The New England Patriots lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Philadelphia Eagles in last season’s Super Bowl. An 11-yard dagger from Nick Foles to Zach Ertz late in the 4th quarter still haunts Patriots fans to this day.
In all honesty, if you watched the Patriots during the regular season you probably wouldn’t believe the Patriots were about to make a Super Bowl. There’s no way to fathom how this defense bled out so many yards last season and still made it to the Super Bowl.
But in the end, Bill Belichick is the GOAT. Despite giving up the 4th most yards in the NFL last season, the Patriots somehow only gave up the 5th least points in the NFL. After starting off very rough, the Patriots seemed to get on the right track by midseason.
Still, the weak defense came back to bite them in the playoffs. After uncharacteristically giving up 41 points to the resurgent Philadelphia Eagles, the Patriots lost a riveting game in Super Bowl 51.
But make no mistake, this is still the greatest dynasty in NFL history. Bill Belichick has built something special in New England. This is a team that is a Super Bowl contender year in and year out, regardless of who is on the roster.
A “Disappointing” Season
The Patriots had a marvelous season in 2016 when they went 14-2 and ended with a Super Bowl ring. A Super Bowl highlighted by Tom Brady leading one of the greatest comebacks of all time.
The rich only seemed to get richer in 2017 when the Patriots traded for speed demon Brandin Cooks to be their no. 1 WR. They acquired a talented, but oft-injured player in TE Dwayne Allen. They traded for a solid defensive lineman in Kony Ealy and acquired a former 1st round pick in WR Phillip Dorsett.
After a fantastic 2016, the bar was set even higher for the New England Patriots in 2017. It was Super Bowl or bust in Foxborough, as it usually is.
The season started out a bit rough for the Patriots. A 27-42 loss to a Kansas City Chiefs team that was never known to put up hefty point totals had Patriots fans worried. A usually conservative Alex Smith put up 368 yards and 4 TDs as he toasted a generally disciplined Patriots defense.
The next few weeks continued like that, the Patriots gave up a plethora of points and yards as they slid to 2-2 to begin the season. Was it the beginning of the end for the New England Patriots?
Well, Bill Belichick had different ideas. As his Patriots were the 2nd highest scoring offense in the league and were putting up the most yards in the league, Belichick once again imposed his “bend but don’t break” mentality on defense. The Patriots gave up A LOT of yards but stayed straight in the red zone giving up the 5th least points in the league.
The Pats went 11-1 to end the season, heading into the playoffs with some fire. A fixed up defense and a lit offense, the Patriots had their eyes set on yet another Super Bowl ring to add to their collection.
The Patriots destroyed the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round before a marvelous comeback win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship sent the Pats to Super Bowl 51.
And from there you know how the script went. Despite putting their best foot forward, the Patriots couldn’t knock off a surging Philadelphia Eagles squad from taking home the crown.
It was a disappointing feat for the Patriots. Despite 505 yards & 3 TDs from Tom Brady while going up against backup QB Nick Foles, the Patriots couldn’t bring home the Lombardi Trophy. But Bill Belichick still prevails.
A Dollar Bill
Bill Belichick is the GOAT. Since taking over as head coach of the Patriots in 2000 all he has done is brought them to the Super Bowl 8 times, bringing home 5 rings. He has firmly established the 2000-present Patriots as the greatest dynasty of all time.
It seems the only thing you can do to stop Belichick is throw an NFC East team at him in the Super Bowl.
Joking aside, Belichick has enjoyed immense success on the field, but it runs deeper than that. Belichick has established a certain culture and attitude in this organization. His players are disciplined, respectful, and unselfish.
Every Patriots player comes into the building with one thing in their head, “do your job.”
Of course, a culture like that will not be followed unless the team enjoys success. Hmm, success. How about a coach that’s top 10 in W/L%, 3rd in wins, 1st in playoff wins, 1st in conference championships, and 1st in Super Bowl Rings. Does that sound like success?
Belichick is the best coach in the NFL. Heck, he’s the best GM in the league. He hand picks players and knows who he needs to make it work. Belichick does not simply pay a lot of money to free agent stars, that’s not his style.
Belichick picks up random no-names off the street who he finds the light with and develops them into superstars.
Wes Welker went undrafted in 2004 before playing a few years for the Miami Dolphins. Belichick traded for the young receiver in 2007. Welker was a solid, but unspectacular player who was starting to make his mark before being traded to the Patriots for a 2nd and 7th round pick.
In New England Welker quickly became Brady’s favorite target and easily the best & smartest slot WR in the league. This was one of Belichick’s best moments, trading away very little to get one of this generation’s best players.
How about Aqib Talib? The Patriots gave up a 4th rounder for a solid (at the time) CB in Talib and a 7th round pick. What happened next? Playing under Belichick, Talib became one of the best CBs in the league. Once again, Belichick found a diamond in the rough.
Whether it’s Dion Lewis, Danny Woodhead, Malcolm Butler, Jabaal Sheard, whoever, Belichick always finds the brightness that no other coach/GM does. He has taken average players and elevated their game by inputting them in his highly coveted Patriots “system.”
So what is the system? Well, to be honest, there is no system. Wait, what?
Belichick isn’t run heavy, he isn’t pass heavy, he doesn’t run the shotgun, he doesn’t run the west coast offense. He doesn’t run a 4-3 defense, he doesn’t run a 3-4, he doesn’t run Tampa 2, he doesn’t run cover 3. So what does he do? He does whatever he wants.
On offense, Belichick will find your weaknesses and exploit them. If you can’t defend the run, he’ll run the ball 50 times. If your secondary is weak, he’ll dial up 60 pass attempts. If you can’t defend the deep ball, he’ll keep calling deep shots.
On defense, Belichick has a philosophy. He’ll take your best weapon and take him out of the game. If it’s a receiver he’ll double team him every play. If it’s a running back he’ll put 7-8 players in the box and dare you to run it. He’ll change the game plan to combat any offense’s strengths.
Belichick will do whatever it takes on both sides of the ball. There is no team in the league that is so mendable and ready to adjust their game plan. Players have no ego and are ready to take on whatever role they are asked to.
Belichick is fantastic at player development. He acquires players that are hard workers who are ready to put in the time to get better. Belichick himself is a fantastic player developer, who excels at doing just that.
This is a coach that is elite in every aspect. He acquires the players that nobody wants and turns them into stars. He seldom spends big bucks in free agency, almost always getting it done through the draft, small deals, and trades.
The Patriots would be nothing without Belichick, but of course, every team needs a QB to lead them through the fire.
The Man Who Can’t Age
Tom Brady is Bill Belichick’s “baby.” After taking over as head coach in 2000, Belichick drafted Brady in the 6th round of the NFL Draft.
To be frank, this was a move almost nobody cared about at the time. Some NFL GMs had no idea who Tom Brady was. Brady was only a part-time starter at Michigan before declaring for the NFL draft.
Frankly, Brady was a terrible prospect. He was skinny and weak. At 6’5” 195 lbs, Brady had almost no strength and looked frail out on the field. Brady moved at tortoise speed, showing no mobility or athleticism. His 5.3 40 time in the 2000 NFL Combine was one of the worst times anyone has ever seen from a starting QB. His arm was in question, his ability to throw the deep ball raised major questions.
But the one thing Brady was elite in was pocket presence. He knew how to maneuver when the pocket was breaking down. But Belichick valued something of Brady over all his other traits. Brady’s leadership skills surpassed that of any other player in that draft.
So Belichick made the most heralded decision to draft the 22-year-old QB from Michigan. And that should forever stand as the greatest draft steal in NFL history.
Now 18 years later, Brady has left no doubt. He is the greatest player to ever play the game. Peyton Manning had playoff success elude him. Joe Montana did not have the impact on the field that Brady did. Brady simply has been too consistent and has had the clutch factor that all-time greats must have.
Since coming in the league all Brady has done is win 3 MVPs, made 13 Pro Bowls, and made 3 All-Pro teams. Oh yeah, and he won those 5 super bowls. More than anyone else.
It’s hard to fathom, but Brady is 40 and is playing some of the best ball of his life. He seems to get better year after year. Brady has been an extremely hard worker his entire career, fixing up his game to shore up his weaknesses and be the best version of himself.
Brady has transformed his body and improved his athleticism to fit today’s NFL. In an NFL where mobility and versatility are at a premium, Brady has worked hard to improve his foot speed. He has maintained his diet and physical stature to keep his body fresh. Longevity and durability are irreplaceable in the NFL.
When will Tom Brady stop playing football? As he put it, “I’ll stop playing when I suck.” I agree, wouldn’t have it any other way.
Offseason Always So Interesting
It’s always quite interesting to see what Bill Belichick does in free agency. Not because he acquires fresh & ready stars for his team, but because he takes average players and turns them into stars.
The out-of-nowhere trade sending no. 1 WR Brandin Cooks to the Rams was a surprise for all, but Belichick has more than earned the benefit of the doubt. Losing Cooks certainly hurts WR depth, but does it really matter?
As everyone knows, this is a passing game that revolves around GOAT tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Pats also use a plethora of elite pass-catching running backs and split them out at wide receiver. But of course, you need wide receivers at the position. When healthy, Chris Hogan looked dominant last season and no. 1 WR Julian Edelman will be returning off a torn ACL.
The Patriots also signed former star wide receiver Eric Decker. Decker has had a rough couple years playing with mediocre QBs after leaving Peyton Manning in 2014. Now he will play with another great in Tom Brady. Decker will add a big body who is sure to dominate in the red zone.
The trade for wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has not turned many heads. And rightfully so. Patterson has struggled as a receiver in his career, but his playmaking ability has always been apparent. Patterson is one of the most electric players in the NFL.
He has excelled as a kick returner but is nothing more than a gadget player on offense. But as everyone knows, nobody runs trick plays better than Bill Belichick. In New England Patterson will provide depth and should provide some entertaining plays in the return game and on trick plays.
Belichick is infamous for employing a whole carousel at the running back position. He quite often uses a committee in the backfield, with 3 or 4 running backs sharing touches. While some teams prefer to use one running back, Belichick has squeezed maximum productivity with his approach.
The Patriots use their running backs in a variety of ways. They are of course given many carries, but they are used in the passing game often. Whether it’s out of the backfield or splitting out wide, the Pats scheme touches for their running backs.
The Pats once again have a logjam in the backfield. Despite losing their most productive RB in Dion Lewis to the Tennessee Titans, the Patriots still stand tall. Do-it-all backs Rex Burkhead and James White return while the Pats spent a 1st round pick on stud running back Sony Michel from Georgia.
The Patriots also added big back Jeremy Hill. After a 1000 yard season a few years ago, Hill has been on the decline. Even with the decline, Hill had totaled up 29 TDs in his first 3 years. Perhaps Belichick can make him great again. The 4 backs will provide versatility, depth, and a lot of talent. It’ll be a scary task to try and stop this backfield.
The Pats lost ol’ reliable left tackle Nate Solder, as well as their starting, left guard Cameron Fleming. Two very key players on this offensive line. The Patriots traded for the 49ers starting right tackle Trent Brown and spent a 1st round pick on offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn. Wynn and Brown should shore up the gaps in the line and lead this line to a top 10 finish once again.
Malcolm Butler, the Pats no. 1 CB, struggled badly in 2017 before leaving in free agency. The Pats now stand pat with the prolific Stefon Gilmore as their no. 1 CB. The Pats traded for CB Jason McCourty from the Browns. McCourty struggled a bit the past few years but was an elite corner in Tennessee for many years. If Belichick can bring that out of McCourty, he will have a serious CB duo on his hands.
One of the biggest and most surprising aspects of this New England defense last year was their run defense, which gushed out yards like there was no tomorrow. The Pats acquired big DT Danny Shelton, who is one of the best run stoppers in the league. They also acquired DE Adrian Clayborn, who is sure to help the pass rush.
Belichick has made his moves wisely. He took players in bad situations for less money and is ready to turn them loose in his system. Simply put, he’s done it in true Bill Belichick fashion.
Whether the best or the worst roster, the Patriots are Super Bowl contenders for one reason. Bill Belichick. A coach’s impact is premier in football, the Patriots are a prime example of that.
Bill Belichick has had a revolving door as his coordinators are concerned. Nick Saban, Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels, and Bill O’ Brien have all had successful tenures under Belichick before taking head coaching jobs with success.
Belichick recently lost DC Matt Patricia to the Lions. But have no fear, Belichick is always ready to replace one coordinator with another. Linebackers coach Brian Flores is next to take the reins and learn from Belichick.
The Patriots are primed for another Super Bowl run. This is a legitimate roster led by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The Patriots are the greatest dynasty in NFL history and they’re ready to take a shot at their 6th ring.