New England Patriots fans place their trust in Belichick
When talking about the Patriots these days, it is important to recall the staggering run they have achieved over the past 15 years. With four Lombardi Trophies, nine AFC Championship Game Appearances and two close losses in the Super Bowl, the Patriots have set the bar for success in American sports. Name another coach who players would want leading their team. Impossible. Find another active quarterback one would rather have in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Irresponsible to even ponder.
What this means, quite frankly, is that Patriots fans are spoiled. All those trophies, playoff games and bragging rights accumulated over a decade and a half and New Englanders can still see themselves atop the coach-quarterback combination hierarchy. After all this time Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are enjoying the view from Olympus, while the rest of the NFL can only watch with envy. The only problem that fans seemingly have amongst the sea of bliss is whether or not this entails a permanent filter for questioning the decisions of the organization.
A resounding “no” would suffice as the proper response.
Some fans have lost sight of the 10 years between rings number three and four. The shimmer from the latest Super Bowl trophy has been as effective as the memory eraser device from Men in Black. Yes, as it has been qualified, the Patriots have rounded out a phenomenal 15-year period. That is unquestionable. But does that mean making highly questionable offseason decisions should be overlooked?
Cue the chorus of “no’s” again.
With arguably the best coach of all time and the best quarterback of all time, it is a wonder how the Patriots could have gone 10 years without winning a Super Bowl. They managed to reach the Promised Land in two of those ten years and probably should have walked away with a victory in at least one of them.
However, they did not. They fell short on the biggest stage for the same reason they fell short in the other six seasons (not counting Brady’s injured season). Their defense lacked the ability to cover against the passing game when it truly mattered.
Admittedly, in 2007 when Eli Manning completed a prayer of a pass to He-Who-Shall-Not-be-Named, this was not the fault of the defense. What was the fault of the defense, however, were the dropped interception by Asante Samuel and the inability to cover Plaxico Burress in the end zone on that same drive. Similarly, in 2011 the Patriots found themselves in the lead late in the Super Bowl, but could not cover on the final Giants’ drive. At least Eli threw up a great pass, on purpose, to Mario Manningham that go-round.
Expanding upon the inability to stop the pass in this increasing aerial league, take a look at the 2013 AFC Championship game in which Peyton Manning was completing passes like it was a Madden game on Rookie Mode.
How did the Patriots finally manage to get over the hump for Lombardi number four? They went outside of themselves in free agency. They went out and signed an impact player named Darrelle Revis. After finally securing the winning legacies of Belichick and Brady, to the point where an article expressing even minute criticism about the Patriots warrants a fluffy preamble such as that given in this article, what did they do to this free agency? They inexplicably would not match an offer to Revis by the New York Jets. An offer they could have very well afforded.
It seems as if Belichick and owner Robert Kraft are also blinded to what inhibited a championship from 2005 through 2013 and what it took to sit atop NFL seasonal glory. What blinds them is not reason, nor is it ignorance, but it is the prospect of value. If either man has a flaw when it comes to football, it is shared with their obsession with value. In this obsession, the Patriots find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to money versus talent. In most cases their flaw is also their strength.
See the tales of Seymour, Law, Moss, Welker, Mankins, etc.…They saw something that no one else did; that the player was no longer worth his price tag. Of the aforementioned names, every one of them came with questions from the fans. Although Belichick and Kraft were proven right in these instances, it was important that those questions arose. Without questions, years like 2006 occur when Brady was left with no receivers due to the lack of value in Deion Branch.
With questions come years where the team went 16-0 and the season that just occurred.
Essentially, what the Patriots did in last year’s free agency period was go a little beyond the money versus talent barrier. They did not shy away from paying a premium price for a premium player. That is the formula for achieving their ultimate goal: going that little bit extra.
This past year’s loss of Mankins was a Belichickian value assessment at its finest. What Randy Moss and Wes Welker were in 2007 were something extra, but not quite enough. What Revis was this past year was that little bit extra in the right position on the field. It does not seem that this offseason is resulting in that little bit extra.
Aside from the overall success, it seems the Patriots have seasons that follow one of two trends: heartbreaking loss or wildly exciting victory. The latter only occurs when the Catch 22 of talent and money equate to the right value. Let’s see what type of year this one will be without Revis.
In Belichick we trust.