 4 comments

So how long does Belichick have (and how long does he even want) to turn this around? He could (a) spend some of his well-deserved capital and deference and try to rebuild a team from the rubble. If successful, he would only cement his already-unimpeachable place in the pantheon of the greats. If unsuccessful, he's still had a career that is unlikely to be matched; or (b) he can walk after this year, count his money, and relax on the beach in his very best hoodie and leave the headaches to the younger fellas.

posted by tahoemoj at 10:44 AM on December 22, 2020

Those quick to doom the Pats to eternal irrelevance are not looking at the whole picture.

First, they probably had more opt outs this year than other teams. So put an asterisk next to 2020.

Second, even with opt outs and no dedicated defensive coordinator, the Pats are doing well on that side of the ball. Entering last week, they had allowed the second fewest points scored in the conference. If they had a full non-Covid roster and still had Brian Flores running the D, they'd be winning games 13-10 in classic Parcells fashion.

(Note to Patriots: Please do not bring back Matt Patricia. Please don't.)

They've been good on special teams as always.

The offense is wretched. Watching Newton play QB is like watching late career Artis Gilmore during his stint on the Celtics. Painful. Newton and Wentz apparently decided to have a duel to see who could hold onto the ball the longest for the greatest number of times per game.

This is where Belichick needs a GM to help him restock the offensive roster. So he doesn't pick a placekicker or another DB if a high tier QB falls to him on the draft board.

I think he has an aversion to drafting high profile skill players, thinking ahead to what he'd have to pay them after their rookie deal was up. So he wouldn't take Justin Fields, thinking that there must be another Phil Simms from Morehead State out there somewhere. Or of course, another Brady.

No doubt he and McDaniels are closely watching the day to day activity around the league. A lot of things are possible. If the Niners decide to move on and cut Jimmy Garoppolo before the payout deadline, they will save themselves a cap hit of $50 million. That is a huge number. It doesn't take much imagination to see the possibilities there.

In general, they're probably looking at what teams aren't getting the production they should from players on offense. Wentz is People's Exhibit A, but he may not have the mental fortitude to play for Belichick. People's Exhibit B is Darnold. People can say what they want - I don't think Darnold has been completely ruined and could still excel in the league once he gets away from Gase. The Pats also need WR's and some OL help. No doubt they're on the hunt.

But no matter what they do, the days of them owning a weak AFC East are over. Any future postseason berth they get, they'll have to earn with their last drop of sweat.

posted by beaverboard at 11:07 AM on December 22, 2020

The Patriots have a good cap-space situation but that offense needs a lot. I think they'll take another project on at quarterback and that might work out, but I'm skeptical that this is just a short downturn. They will need some luck.

They'll also need the Bills and Dolphins to fall again. Having two strong teams in their division will make it a lot harder to restore the dynasty.

It was nice seeing him win some games at the start of the season, but Cam Newton's throwing motion makes me wince. And I've seen a lot of bad passes as a Jags fan.

posted by rcade at 11:44 AM on December 22, 2020

As a lifelong (and long-suffering) Dolphins fan, it brought me great pleasure to see Miami stick the final knife in the King.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 07:04 PM on December 22, 2020

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