It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!
Of course, I’m referring to the New England Patriots’ dynasty.
It was all supposed to crumble this year. New school football was in session. The young maverick, Sean McVay, was the creative force behind it and every other NFL franchise was in search of his clone because of it. Find the next Sean McVay!
All of his fancy offensive formations and beautifully choreographed plays caught the attention of every GM and owner in the game. The league helped create McVay by tweaking the rules to the detriment of the defense at every turn. It was hands off the QBs and wide receivers or beware of severe penalties.
This season was all set up for the offenses to explode. And, until the playoffs, they basically did just that. The end zones were open for business and the offenses took advantage to the delight of fans everywhere.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Super Bowl LIII. Bill Belichick, Mr. Old School, stopped the high-flying Rams’ offense cold. Belichick decided to take new school to the back shed and give it a good old-fashioned whooping. I don’t think McVay ever knew what hit him, until it was too late. He admitted after the game he was out-coached.
McVay’s young QB, Jared Goff, wasn’t ready for the big show. Belichick gave Goff, who appeared to be a deer-in-headlights rookie, several different looks and Goff couldn’t adjust He was uncomfortable the entire game, as the Patriots’ defense ran various defensive line and linebacker stunts.
The Patriots’ defense blitzed Goff on nearly half of his dropbacks, pressured him on 38 percent of those and caused Goff to complete only 25 percent of his Super Bowl passes (tied for the worst in NFL history).
The Rams had the bigger names on defense and they actually bottled up Tom Brady for most of the night. But the Patriots always seem to do whatever it takes to win.
At the end, the Patriots’ offensive line was too much for the glamour guys, Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald. The dynamic duo did apply pressure on Brady all game. But as usual, Belichick figured out a way to beat them. The Pats ran the ball right at them and directly down their throat. Belichick used the help of a big fullback and created enough space for Sony Michel to run up the middle and ice the game.
Here’s what makes it tremendously frustrating for the entire league, or anyone suffering from Patriots’ fatigue. If ever there was a year for the league to start tearing down the dynasty, this was it. It was the best chance in 18 seasons to start chipping away at the New England dynasty and the Pats’ opponents blew it!
The season began with a Brady and Belichick feud. Belichick put Brady’s trainer on the no-fly list. The Pats lost several players to free agency, including Nate Solder, Dion Lewis, Malcolm Butler and Danny Amendola.
And the hits kept coming. They lost the player they drafted to take Solder’s place on the offensive line. The Patriots had no deep threat, so they took a chance on Josh Gordon and he couldn’t stay clean. Don’t forget, Julian Edelman was suspended for four games. Finally, the Pats had to play a road playoff game which should have been the final nail in the coffin.
Oh, how vulnerable the Patriots were this year and the competition still couldn’t make hay. In fact, the only thing they created was a huge chip on Brady’s shoulder. They were criticized all season for their alleged weaknesses and they simply used it as bulletin board fodder. They did what Belichick preaches like a pastor at the pulpit every Sunday. The entire team just did their job!
Now, I’m not so sure the dynasty is a cinch to disappear next season. New England has 12 draft picks in this year’s draft. They’re probably going to draft a tight end and start to reload this championship team.
The teams in their division are going to be as mediocre as they’ve been over the last 18 years. The Bills and Jets have young QBs and the Dolphins aren’t sure they even have their long-term QB answer on the roster.
The biggest threats in their conference have major issues. The Steelers are on the verge of losing Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Big Ben isn’t getting any younger. The Ravens have a QB quicker than lightning, but may or may not develop into a great pocket passer. Kansas City would be the Patriots’ biggest challenge and even they have some huge holes to fill on defense.
So don’t be too quick to dismiss the Patriots when talking about next year’s Super Bowl contenders. I’m not ready to write off the Patriots for any reason. Gronk may retire. Brady is getting older. They don’t have a deep threat. But somehow, someway, New England will be maneuvering towards Super Bowl LIV.
The dynasty everyone seems to be sick of, might just be around for a couple more seasons. We all know how hard it is to kill the beast and it turns out Brady is one huge beast.
As you mull over those sobering dynasty thoughts during the off-season, here’s another question you might ponder because I’ve been searching for an answer for a few weeks: Whatever happened to Todd Gurley? Didn’t he used to play for the Rams?
Last week: 1-0
Final season total: 110-129-4
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